During the week, the fashion designer Ulla Johnson spends most of her time in her SoHo studio or traveling to countries like Kenya, Peru, or India for materials and inspiration. On weekends, however, she tends to stay within a tight radius of her Fort Greene brownstone. “My vision and the actual logistics of my life are so scattered, with the travel and work and the sourcing and everything, it’s nice to be close to home,” she said.
For Ms. Johnson, 45, a native New Yorker who was raised in a small apartment building in Yorkville, the tree-lined streets of Brooklyn, where she lives with her family (husband Zach Miner, 46, an art consultant, and their children Soren, 13, Asher, 10, and Agnes, 7) have special appeal. “It’s very verdant,” she said. “I grew up in a much more urban setting, but my children have a different life. It’s a much more peaceful existence.”
Ms. Johnson will show her newest line of clothing and accessories at New York Fashion Week on Feb. 8.
LET THEM WATCH We don’t sleep much later on the weekend than the week — maybe I sleep until 7:30 versus 6:30. It’s not wildly different, even though that feels somewhat luxurious. I am a “coffee the minute I wake up” kind of person. My husband and I will have coffee, and usually the kids will tiptoe by our door and try and sneak down to the TV to watch cartoons. I’m a little bit draconian about restricted access to screen time, but we do let them — that’s the time of the week that they really get to do their own thing.
RUN One reason that I’ve always loved Fort Greene is that I love running in Prospect Park. The run from my house, around the loop and back, is about five miles. It’s a beautiful run; for me, it’s my sort of contemplative practice. I don’t listen to music, I’m just present with myself and my thoughts.
FAMILY BREAKFAST I’ll come back and then my husband will go out after me. By 10, we’ve both come back. The kids are probably starving and everybody’s getting grumpy. My husband is a very avid cook — like, incredible — in all meals and all genres; we usually do some kind of waffles or pancakes. I don’t eat it but the kids love it.
PLAYGROUND APPRECIATION After that, everyone has to get ready. I’ll take my daughter to the playground — she’s obsessed with the monkey bars, and she’s shockingly good. My husband takes the boys to shoot hoops, maybe block away from where the playground is. We’ll do that for an hour.
It’s funny because I’ve just come to my playground love with the end of the young part of my third child’s childhood. For a long time it was sort of the chaos of, “Oh my God, who’s crying? “Where did the kid go?” The hyper awareness, all the different idiosyncrasies of the social dynamic. But now it’s not like that: my daughter’s just doing the monkey bars. It’s so peaceful.
DON’T CALL IT BRUNCH After that we’ll go to Roman’s. I do love an Italian grandma lunch. I’m such a creature of habit: I find my favorite places and then I’m like, “That’s where we’re going.” The other thing about Roman’s is that they don’t serve brunch — they don’t do fancy eggs or a hollandaise. It’s lunch, it’s delicious, there’s pasta, there’s meat. It’s wonderful and it’s quite leisurely. It doesn’t have that brunch freneticism and the endless Bloody Marys — that vibe that happens when you go to places that are very brunch-oriented.
LOST IN BOOKS The other place I love to go: Greenlight Bookstore. We can all get lost there: everybody looks at their own little sections. It’s a great place to hang: it’s so welcoming and there’s plenty of space around.
I’m a literature freak. I read things with heavy subject matter; I read a lot of female authors. It’s an exciting time for literature, there’s so much good stuff out there. I’m constantly buying more books.
GAMES PEOPLE PLAY We often host people on Sundays. It’s kind of like an open door — Sunday supper, anybody knows, we’re there, we’re cooking at home, it’s probably going to be chicken, we’re listening to Johnny Cash, there’s always candlelight.
The chicken goes in the oven and we have that hour and half when we can connect in another way. We’re really into games — this is another great equalizer between the ages: a 14-year old and a 7-year old both like it. We like Yahtzee, Scrabble or a new obsession, Phase 10. Any opportunity to play a game or do a puzzle — these are things that our family really loves and can come together.
NO MORE SUNDAY DREAD After the kids go to bed, Zach and I will have a cup of tea — that’s one of my favorite things to do. It’s a place where we can just talk about the week ahead. I grew up with that idea of Sunday dread and I don’t have it anymore. It’s always excitement. The weekends are very full and amazing and family-based and Monday is something totally different that I also love.
Sunday Routine readers can follow Ulla Johnson on Instagram @ullajohnson.