Zen mastered

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am


This stylish apartment is an unexpected delight, not least because of its location. The entrance to the block that houses the flat is inside a small, old-fashioned shopping arcade in Kennedy Town Praya. It's a charming juxtaposition that is entirely intentional, created by a company called Loftliving, whose portfolio of exclusive investment properties features apartments that are unusual in some way.

'We aim to maintain a certain style, which includes unusual spaces, clever use of space and open-plan living, and to create themes such as industrial, rustic or contemporary,' says Raoul Preller, Loftliving managing director.

'It's not the usual vanilla, cookie-cutter, generic stuff. We don't have character-less, purpose-built blocks, but offer something a little different, including the layout and the choice of materials for flooring, countertops and bathroom units [for example].'

There used to be an illegal structure on the roof of the apartment, which now houses a generous outdoor entertaining area of 1,250 sq ft - 300 sq ft bigger than the interior.

'One of the things Loftliving aims to do is reinstate properties with illegal structures,' says Preller. 'Ultimately, indoor space is a lot more valuable than outdoor space, but there's a segment of the market that tends to value outdoor living. So, despite the original mess, we realised we could create an incredible frontage: a wrap-around terrace that would be really appealing.'

Despite its proximity to the bustling heart of Kennedy Town, the roof terrace is relatively private. There is also a tranquil view of trees and a park opposite. Curved decking, white stepping stones and a small 'lawn' are intended to create a Japanese rock-garden-like ambience.

'I hunted high and low for fake grass that feels and looks like the real thing,' says interior designer Monique McLintock. 'I used 130 bags of white rocks [around the lawn]. It creates a Zen feel. It's a little bit of an oasis away from the chaos. Many people might find it hard to believe a place like this exists in Hong Kong. [Living here] is like living in your own resort.'

The original two-bedroom property now has a master bedroom and a utility room with a sofa-bed that can double as a guest room. The apartment is deceptively spacious, which owes much to the elegant decor and light that flows through the many windows, including the window-panelled doors leading from the living area to the bedroom and the enormous glass doors that open from the bedroom to the roof terrace.

Even the rain shower is exposed on all sides so you can see into the bedroom and onto the terrace. Modesty is preserved with floor-to-ceiling blinds.

'There are no privacy issues, so why not make the most of the available light and space?' McLintock says. '[Also] we try to keep the decor neutral and stylish so that it has a universal appeal. As these are investment properties, it's important to have items that will last for 10 to 20 years at least, unlike some rental homes, which look great at first but are cheap and start to fall apart within a year or two.'

Says Preller: 'When you enter the apartment, you pretty much see the entire scope of it and that's intentional. It's all about flow.'

With so much thought invested in the apartment, it's little wonder flat hunters wasted no time in snapping it up. On the day the place was listed, it was taken. A week later the tenant moved in.

1 Living area

Antique oak flooring in the living area cost HK$48 a square foot from Sunwood Building Materials (308 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2827 0990). The two-piece sofa set was designed by Monique McLintock Interiors (room 303, Tai Shing Building, 43 Bonham Strand West, Sheung Wan, tel: 6779 3791) and custom made for HK$16,570 by Bricks and Stones (97 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2520 0577). The floor lamp was HK$1,900 from SofaSale (2/F, Tung Kin Factory Building, 196 Tsat Mui Road, Quarry Bay, tel: 2541 1230) and the cushions were HK$490 each from Bricks and Stones. The glass-panelled wall separating the bedroom from the living area was made for HK$19,500 by contractor Ecdeco (Room 3018, New Tech Plaza, 34 Tai Yau Street, San Po Kong, tel: 2768 8538).

2 Terrace

Outdoor decking, from Sunwood Building Materials, cost HK$55 per square foot, and the artificial grass was HK$60 per square foot from Hingslin and Company (429 Lockhart Road, tel: 2572 6233). The umbrella (HK$3,000) and sofa set (HK$42,000) both came from Patio Mart (16/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2555 8988). The pebbles (HK$120 a bag; 130 bags used) came from Tiffanny Flowers (92 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, tel: 2526 3606), as did the stepping stones (various prices).

3 Bedroom

The solid oak bed from Vietnam was sourced through Vincent Sheppard Ethnicraft (19/F, Hua Fu Commercial Building, 111 Queen's Road West, Sheung Wan, tel: 2367 1733) for HK$4,500. The bedside tables (HK$637 each) and bedside lamps (HK$470 each) came from TREE (22 Elgin Street, Mid-Levels, tel: 2841 8844). The diptych above the bed is by Balinese artist Made Suamba, whose gallery, Loka Bhuana Tirta, is in Bali (Lungsiakan, Kedewatan Ubud, tel: 081 557 19609).

4 Kitchen

The brushed stainless-steel units with black granite were made by Ecdeco for HK$47,600. The solid oak table, custom designed by Monique McLintock Interiors, cost HK$15,000. The grey leather bar stools were HK$1,000 each from Kai Ngai Furniture and Decoration (328 Lockhart Road, tel: 2573 1196). The downlights installed throughout the flat are from Modern Lighting (206 Lockhart Road, tel: 2893 6768) and cost HK$288 each.

5 Bathroom

The hand-carved stone sink, from Gobo Interiors, cost HK$2,700. The waterfall tap (HK$1,036) was from Luen Hing Hong Building Materials. The tiles on the splashback cost HK$80 per 30cm-by-30cm section from Mosaic Tiles Building Materials (Sunshine Plaza, 353 Lockhart Road, tel: 2116 3002).

6 Outdoor shower

Visible through the walk-in wardrobe is an outdoor shower, which features slate tiles (HK$60 per 30cm-by-30cm 'sheet') from Tag International Ceramic Tiles (235 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 3013). The shower (HK$2,200) came from Vincent Sanitaryware (288 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 2687).

7 Toilet

The hand-carved stone sink from Gobo Interiors (243 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 9908) cost HK$6,500. The tap (HK$1,250) came from Luen Hing Hong Building Materials (236 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 3630). The mirror was made by Ecdeco for HK$1,100.

Tried & tested

Monique McLintock (Monique McLintock Interiors, room 303, Tai Shing Building, 43 Bonham Strand West, Sheung Wan, tel: 6779 3791), who often designs furniture for her clients, created the ottomans to serve numerous purposes: the top can be lifted to reveal storage inside or flipped over and used as a coffee table. The piece is the same height as the sofa so it can be placed next to it to create comfortable L-shaped seating. Bricks and Stones (97 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2520 0577) made two ottomans, each costing HK$4,300.

Styling David Roden