It was the efficiency of the space that attracted Clive Andrews and his partner to their 1,000 sq ft flat in Conduit Road. 'That and the fact that the flat is very bright. It's not overshadowed by tall buildings - although there are some around us, they are not in close proximity. We even have a partial harbour view.'
What is now an open and airy two-bedroom apartment was once a cramped three-bedroom flat with a tiny kitchen and faux wooden flooring.
'There were basically too many walls for the size of the place,' Andrews says. 'The windows and frames were dark brown, which made it look even smaller: too many lines.'
Their brief to designer Mark Le Feuvre was to create a bright, open-plan living/kitchen space for entertaining.
'They wanted a study that would accommodate guests, somewhere to show their collection of art and, of course, storage, storage and more storage,' Le Feuvre says.
'We wanted an open, modern space that wasn't clinical,' Andrews says. 'We wanted a fairly blank canvas upon which we could hang the stuff of our lives. And we had a lot of stuff - art, furniture, objects - we had collected over the years. Much of it was old, antique-like, ethnic, but we didn't want the space to look like a museum. We wanted something fresh and contemporary that also felt homely.'
The renovation involved knocking through the galley kitchen and the adjacent small bedroom to create an open living/dining/kitchen area where the couple could entertain.
'The living area shape is not quite square, which was a challenge,' Le Feuvre says. 'And making it work effectively and still look connected was difficult, as was keeping the kitchen area from overwhelming the whole space. However, now it's finished, I think the light open-plan living area and kitchen works very well, and is great for entertaining.'
The master bathroom was enlarged at the expense of the guest bathroom and a study-cum-guestroom built off the living area. This can be screened off when guests come to stay. Built-in wardrobes were installed in the master bedroom, which is spacious enough for the couple's collection of Chinese furniture.
'The floorboards were a bit problematic,' Andrews says. 'What arrived at our flat was significantly lighter than the sample we'd seen in the shop. However, it was a lovely colour, and although it wasn't what we'd planned, it actually worked well. I suppose storage was and still is a challenge. There isn't enough, and we were aware of that at the time, but there was only so much we could do.'
The finished product is an eclectic home, full of mementos and personal items set against a simple, neutral background.
'It's comfortable, it's relaxed, it doesn't feel designed,' Andrews says. 'Because we like it so much, we go out a lot less than before. It serves our lifestyle. We like cooking and we like having friends over and that's exactly what it allows us to do fairly effortlessly. We've both lived in Hong Kong for many years, and in our previous homes we often felt claustrophobic and boxed in. In this place we have a real sense of space.'
Le Feuvre agrees. 'The flat feels twice the size now,' he says. 'It has definite areas to cook in, eat in and relax in, which are all connected, and yet there is still space to escape to in the study and master bedroom. It has a warm, inviting feel, full of interesting items of art, textures and colours.'
Clive Andrews and his partner bought the colourful masks during a trip to Guatemala. The cactus (HK$1,200) was bought at the Mong Kok Flower Market. The cabinet was bought in Macau 10 years ago.
The study, which doubles as a guest room, is a bright and cosy area that the couple have furnished with treasures from their travels. The daybed, red wardrobe and chest were bought in Macau 15 years ago. The bookshelf was built by contractor Koie Chan of Kodeco Interior (tel: 9283 4832) for HK$5,000. The mattress, cover and cushions were made by Hazel Chou of Cloverleaf (17/F, Keen Hung Commercial Building, 80 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2866 6801) and cost HK$5,750 in total. The rug was bought in Greece. The floor lamps were purchased several years ago from a shop that has since closed. The couple found the artwork on their travels to Thailand and Greece.
3 Dining room
The narrow dining table (HK$12,000) came from Dynasty Antiques (10/F, DCH Motor Service Building, 111 Lee Nam Road, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2554 8861). The chairs (HK$1,200 each) were sourced from Ovo Studio (60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2529 6060). The chandelier, made from Dutch milk bottles, was bought at Allure Living (109 Caine Road, Central, tel: 2153 1022) for HK$3,500. The black lamp came from a shop that has closed. The artworks were bought on trips to Africa, South America and Greece. The light wood flooring was purchased from Seiko Floor Engineering (315 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2739 9638) and cost HK$68 a square foot.
4 Living room
The living room has a great sense of space, thanks to the large windows and relatively clear view. Mark Le Feuvre (Max Property Investment and Design, tel: 9331 9402; firstname.lastname@example.org) shortened the legs of an altar table, bought in Macau years ago, so it could serve as a coffee table. The rug was bought on a trip to Pakistan. The sofa (HK$24,000, including the ottoman) was bought at Cloverleaf. Kodeco Interior built storage underneath the television and windows for HK$11,000. Cloverleaf made the co-ordinating cushions for HK$3,200. The artwork was bought on a trip to Greece. The floor lamp came from a shop that has since closed.
5 Study detail
The desk (HK$4,000), chest of drawers (HK$1,200) and chair (HK$3,200) were all sourced from Posh (161 Des Voeux Road Central, tel: 2851 0899). The desk lamp was bought many years ago from a shop that has since closed. The artwork was bought in Paris, France.
The couple chose a Mediterranean blue for the kitchen, which was built by Kodeco Interior for HK$40,500, not including the solid marble countertop from Po Kwong China Stone (276 Lockhart Road, tel: 2394 8999), which cost HK$6,600. The sink was HK$3,180 from H2O (332 Lockhart Road, tel: 2834 1661). The tap (HK$980) came from Shing Shun Engineering (tel: 6646 4209; email@example.com). The vase (HK$1,000) and silver candleholder (HK$1,200) came from Lane Crawford Home Store (Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 2118 3652).
7 Master bedroom
The double bed (HK$40,000) came from Okooko (27/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2870 1132). The bedding (HK$3,200) was found at ColourLiving (333 Lockhart Road, tel: 2510 2666). The Chinese bench, screen and other furniture were bought in Macau years ago.
Tried + Tested
The double-width black marble sink in the master bathroom is an extravagant and elegant touch. Mark Le Feuvre had it custom made on the mainland, which, he notes, meant the cost was a fraction of that of an imported sink. 'It did take three attempts to get it right without any breakage.' says Le Feuvre, but it was worth it. To hold the weight of the sink, which Kodeco Interior built for HK$9,000, the cabinet beneath was strengthened with metal supports.
Styling David Roden