Second sight

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 October, 2010, 12:00am

Blessed with an eye for hidden potential, Kate Green has transformed cast-off furniture into colourful statement pieces that complement the antiques and design store-bought items that abound in her three-bedroom apartment on The Peak.

Since moving to Hong Kong from Britain three years ago, Green and her husband have scoured high-end shopping malls, market stalls and even dumpsters for items to fill their flat.

'It's a very fun and happy place to come to,' says Green, an event planner, who co-founded POP (planners of parties and weddings).

Then there's the view. The living room and two bedrooms that face the harbour have been fitted with wide windows. The third bedroom is used to store fabrics and other materials for Green's work.

Green doesn't follow a master plan when decorating her home but creates on the go. Somehow, she says, it all comes together.

Once, she found two armchairs dumped outside an apartment block in Sham Shui Po, where Green was shopping for fabric. The lacquered chairs were in poor condition but she saw their potential, thanks to her training as a furniture painter. Now coated in lime green and adorned with colourful cushions, they are a focal point in the bright and spacious living room, which leads on to a terrace overlooking the harbour.

'I'm a big fan of recycling,' says Green. 'When I first came here, I was so surprised there were no second- hand markets.'

She has taken to mixing and matching with creative abandon, rescuing items such as birdcages and adding to the mixture classics such as a framed 1920s cigarette poster from Shanghai and an antique armoire now used as the drinks cabinet (see Tried + tested).

In the living room, candy-coloured lanterns jostle for attention with a pair of ancestor paintings from an antiques store on Lantau, ancient encyclopaedias found in a London flea market, a hallway light fixture made of shells from the Philippines and 'silver' pots and jugs acquired on a trip to Thailand. Bold cabinets with distinct Oriental designs blend with Moroccan-style cushions and fabrics draped over sofas in various shades of pink and red. Shells collected in Tai Long Wan fill large glass containers on the timber coffee table and an elegant Indian-look black and bone inlay desk adds interest to a corner of the room.

The home-made-mixed-with-classics theme continues in the bedrooms. Above the master bed, for example, Green has created a haphazard wall of paintings, framed pictures and statement pieces (a group of heart-shaped shells found on a beach in the Philippines have been lined up and framed) given to her and her husband by friends and family or collected on their travels. Adjoining the master bedroom and en-suite bathroom is a make-up area, with a dressing table covered in family photographs and draped with colourful jewellery.

A highlight is the spare room, which is predominantly red and white. The centrepiece of the room is an antique-look brown leather bed overlooked by a wall hung with colourful hangings, similar to the master bedroom's 'story' wall.

'It's constantly evolving,' says Green.

1 A framed 1920s Shanghai cigarette poster (HK$3,000) from The Red Lantern (Silver Plaza, Mui Wo, Lantau, tel: 2984 0099) overlooks a simple dining table and chairs from Ikea (; various locations). An embellished lamp, also from Ikea, with soft-toy representations of the Chinese zodiac dangling from it, stands next to an Indian-inspired, wrought-iron wall hanging (HK$3,000) from Tequila Kola (1/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2877 3295). The wall hanging in the foreground is from Istanbul, Turkey, and was a gift.

2 A personal touch is evident in the master bedroom, where old pictures and collectibles complement a dresser bought at auction in Britain and repainted blue by Kate Green of POP (, and an old cowhide chest at the base of the bed. The bed was also bought at auction. The quilt cost HK$400 from a pop-up shop at The Peak Galleria and the cushions were sourced from various stores in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

3 Every room tells a tale in this apartment, including the bathrooms. The London bus tea towel, which cost GBP2.50 (HK$30), was bought on a recent trip to Britain and framed on return. The striped shower curtain cost HK$320 from G.O.D. (48 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2805 1876). The garland of circles around the mirror was made by Green.

4 Posters of Hindu gods and goddesses, bought in Singapore's Little India, have been stuck onto cabinets in the kitchen. The trays were from a hardware store in Thailand.

5 Green gave two chairs she found dumped in Sham Shui Po new life by painting them lime green. Shells are displayed in glass containers and a large metal candleholder, which was found discarded on The Peak. Two ancestor prints (HK$5,500 for the pair) from The Red Lantern hang above a pair of large pots, which were on sale for HK$300 each at Tequila Kola. Green painted white stripes on the pots. The two golden Buddha statues were bought 20 years ago from a market in Yorkshire, Britain. The chest on which they sit was sourced in Tibet. The mirror was from Indigo (6/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2555 0540) and cost about HK$1,000 on sale. The black and bone inlay desk (HK$8,000) came from Tequila Kola and the timber coffee table was bought in Macau years ago.

6 Cages once used for cock-fighting, found in Bali, Indonesia, sit atop an armoire that the previous tenants left behind because it was slightly damaged. The vase, painted red by Green, was from a junk shop in London.

7 The spare bedroom features a leather bed from Tequila Kola (HK$14,000). The emperor scroll was from The Red Lantern (about HK$1,000) and the Kiss Me sign from a friend's shop-front display in Melbourne, Australia. The bunting on the headboard was made by Green with fabric from Sham Shui Po.

8 Shanti, a West Highland terrier, enjoys the shade under swathes of fabric hung on the terrace to create a tent-like enclosure.

Tried + tested

Liquid assets Kate Green turned a traditional Chinese armoire (HK$14,000) from The Birdcage (22/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2580 5822) into a drinks cabinet.