Case in point
The stairs are often overlooked when it comes to design, but in one house in Tai Mei Tuk, in the New Territories, Timothy Cheng of Tiron Interior Architecture transformed them into a major feature.
The 2,100 sq ft house that accommodates the staircase, in Meadow Cove - a private housing estate built about two years ago - appealed to owners Ken Yue and his wife partly because of the outdoor communal areas, which, Yue says, are well maintained by a management company that also provides good security. In addition, he says, the fung shui for the house is 'excellent': the mountains behind it 'provide support' and the ocean in front brings in money and good fortune. Plus, it's built on a hill, affording its residents good views.
On the ground level of the three-storey house, what was originally the front door opens onto the open-plan living room, which incorporates the dining area and kitchen at one end and leads out to the garden. The first thing Cheng did was to 'swap' the entrances, so that the front door became the back door and vice versa. The original back door is closer to the parking area and is at the end of a path that winds through a small garden created by Yue. Walking the path is a pleasant way to approach the house.
Next came the aforementioned stairs. 'There was an ugly, boring spiral staircase in the corner,' says Cheng, which had to go.
The new stairs lead up from the former front entrance and are a striking ground-floor feature. Cheng's design incorporates a multi-functional wall into which a television is built at one end (see Tried + tested); at the other there is a small, illuminated recessed area for the display of a favourite ornament or flower arrangement.
Cheng has left a gap along the bottom of the wall and the stairs so that, from the living room, you can see the feet of people walking up and down. He calls this feature 'the mystery within the ordinary'. Being able to see the feet but not the bodies of people, he believes, adds an element of humour.
In the living room there is a white leather sofa and a large rug that not only looks like a pebbled beach but feels like one underfoot (albeit much softer). Equally eye-catching is an oval dining table that fits snugly into a curved edge of the kitchen units. Says Cheng: 'I wanted to create a feeling of flowing [with the creation of] curved edges.'
On the first floor there's a guest bedroom and bathroom, a cosy living room for visitors and a larger room that incorporates Yue's office space, his exercise equipment, a relaxation chair and a wine fridge - plus a balcony with a view of the sea. 'This is my den and no women are allowed in,' he jokes.
The top floor comprises the master bedroom and spacious en-suite bathroom. Japanese touches underscore Yue's affection for the country, which he visits whenever he can. They include an ornamental arrangement in the main bathroom and a dramatic black plunge bath inspired by onsen baths.
The Yues like to drink tea in bed from a Japanese tea set and the roof garden has a bonsai tree and quirky knick-knacks from Japan. Says Yue: 'I like the way the Japanese pay attention to the small details.'
To recreate the look and feel of a luxury hotel, neutral tones dominate the decor, with the occasional addition of black and white, 'I like hotel rooms,' says Yue, 'because they are clean, uncluttered spaces.'
Just visible under the stairs is an entertainment storage unit, which was designed and built for HK$20,000 by Timothy Cheng of Tiron Interior Architecture (16/F, Tung Che Commercial Centre, 246 Des Voeux Road West, Sai Ying Pun, tel: 2858 4268). The vase and flowers came from Fink - The Art of Living (155 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2919 2308). The ornament came from an art gallery in Central.
2 Living room
The white leather sofa (HK$30,000) came from Cierre (60 Des Voeux Road Central, tel: 2259 5368). The rug was bought online from Thailand (www.dema.co.th) for HK$25,000; shipping to Hong Kong cost about HK$3,500. The pouffes were HK$159 each at Ikea (various locations; www.ikea.com.hk). The stairs were designed by Tiron and custom made by the in-house contractor for HK$40,000.
The kitchen (including the dining table) was designed and built by Tiron for HK$80,000. The Philippe Starck Ghost chairs (HK$2,780 each) came from Aluminium (36 Cochrane Street, Central, tel: 2546 5904). The ceiling light with orange shade was bought from Kartell (1/F, Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2810 0408) for HK$350.
4 Guest room
The sofa (HK$19,000) came from Cierre. The curtains were made by Master Resource (1/F, Winsan Tower, 98 Thomson Road, Wan Chai, tel: 3105 3060) for HK$5,000. The television unit was custom made by Tiron for HK$10,000.
5 En-suite bathroom
The plunge bath was custom made and installed by Tiron for HK$30,000. All the fittings were bought from Fink - The Art of Living. The blinds were HK$5,000 from Master Resource.
The wall units were custom made by Tiron for HK$30,000. The punch bag was bought on the mainland.
The bed came from Aluminium and cost HK$12,000. The side tables were custom made by Tiron for HK$6,000, as was the headboard, which cost HK$8,000.
All the plants were purchased from the Mong Kok flower market.
Tried + Tested
On the living-room wall that forms part of the relocated staircase, Timothy Cheng of Tiron Interior Architecture has installed a television that appears to be suspended in mid-air. 'I wanted it to look like it's floating,' he says. 'It's part of my signature design style.' To achieve the effect, Tiron's in-house contractors used a standard wall-mounting system on three sides of the TV.
Styling Fox Daniels