House hunting can be time-consuming and often fruitless - unless you're Jude Bailey and have that rarest of treasures in your corner: an estate agent who knows exactly what you're looking for.
"There were a number of properties on the market but my agent told me he had only one house he was going to bother taking me to view. This was it," she says.
It was love at first sight. Two years ago, Bailey and her two children, Max and Tia (now aged 12 and 10, respectively), moved into the 2,100 sq ft village house in Sai Kung after she had made a few alterations.
A new-build when she bought it, the contemporary-style house had been finished to a basic level, with flooring, a fitted kitchen and plumbed-in bathrooms, but it was essentially a blank canvas. To some this would have seemed daunting, but Bailey - an interior architecture graduate who moved to Hong Kong from her native England 18 years ago to work for a design company - says it was her idea of heaven.
"Nobody had lived in the house so it was in a bit of a state but that allowed me to stamp my mark on it," she says. "There were blank walls and, strangely, no front door. Apart from doing a few things to the kitchen, such as adding a backsplash, altering the hob and extending the island, the most I had to do structurally was add built-in storage, because there was none anywhere in the house. This was great because I got to install cupboards and cabinets exactly where I wanted and needed them. I love having a place for everything."
Practical creativity is one hallmark of Bailey's four-bedroom, four bathroom home. Downstairs, a floor-to-ceiling cupboard taking up an entire wall houses the family clutter that you can't do without but don't necessarily want on show. It is fronted by a mirror, creating the impression that the living room is at least twice its actual size and reflecting the light that floods in from the garden. On an upstairs landing, otherwise dead space has been transformed into an innovative "gallery" for Bailey's jewellery, which she designs, makes and sells under her label Edge of Desire. It is hung alluringly on wall-mounted circular display shelves (see Tried + tested).
"I also liked the idea of having a lawn but couldn't be doing with all the upkeep grass would need or the mud in the rainy season," says Bailey. "I found some very realistic fake grass - we've often had film crews here because they can't find grassy gardens in Hong Kong and this looks so real. Funnily enough, wild clover has grown into the lawn at one end, and I haven't pulled it out because it makes it look even more authentic."
Although most of the family's furniture came with them when they moved, "We had a different design brief in my former house," says Bailey.
"There was a distinct separation between where the children hung out and rooms that were more for me and my ex-husband. For example, we had a basement playroom and den specifically for the children that led out onto the garden, and this is where Max and Tia spent a lot of their time. I wanted this house to be more integrated, with spaces that flowed into one another. I wanted something stylish yet cosy and comfortable that suited all our needs and that we would use together."
When it came to the decor, Tia provided the inspiration. She wanted a nature theme - her room is lime green and white, with a grass-like rug and ivy entwined around the ceiling light, a style that has filtered down to other parts of the house. There are tree and floral decals on walls and windows, tree-shaped wooden stands for bags and clothes, and cushions featuring tree motifs. Huge bifold doors in the living area, which leads onto the garden, are often pulled back, blurring the lines between indoors and out.
Along with juggling the demands of two children, and designing and making jewellery, Bailey runs BANG, a fair-trade company that sells biodegradable bags made by Bangladeshi women.
With such a busy schedule, it was important for her to live in a calm environment and this is reflected in the palette of neutrals with which she has decorated her home. The serenity is broken only in Max's room, which pays homage to Liverpool Football Club, with its bold red-and-white colour scheme and a large wall sticker of the club badge. The bunk bed comes with an integrated wardrobe, shelves, an extra bed for sleepovers and a full-sized punching bag that echoes the sporting theme. It is the perfect bolthole for a boy on the cusp of his teenage years.
Bailey, too, feels as though she has found her home from home.
"We lived in Sydney for two years and when we came back here we knew we didn't want to live centrally. It was either going to be Stanley or Sai Kung - and we chose Sai Kung. I am so glad we did."
Styling: David Roden
Living room and outdoor area The sofa (about HK$60,000) came from Simply Casa (8/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2525 2672) and the curtains and cushions were from Canaan Curtain & Decoration (Sai Kung Building, 42 Fuk Man Road, Sai Kung, tel: 2792 9892). The Noguchi-style coffee table was HK$5,690 from JMStyle Furniture & Gallery (HomeSquare, 138 Sha Tin Rural Committee Road, Sha Tin, tel: 2178 0928) and the tea set was a gift. The rug was bought in Shenzhen and the floor lamp was from Artemide (1/F, Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2523 0333). The synthetic grass (HK$410 per square metre, excluding labour) was from KK Horticulture (Tai Chung Hau Road, off Hiram’s Highway, Sai Kung, tel: 2792 7440). The outdoor table and chairs were bought at Dedon (248 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2529 7233) years ago and the trampoline was HK$4,800 from www.adpost.com. The large beanbag cover came from Bali, Indonesia.
Kitchen The bar stools were bought years ago in Australia. The Strata crystal water glasses (HK$1,060 for two) and jug (HK$1,500) were by Jasper Conran for Waterford (www.waterford.com). The clock was HK$380 from Muji (various locations; www.muji.com.hk). The Kinky Wall window decal was HK$812 from Etsy (www.etsy.com). The geckos on the outside fence were bought in Bali.
Dining area The pendant lights were bought in Shenzhen. The dining table was bought years ago and the Eames DSR chairs (HK$3,800 each) came from Aluminium (36 Cochrane Street, Central, tel: 2546 5904). The bookshelf was bought about 10 years ago from Le Cadre Gallery (Ruttonjee House, 11 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2526 1068). The red container came from Shanghai while the Buddha head and other ornate containers were bought in Bangkok, Thailand. The Forest coat stand (HK$2,980) came from Homeless (HomeSquare, tel: 2691 1981) and the biodegradable jute bags were HK$75 each from BANG (www.bangconsortium.com).
Master bedroom The “Holiday” superking bed (HK$17,660, including mattress) came from Serta (HomeSquare, tel: 2264 4888). The pillowcases were made to order by Canaan Curtain & Decoration and the faux fur throw was designed and made by Edge of Desire (judebailey@ me.com). The bedside tables were from Ikea (various locations; www.ikea.com.hk) but are no longer available. The bedside lights, by Studio Italia (www.studioitalia.com.au), were bought in Sydney, Australia. The floating bookshelf and “lady” container came from Homeless several years ago and the Besta storage unit was HK$1,000 from Ikea.
Master bathroom The wooden side table was about HK$1,000 from G.O.D. (various locations; www.god.com.hk) and the candles were HK$310 each from Thann (Man Yee Arcade, 68 Des Voeux Road Central, tel: 2117 1140). The shelving unit by the bath was bought several years ago from Homeless and the stones were from KK Horticulture. The Stripe shelving unit (HK$2,900) and laundry basket (HK$1,600) were from Ovo Studio (20/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2529 6020).
Walk-in wardrobe The dressing table and mirror were designed by Jude Bailey and made by her contractor. The Fritz Hansen Series 7 chair (HK$5,500), by Herman Miller, came from Aluminium. The Portis shoe rack (HK$149.90), under the dressing table, and the Molger bench (HK$299) were from Ikea.
Max’s room Beside the bunk bed, designed by Bailey, is a punch bag found at SK Outdoor & Sport (Sai Kung Building, tel: 2791 0106) and Bailey’s old boxing gloves. The red shelves came from Ikea.
The hang of it To showcase her Edge of Desire jewellery and prevent finished items from becoming entangled, Jude Bailey designed attractive wall-mounted necklace stands, which she made with spray-painted MDF (medium-density fibreboard), an engineered wood made of sawdust. Each cost about HK$400.