First she got the thumbs up; then, crushingly, the thumbs down. When Angelina Chand was gazumped after two years of apartment hunting in Hong Kong, she was understandably heartbroken.
“They said, ‘Congratulations, you’ve got the flat,’ and then 12 hours later they told me someone had put in an offer for HK$25,000 more.”
“Numb” and keen to take a break from the world of real estate, she was, however, persuaded by an agent to view another flat.
“I really liked it but I didn’t get my hopes high,” says Chand, who works in hospitality, marketing and communication.
“It was only when it became mine that I started to say, ‘I can do this and that’.”
That 520 sq ft, two-bedroom apartment, a stone’s throw from Sai Ying Pun MTR station, now tells the story of decade-old design aspirations brought to life.
Chand still has the mood board she created 12 years ago for an imaginary dream home. The magazine clippings on cardboard, some coming unstuck, show sunflowers, dainty cups and saucers, a long dining table, and dreamy windows, all of which can be found in her new flat.
“That’s how I wanted it to look: French countryside,” she says, chuckling as she recalls finding the relic at work. “I didn’t even use it as a reference.”
Maybe not, but 3½ years spent in Paris before returning home to Hong Kong in 2001 obviously shaped her lifestyle choices, and a spacious, open kitchen was always part of the plan.
She demolished the wall separating the kitchen and sitting room, creating a generous living area that has, over the past 16 months, accommodated friends and family.
The look of her kitchen, however, was determined by the floor.
“I didn’t want those perfectly clean Ikea floors. I wanted the total opposite of that,” she says, adding that the rustic oak planks she chose also dictated the high-gloss white kitchen cabinets and her sofa, bed and wall colour.
When items were not available online or in shops, she got creative. After trawling Lockhart Road, in Wan Chai, about 20 times and not finding must-have tiles for her bathroom, she realised what she really wanted were the colourful arabesque tiles on the walls of the Wild Grass restaurant in Central.
“I called [the restaurant] and asked if they had any extra,” Chand says.
“They did and I bought them.”
Other irresistible pieces were acquired, even when she had no immediate place for them. She stashed items beneath her old bed at her mother’s home nearby, where she lived until recently, or foisted them on her brother for safekeeping: armchairs, which had been spotted in a corridor outside a closed shop in Horizon Plaza (with a phone number and a note saying, “Call, if interested”), were returned when Chand finally needed them.
Then there was furniture she found at online shopping portal taobao.com, such as the French bistro chairs that sit around a dining table that once belonged to her brother, and the rustic dressing table in her spare room. Simply furnished, the bedrooms are sanctuaries enhanced by pops of colour and enticing bay-window nooks: a single mattress in the spare room allows the broad platform to accommodate guests, and a pair of contemporary Thai-style floor cushions turns the elevated spot in her bedroom into a picturesque work zone.
The happy vibe that permeates the rooms somehow obviates the need to ask Chand how much she likes her home. So the question is asked of her mother.
“Mum loves it,” Chand says. “She was resistant to me moving out but our relationship is 100 per cent better now.
“This flat represents more than just a home to me. It represents being able to breathe, smile and say I’m really proud to have the family I have. And I can say that because I have space and can appreciate them so much more.”
That surely deserves two thumbs up.
Styling: David Roden
Kitchen The cabinetry (HK$47,000) was built by Ease Kitchen (10/F, Go Wah Mansion, 285 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2519 7668). The French bistro chairs (HK$4,000 for six) were bought through taobao.com. The chevron cups (about HK$50 each) came from Contemporary Arts & Crafts (cac.co.in), in Mumbai, India. The tablecloth was from Barefoot (barefootceylon.com), in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Sitting area detail The display shelf (HK$2,000 for four) was custom made by Lux Home (80 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2528 3223).
Sitting area The sofa (HK$16,800) was custom made by Lux Home. The chest was bought 10 years ago from a shop that has since closed. On it are a tray (HK$150) from The Elephant Company (theelephantcompany.com), in Mumbai, and teapot and cups from a market in Hangzhou. Taobao.com was the conduit for the floor lamp (HK$500) while the armchairs were found in a corridor in Horizon Plaza. Angelina Chand had them re-upholstered for HK$660 in total by Sun Sun Interiors (24 Fleming Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2511 3046). The footstool (HK$250, plus HK$300 to re-upholster, by Sun Sun Interiors) came from The Vintage Concept (Lyndhurst Tower, 1 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2522 2301). The long woven artwork by the floor lamp came from Caruso Lao (carusolao.com), in Vientiane, Laos. One of the works above the sofa was a gift while the other was created for a charity fundraiser. The ceiling fan (HK$3,500) was from El:ar (9/F, Phase 2, Vigor Industrial Building, 49 Ta Chuen Ping Street, Kwai Chung, tel: 2164 7228).
Main bedroom The bay window seats were custom made by Sun Sun Interiors for HK$3,500 in total. The table (HK$2,000) between the seats was made by Lux Home, which also built the bed (HK$15,000). The floor lamp (HK$800) was bought through taobao.com. The cushions (HK$300 each) came from Good Earth (goodearth.in), in Mumbai. The photos above the bed and by the bay window are prints of Basil Pao Ho-yun’s photography (basilpao.com).
Spare room The second bedroom serves as a dressing room and guest room. The make-up table (HK$1,800) was from taobao.com. The mirror (HK$600) came from The Vintage Concept and the chair is part of a set bought for the dining table. The mattress (HK$1,725) was made by Sun Sun Interiors with fabric originally used for a kira (a traditional Bhutanese dress). Also from Bhutan was the mandala. The stool (HK$2,000) was custom made by Lux Home.
Bathroom The arabesque floor tiles came from the Wild Grass restaurant, in Central. The wall tiles (HK$800 in total) came from Hop Hing Lung Material (235 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 3013). The basin (HK$580) was from Gobo Interiors (243 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 9908) and the mirror was bought many years ago from a flea market in Paris, France. Ease Kitchen made the basin counter and cabinet for HK$4,000. The American Standard overhead shower and hand shower (HK$3,430) came from Toco Shower (264 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 2908).
Movie nights Angelina Chand didn't want a television in the bedroom but fancied lying in bed to watch movies. The solution was to use a blank wall for film projections. Her portable Brookstone projector (www.brookstone.com), which is accommodated in a bedside table when not in use, was a gift from her brother.