Two's company

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 October, 2007, 12:00am

A newly refurbished apartment in Pok Fu Lam does double duty as a love nest and a designer's showcase.

The act of 'following your bliss' has worked well for Nathalie Edwards - in life and in designing her new home. If you had told Dutch-born, Cape Town-raised Edwards four years ago she would move to Hong Kong, meet her future husband and find the perfect apartment to showcase a dream career, she would have chuckled in disbelief. But her parents had relocated here and she eventually followed suit.

At the beginning of this year Nathalie and then-fiance Brent were sharing a flat in Pok Fu Lam when they decided to take the plunge and buy a home that could reflect who they are as a couple.

'[Brent] and I love to entertain and have friends around,' says Edwards. 'We wanted to create a space where we could live comfortably and also entertain people comfortably.'

The pair wanted to stay in the neighbourhood but never imagined they would find the ideal location literally a stone's throw from their old place. Just one block across and six floors up in the same complex, the view, air-flow and natural light improved dramatically.

'The previous owner of the apartment was very kind to us,' recounts Edwards. 'We came here a few times and had a glass of wine on the balcony with him. For some reason it was important he sold the apartment to the right people, who would enjoy it. He said, 'I really want to sell this apartment to you guys, so take your time, then come and make an offer.''

The lucky pair put in their offer and, while the deal was being closed, nipped to South Africa to tie the knot and enjoy their honeymoon. Upon returning, they took ownership and renovated for three months. Not only was Edwards building a love nest, the apartment was the first non-showroom project for her new interior design business (Life Styling, tel: 6101 1272).

She decided to start from scratch.

'I gutted the apartment,' says Edwards. 'All the flooring, doors and most of the windows are new.'

The first thing she did was knock down the walls of the kitchen, opening it up to the dining and living spaces while keeping a pantry alcove with a second sink and partially hidden cupboards. The white Corian counter top and handle-less cabinets streamline the room. She put a custom-built island of white Technistone in the centre of the kitchen area, which fits three bar seats on one side and a wine cave and dishwasher on the other. Edwards designed the kitchen as a social space, so she could chat with her guests while preparing meals.

'The challenge was to create enough built-in storage so nothing would look cluttered,' says Edwards. 'And in building storage space so it doesn't look like there are masses of cabinets everywhere.'

She applied a similar idea to the living area, creating a false wall just deep enough to embed the TV and hide the cables and wiring, ensuring nothing distracted from the art objects and paintings, collected over the years from Africa, New Zealand and around Asia. With the abundance of natural light, the living space is bright, with a controlled fluidity.

For overall lighting, Edwards lined the ceiling with spotlights controlled by touch-pad dimmer switches.

'It's a little more costly in the beginning, but adds a lot in the end. Playing with the light can create such a beautiful, romantic effect.'

Edwards installed bi-fold doors and windows affording unobstructed views of Sandy Bay from the balcony, and of Mount Davis from the bedroom. Situated at either end of the apartment and connected by a long corridor, these features, when open, allow for natural air flow, an environmentally sound and cost-efficient alternative to air-conditioning.

'I'd rather have less air-conditioning and have the windows and doors open,' says Edwards.

The newlyweds' bedroom was expanded by combining the original master bedroom and adjoining bathroom with a second bedroom (a third remains separate as a guest room). In the refurbished suite, the extra room was converted into a semi-enclosed, his-and-hers dressing area with ample closet space. The walls dividing the bedroom and bathroom were replaced by glass and Edwards chose a warm marble mosaic for the other surfaces. The view outdoors from the two-person bath is the same as that from the bed.

The double-the-pleasure attitude is echoed in the two-headed rain shower and the two-tap sink (see Tried & Tested). 'A lot of people have said the room looks like a spa,' says Edwards. 'This area is just for my husband and me, so I wanted it to be a relaxing space. An important factor to consider when creating a home is that it is beautiful and comfortable.'

All that's missing in the couple's nest are the photos of their Cape Town wedding that will fill frames already hung along the corridor.

