Art decor

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 January, 2012, 12:00am


Mandy d'Abo's passion for art is on display throughout her 2,800 sq ft Stanley house, a veritable Aladdin's cave of contemporary art treasures.

Enormous, boldly coloured paintings jostle for space with smaller, intricate works amid myriad mind-boggling sculptures and installations.

'Art makes me so happy, I can't imagine having a home that doesn't include it,' says d'Abo, founder and director of The Cat Street Gallery and Space, both on Hollywood Road. 'Being surrounded by art creates a whole new energy in the home.'

Zimbabwean-born d'Abo, her British husband and their two children moved into the rented four-bedroom house last April after vacating a much-loved apartment in Repulse Bay in which they had lived for seven years. The landlord sold it.

'We were devastated at the time because it's a beautiful 1960s building and we loved living there,' she says.

They had six months to find 'somewhere south side, preferably in Stanley', with room for their children and their dogs and rabbits, and where the couple could entertain friends.

'It's important to me that our doors are always open, extending a warm welcome to everyone,' she says. 'I want people to feel comfortable and at home here because Hong Kong is such a transient place and a lot of our friends are our family. To be able to have them over for things like Sunday lunch is really important to me.'

D'Abo says the dining room is the heart of her home. 'The whole family tends to gravitate here - not just for eating and drinking, but also for working on our laptops or just sitting around chatting,' she says.

The focal point is the exquisite antique table and chairs her husband bought 20 years ago in London. The chairs have had 'many a transformation', she adds, having been reupholstered several times.

'I like the contrast of the antique furniture with everything else in the house being so modern,' d'Abo says. 'There's also a lot of silver and glass in the dining room so the dark wood of the table and chairs provides a balance.'

The house, built in 1956, has 'great bones' and is in good condition, says d'Abo. No structural alterations were made, but cosmetic changes included installing a bath in one of two shower rooms, replacing salmon-coloured tiles on the downstairs floors and the white upstairs carpets with imitation oak flooring, and putting a red formica laminate on the grey kitchen cupboards. 'They were so dull,' says d'Abo. 'We really felt they needed brightening up and I thought I'd have a bit of fun with the kitchen as we spend quite a bit of time there, too.'

D'Abo says moving house was cathartic because it presented an opportunity to take a fresh look at her extensive art collection. With the help of stylist David Roden, treasured objects were given a new lease of life in a different setting.

'It's quite overwhelming when you move into a new space - you wonder where you're going to fit everything. David helped me pull it all together, which was quite a task. I've been lucky to have acquired some amazing art from my exhibitions in the past five years and much of it was in storage, so we've swapped some around.

'The art is hung [and positioned] so that it's easy to move when I feel like a change. Even after a short time I get used to looking at something every day, so by moving it around it's possible to see it in a whole new light.'

Many of the works in her home are by artists from Australia, where d'Abo once lived.

'It's fantastic to be able to support and champion them internationally,' she says. 'I enjoy bringing the artists and clients together here in Hong Kong.

'With all the gloom and doom in the world, we need art in our lives more than ever.'

1 Dining room

The dining table and chairs were bought 20 years ago at a Lots Road ( auction in London, Britain. The orb-like silver ball ceiling light (HK$14,950) was from Innermost (248 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2857 5289). The silver vase on the table was bought a decade ago in London. The table lamp (pictured behind the flowers) came from Van den Akker Antiques in New York ( Almost all the modern art in Mandy d'Abo's home is by artists represented by her at The Cat Street Gallery (222 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, tel: 2291 0006), including Camie Lyons (the twisted floor sculpture) and Janet Laurence (the vertical triptych). The beaded lamp (HK$7,999), near the window, came from Aluminium (36 Cochrane Street, Central, tel: 2546 5904).

2 Living room

The oak-look laminate flooring was installed by contractor James Cooper at Anzac (tel: 9479 9966) for HK$32 a square foot (materials and installation). The coffee table came from a shop that has since closed. The green chairs were a gift. The Ikat cushions (HK$2,700 for six) were made by Sheryia Curtain (1 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2525 6596) with fabric bought in Indonesia 20 years ago. The silver linen cushions, made with fabric from Cetec (HK$1,200 a metre; 18/F, Printing House, 6 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2521 1325), were also made by Sheryia Curtain, for HK$450 each. The sofas were made several years ago by Alan Mok of Alan Furnishing (29A Haven Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2548 9981) with fabric from Altfield Interiors ( The television cabinet was made by Heng Shun Contracting (15/F, Block B, Ming Pao Industrial Centre, 18 Ka Yip Street, Chai Wan, tel: 2896 7129) for HK$20,000. From The Cat Street Gallery are works by Todd Hunter (blue painting), Lara Merrett (yellow painting), Mizumoto Tomohisa (ball sculpture on the coffee table) and Lyons (sculpture on the white cube). The Chairman Mao statue and figurines in front of the Hunter painting came from shops on Cat Street; the sunburst on the wall came from a market in St Tropez, France; the white cube and orange ceiling lights came from shops that have since closed. The Venus silver sculpture is by an unknown artist.

3 Master bedroom

The four-poster bed was purchased years ago from Artura Ficus (15/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 3105 3903). The antique teak planter's chair, also bought years ago, was reupholstered in Designers Guild fabric (HK$2,110 a square metre) from Avant Garde (Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 2526 0104). The mirrored chest (HK$20,000) was from Tequila Kola (1/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2520 1611) and the bed- side lamp was from Laura Ashley (K11, 18 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 3122 4428). Bambino (the painting of a crowned child) and Beauty, Virtu and Falling Jasmin (the painting of the woman in a red dress) are both by Grillo Demo.

4 Stairwell

The pendant lamp (HK$13,800) came from Homeless (29 Gough Street, Central, tel: 2581 1880). The art, all from The Cat Street Gallery, includes works by Daphne Verley (the three striped objects on the windowsill), Tim Summerton (the red spot painting ), William Wegman (the dog painting) and Gina Jones (the blue picture).

5 Work space

The desk was bought from an antiques shop in New York years ago. The Philippe Starck-designed Louis Ghost chair is sold at Aluminium for HK$2,780 and the fabric on the antique rocking chair (bought several years ago) came from Kinsan (59 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2526 2309).

6 Kitchen

D'Abo covered 'dull' grey units with scarlet laminated panels (HK$13,800) from Anzac. The matching stools came from Homeless and cost HK$980 each.

7 Daughter's bedroom

D'Abo's daughter, Poppy, has a room featuring a French antique bed on loan from a friend. The Maskros pendant lamp (HK$599) came from Ikea (various locations; Peter Blake is the artist behind the 'Girl' artwork; Hugo Dalton created the illustration next to the feathered pom-poms, which have been part of the d'Abo decor for so long nobody can recall their origins.

Tried + tested

The great cover-up

The black-and-white striped awning, which helps to protect the artwork indoors from sunlight, is also intended to add 'a Singapore colonial-style touch' to the house. It was made by Hong Kong Awning Collection (17A Po Tung Road, Sai Kung, tel: 2792 7806) for HK$11,500. The black cushions with white piping (HK$2,400 for six) came from Everything Under the Sun (; the other cushions were covered in fabric from Bali, Indonesia.

Styling David Roden