Text Catherine Shaw / Photography Ulso Tsang
For most interior designers, recommendations by satisfied homeowners are the key to finding new clients. But for Jennifer Hui Kit-man, it was the interiors she designed for an exclusive 10,000 sq ft Hong Kong nightclub that attracted the attention of Jimmy and Marian Chen.
The couple, who divide their time between their hometown, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, own a 2,200 sq ft flat on Mount Davis and wanted to transform it from a rental property into an elegant pied-à-terre for their increasingly frequent visits to the city.
“The apartment hadn’t been renovated for many years,” says Hui, of the flat her clients had bought in the 1970s. “So we gutted the space, removed all fixtures and installed new bathrooms and a new kitchen.”
The couple, in their 60s, had been impressed by the understated glamour and lighting seen in Hui’s nightclub project, and had a clear idea of what they wanted: an elegant, Western-style home they could use both for entertaining friends and to accommodate their young grandson when he visited.
“The guest bedrooms needed to be child-friendly but still chic enough for older guests,” says Hui.
The solution was to create two distinct styles, with a darker toned, masculine room that doubles as a study and a lighter blond-wood interior in the child-friendly alternative. Also updated were the master and guest bathrooms. In the latter, a bath was replaced with an open shower to create a brighter space.
Opening the public areas was another suggestion.
Hui convinced the Chens, who work in the real-estate business, that by removing a wall in the sitting room they could create a contemporary kitchen that blended seamlessly into a sleek entertainment space, incorporating both dining and lounge areas.
“The kitchen counter can be used for relaxed buffet dining but the space is still adaptable for a sophisticated dinner party,” Hui says. “The areas are also visually linked by a marble floor while, within the kitchen, a custom-designed mosaic pattern creates a distinctive and luxurious touch you don’t normally see in that sort of functional area.”
What was a separate laundry has been incorporated into the kitchen, to create more room for appliances.
The designer, whose projects are evenly split between commercial and residential, says she enjoys adding a personal touch by using unusual decorative pieces that she buys on her travels.
“I’ll photograph the things I’ve bought before storing them in my warehouse in Hong Kong so I know exactly what I have available. It means you can create a layered feel to a space with unique items.”
With the client residing in Shanghai and the project having a timeframe of a tight three months, including design and fit-out, mood boards proved invaluable.
“The couple’s home in China is very different to what we created in Hong Kong, but they were looking for something different,” says Hui. “It wasn’t about recreating what they already had.”
Several other key design decisions helped transform the home. Rather than having a bedroom door open onto the dining area, Hui has arranged it so the room is now entered from a corridor. She also updated the windows, which had consisted of several small glass panes.
“The apartment has a wonderful sea view but it would have taken a long time to get the Building Department’s permission to replace the windows so, instead, we kept the old frames and installed one single glass pane, which transforms the space.”
The clients’ relatively modest budget also tested Hui’s problem-solving abilities.
“[They] wanted a prestigious marble floor at the entrance,” she says. “I found an amazing marble from China that was a fraction of the price of Italian marble. I had to sift through 60 pieces to find four matching panels, but it was worth it.
“It sets the tone for the rest of the home.”
Living room nook The oak flooring (HK$76 per square foot) came from Beauty Floor Engineering (272A Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 3427 8640) and the marble flooring (HK$4,300 per square foot) from Welmax Marble (1/F, Block 14, Treasure Court, Castle Peak Road, Hung Shui Kiu, tel: 2865 3893). Jennifer Hui, of Jennifer H Lifestyle Design (1 Tai Ping Shan Street, Sheung Wan, tel: 2621 6883), found the classic Eames chair and footstool (HK$43,000 in total) at Manks (3/F, The Factory, 1 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang, tel: 2522 2115). She added a quirky “&” sign (HK$600) from Offspring (15/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2518 7771) and silver pots (from HK$1,380 to HK$2,690) and white elephant ornaments (HK$595 and HK$879) from Fink (20/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 3520 2526). Behind the chair is a floor lamp (HK$730) from Tint Living (7/F, Block C, Seaview Estate, 2 Watson Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 3664 3664). The dark bowl (HK$438), with a small cactus, was from Brighten (28 Flower Market Road, Mong Kok, tel: 2381 5330) while the steel frogs on stands (HK$1,272 per pair) and the two standing sculptures (HK$12,000 per pair) were from Simply Decor (6/F, The Factory, tel: 2357 9738). From Indigo Living (6/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2555 0540) were the table (HK$8,790) at the forefront and the silver bowls (HK$590 to HK$950) on top. The dining table (HK$19,932), console table (HK$14,950) and lamp (HK$7,450) were from Tree (28/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2870 1582). The dining chairs (HK$2,360 each) came from Tint Living. Hui found the stone sculpture (HK$1,100) at Cat Street Antique (32 Upper Lascar Row, Sheung Wan, tel: 2559 1815). On the console, the white vases (from HK$650 to HK$1,150 depending on size) were from Fink. Beneath it is a lantern (HK$950) from Offspring.
