Play it again

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 September, 2007, 12:00am

Returning to a former home gave one Central resident the chance to do things differently second time around.

Long-term resident Paul Hicks recently moved back into the rare colonial gem in Central he occupied several years ago. But he wanted a change, which is why he opted for a modern interior that contrasts starkly with the tropical decor he favoured during his previous stay.

As with his last three residences, Hicks made the design decisions and went, as he puts it, 'out and about sourcing'. But he also consulted professionals, including Bruce Harwood of Palladio Kitchens, who offered practical advice and recommended contractor Cirrus Design Consultants as well as furnishings suppliers.

The work that went into the apartment was a significant undertaking for a rental property - though before investing in the renovation, Hicks made sure he had secured a double-length lease.

'A lot of my inspiration has come from visiting contemporary Asian hotels and resorts,' he says, gesturing from an oversized chocolate-brown-stained hardwood and glass front door towards a chilled-out living room and wood-decked balcony beyond. None would be out of place at a Balinese resort.

The 1,600 sq ft flat's two focal areas are its living room and kitchen. The spacious lounge is dominated by an oversized cream sofa and an arched window, with French doors leading to a balcony that connects with the kitchen and overlooks greenery. Presiding over this and a small dining area is a black iron chandelier comprising two concentric circles. The chandelier holds electric faux tea lights that flicker an ambient orange. The kitchen's eye-catching features are a sleek, stainless-steel glass shelf and the narrow black counter, for informal dining, over which it hovers. The dark palette was determined by an electrical appliance.

'I had to get this great shiny black fridge,' Hicks says, 'so that set the tone in the kitchen.' Sealed polished concrete was used on the walls, creating a striking juxtaposition with the original ceiling moulding, which is whitewashed.

Polished concrete is also used on walls in the en suite bathroom of Hicks' master bedroom, although the guest loo was afforded wackier treatment: its bright red walls are a backdrop to a light fitting that looks like an enlarged marine organism.

The master bedroom is a no-nonsense affair, mostly white, enlivened by artwork and a backlit, unusually tall fabric-covered headboard that makes the most of the high ceiling. 'I had seen extended headboards that I liked in hotels,' he says. 'I just exaggerated [the idea].'

In the entrance, wood and glass candlesticks were sourced from The Chedi resort in Chiang Mai. Sculptures made of weathered driftwood were shipped from elsewhere in Thailand while made-to-order paintings came from a Shenzhen art workshop Hicks found online (see Tried & Tested).

Lighting is an interesting component of the flat.

'It makes the difference between a 'normal' and 'design' home,' says Hicks. 'I had niches cut into wall panelling in the bedroom, just to allow interesting lines of recessed light.'

Another reason the flat looks different to how it did when Hicks last lived here, and is nothing like his last residence, is that most of the furniture is new. 'I always like to start with a clean slate for a new home and there was a lot that was built into the last one.'

1 The tall ceiling and enormous arched window called for an oversized sofa, which Paul Hicks had made for HK$35,800 by Fabrics etc (room 1109, 11/F, Asia Standard Tower, 59 Queen's Road, Central, tel: 2810 7360). The modern oriental chair and stool in stingray skin by OVO (16 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2526 7226) cost HK$8,200 and HK$6,800, respectively. The slick white audio-visual storage console was custom made by Casa Vogue (167 Queen's Road East, tel: 2529 4841) for HK$8,600. Small wooden tables from Baan Tawai woodcraft village in Chiang Mai cost HK$4,300 from the Mae Fah Luang Foundation (Srapatum Palace, 195 Phyathai Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok, tel: 66 2 252 4723), a project that supports traditional Thai hill tribe handicrafts.

2 The mirrored-glass entrance table (HK$4,800), from Artura Ficus (18/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 3105 3904), reflects colonial wall moulding. The wall mirror above it cost HK$2,800 from Indigo Living (6/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2555 0540). Bronze candle holders cost HK$1,700 each from Lamont Design in Bangkok (3/F, Gaysorn Plaza, 99 Ploenchit Road, tel: 66 2656 1250).

3 Because he is a tenant, Hicks was limited in what he could do to the guest bathroom. However, he makes the space pop with bright red walls and a wall light custom made by Cirrus Design Consultants (unit A, 3/F, On Loong Commercial Bldg, 276 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2838 5630) using a woodcarving (HK$1,700) from Bangkok (Sahasanetra, 4/F, Discovery Centre, tel: 66 2658 0415).

4 The eye-catching custom-made 'floating' steel shelf accommodates glasses above and features built-in LED lighting to illuminate the bar counter below. The shelf was made to Hicks' specifications by Cirrus Design Consultants. The kitchen, supplied and installed for HK$112,607 by Palladio Kitchen (3/F, Wah Hing Commercial Building, 283 Lockhart Road, tel: 2802 3900), features a black-glass Samsung double fridge, LG worktop, Candy oven and dishwasher. The leather Delhi bar stools came from G.O.D. (Leighton Centre, Sharp Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2890 5555) and cost HK$790 each.

5 An oversized fabric headboard, accentuating the high ceiling, was custom made with back lighting by Cirrus Design Consultants. The side tables are from Baan Tawai. The KEF HTC3001 speakers cost HK$3,960 a pair and their stands an additional HK$1,080 at Fortress (LG/F, Melbourne Plaza, 33 Queen's Road, Central, tel: 2121 1077). The fur rug (HK$1,400) is from Anyrooms (4/F, Discovery Centre, Bangkok, tel: 66 2 658 0481). The black and silver cushions are from Jaspal Home Collection (Sukhumvit 15-17 Road, Bangkok, tel: 66 2253 0842).

6 An old-fashioned ladder on wheels, built by Cirrus Design Consultants for HK$5,000, allows easy access to the top section of a tall closet.

7 The wrought-iron chandelier that illuminates dining and living areas was custom made by Touchable Lighting (4/F, Siam Paragon, Bangkok, tel: 66 2129 4513). The polished-oak Stroke II dining table from OVO cost HK$11,600. The chairs were HK$1,400 each from Artura Ficus. The circular teakwood mirror, from the Philippines, cost HK$2,400 from Indigo Living.

tried & tested

art online

While searching the Web for artwork for his new home, Paul Hicks discovered Doupine (, a Shenzhen-based art workshop. Along with a number of oil paintings, rendered to his visual and size specifications, he had an Andy Warhol-esque multi-self-portrait produced for a kitchen wall. He paid about US$400 for three large canvases that were delivered to his door stretched and framed.

styling Esther van Wijck