A few inches made all the difference to Wendy and Philip Ng’s 1,000 sq ft Beacon Hill flat. “I didn’t change the layout, but we did move some of the walls,” says designer Dylan Tan Dar-luen, of WOM Concept. Doing so allowed him to fix the apartment’s biggest problems: awkward-sized bedrooms and a lack of storage.

The flat had undergone a basic renovation in 2004, when the Ngs, both doctors, moved in, shortly after the building’s completion. When Janet and Grace reached 10 years of age, however, the Ngs wanted to create more space for their twin daughters. Shifting the walls of the three adjacent bedrooms, to take space from the living room, allowed Tan to fit a single bed in each of the girls’ rooms, along with a floor-to-ceiling cabinet and a built-in desk.

“The girls have a lot of books,” says Tan, who also installed shelves above their desks. The work area, in both rooms, curves over a portion of a bay window ledge, to make use of otherwise wasted space. Another smart, subtle idea was to install sideboards behind the beds. “It’s so the wall doesn’t get stained and scuffed,” says Tan.

In the master bedroom, a wardrobe spans the length of one of the walls. “They really wanted the wardrobe because they needed more storage,” says Tan. “But they also wanted everything clean and simple.”

In some cases, that meant disguising the apartment’s storage space. The dining area and entrance hallway, for example, are lined with discreet cabinets that appear flush with the wall. The cabinets are punctuated by open cubicles, one in the entrance for keys and mail, another in the living room for the family’s Nespresso coffee maker.

Tan also created an alcove for the family’s piano, which had dominated the living room.

Tan made living room storage units into a focal point by mounting cabinets on the wall. The Ngs dislike clutter, so he hid two air-conditioning units behind a pair of screens. In the kitchen, which is shaped like a boomerang, Tan built a wall of storage and moved the entrance to the widest part of the room.

“I don’t like a lot of dead ends,” he says. “The space has more flow now.”

The Ngs’ desire for simplicity extended to the apartment’s aesthetics, which Tan wanted to keep minimalist without sacrificing cosiness. He decided to mix smooth surfaces and modernist furniture with natural-looking materials. One side of the living room, for example, features a textured white wallpaper that evokes the surface of wood.

“I tried to be very earthy,” says Tan. That effort extends to the flooring. “I wanted the whole place to have timber flooring, but you can’t have that in the toilet or kitchen,” he says.

Instead, Tan found ceramic tiles that had been stained and textured to resemble wood; they are so convincing that the Ngs called Tan after the renovation to ask if they were really timber.

Tan livened things up in both bathrooms by using contrasting patterns and textures. He chose a marble slab for the countertop in the guest bathroom because he liked the “random pattern”.

The cabinet is made with wood laminate.

“I don’t use veneer because it doesn’t last, and, in the past few years, wood laminate has started to look very good – previously, I wouldn’t have considered using it,” he says.

The master bathroom also boasts a sliding door, which Tan installed to free up space.

Sometimes a few extra inches make all the difference.

Living room The three Caravaggio pendant lamps (HK$2,400 to HK$6,700) came from Manks (3/F, 1 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang, tel: 2522 2115). WOM Concept (11/F, Block A, Viking Villa, 70 Tin Hau Temple Road, North Point, tel: 9828 9313) custom built the hanging wall cabinets and entertainment unit for a total of HK$66,000. The two Paulistano armchairs cost HK$2,600 each from taobao.com. The sofa (HK$16,900) came from OVO Studio (20/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2529 6020) and the coffee table (HK$3,300) from Decor8 (various locations; www.decor8.com.hk). WOM Concept’s Dylan Tan Dar-luen found the floor lamp (HK$1,100) on taobao.com. The rug (HK$9,900) came from Tat Ming Wallpaper (16/F, Kwan Chart Tower, 6 Tonnochy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2910 2268). Tan bought the three etchings of trees in Thailand and had them framed at Vicko Arts (45 King’s Road, North Point, tel: 2566 6107) for HK$8,900 in total.

Dining area The wooden dining table (HK$19,450) and bench (HK$6,450) both came from Tree (various locations; www.tree.com.hk). The dining chairs cost HK$5,950 each from Manks. The cabinet, custom built by WOM Concept for HK$36,000, affords storage space and provides a nook for a Nespresso machine and the piano. In the corridor are shoe cabinets (HK$24,000) also made by WOM Concept. The wooden basket and blue vase on the table both cost HK$100 from Tree. The oak flooring cost HK$107 per square foot at New Pond (330B Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2591 6868).

Master bedroom The bed (HK$23,000), which includes storage space in the base, was made by WOM Concept, as were the marbletopped bedside tables (HK$9,000 for two). The wall lamps, from PLC Group (various locations; www.plc.com.hk), cost HK$7,880 each. The prints above the bed cost HK$500 each to frame at Vicko Arts.

Guest bathroom The wood-like ceramic floor tiles (HK$228 each) came from Pacific (Lifestyle) (various locations; www.pacificbuilding.com.hk), which also supplied the wall tiles (HK$260 each). Happy Face Discount Depot (287 Lockhart Road, tel: 2923 5090) supplied the Toto toilet (HK$5,450), the Kohler basin (HK$2,760), the Axor basin mixer (HK$7,480) and the Vado overhead shower (HK$3,380).

Girl’s bedroom The Ng sisters have near identical bedrooms. The custom-made study table, bookshelf and wardrobe cost a total of HK$21,800, including the wooden sideboard next to the bed. The replica Eames DSW chair cost HK$920 from Decor8. The bedsheets cost HK$149.90 at Ikea (various locations; www.ikea.com.hk). The wall hooks were HK$199 each at Homeless & Sidekick (1/F, Style House, The Park Lane, Causeway Bay, tel: 3620 3675).

Kitchen The Whirlpool range and chimney hood were all from eCOX (194 Tong Mi Road, Prince Edward, tel: 2396 0166). The pendant lamp cost HK$640 at PLC Group. WOM Concept built the cabinets for HK$126,000.

 

Sill skills Wendy and Philip Ng occasionally bring work home, which is why the bay window ledge in the master bedroom was fitted with a small pull-out desk that doubles as a make-up table. The windowsill with false-marble-topped desk was custom built for HK$9,000 by WOM Concept. The table lamp (HK$9,880) was from PLC Group.