The best kind of clients are those with an open mind, according to Zeta Chu Ka-yan, of Raz Interiors. And that’s exactly what she got when David and Anita Yip engaged her to work on their 1,800 sq ft apartment in Tai Po. Although the couple, who work in education, had a few requirements, they were happy to let Chu come up with a fresh look for their home.

“David and Anita wanted something simple, modern and bright but didn’t like the ‘stark hotel’ kind of style that is quite common in contemporary Hong Kong homes,” says Chu. “Anita loves vibrant colours and the energy they bring so she wanted to incorporate them into the decor. She wanted them to be subtle but definitely didn’t want anything boring. They gave me a very free hand to design.”

Chu, who was recently named one of Asia’s top 40 creative stars aged under 40 by Hong Kong architecture and design magazine Perspective, came up with a design reminiscent of European loft living, with the benefit of being able to shut off certain rooms for privacy. Although the open-plan layout of the kitchen, living and dining areas was left untouched, she demolished the walls between what had been four tiny bedrooms and two bathrooms. In their place she created one bedroom, a television room and a spacious bathroom. She also enlarged the study and added a roomy walk-in wardrobe, plus a guest bathroom and an elegant spiral staircase leading to the rooftop.

“One of the reasons for creating a [TV] area outside the master bedroom was to make the most of the big window and its lovely mountain view, which previously had been wasted on a small bedroom and bathroom,” she says.

“Changing the layout wasn’t a problem because there were a lot of partition walls that could be knocked down easily.”

As well as splashes of bold colour, Chu made clever use of texture and patterns, which are echoed around the apartment to create a sense of cohesion. In the living room, for example, embossed white wallpaper, made of eco-friendly cotton, is reminiscent of the wall tiles in the kitchen and on the entrance hall floor. Wallpaper is used elsewhere to create subtle features. The door leading from the TV room to the bedroom has a mechanism that eliminates the need for a door handle. Chu covered the door with the same wallpaper used on the adjacent wall so you could be in the TV room and not realise the bedroom was behind it.

“Anita and David wanted their home to look modern but not so trendy it would go out of date quickly,” says Chu.

“They liked the idea of having statement walls but in an understated way.” Different floor treatments delineate the various open-plan areas: practical but pretty ceramic tiles are used at the entrance and in the kitchen; light wood flooring stretches across the dining room; marble covers the stairs and landing; and darker wood characterises the corridor and the sleeping area.

“The flooring that leads to the corridor [beneath the bookshelf stairs] is deliberately different to that in the dining area and has been placed in line with the stairs as a warning to mind your head,” says Chu.

Furniture in the apartment is minimal; each piece has been selected for its outstanding design – from the striking filigreed Moooi pendant lights, which make the best of the double-height ceiling, to the sofa, covered in Missoni fabric.

“I prefer the less-is-more style of furnishing a home but I still wanted it to be comfortable and have a homey feeling,” says Anita, who helped Chu select the furniture.

Because much was bought online from overseas, delivery often took three months – the same amount of time it took Chu to come up with the design concept.

But now the apartment is finished, the Yips say it was worth the wait. And what is Anita’s favourite part?

“I love everything about our new apartment,” she says, “but the best feature has to be the bookshelf wall with the stairs.”

Entrance The artwork Safari Park No 6, made entirely from stickers, was by Ye Hongxing and came from Zee Stone Gallery (Chinachem Hollywood Centre, 1 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2810 5895). The painting on the back wall was purchased years ago. The floor tiles in the hall were HK$20 each from Hop Hing Lung Material (293 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2802 2273). The wood-patterned ceramic tiles throughout much of the apartment were HK$130 per square foot from Porcelanosa (www.porcelanosa.com), in Italy.

