An overseas home

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 September, 2007, 12:00am

Flooring that brought back memories of Europe and a magnificent ocean view were enough to convince one expatriate she had found the perfect apartment.

The unadulterated view of the sea instantly struck a chord with British stylist Lucie McCullough, of Clapp-McCullough Styling, when she walked into what was destined to become her home in Pok Fu Lam. 'It's 200 degrees of sea,' she says. 'Never in my life will I get such a view again.'

The vista impressed her but she was also taken with the flooring, which brought back memories of her life in Europe. 'That tweaked my heartstrings. When I lived in Paris and Milan I always dreamed of having a beautiful town flat with herringbone parquet flooring,' she says. 'I couldn't believe it when I walked into this flat and it had exactly that.'

These two factors were enough to convince McCullough (tel: 6409 3434) she had found the perfect residence for herself, husband Ronan and their dog, Whistler. Because it is a rental, McCullough was loath to embark on a major renovation of the 2,200 sq ft flat. Luckily, the apartment already worked well space-wise. 'Architecturally speaking, the people who designed this flat did a very good job,' she says, gesturing to the long slim living and dining room, a study room off to the side, a triangular balcony and two good-sized bedrooms.

What she did do, however, was work to increase the sense of light and space by painting all the doors and cupboards white. 'Because of the relatively low ceilings these apartments can be dark, in spite of the view, so painting them white has made a big difference,' she says.

As an interior stylist, McCullough spends her days helping others to achieve comfortable and stylish homes, so it's not surprising her own place is a clever blend of the two. It works equally well as a relaxed or formal environment. 'I live and work here so it needed to fit both of those elements yet create a fresh oasis of calm for my husband when he comes home after work or from travels,' she says.

Despite having lived in the apartment for just over a year and bringing very little with her when she moved to Hong Kong, she has created an interior that feels as though it has been put together over a long period of time. It is elegant, fresh and feminine. 'Everything was pretty much custom made here but it doesn't look new or all that Asian,' she says. Hers is a personal approach to design, based on seeking inspiration from her environment and travels, finding new suppliers - often on the internet - and working with them to realise her ideas.

McCullough's creative eye is always on the hunt for interesting pieces. Her collections include an antique-style sofa and a glamorous chaise longue made in Indonesia, a four-poster bed modelled on one seen on her honeymoon in France last year, a white Chinese-style cabinet from Macau and a pair of antique chinoiserie side tables from London.

She likes to test new suppliers - and is often rewarded for her ingenuity. 'For the chaise longue I found someone on and sent the materials to Indonesia and they sent the finished goods back,' she says. 'I couldn't guarantee it would work, but I trusted them and now I have a relationship with them.'

She also scours markets and local stores for ideas: fun finds include curtain tiebacks made of strings of coral from Hong Kong's jade market; European garden statuary pictures blown up to enormous proportions by a local photo lab and mounted on canvas; duck statues from Beijing's Panjiayuan flea market; and a huge silver bucket, filled with flowers, inspired by a local restaurant but made by a silversmith in India.

McCullough confesses she is a fan of what she calls 'neat clutter'. 'I like things you can see but everything has its place,' she says. She admits to being a fan of stark minimalism in the aesthetic sense but knows she could never achieve it in reality. 'I appreciate minimalism, but in the house I live in that's never going to happen,' she says with a laugh.

1 The triangular balcony offers a great ocean view. Lucie McCullough painted the ceiling a soothing shade of purple and installed a ceiling fan from Alan Engineering (14 Merlin Street, North Point, tel: 2887 6638). The glass table and woven chairs cost HK$3,500 for the set from Yutang Furniture (99 Gongye Avenue, Longjiang, Shunde, Foshan, China, tel: 86 757 2336 0976;

2 Nestling against the rear wall of the living room is an antique reproduction French sofa that cost HK$6,000 from KMJ Furniture in Indonesia (tel: 61 81 129 8127; www. . Beside the sofa is a mother-of-pearl side table, sourced in Egypt through eBay ( /egypt-shopping-made-easy). On the table is a lamp made from the root of a whitewashed tree (HK$2,000, from Hing Cheong, 28 Rua De Sao Paulo, Macau, tel: 853 2835 8050). The chess set was also purchased through eBay.

3 The glass-topped circular dining table is set with brown zigzag glasses from Tequila Kola (1/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2877 3295; www.tequilakola. com) and antique cutlery sourced during McCullough's honeymoon in Bordeaux, France. The dining chairs cost HK$900 each, including loose covers, from MK and Co (123 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2527 2861). The painting was commissioned in Phuket and the white wedding cabinet cost HK$2,500 from Hing Cheong.

4 A glamorous black-and-white striped chaise longue (HK$2,000 from KMJ Furniture) ensures little interrupts the stunning sea view. At its foot is a tall silver candelabra (HK$1,400 plus shipping) sourced in India through (

5 A palette of black and white defines the bedroom. The four-poster bed is a copy of one seen in France; the antique reproduction armchair (HK$3,000) is from KMJ Furniture and the antique chinoiserie side tables were purchased at auction in London. The black frames (about HK$600 each from Arco Framers, 105 Queens Road East, tel: 2866 8848) feature vintage Yohji Yamamoto advertisements bought in London. The black and white curtains were sourced at the Shenzhen fabric market and cost about HK$1,600. The coral tiebacks were found in the jade market (at Kansu and Battery streets, Yau Ma Tei) and cost about HK$300 each.

6 Accessories line the countertop in the kitchen. The black-and-white pepper grinders, A$25 each (HK$160), were purchased in Australia. The teapot with the pink butterfly (approximately HK$880) is from the Zandra Rhodes collection for Royal Doulton and was purchased online (

7 McCullough decorated a standard bathroom with well-chosen accessories. The parasol used as a lampshade cost HK$50 from Cat Street Market in Central. The floral shower curtain was bought online and cost US$50 from (tel: 877 228 4927; www. Sheer drapes and potted plants add instant style.

8 In the soothing guest bedroom, the lime-green side tables, HK$2,000 per pair, are from Hing Cheong. The bedside light bases cost HK$768 each from Kings Lighting (76 Morrison Hill Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2892 8867) and the shades cost HK$280 each from Hing Cheong. Above the bed are enlarged photographs of European statuary printed on fabric by Chung Pui Photo Supplies (44 Stanley Street, Central, tel: 2868 4135).

tried & tested

here comes the bride

Lucie McCullough wanted to include her friends in her home. 'I love photos; they are the most important things around me,' she says. 'I particularly like having lots of photos around of all our friends we don't get to see out here.' For this reason she created her 'wedding wall'.

She took one area of wall space in the corridor near the bedrooms and covered it with photographs of her friends on their wedding day. She mounted similarly sized photographs on the wall in non-symmetrical positioning using simple white frames, available in packs of two from Ikea (Basement, Park Lane Hotel, 310 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 3125 0888; It is a great talking point when guests come over.

'I love to walk past it before I go to bed and see all my friends on the best day of their lives. It makes me go to sleep with a smile.'

STYLING Esther van Wijck