Something old, something new

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 April, 2008, 12:00am

Updating the family home of a self-confessed hoarder required a delicate balance of modern and pre-loved pieces.

Bell Chan took a long look around her 1,300 sq ft apartment and was not happy with what she saw. The three bedrooms, two bathrooms, living-cum-dining room and kitchen met most of the space needs of its three occupants - Chan, her husband and their daughter, Bellita, 25 - but the Tai Hang home felt old-fashioned and a little shabby. Besides which, the master bedroom and kitchen both opened onto the living-dining area, reducing usable wall space and impinging on privacy.

Clearly, it was time for a makeover. Chan wasn't going to tear down walls and embark on a full structural revamp; she simply wanted to update the decor and introduce more light. She also wanted a modern, easy-to-clean, functional kitchen. A self-confessed hoarder, Chan felt she needed more storage space to hide the evidence. Bellita wanted a slightly larger bedroom, with more closet and entertainment space. And everyone agreed the open passage between the living room and the two other bedrooms needed to be closed off.

Chan's aims were clear but so were her constraints. Over the years, she had amassed a sizeable collection of freestanding wooden furniture, distributed mainly in the living-dining room and the master bedroom. Frankie Lam, of Bugs Design Consultants (flat 6B, West Wing, Sincere Insurance Building, Wan Chai, tel: 2866 0279), was told that any modernisation would have to take place around these pieces. 'She was never going to change her furniture,' he says.

With the help of contractor Peter Yeung, of New Fortune Decoration (flat 11, 12/F, Kin Fat Industrial Centre, 13 Kin Fat Street, Tuen Mun, tel: 9340 6696), Lam focused first on making three small structural changes that together would increase the space efficiency by about 15 per cent. He moved the kitchen door away from the dining area to the entrance passage, which created more space for eating. By slightly extending the passageway that linked the bedrooms, he was able to move the door of the master bedroom to the end of this corridor and close off the opening in the living room, creating more space there. Also, he built a walnut-framed, thick tempered-glass sliding door between the living room and the corridor, giving the Chans the privacy they wanted.

'We were really pleased with the separation,' says Bellita. 'Everything seemed to be merged before.'

To increase the storage space in her bedroom, Lam moved the wall between it and the guest bathroom back to make room for deep, green glass-fronted wardrobes. Bellita originally wanted clear glass wardrobe doors but hadn't realised that would mean everything inside would have to be neat. Lam also installed a built-in floor-to-ceiling shelf unit that holds her books, television and other belongings.

Deep wardrobes, accommodated by the repositioning of another wall, were added to the third bedroom too. Lam also built a neatly finished and almost invisible cupboard in the master bedroom to hold Chan's handbags.

The parquet-wood flooring throughout the apartment was replaced by tiles to help create the bright, contemporary feel Chan wanted. As well as being easy to clean and maintain, the tiles reflect the light from the white walls, thus increasing the sense of space. New, narrow white-framed windows were fitted throughout the home, substantially increasing the amount of light in the flat.

The walls are still bare while Chan contemplates what to put on them. 'We had quite a lot of 'ancient' pictures,' recalls Bellita. Were they thrown out in the revamp? 'No, I put them away,' says Chan with a guilty laugh.

1 The three-seat, two-tone sofa cost HK$37,900 from Ligne Roset (16 Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2891 0913). The chocolate brown easy chair (HK$26,900) and matching foot rest (HK$4,100) are also from Ligne Roset. The floor lamp, made of tempered clear glass with a wooden frame, cost HK$12,000 from Apartment (62 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2882 2198). The coffee table cost HK$10,000 from Lane Crawford (various locations).

2 The marble-topped console table with delicate inlay is part of Bell Chan's prized wooden furniture collection. It cost HK$50,000 from Lane Crawford. The antique-style carriage clock was bought 30 years ago, also from Lane Crawford.

3 The sleek, stainless-steel kitchen was designed by Bugs Design Consultants (tel: 2866 0279) and built and fitted by New Fortune Decoration (tel: 9340 6696) for HK$41,000. The cabinets have a wood-look finish but are made of plastic laminate. The splashback is made of hairline stainless steel.

4 In Bellita Chan's bedroom, the extra-wide single bed takes up most of the space. The bed base is made of walnut veneer and was purpose built by New Fortune Decoration for HK$5,600.

5 The round teak dining table and chairs are from Lane Crawford. The table, which can be expanded to seat eight diners, cost HK$40,000 and the chairs were HK$5,000 each. The round rug is from Mir Oriental Carpets (52 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2521 5641) and cost HK$8,800. The ceiling light was HK$28,000 from Dentro (shop 4, Tai Sang Commercial Building, 24 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2865 1614). The glass-and- wood cabinet, used for storing liquor and wine, cost HK$10,000 from Lane Crawford.

6 The small third bedroom is used as a study and for storage. The long desk has a lacquer finish with a Corian top. It was built by New Fortune Decoration for HK$10,000. The lamp stand was bought from Apartment for HK$10,000. The wooden chair (HK$5,000) is from Lane Crawford.

7 The master bathroom was designed by Bugs Design Consultants and fitted by New Fortune Decoration. High, wall-mounted, mirror-fronted cabinets provide storage without encroaching on the limited floor space. The floor covering is synthetic marble, sourced from Wing Ming Marble (unit 5, Yue Xiu Building, 160 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2802 3041).

tried & tested

bottle store

With duty on wine now reduced to zero, demand for domestic wine- storage units can only increase. Made of wood veneer, this wine cabinet with pull-out drawers was designed and made for HK$4,200 by New Fortune Decoration (tel: 9340 6696) to fit neatly into a pre-existing wall space. It was built to hold 25 bottles but Bell Chan manages to squeeze in almost double that.

styling David Roden