Tsang Chi Fan
Christie's Hong Kong
Paola Dindo & Associates
RC Landscape Specialists
The area around my bedroom window is damp and the plaster is starting to flake off. How can
I remedy this?
Mark Fraser replies: This is a common Hong Kong problem, especially in areas near windows and air-conditioners where condensation accumulates. Sometimes they simply haven't been sealed adequately and you can reseal dubious-looking areas with clear, waterproof silicone applied using a silicone gun ($80).
To fix the damaged areas, scrape away the loose, flaking plaster. Mix a splash of turpentine into a tin of oil-based Dulux Alkali Resistant Sealer ($335/five litres) then, using a two-inch brush, apply liberally all over and five centimetres beyond the damp areas. Allow to dry thoroughly.
Using a plastering trowel ($30), skim a layer of Ready-Mixed Joint Compound ($50/tub) into the scraped-out area to bring it level with the rest of the wall. Don't worry about getting it too perfect - you can allow the first layer to dry (a couple of hours) and the second layer should be easier to bring up flush.
Once dry, rub lightly with some medium 'wet and dry' sandpaper ($5/sheet), wipe away all residual dust, then paint to match your existing wall colour. All tools and materials available from Wing Lee Hardware, 154 Wellington Street, Central (tel: 2544 2345).
My tiny bathroom is cluttered with toiletries. Can you suggest ways to store it all?
Tania Chow replies: A window recess is the ideal location to install a set of glass shelves. Measure the width and depth of the recess then decide on the number of shelves your window can accommodate (allow at least 20cm between each shelf).
Take the measurements to a glazier to have shelves cut to size (make sure they smooth the edges for you). Six-millimetre glass should be of adequate thickness to carry the weight of toiletries.
On the plaster 'frame' of the recess, mark the heights where you would like the shelves to sit, checking the measurements are horizontal with a spirit level. At each level drill two holes on both sides. Hammer in rawl plugs, screw in metal studs (available at any hardware store) then simply slot each glass shelf on to the stud supports.
However, the easiest solution is simply to buy yourself a good-looking bathroom cabinet. Ikea stocks a number of bathroom cabinets such as the Bleken in white melamine with a circular mirror on the front ($590) and the Atran in white lacquered aluminium ($199).
Local glaziers sometimes sell chrome cabinets that pass easily for utilitarian chic: Yiu Kwong Glass Co (46 Hollywood Road, Central. Tel: 2544 8642), for example, sells attractive chrome cabinets with mirrored doors, hinged or sliding (from $410).
If you're looking for something a little more polished, you could commission a design. A large, custom-made, mirror-fronted cabinet in a timber veneer with adjustable shelves and lined in plastic laminate would cost around $4,500.
I bought a piece of tribal fabric in Rajasthan, embroidered with mirrors, and would like to create a similar design on the wall. How would I go about it?
Paola Dindo replies: First, order a piece of plywood or stretched canvas in the size desired. Artland (tel: 2511 4845) and Sam & Co (tel: 2525 9607) both sell canvases, while you can find plywood at any timber merchant.
If opting for plywood, make sure you order one that's reasonably thick (1-2cm) as thinner pieces may warp. To prepare the surface, apply a thin layer of plaster filler with a spatula (ready-prepared filler is available from paint shops such as Yuen Fat Ho, tel: 2546 8020). Allow to dry then sand until smooth.
You can buy small round or square mirrors (glass or plastic) in the fabric streets of Shamshuipo (Ki Lung, Apliu and Yiu Chau streets) or the stalls where Pottinger Street meets Queen's Road, Central. You will also find sequins there which may suit your idea.
Sketch your design on to the canvas or plywood then paint in your chosen colours in water-based paint for a matt finish, or oil-based paint if you want something with sheen. Once dry, apply mirrors and sequins with a strong adhesive such as Aron Alpha 'Instant Krazy Glue'. Be careful as it bonds very quickly. If you get any on your skin, dissolve with acetone or ordinary nail-polish remover.