Interior designer Candace Campos and her client Alison Smith immediately saw the potential of three office units in Sheung Wan, with their high ceilings, spaciousness and windows on three sides.
'The space needed to be opened up and renovated,' says Smith. So, with the help of Campos and a contractor, she knocked the units into one, keeping only the original windows. Today the L-shaped apartment has a cool, urban, loft-like feel - a far cry from the cramped office space it used to be.
Campos was given a blank canvas to work with and set about creating a bright, open home to meet Smith's brief: a cool, loft-like, one-bedroom apartment with an office space and enough room to entertain guests.
Converting three units into one meant gutting the space and blocking off two of the three entrance doors. The building's management restricted where the air-conditioning units could go and what could be done with the windows, but apart from that, the six-month renovation process was fairly smooth. 'We worked together on the layout,' Smith says, 'then shared images of other lofts. Candace did all the sourcing of materials and fixtures, as well as managing the contractor.'
The result is a 1,700 sq ft apartment that is unusually airy for Hong Kong.
'People tend to squeeze in as many bedrooms as possible,' says Smith. 'This apartment has only one. All the rooms are generously proportioned as a result, and there is flexibility in how to use the space. Plus the high ceilings and windows bring in lots of natural light.'
'The high ceilings are key to creating the illusion of space,' agrees Campos. 'We even left the ceiling of the guest bathroom fully open, exposing the pipe work, since it worked so well with our industrial vibe.'
On entering the apartment, the open dining and sitting room, plus the open-plan kitchen, are on the left. 'The layout was initially directed by plumbing, then we built around that,' says Campos.
Opposite the kitchen, the open space that serves as a study area can be cordoned off by a dividing partition (see Tried + tested) to create a guest room. The large master bedroom is tucked away from the main living area.
The apartment is washed in a simple white palette, offset by American walnut flooring. 'I like the wood because its rich colour variations warm up the commercial space,' says Campos.
Furnished with a mixture of replica design classics, quirky eBay finds and chunky wooden pieces, the apartment has a slightly eclectic feel while retaining its minimalist aesthetic.
'In Los Angeles, where there is a huge interest in vintage furniture, there are flea markets and vintage stores on every corner. Whenever I'm back there, I pick up pieces I can use later in my clients' homes,' Campos says.
The space was bought as an investment and is currently being rented. Says Smith: 'I don't live there, but I happily would when my kids go to university.'
1 Work area
The desk with walnut legs (HK$7,500), chair (HK$4,500), marble-topped side table (HK$3,200) and desk lamp (HK$2,500), all came from Marc James Design (16/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2517 2000). The vintage chandelier (HK$12,000) was from Ancora (5/F, Bonham Centre, 79 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan, tel: 3487 6167). The vintage artworks were found on eBay for HK$400 and HK$600.
2 Living area detail
The chest of drawers (HK$16,700) came from Okooko (27/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2870 1132). The chair (HK$6,800) was from Marc James Design. The vintage globe (HK$600) was bought through eBay by Candace Campos (www.candacecollective.com). The vintage suitcases (HK$400 to HK$600) came from a flea market in Pasadena, California.
3 Sitting room
The two sofas are Florence Knoll replicas upholstered in a warm grey tweed (HK$11,900 each; from Marc James Design). A sheepskin throw (HK$300; PITC Fur Design, 14/F, 51 Wing Hong Street, Lai Chi Kok, tel: 2763 0350) on the sofa softens the space. The wire chair (HK$4,100) and marble-topped side table (HK$3,200) were also from Marc James Design. The coffee table (HK$5,000) was from Tequila Kola (1/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2877 3295). The various glassware items were found at Sonjia (2 Sun Street, Wan Chai, tel: 2529 6223). The vintage chandeliers (HK$8,000 and HK$12,000) came from Ancora. The semi-transparent blinds were made by Sheryia Curtain (2 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2525 6596).
Campos designed the kitchen HK$70,000), which pairs matt laminate cabinets with white Corian countertops and stainless-steel appliances and fittings. The units came from Kuchen (301 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2845 9822). The bar stools (HK$4,100 each) were bought from Marc James Design. The ceiling fan came from Modern Lighting (206 Lockhart Road, tel: 2877 9822) and cost HK$2,200.
5 Dining room
The sustainable teak dining table (HK$19,450) and bench table (HK$5,250) came from Tree (28/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2870 1582). The chairs (HK$4,500 each) were from Marc James Design. The neon lighting (from HK$2,000) was designed by Campos.
The queen-sized bed (base HK$23,300; mattress HK$22,600) came from Okooko. The chests and suitcases used as storage on the floor were sourced from thrift stores on Cat Street, Sheung Wan, for HK$200 to HK$400 each. The hanging clothes rail, designed by Campos, uses simple metal tubing (HK$200 from Honest Hardware, 232 Lockhart Road, tel: 2598 6800) suspended from the ceiling. The artwork propped against the wall was bought from Sin Sin Atelier (52 Sai Street, Central, tel: 2521 0308). The flooring is American walnut, which cost HK$46 a square foot from Beautyfloor Engineering (272 Lockhart Road, tel: 3427 8640).
The bathroom has a cool, masculine vibe. The grey ceramic wall tiles (HK$30 a square foot) were sourced from Hop Hing Lung Material (235 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 3013). The shower unit (HK$2,000) came from Sunny Pro (193 Lockhart Road, tel: 2156 0388).
Tried + tested
The pivoting divider (below; HK$28,000), which can be used to create a spare room, is made of hollow aluminium. 'It is a lighter alternative to sliding track doors,' says Candace Campos, 'and it allows for many degrees of openness.' The divider, which 'floats' above the floor, was painted white to blend with the rest of the interior. Campos had it built and installed with the help of contractor All-in Decorator (email@example.com, tel: 2877 2303).