PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 August, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 August, 2001, 12:00am


Tania Chow

The Partnership


Gary Chang

Edge (HK)


Tsang Chi Fan

Christie's Hong Kong


Mark Fraser

CDI Professional Decorators


Paola Dindo

Paola Dindo & Associates

I've bought a pair of antique silk shoes originally worn by women with bound feet and I'd like to display without them gathering dust. Do you have any suggestions and can you tell me more about them?

Tsang Chi Fan replies: Shoes for women with bound feet, often beautifully embroidered, have a slightly pointed tip and a wedge heel. The smallest examples measure little more than three inches (76mm) long which is why they are sometimes referred to as a Three Inch Golden Lily. The practice of foot-binding dates from the early 10th century and continued until the early 20th century, for Han Chinese girls between the ages of three and 12. This painful (and smelly, as the feet often rotted) process involved binding from the toes to the ankle with woven cotton or silk strips to stop the feet growing. A good marriage prospect was measured by the size of a girl's shoes, so it was important that her shoe was as small as she could endure. As part of her dowry, a girl had to make between four and 16 pairs of shoes as proof of her needlework skill: no mean task as the soles and heels had to be reinforced with stitching and the exterior intricately embroidered.

In some cases, the shoes are quite flat and can can be mounted under a boxed frame. Otherwise, a three-dimensional alternative is to enclose them within a purpose-built perspex case with a removable base or cover. This will help to protect the shoes from dust and humidity.

AD Signage Products Co can create such a box for between $200 and $400, depending on the thickness of the perspex. It also sells excellent perspex stands for displaying dishes and plates for around $100. Contact Kenneth on 2543 2873.

I have more than 100 handbags and fancy having a selection of the pretty brocade and beaded ones on display. Any suggestions?

Tania Chow replies: The back of a door would make a perfect display area and serve to contain the bags in one spot. With a pencil, mark out two evenly spaced vertical lines, then mark around six points roughly at 30cm intervals. Hammer nails or screw in hooks at every point, then tie on co-ordinating ribbons to make them more decorative.

If you'd like to display your bags on a wall like a work of art, you could mount them on a coloured background. Buy a piece of plywood (it usually comes in a 120cm by 240cm panel). Drill into the wall, push in rawlplugs and attach the plywood to the wall with screws. Paint in your favourite colour then attach hooks in the arrangement of your choice. If you want to emphasise the art gallery look, frame in an ornate gilded moulding. Alternatively, you could treat them like a three-dimensional border by hanging them about 10-15cm from the top of the ceiling all round the room.

Opening Decorative Material Supplier at 206-210 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai (tel: 2519 9951) stocks a good selection of interesting hooks in different finishes and styles, starting from $6.

Are there ways of making a flat appear more spacious, and the ceilings taller, other than the usual trick with mirrors?

Gary Chang replies: The most extreme measure you might consider is remodelling. One large room will appear more spacious than many small ones. Just make sure you check whether the walls you remove are not structural, and holding up the ceiling.

A less drastic approach is to create a homogeneous interior by painting the walls and ceiling in the same colour. By diminishing any distinctions between areas and by using a light colour, the space will automatically appear larger. Then try to reduce the number of objects in each room. You should strike a balance between what you feel comfortable with and what looks clean, usually halfway between being minimalist and cluttered. Strategically located zones can cater for all your storage needs, thereby allowing other areas to remain free. To lower the focus of a room (and therefore make the ceilings appear higher), you might introduce an area of low seating and beanbags.

Finally, there is a way of using mirrors that you may not have considered. Rather than just going for one large sheet, you could also affix vertical lengths of mirror at the points where one wall meets another, or where the ceiling meets walls. This will suggest a larger space but in a more subtle way.