1 The rich walnut wood flooring cost HK$60 a square foot from Wonderfloor International (shop B, 271 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2728 9373). The solid wood front door with a special aged finish was sourced through Wood Art Timber (shop C, Lok Yau Building, 342 Lockhart Road, tel: 2836 3995; The large mixed media piece by Gary Mok Wai-hong (who is now represented by Schoeni Gallery) was bought at the Sovereign Art Foundation charity auction last year. The clocks in the pantry alcove tell local and Cape Town time, and cost HK$300 each from a shop since closed. The cream L-shaped sofa is a design by Life Styling (1001 Fu Fai Commercial Centre, 27 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan, tel: 6101 1272) and cost HK$18,000 from Casa Vogue (165 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2529 4841). The zebra skin on the floor cost HK$25,000 through Life Styling. The mirrored coffee table cost HK$5,500 from Casa Vogue. The Barcelona cream leather chair (HK$18,590) came from Decor Collection (shop 3B, Family Square, 9 Kingston Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2881 7272).

2 Nathalie Edwards designed the Technistone island counter and had it custom made for HK$35,000 by Treasure Kitchen Design (383 Lockhart Road, tel: 2892 2993), which also built the kitchen cabinets. Lighting in the kitchen was sourced through Modern Lighting (206 Lockhart Road, tel: 2877 9822). The bar chairs cost HK$900 each from Kai Ngai Furniture and Decoration (328 Lockhart Road, tel: 2572 3739).

3 The bi-fold balcony doors were custom built for HK$25,000 by contractor Jade Decor (room 8, 1/F, Man Yuen Building, 2 Man Yuen Street, Jordan, tel: 9311 5749). The balcony has low seating built around the curve and Springbok-skin cushions (HK$600 each) sourced through Life Styling. The leather chairs (HK$1,950 each) and leather table (HK$1,950) came from TREE (17/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2870 0389). The green vase cost HK$530 from Indigo (shop A, 95 Caine Road, Mid-Levels, tel: 2559 3663) and the plants were bought from P and F Garden (50 Shui Choi Tin Village, Victoria Road, tel: 2812 0948). Edwards found the hanging lantern (250 yuan) in an antiques market in Beijing.

4 The dining table seats eight and cost HK$9,000 from Casa Vogue. The high-back chairs were bought from a store in North Point that has since closed. The place mats are from Tequila Kola (1/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2877 3295), the Riedel wine glasses cost HK$400 each from Lane Crawford (IFC Mall, tel: 2118 2888) and the vase cost HK$4,500 from Parlour Concept (19/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2555 6963). The chandelier, which features dimmer-controlled faux candles, cost HK$4,000 from Lily Shop (48 Queen's Road East, tel: 2574 2180). The animal skull photo and frame came from Joao Ferreira Fine Art Gallery (80 Loop Street, Cape Town, South Africa, tel: 27 21 423 5403;

5 The blinds, which provide privacy in the bathroom, cost HK$1,500 from Casa Vogue. The bedlinen (HK$2,500) and fur throw (HK$3,000) were designed and made by Life Styling. The mirror (HK$3,200) came from Yiu Kwong Glass (46 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2544 8642).

6 The marble stone mosaic tiles cost HK$40 a square foot from Mazy Home (170 Lockhart Road, tel: 2507 2514). The two shower heads (HK$900 each) are from Depot (373 Lockhart Road, tel: 3106 6008) and the taps (HK$700 each) are from Shun Lee Building Materials (244 Lockhart Road, tel: 2598 0688). The tiled marble-mosaic bath was designed by Life Styling and built by contractor Jade Decor. The spotlights were sourced through Modern Lighting.

tried & tested

in sync sink

In keeping with the wholesome twosome idea in the rest of the bathroom, Nathalie Edwards designed the sink area with his-and-hers taps and a shared basin. She took the style of a design she had seen - a two-person stone trough - and replicated it in brown glass to contrast the marble of the bathroom tiles. She sourced materials, costing HK$4,000 from Glass Decor Design (shop B6, Kam Koon Building, 308 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2511 8188). The taps were HK$1,980 each from Shun Lee Building Materials (244 Lockhart Road, tel: 2598 0688).

STYLING David Roden