Room at the top
A family desperate for space went no further than a few floors up, revamping a duplex in an operation that, literally, stopped the traffic
Text Annabel Nourse / Pictures John Butlin / Styling David Roden
Fantasising about extra space is a common pastime in Hong Kong. It’s what the property developer Adrian Choy and his wife, Patsy, did for 12 years, all the while eyeing the duplex at the top of their building. Daydreams, however, turned into reality when the property went on to the market and they jumped at the chance to move up in the world.
The Choy family now have the top two floors, giving themselves an outdoor area, the parents privacy and their children space to rock out.
The couple, whose children, Boris, 15, and Chloe, 12, play drums and guitar, respectively, enlisted Mark Panckhurst of HEAD Architecture and Design to help with the layout, but used their own contractor, Sam Chuen.
“We did the planning, worked out how to open up spaces and how to reconfigure the kitchen,” Panckhurst says. “We talked about the stairs and creating a master suite upstairs for privacy from the children. Then we handed it over to Adrian’s contractor.”
The 3,100 sq ft duplex had been rented out. The kitchen cabinets were purple and the top-floor 900 sq ft outdoor area, despite the amazing views, was unwelcoming and had been barely used. Now, the top level accommodates a master suite with a glass en-suite bathroom that looks out over Discovery Bay and beyond; a home office; and an outdoor dining and entertainment area, complete with Jacuzzi. The children’s bedrooms are downstairs, a floor they share with the living area and an entertainment room, where the family watches television and Boris and Chloe play their instruments.
The bold new home emphasises comfort and clean lines, with a monochrome palette and simple, pared-back furnishings. It was nearly a year in the making.
“We were living below but I barely came up to see it,” Choy says. “We weren’t under pressure to leave, so I waited for it to be 100 per cent perfect before moving, even though the last 10 per cent took a while.”
The extensive use of marble from Europe was partly to blame. The couple flew to Fujian province to see shipments of stone as they were being unloaded, hoping to find the exact shade they wanted before it was cut and sent to Hong Kong – not just for use as flooring but also to clad the master bathroom and for a feature wall in the living area.
The mirrors in the bathroom (see Tried & Tested) were also a labour of love. Choy visited several glass manufacturers before finding one that could give him what he wanted: a mirror suspended within glass. That took six months to perfect.
Then there were the glass cabinets, which are found throughout the duplex.
“I wanted them made of white glass but found that this had a slight green tint to it that I didn’t like,” Choy says. “I had them all redone so they were pure white. A lot of people use laminate but we thought glass looked different, with a better, more matte finish.”
And, of course, the family had to make the most of their location, to the extent that all the windows were enlarged.
“The whole idea was to emphasise the view,” Choy says. “It’s great at night, as you can see all the lights of Hong Kong, and on a clear day you can see the ICC, the IFC and over to Kowloon.”
As well as a barbecue and the Jacuzzi, on the roof there is an outdoor cinema.
“There were quite a few things people didn’t think we could do at first but I usually got my way in the end,” Choy says. “For example, it took 15 people to help with the Jacuzzi, because we couldn’t fit it in the lift, and they had to hoist it up to the 19th floor.
We had to hire a crane, which blocked the bus route for at least half an hour.”
The Choys now live in the home they had always wanted.
“We just didn’t have the space before,” Choy says. “The kids are growing up and we wanted them to spend more time with their friends in the house, rather than out and about. Now they barely come out of their rooms.”
Outdoor area (top & right) The outdoor chairs were HK$7,500 each from Sonne (www.sonnefurniture.cn). The white table was a gift from a friend. The dining table (HK$8,000) and chairs (HK$2,000 each) were also from Sonne and the barbecue (HK$8,000) came from Everything Under the Sun (9/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2554 9088).
Stairs The floating staircase was custom-built for HK$180,000 by Sam Chuen (tel: 9774 0786), the Choys’ contractor. Preliminary work was by HEAD Architecture and Design (17/F, Casey Building, 38 Lok Ku Road, Sheung Wan, tel: 2869 5725)
Living/dining room Dining table (HK$9,500), chairs (HK$4,000 each) and sofa (HK$85,000) were from Camerich in Beijing (www.camerich.com). The stools by the breakfast bar (HK$9,000 each) were from Aluminium (various locations; www.aluminium-furniture.com), the clock (HK$1,000) from Areaware (www.areaware.com) and the lamp above the dining table (HK$35,710) from Megaman (Siu On Centre, 188 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2511 0690). The marble flooring was bought on the mainland through the contractor and installed for HK$400 per sq ft. Chuen installed the wooden laminate (HK$15,000) behind the TV and the marble column (HK$40,000), both bought on the mainland. Doors were HK$50,000 from Rimadesio (53 Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2890 8008).
Kitchen Cabinets cost HK$250,000 from Valcucine (69 Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2893 8198). Oven and steamer from Miele Boutique (111 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2890 1018)
Son’s room The Choys’ musician son Boris is a keen collector of vinyl, and the shelves for the artwork above his bed were custom-built for HK$3,000 by Chuen to display the collection to best effect. The bed (HK$3,500) and bedside lamp were bought from Ikea (various locations; www.ikea.com.hk). The two white Componibili bedside tables (HK$880 each) were bought from Aluminium.
Master bedroom The master bed (HK$10,000) and cabinet housing the audio/video paraphernalia (HK$15,000) were custom built by Chuen, as was the marble desk (HK$20,000) in the work corner. The desk chair (HK$9,800) and the Eames lounge chair (HK$55,000) were both acquired from Aluminium.
Master bathroom The marble walls and flooring, made from stone picked out by the Choys, cost HK$600 per sq ft, while the marble basins were HK$9,000, all of which were specially built by the contractor. The Kohler bath (HK$18,000) was bought from Arnhold Design Boutique (1/F Dominion Centre, 59 Queen’s Road East, tel: 2529 7490).
TRIED & TESTED
Adrian Choy wanted two "floating" mirrors in the glass walls above the basins in his bathroom. He had seen something similar in hotels, but with the mirror suspended from the ceiling by wire, which he did not like. He spoke to several manufacturers, of whom all said they could not do it. Eventually, the Choys' contractor, Sam Chuen, found a supplier who put two mirrors back-to-back, then used a chemical to remove the mercury so that a centrepiece would be surrounded by nothing but clear glass. It cost HK$45,000 for the custom-made glass walls, plus HK$15,000 for each mirror panel.