Living and dining areas The Logico pendant lamp above the dining table was HK$9,600 from Artemide (1/F, Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2523 0333). The dining table and chairs were bought years ago. The vase on the table (HK$850) came from AC Flower Gallery (71 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2918 1718). The Moooi Random pendant light (HK$8,500) came from Aluminium (36 Cochrane Street, Central, tel: 2546 5906), as did the white Eames lounger (HK$65,000). The textured white cotton wallpaper was HK$4,200 per roll from Tat Ming Wallpaper (16/F, Kwun Chart Tower, 6 Tonnochy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2893 2337). The zigzag-patterned sofa cost HK$79,000 from Artek (www.artek.fi), the side table HK$1,890 from Kartell (49 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, tel: 2810 0408) and the oval table lamp HK$149.90 from Ikea (various locations; www.ikea.com.hk). The rug was HK$34,300 from Equal Plus (23/F, 111 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2881 7716). The round coffee table was bought years ago. The coat rack (HK$650) came from Homeless (HomeSquare, 138 Sha Tin Rural Committee Road, Sha Tin, tel: 2828 5187).

Study The Sayl desk chair was HK$5,800 from Herman Miller (www.hermanmiller.com). Raz Interiors (15/F, MG Tower, 133 Hoi Bun Road, Kowloon Bay, tel: 3460 5158) designed the custom-made desk (HK$20,000). The lamp (HK$349.90) came from Ikea. The shot-glass holder was bought on a trip to Spain. The blind was HK$2,830 from Sheryia Curtain (1 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2525 6596).

TV room The curtains were HK$29,600 from Sheryia Curtain. The cube seat (HK$1,150), sofa cushions (HK$380 each) and magazine rack (HK$280) all came from Homeless. The sofa (HK$8,800) was from FrancFranc (HomeSquare, tel: 2997 7282) and the rug (HK$32,220) from Equal Plus. The audiovisual unit was HK$12,000 from Spanish company Kendo (www.kendomobiliario.com) and the Harlequin Grey wallpaper, by Ferm Living, cost HK$1,200 per roll at Aluminium.

Master bedroom The white and yellow wallpaper was HK$2,200 a roll from Tat Ming Wallpaper. The curtains (HK$6,200) were made by Sheryia Curtain. The patterned cushions were HK$450 each from Indigo Living (6/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2555 0540) and the throw was HK$490 from Madura (33 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2858 8681). The bedside tables were custom made for HK$4,500 each by Raz Interiors and the rug was HK$14,400 from Equal Plus.

Bathroom The patterned bathroom tiles and marble flooring were all HK$100 per square foot from Prestige Fine Marble (11/F, Shun Fat Industrial Building, 17 Wang Hoi Road, Kowloon Bay, tel: 3175 2936). The wooden screen was custom made for HK$27,000 by Raz Interiors. The sink (HK$10,580), sink unit (HK$15,680), and showerhead (HK$18,380), all by Axor, came from Depot (343 Lockhart Road, tel: 3106 6008). The towel basket (HK$80 for two) and the blue glass accessories (HK$130 for the set) were from Ikea. The large custom-made mirror was HK$4,500 from Raz Interiors and the curtain behind it was HK$4,950 from Sheryia Curtain.

Kitchen The wall tiles were HK$235 each from Hop Hing Lung Material. The wine rack was HK$280 from Homeless and the plant rack was HK$199.90 from Ikea.

TRIED + TESTED
Stand and stair Zeta Chu Ka-Yan, of Raz Interiors, designed a wall of bookshelves to accommodate David and Anita Yip's collection of books. She devised a stainless-steel-finished staircase (HK$120,000) to run up the side of the shelves to the ceiling to make the whole unit accessible. The stairs are also deep enough to sit on and provide an unusual and alternative place for reading. The sliding door with die-cut leather flowers at the foot of the stairs was custom made by Raz Interiors with leather from IF Collection (17/F, Honour Industrial Centre, 6 Sun Yip Street, Chai Wan, tel: 2722 7772) and the vase was HK$980 from AC Flower Gallery.