Text Catherine Shaw Pictures Dickson Lee Styling David Roden
Maximising space and controlling clutter were at the top of Andrew and Christina Lee’s agenda when it came to planning their 2,300 sq ft Mid-Levels home.
“We like design but functionality was the most important issue for us,” says Taiwanese-American Christina. “With a 2½-year-old child, we had to think very carefully about how the spaces would work, as well as balance what looks good with safety and practicality.”
The couple, who met as law students in the United States, were keen to work with an interior designer who would collaborate in, not dictate, the process of creating a home. They turned to Britishtrained architect Mae Kwan, who had recently relocated to Hong Kong but whose design aesthetic – balancing modern living with warm, inviting interiors – matched their needs.
“It was a bit like decorating with a good friend,” says Lee. “We would go back and forth with ideas but Mae was always happy to keep looking until we found exactly what we wanted styleand budget-wise. Mae was also great at sourcing items that we would never have found, such as the huge wooden and aluminium Coco Flip pendant lamp over the dining table.”
The apartment, which had not been updated in years, proved a design challenge because of the very dark interior. Removing walls helped open the space.
“Mae advised us to reconfigure the maid’s room and kitchen to create the dining and kitchen area,” says Lee. “We didn’t entertain at home very often but now we have the perfect environment to do so.”
Illumination was also enhanced. “We made the most of the wonderful balcony with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors alongside the living room so the interiors are bathed in natural light, which is reflected in the kitchen’s mirrored cupboards and semi-glossy white lacquered finishes,” says Kwan. “It’s a modern but light look.”
“Our old apartment, in The Belchers in Pok Fu Lam, had stuff everywhere,” says Lee. “It was important to us that we had enough space to clear things away, so we installed full-height cupboards that are finished the same way as the walls or covered in mirrors. The funny thing is, even though we have doubled our storage and haven’t bought anything new, it already seems quite full.”
The storage comes in handy now that Lee has established Three Little Tigers, which sells personalised towels for children. “Hong Kong had nowhere to buy affordable, good-quality towels for kids and where you can add the special touch of including their names on the towels,” she says. “So I found a fantastic supplier who could work with my designs and the business has really taken off. At the moment, I need to store a lot of the products here.” Another practical touch is a series of full-height sliding doors that create two separate wings off the open-plan living room. On one side, the doors, when closed, disappear completely, creating a compact but well-equipped study and television room that doubles as a guest room, while on the other side are two spacious bedrooms with a walkin dressing-room.
“The doors provide excellent sound insulation, which is great for when [daughter] Chloe is sleeping,” says Lee.
“But when we want it open, so I can watch her, it is easy to change the configuration.”
Other items that add flexibility and style include a fabric-covered bench seat with hidden storage near the entrance, and open shelving in Chloe’s room, in which boxes of toys can be put away easily.
The entire flat features oak flooring that contrasts beautifully with cool white walls to create an inviting look, and uplighting has been used to make the most of the three-metre-high ceilings.
“Older buildings in Hong Kong have wonderfully high ceilings,” says Lee. “We took full advantage, with tall bookcases, shelves and cabinets – and with so much natural light the apartment has a lovely spacious feel. Just like we wanted.”
Study The white-lacquer desk and bookshelves (HK$6,750 in total) were designed by Mae Kwan (tel: 9152 0533; e-mail email@example.com) and constructed by Chun Lok Engineering (HK) (3/F, High Win Factory Building, 47 Hoi Yuen Road, Kwun Tong, tel: 2729 6039). The Vilgot/ Nominell desk chair (HK$699) came from Ikea (various locations, www.ikea.com.hk). The Beddinge sofa bed (HK$3,578), also from Ikea, allows the television room to be transformed into a guest room. The quirky dog-pattern cushion (£50/HK$620) was from John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com) in Britain. The dark-wood bookshelves (HK$12,500), built by Chun Lok Engineering, provide plenty of storage space. The Tree of Life painting on Egyptian papyrus was purchased while on holiday in Giza, Egypt.
