Text Christopher DeWolf / Pictures Jonathan Wong / Styling David Roden
If you need a home in a city you are intending to spend only about a quarter of your time in, the chances are you’ll want a no-muss, no-fuss property with maximum emphasis on convenience. That is exactly what the owner of a 1,200 sq ft flat in West Kowloon stipulated when he employed Kaye Dong of The Grene Group to redesign its interiors.
With a sweeping view of Victoria Harbour, the flat – a bachelor pad replete with the luxuries of a boutique hotel suite – is a business traveller’s dream: located above Kowloon Station, just one stop from Central and an easy 21-minute journey to Chek Lap Kok on the Airport Express, it’s perfect for Dong’s client, a 38-year-old IT executive who spends most of his time in Singapore.
Says Dong: “His brief was ‘I want to come in with a briefcase and three pairs of undies and settle in.’ He didn’t want to have to worry about anything.”
She started by asking her client which hotels he frequented when he came to Hong Kong.
“His answer was the W and The Upper House, so that gave us some ideas.”
The results reflect those influences.
Dark walls, charcoal carpeting and walnut floors make for a moody, masculine space, but it is one whose edges have been softened by textural elements: mohair-like wallpaper, marble grain, a shaggy rug and curvy Bolefloor planks that eschew straight lines in favour of the wood’s natural contours.
Like many well-designed hotel suites, the flat is open and spacious.
“We wanted everything to be visible the moment you walk in the door,” says Dong.
“We kept the structural walls and knocked all the others down.”
Whereas the flat originally had three closed bedrooms and a closed kitchen, it is now made up of a large kitchen that opens onto a living room and dining area, behind which is a bedroom with an ensuite bathroom and open walk-in closet.
All of the flat’s features, from lighting to climate control to the sound system, are controlled by an iPad mounted next to the front door.
The closet, originally a separate bedroom, is another nod to the owner’s jet-set lifestyle. Beyond an open entrance framed by curved, tinted glass, are open shelves that make it easy to choose the day’s attire. “We had to imagine how the client would use the space – it’s a bit different to a normal residential apartment,” Dong says.
Being a part-time residence, tuckedaway storage spaces were unnecessary.
“We know it will never become cluttered, so we were able to manage it minimally.”
The hotel approach even extends to the bed – the owner insisted on an ultra-king size – which posed something of a challenge.
“It’s very hard to buy sheets for this size of bed in Hong Kong,” says Dong, who was able to find bedding only by quizzing hotels about their suppliers.
That led her to mattress manufacturer Simmons, which was able to ship special linen from the United States.
Another hotel-like feature is The Grene Group’s concierge service, which maintains the apartment when its owner is away.
“I asked his secretary about his preference in toiletries [Aesop] and his favourite snacks [Time Out chocolate bars],” says Dong. “He’ll let us know when he’s coming in, and when he leaves, he sends an SMS so we can clean the flat.”
At first, the owner didn’t even want a kitchen, but Dong felt that crossed too far over the line between hotel and home.
“We had to convince him,” she says. The kitchen is well equipped with appliances but everything is as streamlined as possible, with features like a pull-out drinks fridge built into an island.
“It’s meant less for cooking and more for entertaining,” says Dong. And she knows he’s made good use of it: “I’ve seen the dishes and wine glasses after he’s left.”
Disappearing acts To keep the kitchen uncluttered, appliances can be put away when they aren't needed - and the same goes for unsightly power outlets. This custom-built power bar (HK$4,200 from Einzi) pops out from the kitchen island and disappears when it is not in use.