Make your home a heavenly haven
Constantly craving that elusive spa breakaway? By transforming your home into a resort-like space, you can get the relaxing atmosphere you want without the stress of airports and travel. Occasional weekend resort escapes are almost de rigueur to restore equilibrium for frantic Hongkongers, but if you're looking at a more long-term stress-buster, why not turn your own home into a sanctuary?
Eric Abela, director of Hong Kong-based interior design firm Ferrano Disegni, says resorts are synonymous with open space, nature, trees and swimming pools. If your flat is smaller than 700 sq ft, he suggests creating a minimalist feel through simple, white-washed rooms with hidden storage and concrete floors. He advises placing an expensive dark wood or antique chair in a corner to 'absorb negative energy and make you pause'.
Mr Abela believes the only way to get a true resort feeling is by investing in the most luxurious bed you can find. He suggests the Westin Heavenly Bed at Starwood hotels for that extra-special touch, adding, 'Bathtubs can be bought or manufactured'.
A manufactured timber bathtub made to measure by Ferrano Disegni with Oz Works gives the advantage of matching colours and texture with the rest of the furniture.
'My favourite rain showers are from the famous designer Antonio Cetterio for Axor.'
The folks at Colour.Living recommend the RainSky shower by German brand Dornbracht, which does not take up too much space and is easy to install.
Karen Kim, director of international interior design at the Marriott International, advises incorporating a wooden floor into your home design. She recommends wide planks that are 'not too polished', accompanied by a jute or sisal rug.
'Open up your bathroom by removing the bathroom wall and replacing it with either glass or wood screens, and transform your bedroom by using a low platform bed with a wood frame. Invest in all-white linen and place an orchid flower on the bed. Place an oversized wood carving on a table or shelf for display,' she says, adding that a ceiling fan with wood blades adds a relaxing touch.
According to Rose Aznar of top-end outdoor furniture distributor Grupo Kettal, which has a showroom in Lyndhurst Terrace in Central, it is essential to get 'as much light as possible into your rooms' by hanging fine curtains or blinds.
'Furniture should be light to prevent visual pollution,' she says. 'The best materials for this are glass and aluminium. Add a few elements in bright colours, such as the living room sofa. The rest should be fairly neutral, in pale colours that give the feeling of space.'
To create a modern resort-like feel, she suggests award-winning designer Patricia Urquiola's 'light, modern' Kettal Maia collection, combining hi-tech fibre with a broad aluminium structure and comfortable cushions. Triconfort's Biarritz double deck chair designed by Jorge Pensi is 'this season's new feature'.
Claude Gregoire, Hong Kong-based interior designer and image consultant, suggests small changes to bring a luxurious touch to both small and larger homes. 'Go and get those nice, big luscious towels you've always wanted, even if you have a very plain bathroom. Change your loofah and soaps and place some fresh flowers next to your bath. Make large terry-cloth bathrobes part of your bathroom decoration, and use them every day.
'Use a screen placed on the ledge in front of your window, or long linen or cotton curtains that touch the floor, to create a spa-like feeling. Use washed-out colours such as sea green for the walls. If you have the space, place a lounge chair in a bedroom corner for relaxing. Keep the dominant room colour neutral, such as light woods and cream, and add touches of colour for contrast.'
Mr Gregoire suggests 'splurging' on luxurious pillows, creating a special corner with vanilla-scented candles and eliminating clutter.
A resort feel is a 'state of mind', so stick to your theme even when it comes to music and 'healthy but delicious' food, served on crisp, starched linen or stylish teak.
Using outdoor furniture such as low sofas and big chairs inside creates a tranquil atmosphere, says Mr Gregoire. He recommends Resource Asia in Horizon Plaza, Ap Lei Chau, for different lines.
'Even if you only have a small balcony, use the same furniture as you have indoors to create a continuum.
'Luxury is about space and light, so spend more on space. The bigger the bathtub, the better, but if you don't have space for a big bath, make it deeper. A walk-in shower with glass makes a big difference. Choose either a rain shower or one with water jets.' A browse through the bathroom accessories stores on Lockhart Road in Wan Chai will reveal a wealth of options, he says.
Even a tiny outdoor area is a boon. 'If you have a tiny garden with no room for a pool, add a water feature,' suggests Mr Gregoire. 'If you install an outdoor shower and some comfortable chairs, you'll use the space more.'
Design, resistance and durability are essential when it comes to outdoor furniture, says Ms Aznar. Grupo Kettal's designs are subject to strict quality-control tests on resistance to sun, moisture, salinity, paint adherence, combustibility and other factors.
Mr Abela says: 'There is nothing to stop you from designing outdoor furniture yourself. This enables you to create a continuous flow of matching design from interior to exterior. If you have a decent-sized garden, it pays to have low-maintenance trees and plants,' he adds.
The illustrated Tropical Minimal guide by Danielle Miller and Richard Powers offers plenty of inspiration, he concludes.
go to ...
Claude Gregoire Tel: 98044395
Colour.Living Tel: 25102666 www.colourliving.com.hk
Ferrano Disegni Tel: 91347770; www.ferranodisegni.com
Grupo Kettal Hong Kong
Tel: 25277369; www.grupokettal.com
Resource Asia Tel: 25549088, www.resourceasia.com.hk
by Danielle Miller and Richard Powers. Order through www.amazon.com
Westin Heavenly Bed firstname.lastname@example.org