Living room The curtains, sofa, cushions, armchairs and ottoman cost a total of HK$64,500 from Sheryia Curtain (1 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2525 6596). The rug (HK$43,760) was from Tai Ping Carpets (Prince’s Building, Central, tel: 2522 7138). Hui added a coffee table (HK$7,600) from Inside (Prince’s Building, tel: 2537 6298) and a side table (HK$5,790) from Indigo Living. The ceramic elephants from Fink cost from HK$595 to HK$879, depending on size. The lanterns on the balcony (from HK$999 to HK$1,690) were from Indigo Living while the standing lamp (HK$3,987) was from Simply Decor. Decorative pieces include green boxes (HK$1,200; Old Shanghai, 15/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 3527 3135), a white Buddha head (HK$2,252; Simply Decor) and gold leaf sculptures (from HK$120 to HK$230; Tint Living). The wooden apricots (HK$1,800 for the set; Indigo Living), ceramic egg shells (HK$700 for the set; Brighten) and hanging men (HK$7,040 for the pair; Tint Living) add texture and interest.
Entrance The Buddha painting was found at Simply Decor. Hui designed the two black and gold ceiling lamp shades (HK$2,400 each), which were made by Ricardo Lighting (24/F, Abba Commercial Building, 223 Aberdeen Main Road, Aberdeen, tel: 2873 3900). The poster of the Eiffel Tower (HK$4,950) was from Tint Living. Stone (HK$2,800) for the table was sourced from Tin Shing Marble (Siu On Centre, 188 Lockhart Road, tel: 2396 6917). The two sculptures (from HK$370 to HK$500) were from Tint Living while the vase (HK$1,450) and set of four glasses (HK$1,500) were sourced from I.D. (Prince’s Building, tel: 2523 3006).
Guest bedroom The carpet (HK$658) was from Ikea (various locations; www.ikea.com.hk). Hui designed the raised floor, cupboards and wall panel, all of which were made by Hang Loon Design & Contracting (cost included in the total contract sum of HK$1.8 million; 3/F, Jones Mansion, 22 Cheung Hong Street, North Point, tel: 9039 6456). The sheep was from a shop that has since closed. Hui sourced the bed cover (HK$1,400) and rabbits (HK$230 each) from Inside.
Kitchen The kitchen cupboards (HK$110,000) and Siemens appliances were sourced from Erste (381 Lockhart Road, tel: 9444 0666). The tile pattern was designed by Hui. The marble for the high table (HK$2,800) was supplied by Tin Shing Marble and the stools were from a shop that has since closed. Hui customdesigned the ceiling lights made by Ricardo Lighting (HK$3,000 in total) and sliding door made by Hang Loon Design & Contracting. The door’s cost was included in the total contract sum.
Master bathroom Hui lined the sides of the Toto bath (HK$9,530; VSC Building Products, 1/F, East Town Building, 41 Lockhart Road, tel: 2186 8288) with sand-blasted granite (HK$3,000 from Tin Shing Marble and added a Gessi shower (HK$40,000) from Colourliving (333 Lockhart Road, tel: 2295 6881). The fibrewood shower tray was from Beauty Floor Engineering and cost HK$3,000.
Master bedroom The bedhead, curtains and cushions (HK$38,000 in total) were supplied by Sheryia Curtain. The lamps were designed by Hui and manufactured by Ricardo Lighting for HK$4,800 per set. The feathers and birds in trees were handpainted for HK$5,000 by local artist/illustrator Karl Hung (Sing Win Factory Building, 15 Shing Yip Street, Kwun Tong, tel: 2345 9989). The three prints (HK$3,490 in total) above the bedhead are from Indigo Living. The sofa and cushions (HK$7,100 in total) came from Sheryia Curtain and the bedside tables (HK$4,950 each) were from Tree. The rug (HK$17,200) was from Tai Ping Carpets.
Dinner by candlelight Interior designer Jennifer Hui lined the surface of the hanging candle-inspired overhead light with a dark reflective glass to emphasise the soft glow when dining at night. "It creates an amazing effect in the room," she says. The fixture (HK$50,000) was designed by Hui and made by Ricardo Lighting.