Solo in SoHo
When it came to designing his apartment, a Mid-Levels homeowner danced to his own tune
Text Adele Brunner / Photography Jonathan Wong / Styling David Roden
The beauty of living on your own is that you do not have to compromise when it comes to decor.
Harold Ho took this principle a step further by eschewing the services of designers and architects and coming up with the interior plan for his 1,100 sq ft apartment himself.
“I co-operate with people every day at work but I don’t want to do that regarding the style of my home,” says Ho, who works in the fashion industry. “I know exactly what I like and how I want my apartment to look. I didn’t use an architect or a designer but I employed a contractor to carry out my ideas. I also had help from a Bang & Olufsen technician on the wiring and Jarvis Ho of [furniture company] Design Link.”
Ho and his contractor gutted the 14-year-old Mid-Levels flat, turning several small, cramped rooms into fewer but larger spaces. Two became the master bedroom and another two the en-suite bathroom.
“I made a super large bathroom relative to the size of the apartment as I wanted to incorporate a good-sized Boffi bath,” he says. “I also don’t like lines, so I installed a single piece of Corian on the bathroom wall.
You don’t normally find Corian in bathrooms – it is a typical kitchen material – but I like doing quirky things.”
The small guest bathroom goes against the grain, too, with dark tiles and sleek fixtures and fittings.
“The guest bathroom is small but I decided not to change it as I don’t have many guests,” says Ho. “I still wanted it to be striking and the dark colour does that.”
Ho is a fan of minimalism and likes to keep his home simple and timeless.
Sockets, covered in stainless steel, are set into the floor so as not to mar the walls.
The lighting has also been kept subtle; there are no ceiling lights and only one pendant lamp in the flat. Not surprisingly, there are also no visible cables.
“All the wiring and cabling had to be done first so I had to think carefully about the layout of the apartment – what I would need in the way of technology and where I would use it,” says Ho. “For example, I enjoy listening to music so I have speakers in almost every room.”
Furniture has also been kept to a minimum but pieces such as the sofa, pendant light and soft “marble” footrests in the living room are large, dramatic and make strong design statements. Particularly eye-catching is the artwork. Ho’s friend and art consultant Calvin Hui, of 3812 Contemporary Art Projects, advised him on certain pieces, such as the sizeable canvas of a fish, by artist Xiao Kegang.
“Furniture I know about but I needed help with art,” says Ho. “I wasn’t sure at first [about the painting] but now I love it. It is perfect for the apartment and is the first thing you see when you enter.” While Ho admits that lighting is not his passion, he likes the atmosphere and the smell created by candles and has a freestanding fireplace in a corner of the living area. Elegant and almost invisible, the fire is run on bioethanol, a clean-burning fuel that does not require the installation of a ventilation system or flue.
“People think I’m crazy to have a fireplace in Hong Kong but I like it,” says Ho.
“Hong Kong can get quite damp and chilly in the winter and although it looks small, it warms the flat quickly. And there is something special about flames. They create a unique ambience.”
Ho is satisfied with the way his apartment has turned out but is not overly sentimental about it. “You need and want different things at different ages,” he says. “Right now, I am very happy coming home to this apartment but when I decide to sell it I will sell even my smallest possessions with it and start all over again.”
Dining area The BeoSound 9000 CD player is by Bang & Olufsen (3/F, One Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay, tel: 2882 1782) and the fish painting, by Xiao Kegang, came from 3812 Contemporary Art Projects (10/F, 12 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, tel: 2153 3812). The Big Foot European oiled oak table (HK$47,250) and Backenzahn European oiled walnut stool (HK$13,430) are both by German brand e15 and are available from Design Link (1/F, Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2868 0991). The Gliss chairs cost HK$16,800 each from Apartment (62 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2882 2198) and the silver-coated EB28 table lamp (HK$60,000), designed by Eduard-Wilfrid Buquet, came from Tecnolumen at Magazzini Vivace (9/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2814 1663). The Burmese solid teak flooring cost HK$166 a square foot from New Pond (330B Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2591 6868).
Butterflies The wall by the entrance to the apartment features 10 butterflies (about HK$550 each) made from vintage fine-bone china plates. Ho spotted them in the W Hotel in Taiwan and tracked them down to a company in Australia called Lightly (www.lightly.com.au).
Living area Almost an artwork in its own right, the Paper Chandelier pendant lamp, by Moooi, cost HK$22,900; the Nebula Nine sofa, from the Diesel collection by Moroso, was HK$101,340; the ball-shaped footrests, by Cerruti Baleri, were HK$6,920 each; the marble-topped Enoki side tables cost HK$11,250 (small) and HK$12,750 (large); and the Ghost fireplace by Ecosmart was HK$20,900. All were purchased from Design Link.
Kitchen The kitchen cabinets were installed by Ho’s contractor, Hui Ka-bun (tel: 9251 5471), for HK$2,200 a square foot. The tap (HK$20,000) came from Boffi (81Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2577 5764).
Wardrobe Ho’s contractor made the fitted wardrobe in the master bedroom from chipboard for a total of HK$27,000. The Vermino wool felt rug by Alfredo Haberli for Ruckstuhl cost HK$10,130 from Design Link.
Master bedroom The Treca bed and mattress cost HK$54,340 from Magazzini Vivace and the bedspread was HK$20,000 from Practical International Trading (16/F, Fashion Centre, 51Wing Hong Street, Lai Chi Kok, tel: 2763 0350). The silver-coated EB27 bedside lamps, designed by Buquet, cost HK$45,000 each from Tecnolumen at Magazzini Vivace.
Bathroom Harold Ho's guest bathroom features a crystal candleholder (HK$10,600) from Baccarat (1/F, Prince’s Building, Central, tel: 2739 2378). The Pipe stainless-steel shower (HK$45,000) was designed by Marcel Wanders for Boffi.
Above board Although Harold Ho went for conventional flooring throughout most of his Mid-Levels apartment, in the galley kitchen he used reconditioned veneer boards. They came from a dismantled pier on the mainland and cost HK$166 a square foot (discounted from HK$220 a square foot) from New Pond (330B Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2591 6868). Whatever you spill on them only adds to the character. The "gold" bar doorstop (HK$800) was created by Israeli-born designer Arik Levy for Eno, and acquired from the online store of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (www.mcachicagostore.org). Inscriptions include the date that women were first allowed into the London Stock Exchange: 1973.