When we decided it was time to move to a house, it was a decision I was happy to make and I am looking forward to the changes it will give us. But I do have a soft spot for the kind of Copenhagen apartments we have lived in. I don’t think any have been less than 90 years old and that gives a certain kind of charm. So what is it about them that is special?
High ceilings – I love the high ceilings we have had in all of our apartments. It means that the special pictures, and my stag horns, can really be seen and enjoyed. It allows the light to really come into the rooms. Although the features on the ceilings such as the rose around the lights are not original they give it a certain vintage charm. Plus you can really go wild with a Christmas tree with high ceilings!
Big windows – it is universally accepted that I am something of a nosy bonk so I like being able to look out and see the world go by. I also love the feeling on a dark winter’s evening of being able to see the warm glow of our neighbours’ windows (as no one seems to bother with curtains) but at the same time I don’t feel that there are eyes watching me as I add to that warm glow in the street.
Wooden floors – Danes love that connection with nature and wooden floors are an example of this. I don’t find having carpetless floors makes the home feel cold, if fact it seems more welcoming and bright because of them.
Tiny bathrooms – this one may seem odd but over the years I have come to like having a small and cosy bathroom. It is the warmest room in our apartment and not a shock to the system in the morning. I am looking forward to, possibly, having a bath in our new home but will miss our miniature bathroom.
The ratio of living to sleeping space – this was something I only realised that I appreciated when we started looking at houses. You spend the most time in your living and dining room and the kitchen and in apartments these spaces take up the larger percentage of the floor space.
Community – now I will admit this is something lacking in our current apartment building and it is something I see as an important element in successful apartment living. In our first apartment building we had a lovely community of kind-hearted and welcoming people, and in our second one the same was true but to a slightly lesser extent. They still had a Christmas tree in the hall downstairs and everyone gathered for the lighting of it complete with gløgg.
Proximity to life – living in an apartment in Copenhagen means you will most likely live in a busier area and that means life – in the shape of shops, coffee shops and playgrounds. Living in Frederiksberg I loved our local shopping streets and the business owners there. Whilst in the city it was like being part of a village. I haven’t found the same connection in Østerbro.
Drying rooms – a quirk of living in an old apartment is having a drying room in the attic or basement and for some reason these places fill me with pleasure.
Things I don’t love…
I do try and be positive about life but as time has gone on in our present apartment I have found there are frustrations associated with apartment living and I think they are mainly related noise and where we live at the moment.
Noise – I have never lived in an apartment building where I have heard my neighbours as much. I am not sure if it is mainly a practical thing – the acoustics of the old building makes noise carry down walls, the selfish nature of neighbours or simply that I am at home more. As we have less of a community feel in this building I feel less able to say anything about it. But I do moan about hearing Game of Thrones through the floor, the stomping on my upstairs neighbours and general door slamming.
Street outside – we live on a fairly busy road in Østerbro. This is the first time we have lived somewhere with constant traffic noise. As we are on the route to the docks at Nordhavn we have lorries passing by in the early hours of the morning that make the bed shake. We also seem to be on a route for lively inebriated people on a Saturday night who shout, sing and play loud music from boom boxes on cargo bikes. The cars on the road also mean that we have a constant fine black dust settling and it seems that it is a never-ending task to dust (one I am not that diligent about!)
Community – one thing moving to this apartment in Østerbro has made me appreciate is the level of community we have had in other places, even Berlin. I barely see my neighbours and whilst I have forced some to become more than just people who pass with a nod and a brief hej, I am not feeling that there is any level of community. I know that neighbours can change once you move in but if I were to ever move to an apartment again I would want to find out more about the make up of the building. We have too many rental units in our place with people changing on a regular basis and with young people who have no interest in being part of the building. In a way this makes the move to a house on a street a lot easier.
So weighing up both sides of apartment living – it feels that now is the time to move onto something more quiet and private. We have done the apartment living thing and enjoyed it but unless I can capture and relive that time on Bulowsvej in 2008-11, it is time to start a new era of life.