Text Charmaine Chan / Styling David Roden / Photography John Butlin
British venture capitalist Samuel Adams knows a thing or two about real-estate investment: before moving into his 2,500 sq ft flat on Seymour Road, Mid-Levels, he had bought and sold scores of properties, including a house in Clear Water Bay that had been his home for five years.
But while Adams’ property portfolio requires his full attention to details such as usable area, layout and style, when it came to his latest abode he was happy to relinquish some of the control to interior designer Laura Cheung. The pair zeroed in on the desired look for Adams’ three-bedroom apartment, situated in a building so new you can almost smell the paint.
By consolidating furniture from two flats he’d recently sold (one on the same road; the other in New York), they worked out what was important to him, and in so doing articulated a personal aesthetic years in the making.
“He had everything laid out here,” says Cheung, pointing to the bright, open living area surrounded by glass walls. “So it was yes, no, no; what we are keeping and what we are throwing out.”
Hoping that soon he’ll be spending more time in Hong Kong – normally he’s home, he says, just long enough for his washing to dry – Adams also sought Cheung’s assistance with sourcing soft furnishings and quirky accessories, most of which came from Lala Curio, the homeware store she founded this year.
Cheung also helped turn a corridor into a “gallery” by choosing for its walls photographs, mostly taken by Adams while on a road trip across the United States two years ago, and a series of mirrors (see Tried + tested).
Apart from a walk-in wardrobe that Adams built into the master bedroom, which had offered little in the way of storage space, the apartment required no tweaks. But furnishing it was a challenge because of the building’s amoeba-like shape and curved walls.
In the living room, the area by one of these shapely walls of glass was turned into a reading or cigar nook, with a vintage trunk from London’s Fortnum & Mason providing only the scantiest obstruction to the view of the sea in the distance and that of the urban conurbation below. Here, as throughout the flat, are items from American retailer Restoration Hardware.
“When I fitted out my New York apartment two years ago, 80 per cent [of furnishings] was from them,” Adams says, adding that the shop doesn’t ship outside of North America. “I knew it was stuff I’d want to keep so I could ship it [here] later. So that was the strategy.”
Bookshelves in the living area are also conversation starters and not just because of their unusual design. Names such as Yotam Ottolenghi and Joel Robuchon fill the ledges, hinting at another of Adams’ hobbies: cooking.
So what does he think of the two kitchens – one open, one closed – that came with the apartment?
Of the exposed triangular island, which accommodates an induction cooker on top and a fridge below, he says, “The concept is not very practical … although you’ve got a storage area that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.” Neither is he sold on the “wet” kitchen a step away. “This is more designed for Chinese cooking because you can close it off,” he says, adding that he would have preferred one open kitchen with a “massive island” and unimpeded access to the dining table. “It’s down to your style of cooking.”
Just as Adams has broadened his interests by taking cookery courses and learning photography, his taste in interior design has evolved.
“It started off being contemporary but it’s softened a little,” he says, looking around his picture-perfect apartment. “I didn’t have vintage before and I didn’t have industrial before.
That’s the evolution.”
Living room The Aviator Tomcat armchairs (about HK$19,000 each) came from Timothy Oulton (15 Gough Street, Central, tel: 2161 1742) and behind them are two mahogany and brushedbronze bookshelves (HK$183,000 for the pair) from Magazzini Vivace (Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2521 3282). The Dida round tables (large, HK$14,900; small, HK$12,500) and Magnum sofa (HK$88,000) were from Le Cadre Gallery (Ruttonjee Centre, tel: 2526 1068). The low coffee table (HK$35,000) came from B&B Italia (3 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai, tel: 3102 3189). On top of it are a chess board bought years ago from Barneys New York (www.barneys.com) and items including boxes (HK$550 to HK$1,500), a metal ball (HK$850) and a glass dome (HK$950) from Lala Curio (www.lalacurio.com), which also supplied the black-and-white lamp (HK$2,100) and cloisonné table (HK$18,900) on which it sits. At the forefront is a nest of tables from Organic Modernism (organicmodernism.com) in New York. The rug beneath the coffee table was bought several years ago from Restoration Hardware (www.restorationhardware.com) in the US, as were the stools by the kitchen island. The silk/cashmere rug (HK$55,000) was from Tai Ping Carpets (Prince’s Building, Central, tel: 2522 7138).
Living room detail By one of the curved glass walls is a trunk bought years ago from Fortnum & Mason (www.fortnumandmason.com) in London. The white bench was bought several years ago from Restoration Hardware and the cloisonné cigar box (HK$2,200) on it came from Lala Curio, which also provided the large metal ball (HK$850). The throw on the bench came from Jonathan Adler (www.jonathanadler.com) in the US. The pots by the window were from West Elm (www.westelm.com), also in the US.
Dining area The 1930s brass shelving unit, from an old New York department store, was sourced through 1stdibs (www.1stdibs.com). The wooden dining table (HK$95,000), with brushed steel legs, came from Le Cadre Gallery, as did the dining chairs (HK$15,000 each). On the table are a pair of “spike balls” (large, HK$1,250; small HK$850) and an ice bucket (HK$1,800) from Lala Curio. The samurai painting came from a gallery in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. On the kitchen island are glass pyramid boxes (HK$880) and gold candleholders (HK$360 each) from Lala Curio.
Walk-in wardrobe Samuel Adams had the walk-in wardrobe built on the far side of the master bedroom for HK$58,000. The runner on the floor came from Oriental Rugs (The Arcade, 100 Cyberport Road, Cyberport, Pok Fu Lam, tel: 2543 4565). The standing, antiqued mirror came from Restoration Hardware.
Master bedroom The Maxalto bed (HK$152,000) and bedside tables (HK$24,100 each) were from Dentro (Wilson House, 19 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2866 8829). The bronze-and-brass bedside lamps (HK$45,000 for the pair) were custom made by Decorus Furniture (www.decorusfurniture.co.uk) in London. Bought at Restoration Hardware several years ago were the standing mirror, with antiqued finish, and the 60s Link Bench. The Turkish handmade fabric on it was a gift. The chair was bought years ago from Flair (www.flairhomecollection.com) in New York. The rug (HK$45,000) was from Tai Ping Carpets. The painting, by Craig Alan, came from Whitewall Galleries (www.whitewallgalleries.com) in London.
En-suite bathroom Adams did little to the marble-look bathroom apart from decorate it with eight small embroidered works of 50s erotica, by Yvonne Beever, from online shop www.20ltd.com.
"Mirrors amplify the space and the antiquing adds depth," she says.
Although Adams bought the mirrors already antiqued, from Restoration Hardware, the same effect can be achieved on regular mirrors by using paint stripper and hydrochloric acid to produce the splotchy look. How distressed you want the mirror to look is up to you. Just be sure to exercise caution.