By the time this article is published, interior designer Sue Bond's Repulse Bay apartment will probably look different. Bond, whose duplex's interior changes with the wind, has designed a home that serves not only as a base for her family but also as an advertisement for her creative talent. Because it's her job, she says, investing in it is like spending 'ad money': 'People walk in here and I get the projects.'
Where now there are soft blue and grey-patterned fabrics everywhere, a week earlier there were shades of aubergine. 'I decided on Monday that I wanted to lose the purple ottoman so I phoned my upholsterer and he made me a cover in two days,' says Bond, whose tornado-like energy can be felt in every room of the roughly 4,000 sq ft, three-bedroom duplex.
What might surprise those visiting for the first time is that this is a rented property and the family has lived in it for only 2 1/2 years. So complete is the set-up it looks as though it has been a Bond house forever.
'It took a week to install,' says Bond, explaining that her family decamped from their native South Africa to Hong Kong 3 1/2 years ago, and moved into their first apartment, also in Repulse Bay. A year later, Bond, her banker husband, Craig, their two children (Simon, now 15, and Jamie, 12), a Jack Russell and a rescued cat then settled into the duplex, which took seven days to refurbish.
As with the homes in Hong Kong and elsewhere she has helped to overhaul, Bond's was created with a lifestyle budget plus a decorating one. The first, she explains, is money you 'throw away': '[You say to yourself] I'm spending this on my enjoyment. I'm making this practical and I can't take it with me. And then you decide on your decorating budget.'
Although Bond appears not to have scrimped on expenditure anywhere (save for the kitchen and bathrooms, which she left much as they were), she didn't shy from buying Ikea cabinets and inexpensive Lockhart Road handles and hooks, some of which (see Tried + tested) have been used for decorative purposes. As part of her 'lifestyle' costs, she laid custom-fitted carpet, affixed wallpaper, installed shutters to hide air-conditioning units outside, demolished walls and removed doors so a study downstairs could become a family room. Bond also painted extensively and created a beautiful garden and terrace, complete with a jacuzzi, outdoor shower, circus-sized trampoline and Chinese-inspired lattice screens. She even laid a lawn, beyond which is a glorious sea view.
Her decorating budget allowed Bond to mix and match antiques, other collectibles, art, family photos and fabrics. 'A lot of the furniture came from my previous home but it has all been reupholstered. And 99 per cent of my fabrics are from South Africa,' she says.
'My easiest way of upgrading, uplifting or changing a colour scheme is to go and get some fabulous fabrics. Change 10 scatter cushions in a room and you change the room. I'm known for being the scatter-cushion queen.'
Although she might favour constant improvement and variation in a home, one aspect of her interior design remains constant, she says, pointing to what she calls her 'family wall'. In the ground-floor television room, which is her favourite part of the house, Bond has hung scores of photographs on one wall. 'That's my signature on every job I do,' she says.
Another might be her creation of 'stories' in various parts of the house, with arrangements that include 'tablescapes' - objets that are gathered together in one place for display.
But isn't it asking for trouble to have treasures on show when there are teenagers and pets running around? 'I'm not hysterical about my things,' Bond says. 'My children have grown up with beautiful things and they know how to treat them. Our house is comfortable and lived in. It's not just a magazine cover.'
The big wall clock (HK$6,980) came from Tequila Kola (1/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2877 3295). The old Chinese table (HK$9,500) and stools (HK$1,800 each) were bought at Oriental Home (20/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 3542 5336). The chairs (HK$900 each) were from Artura Ficus (15/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 3105 3903). The candleholders (HK$570 each) were bought at Chapin House (Level 2, Oceanic Industrial Centre, 2 Lee Lok Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2552 2727). The dining table came from a previous home in South Africa.
2 Family room
Sue Bond (firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: 6084 0346) had the pictures framed for about HK$750 each at Zetter Picture Framer (LG/F, Hoseinee House, 69 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2542 4269). A 'tablescape' that displays collectibles is in a nook in front of the shuttered windows. The L-shaped sofa cost HK$21,000 at Tequila Kola and the coffee table HK$8,800 at Oriental Home. The Gabbeh hand-woven 10 feet by eight feet Persian rug cost HK$13,000 at Al-Shahzadi (265 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2834 8396). The antique wooden buckets used as orchid pots were HK$530 each at Chapin House. Everything else in the room is from a previous home.
3 Dressing room
By knocking down a wall, Bond created a dressing room that is connected to the master bedroom. Two old chairs were given a new lease of life with slip covers and an ottoman was reupholstered in zebra-print fabric (HK$3,000) from Hertex (www.hertex.co.za). The tables (HK$15,000 for the pair) and stools (HK$3,800 for two) came from Oriental Home. The rug cost HK$12,000 from Al-Shahzadi. The cupboards were bought at Ikea (various locations; www.ikea.com.hk). The various jars (HK$250 to HK$450) were from Chapin House.
Opening onto a deep balcony is the lounge, for which Bond had a television unit made by Artura Ficus for HK$19,000. The coffee table (HK$8,500) came from Oriental Home. The ottoman (HK$9,800) and cushions (HK$1,000 each) were made by James Curtain (40A Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2576 9448). The sofas and armchairs were bought years ago.
5 Dining area
Beside the dining table, which came from a previous home, is a display cabi-net (HK$18,000) from Dynasty Antiques (10/F, DCH Motor Service Building, 111 Lee Nam Road, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2554 8861). The boot (HK$2,080) came from Homeless (29 Gough Street, Central, tel: 2581 1880). The French chair was upholstered in Design Team fabric from South Africa (www.designteamfabrics.co.za).
6 Powder room
A bathroom near the formal dining area was converted into a powder room for guests. Bond made a top to cover the tub, on which she stacked books, objets and an Hermes handbag, which holds toilet rolls. The portrait is by Hong Kong-based artist Simon Birch (www.alivenotdead.com/simonbirch) and the assorted South African art is available through Ferreira Art Gallery (www.ferreiraart.com). The two Chinese figures cost HK$400 each at Chapin House. The bench (HK$3,800) and woven basket (HK$150) were from Oriental Home.
7 Son's bedroom
On the ground floor, with direct access to the garden, is son Simon's room. The headboard (HK$4,700) and curtains (HK$15,230) were made by James Curtain. The bedside lamps, fur throw, chair and clock came from a previous home. The artwork was by a student in Beijing. The desk and bedside table are old.
8 Master bedroom
On the walls is sisal wallpaper (HK$1,800 to HK$2,200 a roll) from Elite Curtain (15/F, Kwan Chart Tower, 6 Tonnochy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2572 8337). The headboards (HK$9,800 for the pair) and curtains (HK$38,000) were made by James Curtain. The armchair, from a previous home, was covered in ikat fabric from Hertex. The Italian chandelier is years old but similar antique chandeliers are available at Tequila Kola for about HK$30,000. Above the armchair is a painting, by Vietnamese artist Dang Xuan Hoa, from Arch Angel Art Gallery (58 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2851 6882). The dressing table (HK$5,900) was from Chapin House. A chair similar to the one in the bedroom costs HK$1,500 at Chapin House. The bedside table, bedside lamps and coffee table are from a previous home.
Tried + tested
Instead of having small mountains of baseball caps around the house, Sue Bond made a feature of them in her son Simon's bedroom. The armchair came from a previous home and the antique trunk was HK$6,000 at Oriental Home.
Styling Fox Daniels