Best of both worlds

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 June, 2006, 12:00am

Nature and the great indoors blend seamlessly in a home renovated to meet the needs of teenagers and adults alike.

For some people, home is a sanctuary; for others, it is a space filled with voices, music and television. Thanks to clever interior design, home for Tony and Jennifer Law, their two teenage children and Jennifer's sister can be both tranquil and rowdy. When Jennifer left the University of Hong Kong and the family moved out of college housing, they decided to stay in Pokfulam, where they

had lived for many years. They then happened upon a 2,000 sq ft flat in a mid-1960s building that they knew could meet their needs.

The Laws called in Johnny Wong, design director of FAK3 (tel: 2946 9950), to transform the flat's warren of small, dark rooms into the bright and airy multifunctional space it is today. Says Wong: 'There was a grid-like layout and a partition of walls with lots of small rooms, lacking in light and air, which is in total contrast to the flat's context.'

To achieve the feeling the Laws wanted - a home that celebrated the nature that surrounded it and kept the family together rather than sequestered in private zones - Wong gutted the place and started afresh. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment was reborn as a four-bedroom, two-bath eyrie.

The Laws and Wong decided to make the dining room the heart of the home. 'We wanted to make a grand gesture and have one big, open space from the kitchen through the living room to the balcony,' Wong explains. 'However, we also wanted the space to have many possibilities in terms of function and configuration.'

To achieve these two almost contrasting goals, Wong created an architectural cascade effect that came about partly in response to the column and beam limitations imposed by the space. The main living area of the home, which is accessed via a sunken entryway into the dining room, can be organised into several layouts thanks to a series of sliding and customised swing doors that creates one large, open area or several intimate interlocking spaces. Daughter Poh Yin's bedroom is to the right of this main area, while the rest of the bedrooms are accessed through a corridor to the left.

The interior fits together like a jigsaw puzzle and has several other features that underscore its flexibility.

A raised area with extensive shelving between the living and dining rooms can be walled off to create a cosy reading room. A large table can be placed between the kitchen island and the dining table to connect all three pieces into a mosaic of surfaces for work and entertaining.

The tones of the flat reflect the cascading effect of the design and reiterate the connection with nature the Laws were seeking. The rich travertine wall of the dining room graduates to an earthy veneer in the reading room and a lighter-hued emulsion paint in the living room, culminating in the treated marine plywood of the balcony, which is completely exposed, thanks to the accordion wall of glass that fronts it.

'I really like the spatial experience of being here,' says Tony. 'That is the most beautiful part of the home. Though it looks straightforward in some ways, it changes visually when you move around the space; there are so many twists and turns where you can experience space in an interesting way.'

1 There is a seamless integration of indoor and outdoor space in the Laws' home. The balcony, equipped with bifold doors, flows into the living room, providing a striking view of a nearby hill. The custom-made wooden benches against the walls cost $30,000. The two couches ($14,999 for the pair) are from The Hamptons (B/F, Ichang House, 61 Caine Road, Mid-Levels, tel: 2869 8018). The rug ($495) is from Ikea (B/F, Park Lane Hotel, 310 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 3125 0888; The ottomans ($4,398 for the pair) are from Parks Engineering (unit 3, 11/F, 8 Wing Hing Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 9822 1017). The coffee tables in the living room and on the balcony are family heirlooms.

2 The all-wood library, which can be opened or closed using cleverly installed sliding doors and panels, is a place of quiet repose in the centre of a busy family home. Maple-wood flooring from Parks Engineering cost $35,040 for the flat and helps create a welcoming yet refined ambience.

3 The maple-veneer dining-room table connects to a custom-made removable middle work station and ultimately to a custom-made kitchen island, providing lots of space for the family to gather for work, play and meals. The kitchen cabinets ($32,000) are from Parks Engineering, as are the dining table ($6,900) and the light fixture ($1,760).

4 The six dining chairs cost $10,200 in total from Apartment (formerly in Causeway Bay, tel: 2882 2198).

5 The use of different levels and materials signifies motion from one part of the home to the next. The library, a subtle and multiuse centrepiece of the flat, connects and separates the living room from the dining room.

6 The indoor/outdoor theme continues in son Christopher's room, where part of the balcony, decked with Marine plywood, was sacrificed to give him more work space. The built-in desk is accompanied by a desk chair ($85) from Ikea. The rattan blinds ($650) are from Xin Gui Zu Fabric Bedding Indent (shop 1035, Lowu Commercial City, Shenzhen, tel: 86 755 8233 6312). 7 The tiled, en suite master bathroom, with transparent shower, was designed to take advantage of the natural light flowing through the window. The tiles, from Parks Engineering, cost $450 a square metre. The toilet ($2,500) and sink ($750) are from American Standard ( The sink cabinet ($4,500) is also from Parks Engineering.

tried & tested

take a seat

'There is a beautiful tree outside the kitchen that is covered with flowers for most of the year,' says Jennifer Law. 'I really wanted a window that made the most of that.' To satisfy this request, Johnny Wong, design director of FAK3 (tel: 2946 9950), installed a large accordion window that can be totally or partially opened and provides a vantage point from which to appreciate the tree. To allow Jennifer to enjoy the view, he created a false-fronted niche between cabinets where she can pull up a chair and enjoy a morning coffee. When she's not sitting there, the chair, which has a short back, can be tucked away.

Always looking to provide extra space in which to store odds and ends, Wong used the baseboard area for large sliding drawers. 'Luckily,' says Law, 'the design of the place means we have a lot of storage areas too.'

Styling: Esther van Wijck