Text Christopher DeWolf / Photography Jonathan Wong / Stylist David Roden
Hong Kong apartments tend to come with a problem, according to interior designer Monique McLintock: “Where do you put all your stuff ?” It’s not so much a question of size as one of smart storage. In a city of small, cluttered living spaces, finding room to conceal a suitcase or an ironing board is rarely simple.
Not so, however, in McLintock’s latest project: a 1,000 sq ft, one-bedroom flat in Sheung Wan that was snapped up soon after it was put on the market.
When she embarked on the renovation, the space was an empty shell.
“We stripped everything down to the concrete,” she says. Her goal: to build a home that feels as open and spacious as it is functional. “Everything has a place,” she says. “You don’t walk in and think,
‘Where do I put this?
Where do I put that?’ “We kept it light and neutral,” says McLintock. “It’s perfect for a couple who love to cook and entertain, and who want a bit of that American or Australian lifestyle where you can sit around a big table in the evening and be comfortable.”
The flat was designed with visitors in mind. At the entrance, a discreet cupboard contains space for shoes, jackets and bags. Connecting the foyer to the bedroom is a long corridor, part of which can be partitioned off to create a guest toilet.
The home’s priorities become especially clear in the open kitchen and dining area and, behind a white-brick pillar, the comfortable living space. The different parts of the room are linked by a continuous row of windows looking out on to Wing Lok Street.
“People make opinions on flats the way they do with other people – they either love them or hate them on first glance,” says McLintock. “We wanted the whole space to be visible the minute you walk in the door.”
There were a few obstacles to achieving that goal. For one, there was the pillar that couldn’t be moved for structural reasons. McLintock responded by cladding it in white brick, mirroring a white-brick wall on the opposite side of the room, which made it feel less obtrusive.
Also, the apartment is “a bit triangle-shaped”, says McLintock, noting how the street-facing wall is angled inwards, making the living area narrower than the dining room. She countered this by installing the wood flooring diagonally. “It keeps it from feeling lopsided,” she says.
White walls, white kitchen cabinetry and large, whiteframed windows make the apartment feel spacious, but textural diversity keeps things interesting. Feature pieces include the dining table, which is made from reclaimed wood and has wrought-iron legs, and a custom-designed grey and white wool rug in the living room.
Given its location, in an old dried-seafood district, McLintock felt it was especially important to retain some of the flat’s original fixtures, to give it context.
Exposed water pipes run along the ceiling and, next to the entrance, one of the original metal window bars has been retained as a nod to the building’s 1960s origins.
A similar effect is achieved by stainless-steel skirting boards, complemented by stainless-steel power outlets.
“Everyone just goes to white as a default, but the metal adds a bit of edge,” she says.
Perhaps most crucially, the space feels complete but not full. The wood-and-wrought-iron bookcase is empty, awaiting its first volumes, and parts of the walls were left blank, with art in mind.
“That’s important,” says McLintock. “It’s ready for someone to move in, but they can easily make the flat their own.”
Dining room and kitchen The reclaimed-wood-and-wroughtiron dining table (HK$14,280 from Timothy Oulton, 15 Gough Street, Central, tel: 2161 1742) is complemented by a wood-andiron bookcase (HK$5,760) from G.O.D. (various locations; www.god.com.hk) and dining chairs (HK$1,440 each) from Marc James Design (16/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2517 2000).
Mirror A reclaimed-wood mirror (HK$3,480) from Timothy Oulton connects the dining room with the foyer, for which interior designer Monique McLintock (Monique McLintock Interiors, 3/F, Tai Shing Building, 43 Bonham Strand West, Sheung Wan, tel: 6779 3791) designed an oak console (HK$4,500) with a discreet drawer for storing keys, wallets and other small items. The concrete walls were covered with white-painted brick to give the space a loft-like feel. The painting, picked up in Thailand, is owned by McLintock.
Living room detail In one corner of the living room is a replica of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona chair (HK$3,600) and ottoman (HK$2,100), from Kai Ngai Furniture and Decoration (328 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2572 3739). The basket table (HK$3,800) came from TREE (28/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2870 1582) and the lamp (HK$750) was from Ikea (various locations: www.ikea.com.hk).
Bedroom The queen-sized bed (HK$14,400 from G.O.D.) is equipped with a hydraulic lift allowing for easy access to the storage space beneath. The bedside table (HK$500) came from Ikea. A linen blind (HK$1,600) from Bricks and Stones (97 Queens Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2520 0577) covers the window, which opens onto a small lightwell.
Living room The sofa (HK$28,000) and ottoman (HK$5,000) were designed by McLintock and made with Belgian linen, along with a black leather-and-chrome side table (HK$1,560). The ottoman’s top, which conceals storage space within, can be flipped to create a coffee table.
Bathroom The entrance and bedroom are connected by a long, narrow bathroom. A mirrored wall makes the space feel larger than it is, while cabinets provide storage for a laundry basket, toilet paper and toiletries. The sinks (HK$1,800 each) and taps (HK$1,900 each) were from Classic Bathroom Accessories (249 Lockhart Road, tel: 2802 0382). The floor and wall tiles (60cm x 60cm) were HK$89 each and came from Marcopolo Ceramic (231 Lockhart Road, tel: 2877 2150). The mosaic tiles in the shower cubicle came from a store that has since closed. The heated towel rack (HK$3,800) came from Vincent Sanitaryware (288 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 2687). The shower hardware came from Grohe (various locations; www.grohe.hk) and includes a showerhead (HK$5,853), tap (HK$2,403) and handheld shower (HK$1,100).
TRIED + TESTED
Pillar of wisdom Interior designer Monique McLintock (Monique McLintock Interiors, 3/F, Tai Shing Building, 43 Bonham Strand West, Sheung Wan, tel: 6779 3791) had to design around a supporting pillar that jutted out from the wall but wasn't wide enough to support a mounted television. She had a false wall built on either side of the pillar, but instead of filling it in, she used the space as a discreet cabinet for awkward household items such as the ironing board and vacuum cleaner. "A lot of the time, when people design, they forget where all the stuff will go," she says.