Dining area The Eco-Series dining table (HK$7,190) came from sofasale.com.hk in a “raw” finish and was sanded and stained by Chun Lok Engineering. The six dining chairs, bought years ago, were reupholstered for a total of HK$2,115 by Tin Shing Curtain (39 Belcher’s Street, Kennedy Town, tel: 2817 4775). Kwan found the Coco Flip pendant lamp (HK$9,000) at a half-price sale at Lane Crawford (various locations; www.lanecrawford.com). The small iron statue was found by Kwan at a flea market in London. The kitchen cabinets, complete with stainless-steel drawers, Corian countertop, stainless-steel double sink, mirrored wall panels and cabinet lights, cost a total of HK$209,770 from Kitench Leader (58 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2836 0280). The bar stools (HK$960 each) were from Luen Sun Furniture (371 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun, tel: 2546 4274).
Living area (top) The Kody sofa, chaise longue and ottoman cost a total of HK$32,167 from Ovo (various locations; www.ovohome.com.hk). The cashmere throw (HK$3,500) came from Serenity Fair Cashmere (4/F, Stag Building, 148 Queen’s Road Central, tel: 2886 3912) and the cushions (HK$1,476 in total) were bought from Shenzhen Baoshiheng Curtain and Cloth Decoration (3/F, Commerce City, Shenzhen, tel: 86 755 8232 1246). The timber wall panels and shelving unit (HK$25,000), made by Chun Lok Engineering, create an elegant backdrop for the television and a series of photographs from Stanley Market depicting old Hong Kong.
Entrance The colourful oil painting above the custom-designed, fabric-covered storage bench and cupboard (HK$6,200, Chun Lok Engineering) was bought in Bali. The built-in unit was made for HK$19,800 by Chun Lok Engineering and features a bespoke glass top (HK$980), made by Hin Lee Plastic & Screen Printing (3/F, Fullagar Industrial Building, 234 Aberdeen Main Road, Aberdeen, tel: 2814 9532), screen-printed with a photograph taken by Kwan. The oak flooring (HK$50.50 a square foot) throughout most of the flat was sourced from Wonderfloor (271 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2728 9373).
Balcony A wood cabinet, custom made by Paddy Field (about 5,000 yuan/HK$6,200; www.paddyfield.com.cn), and antique bench from a boutique in Shanghai add a touch of style to the outdoor space. Kwan created the photographic glass artwork on the wall. “I used a photograph of Chloe and manipulated it to create a mirrored screen print that reflects the natural green, purple and grey tones of the outdoor plants,” she says. “It creates the feel of another room, rather than just an outside space.”
Master bedroom The king-size bed base, with upholstered headboard and matching nightstands, was custom made for HK$12,787 by Chun Lok Engineering. The bedside lamps cost HK$924 each at Light Poetry in Shenzhen (5/F, Phrase 1, Light Industrial Products City, Lo Wu, tel: 86 755 8247 9797). The print above the bed came from www.art.co.uk and the Hunter Pacific International Aurora ceiling fan (HK$1,730) was bought at Life’s a Breeze (16/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2572 4000). The curtains and roller blinds were made by Tin Shing Curtain for HK$6,294. Custom-made, grey-glass wardrobes (HK$37,500, Chun Lok Engineering) line the length of the bedroom.
Child's bedroom The queen-size Nordic bed (HK$2,300) and Stuva bedside table (HK$430) were both from Ikea. The Sleepytime Rocker and matching ottoman, by Nurseryworks, were from Modern Baby (UG/F, Winway Building, 50 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2525 3711) and cost about HK$9,000. The curtains and roller blinds cost HK$5,243 and were made by Tin Shing Curtain.
TRIED + TESTED
Hall of frames Architect Mae Kwan made good use of the corridor leading to the bedrooms, lining one wall with full-height cupboards hidden behind mirrors, built for HK$40,000, by Chun Lok Engineering. The sleeping quarters and corridor can be separated from the living area by a sliding door, transforming the corridor into an additional walk-in dressing room.