Tom Lee's music store
Every inch of Tom Lee's apartment has been arranged harmoniously, pieced together like notes in a symphony. In just under 700 square feet, Lee's collaboration with interior designer Gary Lai has produced a home where everything has its place.
'I must have looked at more than 100 apartments before I found this one,' says Lee.
It was the high ceilings that enticed him to buy the Mid-Levels flat, but he knew the space would require a major renovation. He turned to Lai, the pair having met through mutual friends.
Lai turned the dark, two-bedroom apartment into a bright and airy one-bedroom bachelor pad.
'Originally the living room was very dark because it looked out onto the wall of another building, while the two bedrooms faced the street,' says Lee.
Lai changed the layout by switching the living area with the bedroom, and installed double-glazed windows to stop noise from the street from entering the second-storey flat. The added insulation also cuts down on heating and air-conditioning bills.
In one corner of the flat, sunlight streams in through the windows, hitting the area where Lee plays and teaches music.
'It's such an uplifting spot, especially with the yellow chair,' he says, referring to one of the concessions made to Lee's love of the colour.
'At first I wanted lots of yellow in the flat,' Lee says. 'I even thought about doing a yellow wall to add warmth. But then Gary convinced me that I should go for more sophisticated metallics and black and white.'
Warmth came with the use of white-oak floorboards throughout the apartment.
Charcoal tones give the open kitchen visual depth. And Lee, an avid cook, has forgone a washing machine in favour of an oven because of space restrictions.
'It was one or the other and I just had to have the oven,' Lee says.
Another must-have item was the pot rack he lugged back from San Francisco, in the United States.
'It's a great space-saver,' he says.
Much of Lee's time is spent preparing food at the stainless-steel island bench.
'I wanted stainless steel because it's great to cook on and requires little upkeep,' says Lee.
The bench is on wheels and is also used as a study desk and dining table.
Flexibility is key in the flat's design, which incor- porates sliding doors to the bedroom and bathroom, allowing the whole flat to be opened up and light to flood in.
When the doors to the living and bathroom areas are closed, the bedroom becomes a warm, comforting cocoon. The en-suite bathroom is an oasis of neutral tones, with practical storage space and a specially designed shower grate that lies flush with the floor.
Ample storage throughout the flat helps create a spacious, hotel feel. For example, the lounge room has been cleverly arranged to include a built-in seating area that doubles as a guest bed and contains storage drawers. Also melding seamlessly into the background is floor-to-ceiling storage at the entrance and in the bedroom, and the air-conditioning.
Lighting, most of which can be dimmed, is an important factor in creating the hotel-like ambience. There is a useful mixture of direct and indirect sources.
Everything was so well thought out that the only things Lee needed to bring from his previous flat were the kitchen stools, fridge and instruments. He also consulted a fung shui master, who advised placing five Chinese coins underneath the entrance mat to ensure good health. To attract wealth, Lee placed crystals in a corner of the living area and coins inside the cupboard at the entrance.
'I also purchased the painting above the bed because the fung shui master advised placing something there. He said the bedroom had to be calm to [allow me to] progress with my career.'
1 Gary Lai of Spatial Concept (22/F, Tai Yau Building, 181 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, tel: 8120 3101) designed the living area's built-in seating and shelving, which were made by his company for (HK$8,500) and (HK$7,900), respectively. Sun Sun Interior (24 Fleming Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2511 3046) made the seating pad and cushions for HK$5,000. The light cost HK$3,800 from Flos (44 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2801 7608).
2 The chair cost HK$2,300 from Aluminium (1 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2546 5904). The floor lamp cost HK$2,600 from Artemide (1/F, Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2523 0333). The music stand cost HK$200 from Tom Lee Music (144 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2519 0238). Homeowner Tom Lee (no relation) bought the painting in India and the vase in Australia.
3 The bears and clock were gifts. The Muuto lamp cost HK$935 from Flea + Cents (1/F, 36 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2528 0808). The bedside table cost HK$1,380 at Aluminium.
4 The bedsheets and quilt were from Calvin Klein in the United States (www.calvinklein.com) and the throw was a gift. Lai designed the bedside table, which was made by Juggle Contracting (tel: 9818 4240) and cost HK$4,000. The bedside lamp cost HK$3,700 from Artemide. A friend gave Lee the Lim Chae-wook painting, titled Mind Spectrum - Soo Poong Li, and it came from Shin Hwa Gallery (32 Aberdeen Street, Central, tel: 2803 7960).
5 The bathroom fixtures are all from Toto (11/F, 3 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2861 3177).
6 The shelves were designed by Lai and built for HK$4,000 by Juggle Contracting. The wall light cost HK$1,900 from Artemide. The kitchen (HK$30,000) and island bench (HK$4,500) were designed by Lai and made by Juggle Contracting. The stools are from Lee's previous flat and cost HK$600 each from Ikea (various locations; www.ikea.com.hk)
7 The white-oak floors from Boen Germany were supplied by Equal (3/F, Ming An Plaza, 8 Sunning Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2881 7066). The black painted storage cupboards (HK$9,000) and wardrobe (HK$16,800) were designed by Lai and made by Juggle Contracting.
Tried + tested
In high places
The suspended pot rack creates visual interest and frees up valuable cupboard space in the kitchen. The rack (US$168) came from Crate & Barrel in the United States (www.crateandbarrel.com).
Styling David Roden