Text Jane Steer / Styling David Roden / Photography John Butlin
Interior decorator Debbie Pun’s apartment is designed to party. “We meet at the bar,” she jokes, referring to the cocktail counter that dominates and defines her large, open-plan living space.
“We call it the Buddha Bar. The apartment is about the same size as the Buddha Bar in Paris, plus I have hundreds of Buddhas, so it seemed to fit. I even found a Buddha Bar sign in Shambala, which I put outside in the hall when we have parties.”
The marble-topped surface and the freestanding wall behind it are the centrepiece of the 1964 Mid-Levels apartment that Pun and her lawyer husband, Nigel Binnersley, bought 10 years ago and recently renovated for the second time.
“It was a dump!” Pun recalls of first seeing the flat. “But it was a great space – 2,700 square feet, or maybe more. I totally renovated it, with lots of red and black and a bath in the middle of the master suite. But after seven years, I got bored and my son was grown up, so we decided to downsize and rented it out.”
Downsizing, however, didn’t suit the sociable Pun.
“I lasted 14 months. I missed this apartment – the place and the space,” she says. “But it needed renovating again. So we totally gutted it and effectively turned it into two apartments which meet at the bar.”
With an (almost) empty nest – her son, Kai, visits regularly and still has his own room emblazoned with his name (“He thinks it’s weird,” she confesses) – the second renovation allowed Pun to maximise the space for socialising. She switched the former dining and living areas to create a supersized entertainment space, around which the rest of the apartment revolves.
“I downsized the dining table and went for more space,” she says. “We push the table back to dance at parties and, during the day, there’s plenty of room for my yoga mat.”
The bar’s generous proportions were dictated, in part, by a 10-year-old white Minotti sideboard tucked away beneath the shelves of bottles. “I couldn’t throw it away; it’s too good,” Pun says. “So I built the bar around it.”
A bar-owner friend advised her on the lighting, insisting each shelf be lit from below for dramatic effect. “He’s so fussy,” she laughs.
With the social area taking over the centre of the apartment, the living room was divided into two cosy spaces next to the windows, partly separated from the main area by structural pillars and roof beams. It works well.
Tucked into a far corner, the entertainment side is bright and cheerful, with a green sofa, orange felt chair by Ligne Roset and quirky vintage and recycled pieces picked up in Shanghai. It’s the perfect spot for an evening in front of the television. On the sofa, a vividly coloured floral cushion by Versace for H&M is a nod to Kai’s job with the retailer.
“The pillows are so lovely, I went nuts,” Pun says. “I bought loads of them and gave them to friends.”
On the other side of a shelf-lined wall, the “conversation area” has a calmer, more grown-up vibe, with a pair of Minotti sofas facing each other across a reclaimedtimber coffee table. Decorated with potted plants, natural wood and distressed metal, the area has an almost rustic charm, offset by the space-age lines of the Cosmic Angel lamp that flies overhead.
“The conversation is bright and great for my plants,” Pun says. “I picked muted colours to make it relaxing.
I like the natural look, but it’s a change for me. At my company, Debbie Deco, I’m known for working with colours – I even won an award for use of colour at the Inchbald School of Design, in London, where I trained.”
What looks like wood on the walls in the living areas, turns out to be the more ecologically friendly alternative, bamboo.
And giving the space an urban edge are strips of distressed metal wrapped around the corners of the structural pillars and roof beams (see Tried + tested).
“The space is quite loft-like and the metal edging adds to that,” Pun says.
The distressed motif is picked up on the front of the bar and in much of the furniture, particularly in the bedrooms.
“The distressed furniture looks European,” Pun says. “I was working on a project for a client and found these distressed pieces at the Canton Fair, so I ordered some for my client and for myself.”
Many of the pieces and ideas in her home are derived from previous Debbie Deco projects and her latest venture, Sai Ying Pun art gallery Candy Darling.
Adorning the walls are several works by late British painter Arthur Keene, who is represented in Hong Kong by Candy Darling. The paintings are intriguing abstracts and still-lifes in an ethereal palette of greys and blues.
