Shy and Jay Sala wanted their new 1,750 sq ft Pok Fu Lam apartment to feel open, with living areas that flowed seamlessly from one to another. The challenge for interior designer Bruce Harwood, of BHI Group, was to give them that while also allowing for privacy and peace and quiet.
He began by using what was the third bedroom to create a large area that can function as a study or a spare room. The space can be divided into two, by pulling across sliding doors (see Tried + tested).
'We wanted something flexible enough that we could close it off,' says Shy.
The same idea was used for the kitchen, where a large buffet bench top faces the dining room, living room and terrace. The room can be closed with a clever sliding 'door' across the bench.
'There is a TV in the kitchen and we thought, 'What do we do if we want to close it off?' We use the bench top as a buffet and, if we're preparing food, we want to be able to see people in the living room.'
The bi-fold doors give the Salas, Filipinos who grew up in the United States, the freedom to do both.
The owners wanted plenty of space in which to prepare meals and easy-to-access storage in which to hide the mess. To that end, Harwood installed in the kitchen plenty of black lacquer cabinets and Corian bench tops of a generous width.
Storage throughout the apartment is voluminous but well hidden. Study filing cabinets have been designed to look like low-level drawers behind the desk and hi-fi cables are kept under the floor and inside the walls.
'We're really anti-clutter everything,' Shy says. 'There's an ease of movement with clean lines.'
The art of tucking things away is well expressed in the guest bathroom, which is accessed through a sliding door. There are smaller examples throughout the apartment, including recessed 'handles' on cupboards that create a smooth finish.
Jatoba - a South American timber - floors, white walls and furnishings in varying shades of earthy browns and creams constitute the colour palette of the apartment, in a nod to the owner's request for a clean backdrop. In a bid to add something striking to the apartment without straying too far from the muted colour scheme, the wall behind the bed in the master bedroom was painted burgundy.
'I could see from their furniture that they don't collect a lot of antiques,' Harwood says, 'but they do have a lot of timber collectibles, so the colours were deliberately muted.'
The couple do, however, prominently display pictures they take in Africa - Shy is a safari-tour operator. Dramatic images of wildebeest and zebra set against a backdrop of African plains combine well with the colour scheme.
To bring in as much natural light as possible, Harwood installed a timber-look terrace overlooking the harbour, reached through bi-fold doors from the living room.
The apartment's transformation has had a calming effect on the couple.
'Life ... is much less hectic,' Shy says. 'And everything is very efficient.'
1 The dining room mirror cost HK$3,500 from Artura Ficus (20 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2527 2893). The Kai-O hanging light fixture (HK$3,600) and Eaves side table (HK$7,400) came from Ovo (16 Queen's Road East, tel: 2526 7226). The dining table (HK$8,000) and chairs (HK$1,900 each, without arms; HK$2,300 each, with arms) were from Artura Ficus. The lamp on the Eaves side table was from a shop in Manila, in the Philippines, which has since closed. The painting, Bayanihan IV, by Filipino artist Platon Varquez, was from Galerie Y (4/F, Building A, Artwalk, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong, Manila, tel: 63 2 634 2704).
2 The JLo floor lamp with the curved base was from a shop that has since closed. The other lamp cost HK$1,800 from Artura Ficus. The sofa (HK$19,800) and coffee table (HK$4,600) were from Artura Ficus. The round side table (HK$2,600) was from Indigo Living (6/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2555 0540). The timber bowl on the coffee table is from Delagoa African Arts and Crafts (Clock Tower Centre, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa, tel: 27 21 425 3787). Homeowner Jay Sala (www.safarisnapshots.com) took the picture Lioness Scoping out Zebra, which was framed for HK$1,535 by O-Live Decor (10/F, Fuk Wo Industrial Building, 5 Sheung Hei Street, San Po Kong, tel: 8105 2588).
3 The Siemens appliances were sourced through Palladio Kitchen (3/F, Wah Hing Commercial Building, 283 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2802 3900), which built the cabinets for HK$96,000. The bar stools cost HK$1,000 each from Kai Ngai Furniture (328 Lockhart Road, tel: 2573 1196). The pendant lights cost HK$980 each from Element Lighting Design (48 Morrison Hill Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2573 7772).
4 The harbour-facing terrace is furnished with a table (HK$1,450), chairs (HK$950 each, with cushions) and stools (HK$950 each) from Patio Mart (16/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2555 8988). The chaise longue was HK$3,700 from Artura Ficus.
5 Hidden behind sliding doors is a desk from Artura Ficus that cost HK$1,550 for the glass and HK$3,800 for the base. The custom-made bookshelves behind the desk, including the low-level filing cabinets, were built for HK$22,000 by BHI Group (3/F, Wah Hing Commercial Building, tel: 2787 7863), which also made the tall cupboards, for HK$14,000. The Aeron chairs (HK$6,700 each) were from Frontier Workspace Solutions (23/F, Asia Orient Tower, 33 Lockhart Road, tel: 2821 3126). All recessed lighting was custom made by BHI for HK$180 per fitting.
6 The heated towel rack in the master bathroom cost HK$6,000 from Vincent Sanitary Ware (288 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 2687). The Bellini sinks (HK$1,100 each) were from E&I (9/F, Wing Tai Centre, 12 Hing Yip Street, Kwun Tong, tel: 2384 0682). The cabinets were custom made for HK$9,600 by BHI Group.
7 The master bedroom, which overlooks the harbour, has a bright and airy feel. The bedside tables (HK$2,000 each), lamps (HK$1,530) and walnut bed (HK$9,500) were from Artura Ficus. The feature wall colour is Classic Burgundy, by ICI Dulux.
Tried + tested
Split decision Sliding wall panels give the Salas the flexibility to turn part of what is a large study into a work space and spare room. The panels were custom made for HK$23,000 by BHI Group (3/F, Wah Hing Commercial Building, 283 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2787 7863).
Styling David Roden