The usual worry when buying a dining table is whether it will complement your decor. Hema Prakash-Chishty's concern, however, was whether hers, at 200kg, would fall through the floor of her Happy Valley flat. So she asked her building's engineers for advice.
'Of course it was fine, but it gave me nightmares,' she says. 'I wanted a big piece of stone but I decided I'd never have marble when I read about how mining it ruins the environment. So, man-made stone was the solution.'
Prakash-Chishty likes to think big. She has an extensive art collection that was never going to fit inside the 3,700 sq ft apartment - most of it is housed in a storeroom in Kwun Tong.
'What you see is only one-tenth of what we have,' she says.
The art collection was the starting point for a recent makeover of her living and dining areas, by stylist David Roden. Limited in what she could do with the flat, because it is rented, she says, 'I would've gone for all white but David persuaded me to inject some colour into the scheme.'
The result is glamorous and contemporary - a place where she and her banker husband can entertain and relax.
Neutral greys, whites and oyster tones form the background, while punches of red and purple give the colour scheme its wow factor.
Prakash-Chishty and her husband have been collecting art since before they met, so combining their collections was a challenge.
'He has totally different taste - he had some weird stuff - whereas my taste leans more towards the feminine, elegant side,' she says.
Much of the art is from Pakistan, where Prakash-Chishty and her husband lived before moving to Sydney, Australia, and then to their current four-bedroom flat in Hong Kong.
'I love the views here, the open greenery and the fact you can watch the Jockey Club horses being exercised.'
Much of the couple's furniture was picked up on their travels. An antique chest and chairs, for instance, were purchased during a stay in an old colonial-style house in Sri Lanka.
'They took six months to arrive. The shipment was held up at customs and we were asked for a bribe that we weren't going to pay. We had to get a friend to help us.'
Some of the furnishings had to be repurposed. Curtains in the bedroom were from Prakash-Chishty's Karachi home. Her Hong Kong flat has higher ceilings so she attached cream and grey curtains to one another to make longer pieces. Some of the chairs picked up in Sri Lanka have been painted traffic light red, others turquoise. The console table and television stand were also repainted, to blend in with other pieces in the room.
The decision to keep items and use them in new, interesting ways, reflects Prakash-Chishty's desire to be kind to the environment.
Having a couch, designed by Roden, made was an obvious choice for Prakash-Chishty. Because it was manufactured in Hong Kong, its carbon footprint was minimised and she could ensure no nasty chemicals were used.
'We should support the local guys. [Making the sofa here] also meant I could have a say in what I wanted, such as the amount of feathers versus foam.
'The couch had to be comfortable and practical. I don't believe in living in a mausoleum. It had to pass the 'Dorito index' - where you can spill things on it and not worry.'
1 The living room is anchored by a round silk carpet bought for HK$34,000 at Faux (3/F, Harbour Industrial Centre, 10 Lee Hing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2851 4040). David Roden (tel: 9774 3238; firstname.lastname@example.org) designed the coffee table - the stainless-steel base cost HK$8,000 from Tim Ho (12/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2574 6918) while the marble top was HK$2,000 from Wing Ming Marble (160 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2802 7891). The couch, also designed by Roden, is upholstered in a cotton-and-linen mix fabric with satin piping and cost HK$30,000 from Cetec (18/F, Printing House, 6 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2522 6515). The patterned silk cushions (HK$300 each) and white lacquer side tables (HK$2,000 each) came from Indigo (18/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2580 6003). The fabric for the purple satin foot stool (HK$5,000) and burgundy and red cushions came from Sheryia Curtain (shop 2, 1 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2525 6596). They were all made by Sun Sun Interiors (24 Fleming Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2511 2008), which also produced the chaise longue (HK$20,000), with fabric from Kinsan (59 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2526 2309).
2 Hema Prakash-Chishty bought the red chairs in Sri Lanka. These, along with the console table and the cabinet under the television, were repainted by Heng Shun Contracting (15/F, Block B, Ming Pao Industrial Centre, 18 Ka Yip Street, Chai Wan, tel: 2896 7129) with Ecozmo natural paints from Natural Living (385 Lockhart Road, tel: 2847 3378) to minimise fumes. The lampshades cost HK$750 each and were made by Soong Arts Lampshades (6 Square Street, Central, tel: 2549 0615). The stainless-steel spotlight was bought online through decodesign.hk for HK$3,000.
3 The armchairs were from Cetec and cost HK$10,000 each, including the fabric and upholstery. The footstool fabric came from Sheryia Curtain, as did the red satin cushions, which were made by Sun Sun Interiors. The white lacquer side table with smoked glass top was HK$3,900 from HC28 (16/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2552 8002). The stainless-steel table lamp (HK$18,000), with a semi-precious stone cluster, came from Faux.
4 The white wire table with glass top cost HK$8,000 from Lane Crawford Warehouse (25/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2118 3403). The painting by Stuart Semple was bought via the Cat Street Gallery (www.thecatstreetgallery.com) at an Operation Smile event.
5 Little was changed in the master bathroom, which accommodates a large tub with relaxing jet spays.
6 The bed and bench were bought in Pakistan and the rug was a wedding gift. The curtains, from Prakash-Chishty's old home, were resewn to fit the flat.
7 The stainless-steel base of the dining table, designed by Roden, cost HK$18,000 from Tim Ho. The artificial-stone top (HK$8,800) came from Wing Ming Marble and has yet to fall through the floor. The dining chairs cost HK$2,000 each from Artura Ficus (15/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 3105 3908). The emperor chairs and chest of drawers were bought years ago. The photograph, by Tapu Javeri, was acquired directly from the photographer, in Pakistan. The mirror was designed by Prakash-Chishty and made in Singapore years ago. The black-and-white bus destination print came from a company that has since closed.
Tried + tested
You know hue
Previously nondescript brown antique chairs from Sri Lanka were turned into statement pieces with bright paints. The injection of colour helps to accent the artwork and complements the soft furnishings.
Styling David Roden