Text and styling Viv Jones / Photographs Jonathan Wong
Transforming a 300 sq ft Mong Kok apartment into an appealing home doesn’t sound easy but that was the brief handed to interior designer Debi Yeung-Salansy by a banker client.
Boasting high ceilings, a pair of balconies and two large windows, the one-bedroom flat, which was bought as an investment, had an airy feel despite its small footprint.
However, an awkward layout – the kitchen has the best view and the balconies run off the bedroom and bathroom – plus the need to create storage and space to accommodate a guest proved challenging.
“In a small apartment like this, the easiest way to maximise the space is to adopt a minimalist design,” Yeung-Salansy says. “Unfortunately, the owner doesn’t like that style, so I had to think again.
“Since the flat was to be rented out, it couldn’t be too feminine. The owner’s personal preference was for a more classic style. I also had to fit a lot of furniture into a small amount of space and an awkward layout.
How to do this without the apartment feeling cluttered was my main concern.”
Her solution was to have furniture custom made for the space and to use modern colours and Chinese-style pieces to create a contemporary look.
“Most importantly, we needed to make the apartment stand out in the marketplace to attract tenants,” Yeung- Salansy says. “It worked: the flat was rented out almost as soon as the last piece of furniture was installed.”
The tenant, who works as a model, says: “I’d seen other apartments in this complex but I just didn’t know what to do with the space.
“When I walked in here, I loved the design and it was an easy decision.”
Because the tenant spends a lot of time at home and enjoys cooking and entertaining, the large window seat in the kitchen/living area is a natural place in which to hang out with friends.
“It’s the smallest flat I’ve ever lived in but the design and all the storage space make it very comfortable,” she says.
Yeung-Salansy carved out a seating area in which to watch television; a small dining area, with a narrow bar table and stool; a kitchen; and a comfortable window seat that converts into a guest bed. In the bedroom, a hydraulic bed hides storage space underneath while two tall Chinese-style cabinets (one in the bedroom and one in the living area) offer further storage options.
“Much of the furniture – such as the sofa, TV cabinet and dining table – had to be slightly narrower than usual to work in the space,” says Yeung-Salansy, who also designed a portable ottoman that fits into the window seat, creating the guest bed, while doubling as extra storage (see Tried + tested).
The Chinese cabinets are extra tall to take advantage of the high ceilings and were each made in two pieces, so they would fit into the lift. For proportions’ sake, the designer insisted on keeping the larger piece on top, which proved challenging when it came to installation.
“To lift the much-heavier piece and slot it into the lower part was difficult, particularly in this small space.
That we did it without anyone getting hurt was an achievement in itself,” she says, laughing.
Painting the plain white walls in natural tones has added depth to the space and created a calm sanctuary in the bedroom. A sophisticated colour palette of yellow ochre, grey, olive green and tan enlivened with bright accents adds vibrancy and interest.
By packing a huge amount of creativity into such a tiny space, Yeung-Salansy seems to have met her client’s brief – just ask the happy tenant.
Double duty Debi Yeung-Salansy killed two birds with one stone when she created a generous guest bed and extra storage. The designer had mattress cushions custom made for the L-shaped window seat, into which neatly slots a matching ottoman, turning the seat into a comfortable bed. With a levered lid, the ottoman provides storage for bed-ding and is stashed beneath the shoe cupboard when not needed. The ottoman (HK$6,500) was made by Choi Designs.