Text Charmaine Chan / Pictures John Butlin


What comes to mind when you think of classical interiors? Ornate tiles?

Extravagant wall panels?

Giant, sparkly chandeliers? The lobby of the Kowloon Shangri-La?

Whatever image is conjured up, it is clear the term is used loosely these days.

Styles are being mixed and matched worldwide, including in Hong Kong, where Jason Caroline Design recently revamped a south side home in a style best described as “refined classical with modern touches”. Add to that elements of the Hamptons, Provence and … Japan.

“The thing about Hong Kong is that we’re exposed to so many cultures,” says Caroline Ma, who undertook the project with her husband, Jason Yung. Together with their mainland clients, who requested a “classical” interior for their threestorey, 3,500 sq ft house, they came up with a design faithful to classical detailing that suited a young family.

Take, for example, the Chinese interpretation of a Japanese garden, built beside the foyer and providing a tranquil view from the kitchen.

“One request from our client was that when he puts on his shoes in the morning he wants to do so in fresh air,” says Ma, adding that the man of the house also likes contemplating the weather before heading out. Both wishes have been met with the installation of glass bi-fold doors between the garden and simple foyer: inside there is a bench and outside pebbles and rocks form the zen-like setting for a solitary lemon tree, which provides shade for a family of stone turtles acquired for fung shui purposes.

The design fusion continues into the living areas, where wall moulding, a feature of classical design, has been used.

“If it’s flatter, it looks cheap and like a stage set,” says Ma, explaining why the moulding is 5cm deep. “But if it pokes out too much, it wastes space.”

A handsome, contemporary light fixture in the dining area complements the lighting in the lounge, which is anchored by a chandelier that impresses, but with pared-back glit.

ZStill, there is plenty of grandeur in the room, provided by a high ceiling, a shimmering mother-of-pearl feature wall and a lustrous carpet. If the style of furniture hints at European influence, that idea becomes more pronounced in the Water Lilies-inspired painting by the clients’ 12-year-old daughter, who is obviously a fan of Monet.

While much thought was given to the feature lighting in the living areas, the prominent stair railing required even more deliberation.

“This is what gives [the interior] its character,” says Ma. “Glass doesn’t match, anything in white would have looked cheap and they didn’t want anything busy,” she says, explaining how the dark wood and black-metal combination was decided upon. “Finally we found this pattern, which was simple enough, but not too simple.”

In a similar vein, sandstone was chosen for the floor tiling, along with an equally muted sandstone mosaic border. “This is simplified classical,” says Ma. “A real classical style would have had a more elaborate border.”

The sumptuous but unfussy aesthetic extends into the master suite, which shares space on the first floor with two children’s rooms, each with its own bathroom. As with the living areas, all that was requested was a light colour scheme. Jason Caroline Design obliged with white fixtures, chrome hardware and a pearlescent wall of Bisazza mosaics.

On this floor the designers installed a small pantry, so that hot drinks are on tap around the clock. A discreet roller door slides down to conceal the nook when it is not in use. Similar niches (see Tried + tested) were installed near the dining area. These pantries highlight how classical interiors can accommodate modern conveniences. Which may be why Jason Caroline Design is finding clients increasingly warming to the look.

“Some are sick of styles that are too simple, too modern,” Ma says. “They associate ultra modern with ‘not practical’. And some feel it is not luxurious enough.” No doubt the shift also owes much to the desire to play around with looks. Anyway, says Ma, “all homes are eclectic these days. Otherwise they become showrooms.”



Living area Setting the tone in the living room is a Barovier & Toso chandelier (¤12,650/HK$132,000) from Magazzini (Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2521 3282). The Christopher Guy three-seater sofas (HK$92,800 each) and armchairs (HK$52,800 each) came from Farrington Interiors (87 Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2808 0303), which also supplied the Christopher Guy coffee table (HK$29,800). The rug (HK$131,760) came from Fort Street Studio (3/F, Westlands Centre, 20 Westlands Road, Quarry Bay, tel: 2889 5150), the sandstone floor tiles were HK$2,400 per square metre (including installation) at Megawell Engineering (10/F, Shing Yip Industrial Building, 19 Shing Yip Street, Kwun Tong, tel: 2381 9938). The taupe rope border tiles cost HK$2,000 per square metre (including installation) at Fired Earth (24/F, Dominion Centre, 43 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2861 3864). Behind the television is a feature wall covered with mother-of-pearl tiles that cost HK$400 per square foot at Altfield Interiors (11/F, 9 Queen’s Road Central, tel: 2524 4867). The cabinetry, by Jason Caroline Design (14/F, 39 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2517 7510), cost HK$92,800.


Garden The outdoor space, designed by Jason Caroline Design, cost HK$11,200, including plants and stones supplied by Universal Plantation (tel: 6689 0712). German Terrafina boards by Moller (from Joyful Sky, 3/F, CRE Building, 303 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2152 0701) were used for the fence, which cost HK$36,400.


Kitchen The Mobalpa kitchen (HK$428,350) came from Oscar Bath & Kitchen (336 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2988 1491). The floor tiles cost HK$1,700 per square metre at Anta Building Materials Supplier (311A Lockhart Road, tel: 2180 6950).



Dining area Deep, dramatic moulding provides design cohesion throughout the house, including in the dining room. Illumination is provided by Robert Abbey lights over the table (HK$16,350; Altfield Interiors) and sconces on the panelled wall (HK$3,600 each). The Poliform Concorde table (price upon application) and Poltrona Frau Samo chairs (also price upon application) came from VIA (1/F, 3 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai, tel: 3102 3189). The brushed-oak flooring was from Equal (3/F, Phase 2, Ming An Plaza, 8 Sunning Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2881 7066) and cost HK$3,600 per square metre (including installation). The “Grande Opera House” photograph was taken in Sai Kung by John Butlin.



Roof All of the furniture on the roof came from Dedon (32/F, 248 Queen’s Road East, tel: 2529 7233) and cost a total of HK$48,030. The Delta-Exsite Down-Up wall lights (HK$4,800 each) were from Zodiac Lighting (Amber Commercial Building, 70 Morrison Hill Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2882 9082). The Moller decking (HK$2,600 per square metre) came from Joyful Sky.




En-suite bathroom The Hoesch tub (HK$44,500) came from Arnhold (1/F, Dominion Centre, 59 Queen’s Road East, tel: 2529 7489), which also supplied the Hansgrohe hand shower and mixer for a total of HK$14,850. Bisazza mosaic wall tiles cost HK$3,500 per square metre (including installation) at Anta Building Materials Supplier.










Staircase The dark wood and metal banisters (HK$9,850 per linear metre) were designed and built by Jason Caroline Design.








Master bedroom The Thomas Pheasant kingsize bed cost HK$116,652 at Baker Furniture (2/F, Printing House, 6 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2882 0820), which also supplied the Laura Kirar Poignet side tables (HK$47,092 each). From Magazzini were the Promemoria Aziza large armchair and Aziza pouffe (prices upon application). The Robert Abbey wall lamps (HK$3,510 each) came from Altfield Interiors.





Ready to roll  Just off the dining area, a double pantry was built into cabinetry leading to the kitchen. Created by Jason Caroline Design, the nooks feature roller doors (HK$24,300) that, when down, conceal the basin on the left and water dispenser on the right. The Kohler VAS tap cost HK$16,650 from Arnhold.