Pick and mix

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 September, 2007, 12:00am

With furniture and collectables carefully assembled from all over the world, one family home reflects its owners' cultural heritage.

Here's what happens when you design a home to suit a modern family that exhibits a cosmopolitan mixture of cultures and languages. The Richards - Maurice, an American; Lucille, a French-Canadian; and three-year-old Noelle, who was born in Indonesia - moved to Hong Kong two years ago from Singapore.

'The story of our apartment is the story of our family,' explains Lucille. 'Everything from everywhere all combined together.' While this may be true, their interior style is a cohesive blend of elements, designed to their specifications with the aid of a contractor.

The 1,450 sq ft unit is in an old building on Kennedy Road. 'We like the neighbourhood, the building is well managed and it has amazing views,' says Lucille of their decision to buy.

Their renovations were extensive. The first thing they did was restore the enclosed balcony and install a glass balustrade to make the most of the views of Wan Chai.

'We have people over often and now, when we open the balcony doors, it brings in the exterior space. We didn't want any partitions cutting off the view so now you look straight out and have the whole of Wan Chai in the living room,' she says.

Both lawyers, the couple needed to create an area in which they could take conference calls at home. But because space was limited they wanted somewhere that could function as a family room as well as a work zone. They tore down the wall between the living room and the study and installed sliding glass door panels, similar to those seen in corporate offices (see Tried & Tested).

They then installed a wall unit to house their large collection of books and built in a small workstation. They also added a comfortable sofa and a television. 'This room functions like a family room but we work here a lot. When we need to use it as a conference room we close the glass doors,' says Lucille.

Other refurbishments included installing a kitchen and bathrooms, all of which feature geometric black and white floor tiles that give a modernist air.

Deciding which furnishings to include in their new home, Lucille admits, was a matter of negotiation. When the couple met, in Singapore, they already had their own furniture. 'It was a culling process. Some of it is mine, some of it is my husband's. It was not easy. We had to negotiate every single piece.'

In general, the modern designer furniture (including pieces by Le Corbusier, Eileen Gray, Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer) belonged to Maurice and the antique pieces and soft furnishings (Chinese side table and Indian and Pakistani rugs) belonged to Lucille.

'We both sent stuff to storage,' says Lucille, revealing that her husband's treasured airline seats, purchased during renovations at Singapore's Changi airport, were deemed too 'bachelor pad' and didn't make the cut for their family home.

The couple purchased other items, including Indonesian art for Noelle, a 1960s black and white photographic print from the Mandarin Oriental before it was refurbished, paintings from Vietnam and India, and a selection of 1960s hanging lights from Manks, in Central.

While bright and airy during the day, the apartment comes into its own at night, when the surrounding buildings light up. 'There is a crazy New York Blade Runner feel about the view at night,' says Lucille. 'You can see a bit of the harbour from here but that is not the point. The point is the city lights.'

1 In the living room, large windows fold back to create a seamless divide between inside and out. Clear glass panels on the balcony mean the city views are unobstructed. The Arco lamp by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Flos cost S$1,800 (HK$9,200) from Space Furniture (level 2, Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Boulevard, Singapore, tel: 65 6415 0000; www.spacefurniture.com.sg). The Barcelona chairs, by Mies van der Rohe, cost US$3,888 each and are available online from Design Within Reach (www.dwr.com). The Fattina Due coffee table, GBP894 (HK$14,000), is from Interior Internet (Mayfair House, 14 Heddon Street, London, Britain, tel: 44 207 704 9046; www.interiorinternet.com) and the Indian carpet is from Hassan's Carpets (level 1, Tanglin Shopping Centre, 19 Tanglin Road, Singapore, tel: 65 6737 5626; www.hassanscarpets.com). The Frighetto sofa was ordered directly from the Italian manufacturer by a dealer in Singapore (shop since closed). Above it is an artwork by Indian artist Amarnath Sharma from Saffron Art (Industry Manor, 3/F Prabhadevi, Mumbai, India, tel: 91 22 2436 4113; www.saffronart.com).

2 Noelle dashes in front of an antique Chinese side table, S$1,100 from Red House Carved Furniture (block 26, 1 Dempsey Road, Singapore, tel: 65 6474 6980). Above the table hangs a print of a British election campaign advertisement. Maurice originally saw the advert in a magazine and had it copied, enlarged and framed.