“I don’t think most people like stilllifes any more,” Pun muses. “But I love them. I really don’t care if I don’t sell them; they look better here.”
Dining area The dining chairs (HK$5,000 each) and table (a gift from a client) are by B&B Italia (LG/F, 3 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai, tel: 3102 3189). The ceiling fans were HK$6,500 each from Arteluce (www.arteluce-srl.it).
Living area nook The Minotti sofas and ottoman (HK$80,000 in total) were from Andante (Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2537 9688). The Salvage coffee table (HK$15,980), in reclaimed English timber on cast-iron wheels, was from Tequila Kola (1/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2877 3295). The console tables (HK$2,500 each) were custom made by the contractor, Wing Hang (tel: 9017 2625). The Cosmic Angel ceiling lamp (HK$31,480) came from Artemide (1/F, Ruttonjee Centre, tel: 2523 0333). The painting, by Arthur Keene, came from Candy Darling (5 Po Tuck Street, Shek Tong Tsui, Sai Ying Pun, tel: 9091 7091). The rug (HK$12,000) and small round tables (HK$1,500 each) were from Ligne Roset (16 Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2891 0913). The blinds were made by Dragon Interior (35B Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2523 1843). The table lamps (about HK$3,200 each) came from Maison Martin Margiela (10 Ice House Street, Central, tel: 2869 7707).
Hallway The hallway is lined with custom-made cupboards (HK$32,500) by Wing Hang, containing Debbie Pun’s extensive wardrobe. The console table (HK$11,000 from Tequila Kola) is adorned with a Philippe Starck Max Le Chinois colander from Alessi (www.alessi.com). The painting, Mona Cat by Romero Britto, came from Opera Gallery (W Place, 52 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2810 1208).
Master bedroom Pun reupholstered the headboard of her old bed from G.O.D (about HK$20,000; www.god.com.hk) in luxurious velvet to match the new colour scheme. The distressed chests of drawers were HK$4,500 each from Hangzhou-based Kuka Home (www.kukahome.com). The tallboy (HK$5,000) was custom made by Wing Hang and the upcycled art-deco bedside unit (HK$4,000) came from Tsai Yun Studio (www.tsaiyunstudio.com), in Shanghai. The mirrors were bought about 10 years ago from a company in the Philippines that has since closed. The wallpaper is by Osborne & Little and came from Kinsan (59 Wyndham Street, tel: 2526 2309). The bedside lamps were HK$1,800 each from Artitude (68A Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2576 1566).
Study space The distressed desk (HK$9,500) was from Shambala (2/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2555 2997). The Italian chair was purchased from a shop in Happy Valley about 20 years ago. The painting, by Keene, was from Candy Darling. Leaning against the wall is a mirror bought at an exhibition in the Convention and Exhibition Centre about 10 years ago. The painted bin came from Shanghai and the walls are covered in Crocodilo Vinyl wallpaper (HK$1,615 per roll) by Osborne & Little from Kinsan.
Kitchen The kitchen cabinets (HK$180,000 in total) were installed by contractor Sam Leung (tel: 9236 2196). The overhead lamps were (HK$400 each) from PLC (210 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2519 6275). The appliances are by Smeg (www.smeg.hk).
Bar The “Buddha Bar” (HK$78,000) was designed by Debbie Deco and custom made by Wing Hang. The barstools (HK$2,460 each) were from Tequila Kola. The statement lamp is the Copernico Sospensione (HK$28,800) from Artemide.
Bathroom The sinks (HK$15,000 each) and Goccia taps by Gessi (HK$7,000 each) were from Colourliving (333 Lockhart Road, tel: 2510 2666). The units beneath the sinks were custom made by Wing Hang for HK$6,500 and the mirror units and Hollywood-style lights were from Ikea (www.ikea.com.hk).
Show your metal Distressed-metal edging lends an urban vibe to the structural columns in the entertaining area.
"The metal protects the corners of the pillars - it has to be hard-core because we have some hard-core parties," Pun jokes.
The bamboo wall-covering and metal edging were sourced by the contractor, Wing Hang. The Dali Piano Agile floor-standing speakers (www.dali-speakers.com) were bought years ago.