Locating Wendy Gan's Sai Ying Pun apartment requires a finely tuned sense of direction. With no street access and situated at the end of a pedestrian cul-de-sac, it benefits, however, from the tranquility of its surroundings.
The relaxed vibe continues inside, underscored with stylish vintage finds and other items picked up on Gan's extensive travels. There is a carpet from Morocco, a 1950s radio from London, a teapot from Denmark, teacups from Seoul and napkins from Sweden.
'I love to pick up things when I go travelling,' Gan says. 'It adds something extra to the space.'
Gan recently renovated her 700 sq ft apartment, which she has occupied for two years.
'I love living here; it's close to everything. But it got to the point where I didn't have enough storage and was feeling constricted.'
The final straw was when Gan ran out of space in the kitchen.
'I cook a lot and wanted a better flow and more efficient kitchen,' she says.
Frankie Lam, of Bugs Design Consultants, was called in to remodel the apartment. His starting point was the kitchen, where he installed a clever shelving system that displays Gan's cookbooks and contains hidden storage for pantry items.
Lam added a pull-down table next to the shelves, which provides workspace for one of Gan's hobbies: baking. To brighten the kitchen, Lam added a translucent glass door that leads to more storage space and the rear exit. The removal of the door between the kitchen and dining area makes entertaining a more sociable affair while long, wide teak floorboards throughout most of the apartment provide continuity.
In the bathroom, the toilet's concealed water tank has been turned into a display shelf.
Deciding on the layout gave Gan the most headaches. 'There were a few options and the decision to go with this floor plan took a long time - I couldn't come to a conclusion about what I wanted,' she says.
The once dark two-bedroom flat was reconfigured into a bright and airy one-bedroom apartment. The renovation doubled the size of the living area, providing room for a built-in desk and a bookcase, which houses a compartment that hides cords and plugs. Storage was also installed along one wall of the living room.
In Gan's cosy bedroom, the bed sits on a raised platform, the base of which provides space to store off-season items and suitcases. Other space-saving devices include sliding doors in the bedroom and bathroom.
Apart from the renovation, the single biggest expense was for an exquisitely hand-embroidered silk screen print from Japan that was made into a room divider in Sweden, in the 20s. It now separates the 'office' from the rest of the living room.
'Now that it is finished, I am so happy with the results,' says Gan.
1 The photograph, titled Building, was a gift from Australian artist Emil Goh. The couch was custom made for HK$6,500 by E&R Curtain Shop (101 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2520 2820). The floor pillows came from Ikea (various locations; www.ikea.com.hk) and cost about HK$200 each. The 1950s coffee table cost HK$4,125 from Flea + Cents (1/F, 36 Queen's Road East, tel: 2528 0808). The floor lamp (HK$8,000) came from Manks (3/F, The Factory, 1 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang, tel: 2522 2115).
2 The vintage pendant lamp cost HK$1,800 from Morn Creations (62A Peel Street, Central, tel: 2869 7021). The Kartell Max dining table (HK$7,900) came from ColourLiving (333 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2510 2666). The orange stools (HK$500 each) are from Aluminium (1 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2546 5904). The vintage wooden stools cost HK$500 each from Maymayking, which has since closed. Bugs Design Consultants (4/F, Asian House, 1 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2866 0279; www.bugs.com.hk) designed the buffet table, which cost HK$12,650 and was made by New Fortune Decoration (12/F, Kin Fat Industrial Centre, 13 Kin Fat Street, Tuen Mun, tel: 9340 6696).
3 The screen cost HK$120,000 from Manks. The vintage stool came from a store that has since closed.
4 The kitchen, which features walnut-veneer cabinetry below the counter and cupboards painted in white lacquer overhead, was built for HK$12,650 by New Fortune Decoration.
5 The coat rack in the bedroom (HK$1,800) came from Joineur (43 Queen's Road East, tel: 2866 6733). The platform bed and wardrobe were designed by Bugs Design Consultants and built by New Fortune Decoration for HK$16,600.
6 The bathroom basin (HK$620) came from Shun Lee (335 Portland Street, Mong Kok, tel: 2380 3918). The toilet (HK$5,430) was from Leisure Plus (239 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2186 8288). The shower (HK$2,500) came from H20 Pro (332 Lockhart Road, tel: 2834 1661).
7 The Vitra Softshell chair by the Bouroullec Brothers cost HK$6,000 from Flea + Cents. The light (HK$4,500) came from Apartment (62 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2882 2198). The desk (HK$3,800) and shelves (HK$3,600) were designed by Bugs Design Consultants and made by New Fortune Decoration.
Tried + tested
By the books
The kitchen bookshelves hold Wendy Gan's cookbooks and conceal storage. They were designed by Bugs Design Consultants (4/F, Asian House, 1 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2866 0279; www.bugs.com.hk) and built by New Fortune Decoration (12/F, Kin Fat Industrial Centre, 13 Kin Fat Street, Tuen Mun, tel: 9340 6696) for HK$11,700.
Styling David Roden