When interior designer Keith Chan Shing-hin met a young professional couple at a charity event this year, they immediately started talking about design.
“They told me they liked Japanese culture very much – not the minimalism, but the magazines,” says Chan, founder of interior design firm Hintegro.
Not long after, the couple asked him to design their new three-bedroom, 1,000 sq ft flat in The Sparkle, a single-tower estate in Cheung Sha Wan that was built in 2009.
The couple wanted something dramatic but down to earth, and were unhappy with designers they had contacted, who had suggested “a lot of mirrors, a lot of marble, a lot of bling bling”, says Chan. “In our first meeting they showed me Japanese magazines, with the style they wanted.”
What Chan delivered is an apartment with a bold sense of colour. An electric blue wall dominates the living room and hallway – the clients had painted the same shade in their previous apartment.
“The blue is quite new to me because normally my projects are white,” says Chan. The clients requested oak floors to complement the wall. “They go well together.”
Like many Hong Kong apartments of its age, this one consists of a rectangular living area with a balcony, an adjacent kitchen and a long hallway that passes by two small bedrooms and a bathroom on its way to a master en-suite bedroom. Chan removed the wall between the two small bedrooms and replaced it with a floor-to-ceiling cabinet, which allows one of the bedrooms to be used as a walk-in wardrobe; the other is the bedroom of the clients’ three-year-old son.
“We made everything loose and flexible,” says Chan of the latter room’s future-proofing. “And they have a contingency plan if they have a second kid.” Storage solutions were important, because the clients faced a problem typical of Hong Kong families: “Too much stuff, not enough space,” says Chan. In the master bedroom, he designed a storage platform that covers most of the floor. The bed sits on top. “Having a platform feels a little Japanese – the clients think it’s like tatami flooring,” says Chan.
White wall-mounted cabinets provide storage in the living room, while in the dining area, floor-to-ceiling cabinets have space for shoes, dishes and other odds and ends. The interior of each set of cabinets is painted a different colour: blue, yellow, grey. Next to the dining table, a bookcase contains the clients’ treasured tomes and Japanese magazines.
“They wanted to create an atmosphere that encourages their son to read,” says Chan.
The clients chose much of the furniture themselves, including the walnut dining table, chairs and bench.
Chan complemented the look with a set of customdesigned walnut handles for the white cabinets throughout the living area.
The clients didn’t want an open kitchen because of the smells and smoke produced by Chinese cooking, but they did want a visual connection to the rest of the apartment, so Chan installed an industrial chicken-wire glass window with a brushed metal frame. A walnut computer desk attached to one part of the frame can be removed when the clients need more space in the living room.
Chan says he appreciated the assertiveness of his clients, which made for a close working relationship.
“I like the bonding process between designer and clients,” he says, adding that the couple often invited him over for dinner. “We became friends.”
Living room The Mesterverk sofa (HK$18,999) was sourced from Come In’ (7/F, Cheung Hing Industrial Building, 23 Tai Yip Street, Ngau Tau Kok, tel: 3107 8802), as were the Mesterverk Nest coffee tables (HK$3,499 for a set of three). The stool was purchased years ago. The Kare chest of drawers (HK$11,000) came from Aluminium (www.aluminium-furniture.com). The Hay Sinker pendant lamp (HK$2,300) was purchased at Lane Crawford Home Store.
Dining area The bookcase (HK$25,000) and the wallto- ceiling cabinets (HK$22,000) were designed and built by Hintegro (20/F, Block B, New Trade Plaza, 6 On Ping Street, Sha Tin, tel: 3689 4604). The rest of the furniture was found at Come In’, including the Copine dining table (HK$6,999), chairs (HK$2,299 each), bench (HK$3,999) and Comfort-Cylinder pendant lamp (HK$3,699).
Living room detail Hintegro designed and built the detachable computer desk (HK$3,000), kitchen door (HK$6,000) and glass window (HK$7,000). The CH4123 chair (HK$2,699) and Moose Owl clock (HK$519) came from Come In’.
Bedroom The Kare chest of drawers cost HK$7,999 at Aluminium. The platform (HK$20,000) was by Hintegro. The lamps (HK$1,350 each) came from Eravolution (PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, tel: 2652 0000).
Hallway The oak plank floors came from Elegant Flooring (313 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2891 2209).
Bathroom Chan replaced the cabinet doors (HK$2,000 in total).
Kitchen Hintegro designed and built the cabinets for HK$6,000.
Look books Keith Chan's clients wanted to showcase their books and Japanese magazines, but they also wanted the option to hide the bookcase, so the interior designer made a curtain with Pieni Unikko fabric from Finnish design firm Marimekko, whose blue floral print matched the living room wall. It cost HK$3,000 for the fabric and HK$1,060 for the tailoring at Marimekko.