Moving on up

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 November, 2008, 12:00am

A house-hunting couple eventually found what they were looking for in the building in which they were living.

When Evelyn Yu and her husband started hunting for a bigger flat last year they had no idea they would end up buying a penthouse in their old building. Not only that but the flat they bought, several floors above the apartment they had been renting, was a duplex, with spellbinding views of hills and the sea.

That the penthouse was run-down didn't worry Yu, who saw an opportunity to use her background in structural engineering and her interior design skills. 'We gutted and rebuilt everything,' she says. 'Nothing suited our style and the windows were a mess, with bars everywhere.'

To make the most of the views, Yu removed nine panels of glass on the upper floor and replaced them with three. She remodelled the ground floor, optimising the space to accommodate their baby and lifestyle. Instead of two bathrooms downstairs, there's now a powder room between an office and daughter Haylie's room. The kitchen was moved away from the front door, which now opens into a vibrant dining room featuring a striking Japanese-style screen on a textured purple wall. 'I want people to feel happy when they walk through the door,' says Yu. 'That's why I added the accent wall and lots of rich colours.'

Another eye-catcher is the harp, which takes pride of place beside a glass and marble staircase that Yu designed. 'What was here took up too much space and was curved,' she recalls. 'We chose glass balustrades to give the room a more open feeling.'

The spaciousness is enhanced by the high ceiling in the living room and staircase area. The 3,100 sq ft duplex was once two flats and the layout allowed the upper level to be almost a self-contained suite for the couple. The soothing colour scheme chosen for the master bedroom allows them to relax, watch television or admire the view from the comfort of their bed. A large pane of glass along one of the internal walls makes it possible to see out and through the main bank of windows. Also located on the upper level are a terrace and work-out area, as well as a capacious walk-in closet next to an en-suite bathroom, which has a waterproof television installed above the tub. 'I watch TV while taking a bath every day,' says Yu.

The storage areas for the floor beneath were also well thought out. In the living area, flanking an impressive set of display shelves (which are reminiscent of those in hip hotels) soaring cabinets conceal a 2,000-plus collection of DVDs. Frameless doors hide a utility cupboard and a convenient, narrow pull-out storage facility in which the couple keep their luggage (see Tried & tested).

Much thought also went into the closets in Yu's office. They house the materials she needs for her work and include ample shelving for magazines and books. Although she spends a lot of time in her work room, which has a spectacular outlook, Yu says she loves hanging out in the living area, which, with its 25-feet-high ceiling, has the feel of an eagle's nest.

'When you sit here,' she says, tracing an arc with her hand, 'you can see everything.'

1 The L-shaped sofa (HK$30,000) and green chaise lounge (HK$7,000) came from Attitude (7/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2375 4705). The cushions (HK$3,200), covered with Designers Guild fabric, were purchased from Avant Garde (shop 133, Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 2526 0104). Evelyn Yu, of Evelyn Interior Decor (tel: 2868 3112;, had the green carpet custom made for HK$4,900 by Yarns (8/F, Henan Building, 90 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2833 2886). The anonymous painting above the sofa came from 168 Gallery (168 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2936 3883). Wooden panelling (supplied by Yu's contractor for HK$14,500) makes a stylish feature wall beside the display shelving, which is flanked by storage space. The TV cabinet was custom made by the contractor for HK$8,000 and the tall candle stands cost HK$1,450 each from Ovo (1/F, 22 Queen's Road East, tel: 2529 7828).

2 Yu's harp (HK$150,000, including stand and bench, from Hong Kong Harp Services, shop 112, Shui On Centre, 6 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, tel: 9307 6513) draws the eye towards the newly installed glass and marble staircase. The purple armchair and footrest cost HK$9,200 from Cotton Tree Interiors (92 Queen's Road East, tel: 2866 1161). Behind the chair are a sculpture (HK$7,500) from Ovo and a floor lamp (HK$3,300) from Aluminium (19 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2546 5904). White-oiled oak planks (HK$1,096 a square metre) from Equal (room 302, Phase II, Ming An Plaza, 8 Sunning Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2881 7066) cover the floor. The circular paper artwork at the top of the stairs came from Ovo.

3 Yu's love of colour is evident in the vibrant dining area, one side of which is decorated with purple wallpaper (about HK$30 a square foot) from Cetec (2/F, Winway Building, 50 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2522 6515). A pink ladder (HK$1,380) and an obi sash (HK$3,800) from Melaine Living Art (15 Lyndhurst Terrace, tel: 2815 7873), an antique red cabinet (HK$5,000 from Lam & Carly, 74A, Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2850 8522) and four hand-painted panels custom made for HK$6,500 by Golden Flamingo (shop 201, 2/F, The Peak Tower, 128 Peak Road, tel: 2805 2622) complete the overall effect. The dining table (HK$16,000) and pendant lamp (HK$3,100) are from Ovo. The chairs cost HK$400 each from Larredo Interiors (101, Lucky Building, 39 Wellington Street, tel: 2886 0821) and the custom-made carpet (HK$4,100 from Yarns) sits on top of marble flooring (HK$140 a square foot from King Talent Engineering, 11A Lucky Plaza, 321 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2573 0717).

4 Palladio Kitchen (3/F, Wah Hing Commercial Building, 283 Lockhart Road, tel: 2802 3900) built the kitchen cabinets for HK$56,000 and installed the Corian countertop (HK$14,000). Also sourced through Palladio were the Gessic tap (HK$3,800), Gaggenau stoves, Miele oven, Vintec wine fridge and Siemens microwave.

5 The master bedroom enjoys views through an internal window. The bed and headboard cost HK$8,500 from Attitude, the purple ottoman was HK$8,000 from Cotton Tree Interiors, the low-back chair (HK$3,000) came from Hamptons White (9/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2553 8762) and the TV cabinet (HK$11,600) was purchased from Ovo. Flanking the bed are Foscarini wall lamps (HK$5,600 each) from Impression Home (1B Kingswell Commercial Tower, 171 Lockhart Road, tel: 2156 8031).

6 Colour and patterns enliven the baby's room, which features wallpaper (HK$6,000) from Tat Ming Decorative Materials (16/F, Kwan Chart Tower, 6 Tonnochy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2893 2337). The roman blinds were made for HK$4,200 by Larredo Interiors with fabric (HK$5,500) from Cetec. The crib (HK$6,000) and chest of drawers (HK$4,250) came from Bebe Dreams (shop G18, Marine Deck, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2115 9166). The white shelf unit (HK$890) is from Ikea (various locations; The wooden butterflies and flowers on the wall cost HK$490 from Avant Garde.

7 Through the walk-in wardrobe is the master bathroom, which features an eye-catching Duravit basin (HK$9,800) from Galaxy Bathroom Collection (shop 5, Siu On Centre, 188 Lockhart Road, tel: 2519 8188). Also from Galaxy is the Kohler toilet (HK$8,000).

Tried + tested

Case space

Evelyn Yu, of Evelyn Interior Decor (tel: 2868 3112;, built a concealed suitcase closet along a wall behind her staircase. About 2 metres long and 40cm deep, the pull-out cupboard (which runs on tracks above and wheels below), accommodates two large suitcases on each of two shelves. 'I want easy access to my luggage because my husband and I travel a lot,' says Yu. 'And I didn't want the place to look cluttered.' The altar table (HK$4,200) was custom made by Kee Hing Furniture (66 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2571 5069). The purple stool cost HK$2,980 from Melaine Living Art (15 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2815 7873).

Styling David Roden