3 Vintage posters from Air France (obtained through a friend) adorn the walls of Noelle's room. The small pine bed cost about HK$700 from Ikea (basement, Park Lane Hotel, 310 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 3125 0888; www.ikea.com.hk). The red lacquer trunk (HK$1,800) is from Shambala (2/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2555 2997). On the floor is a Pakistani rug from Millennium Carpet (shop G2, Chinachem Hollywood Centre, 1 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2525 5011). The hanging light is 1960s Scandinavian (HK$950 from Manks, 2 Kennedy Terrace, Central, tel: 2522 2115).

4 The family room, a play space for Noelle where the Richards can watch television, does triple duty as a study. It features opaque glass doors that can be closed when the couple need to take work-related calls. The bookshelves were custom made by contractor K.C. Mok of Universal General Contractors (tel: 9123 3855) to house their collection of books and to incorporate a small desk space. The Laccio nesting tables by Marcel Breuer, US$582 (large) and US$411 (small), are available online from Design Within Reach. The movie posters were bought in Turkey. Similar ones are available from www.turkposter.com. They were framed by Jing Jing Art Consultants (447 Reclamation Street, Mong Kok, tel: 6072 9321). The 60s Scandinavian white globe ceiling lamp cost HK$900 from Manks. The Ekorre Rocking Moose cost HK$239 from Ikea.

5 The Le Corbusier glass-top rectangular dining table cost HK$7,000 from Chen Mi Ji (69 Peel Street, Central, tel: 2549 8800; www.chenmiji.com). Surrounding the table are two Eames chairs (HK$2,500 each) from Aluminium (58 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2577 4066; www.hk-aluminium.com) and four Linde beechwood chairs (HK$1,690 each) from Deutsche Mobel (11/F, Lee Theatre Plaza, 99 Percival Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2808 0877). The vintage Murano-glass chandelier cost HK$12,900 from Dilys (58 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2581 3937). The Pakistani carpet is from Mir Oriental Carpets (52 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2521 5641) and the wall unit (about HK$5,000) was custom made by Casa Vogue (167 Queen's Road East, tel: 2529 4841). The Chinoiserie green and white dining ware is by Jasper Conran for Wedgwood from Wedgwood Galleria (shop G06, 9 Queen's Road Central, tel: 2523 8337; www. wedgwood.com).

6 The guest bathroom features graphic black and white floor tiles (HK$28 each) from Bestlines (358 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2838 7897). The sink unit was custom made by the contractor. The vintage Air France poster came from a friend.

7 Lucille Richard used the same type of black-and-white tiles in the kitchen and both the bathrooms. In the kitchen she teamed them with an industrial stainless-steel countertop and moulded sink unit, sourced by her contractor. To keep costs down, she retained the kitchen units but had them repainted inside and relaminated on the outside. The result is a new-looking kitchen for a fraction of the cost.

8 In the master bedroom is an Eames lounge chair and ottoman, HK$15,900, from Marc James Design (shop 3, 69 Peel Street, tel: 2517 2000; www.marcjamesdesign.com). Above it hangs artwork by Quach Dong Phuong from Elizabeth Gallery (31 Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hanoi, Vietnam, tel: 84 4 826 6858; www.elizabethgallery.com.vn). The Tolomeo reading lamp (HK$1,870) is from Aluminium and the sketches over the suit rack are by Eddie Hara from Sin Sin Fine Art (1 Prince's Terrace, Central, tel: 2858 5072; www.sinsin.com.hk).

tried & tested

behind closed doors

The Richards needed to create a room that could function as both a family room and a place in which to work and take conference calls. To do this, they required a flexible form of partitioning. Maurice Richard realised that doors similar to those used in boardrooms would do the job, so he called commercial supplier Hufcor Asia Pacific (unit2, G/F, Wah Wai Centre, 38 Au Pui Wan Street, Fo Tan, Sha Tin, tel: 2688 0912; www.hufcor.com.hk), which agreed to take on its first residential project.

At a total cost of HK$55,000 for custom manufacture and installation, the four panels run on a single track in the ceiling and stack neatly behind each other when not in use. This allows the family to enjoy an open-plan living area. When in use, the doors are kept in place by two sliding anchors that slot into the floor, allowing space to run a rug underneath.

styling David Roden