Raising the roof

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 May, 2012, 12:00am


The sophisticated masculinity of French finance professional Yoram Layani's Bonham Road bachelor pad reflects his Renaissance-man interests as a keen home cook, dinner party host and DJ.

'I love the spacious feeling and industrial look of New York lofts, so that was the brief I gave my interior designer - lots of light, space and workshop-style materials,' says Layani. 'I didn't want an over-the-top designer flat, though, so we went for wood in the kitchen and on the floors, to preserve a warm and comfortable feeling despite the use of bricks and metal accents.'

Interior designer and fellow French expat Peggy Bels was tasked with transforming the three-bedroom, 1,000 sq ft space into an airy loft. The first order of business was to knock down the internal walls to expose the kitchen and create an open-plan layout, with a spacious bedroom separated from the living room by a sliding glass door (a curtain can be pulled across for privacy). A dramatic black mosaic-clad bathroom was installed behind the bedroom, with two entrances so it can be an en-suite and entered from the living room.

The main materials employed in the redesign were 'brick' (4mm-thick, brick-effect tiling), oak and matte-black metal, which was used for the custom-built kitchen cabinets and bespoke furniture, including the bed, which has built-in storage.

'The amazing thing about using this salvaged industrial metal is that you never know what you're going to get because it's not uniform,' Bels says. 'You could have a piece with a beautifully rusted look.'

Against this minimal backdrop are statement pieces of furniture, such as a custom-designed red sofa and a black-and-white pony-skin chair. Bels' attention to detail extended to having pinstriped cushions and black bed sheets with white piping made by a tailor.

'In Hong Kong, you can have everything made exactly as you wish,' she says. 'So why would you buy something off the shelf?'

At the heart of the apartment is the kitchen. The space features an enormous oak counter as a centrepiece around which guests can socialise, perched on 1950s-style bar stools, while the host prepares dinner.

'Every time I have friends over, whether it is six or 30 people, they stick around that counter like magnets,' says Layani.

A convivial set-up is achieved by having the oven and cooking hobs facing into the room, so the chef doesn't need to turn his back on guests and can keep the conversation flowing while he works.

Another important element to Layani's gatherings is music. His sound system, including turntables, was integrated into the design during the renovation to avoid unsightly clutter. Sub-woofers are stowed under the bedroom's window seat, white Bose speakers are mounted on the walls and everything is centrally controlled by an iPad. The party can continue on the roof terrace, which has a built-in iPad dock tucked into a corner and waterproof speakers placed behind the furniture.

Accessible from the living room via a 'floating' metal staircase, the roof terrace has a lounging area with sofas, a day bed, cement occasional tables, a dramatic black metal dining table surrounded by curvaceous Panton chairs, a barbecue and an al-fresco shower. A wall of bamboo softens the stark modernity of the outdoor furniture.

'We raised the height of the roof by about 50cm with the teak decking,' says Bels. 'This improved the view from the roof and meant we were able to install a [horizontal] glass door at the top of the internal staircase, which can then slide under the deck, making it invisible while open [see Tried + tested].' But, she adds, the opening may need to be fenced off before the summer party season begins, to prevent guests who have overindulged from falling back into the apartment.

1 & 2 Roof

The metal dining table was bought years ago. The Verner Panton chairs (HK$2,500 each) were from Aluminium (various locations; www.aluminium-furniture.com). The sofas (HK$6,200 each), day bed (HK$8,000) and cement tables (HK$1,999 each) were all from online store Deco on Demand (www.decoondemand.hk). The teak decking cost HK$95 per square foot from Wonderfloor (271 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2728 9373). The teak cabinets (HK$14,000) were custom made by Peggy Bels (tel: 9854 3112; www.peggybels.com). The bamboo plants are from Mountain City Plant (192 Prince Edward Road, Mong Kok, tel: 2394 4982). The Nikles shower (HK$3,500) came from Classic Bathroom Accessories (171A Lockhart Road, tel: 2877 0870).

3 Living area

The red sofa (HK$12,000) was custom built for Bels by a factory on the mainland. The natural oak flooring (HK$82 per square foot) came from a company that has since closed. The 'brick' wall tiles were HK$30 per square foot from Hop Hing Lung Material (235 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 3013). The console holding the turntables was bought years ago from Greenfingers Florist (6 Aberdeen Street, Central, tel: 2827 8280). The black fibreglass chair in the foreground is by Ron Arad and was bought at Aluminium for HK$8,000. The coffee table (HK$6,000) was from Wood Shop (2/F, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, tel: 2234 0111).

4 Steps

The black metal floating staircase (HK$150,000) was custom built by Bels, as was the storage unit/seat (HK$13,000) beneath the treads. The Ptolomeo bookcase (HK$8,000) was bought through www.ambientedirect.it. The pony-skin chair is an Eames LCW model bought by Yoram Layani in France.

5 Corridor

The turntable case, lamp and framed record covers were bought years ago. The red hand hooks (HK$1,000 each) came from Homeless (28 Gough Street, Central, tel: 2851 1160). The Philippe Starck black Ghost Chair cost HK$3,000 from Aluminium. The metal-framed mirror was HK$5,000 from Greenfingers Florist.

6 Bedroom

The bed (HK$8,000), bedside table (HK$2,500) and bedding (HK$2,000) were custom made by Bels. The wall-mounted bedside lights (HK$1,500 each) came from Made In Design (www.madeindesign.com).

7 Kitchen

The cabinetry and worktops were custom built by Bels for HK$200,000. Bels found the bar stools (HK$300 each), by Jerome Lepert, in Paris, France. The two extraction units (HK$10,000 each) above the hob are by Roblin and came from Ecox (194 Tong Mi Road, Prince Edward, tel: 2396 0166). 8 Bathroom Installed behind the bedroom, the bathroom and walk-in wardrobe are visible through interior glass windows. The matte-black mosaic tile on walls and floor cost HK$68 per square foot from Leader Building Materials (189 Lockhart Road, tel: 2507 4238). The Nikles shower (HK$3,945) came from Classic Bathroom Accessories.


Let there be light

The glass sliding door that separates the floating staircase from the rooftop doubles as a skylight. When open, it disappears under the teak decking of the terrace. The door was custom built by Peggy Bels for HK$50,000.

Styling David Roden