Good things come to those who wait. Scottishborn Chris Allan and his Filipino wife, Roselle, understand this well, having put off for two and a half years living in what she now describes as their dream home.
The pair saw potential in their 2,100 sq ft, two-storey Discovery Bay house, despite its being in desperate need of a complete makeover. The appeal lay in the duplex’s sea views, big balconies and scope for enlargement.
The couple, who were living in another property they owned, nearby, gave the house a once-over so it could be rented out. They modernised the kitchen and bathrooms and installed new wood flooring. They also made the most of the 14-foot ceilings by adding lofts to two of the three bedrooms, all on the upper floor.
“I’m a big believer in high-quality renovations as it pays back in the long term,” says Allan, an aviator who has been in the industry for 40 years.
He should know, having bought and done up four properties in Hong Kong with Roselle, a former senior flight attendant.
During the two years the house was rented out, the Allans thought hard about what they wanted and last year decided to complete the renovation, for themselves. Sharing a love of design and decor, they undertook the project without the help of an architect or a designer but benefited from the “can do” ethic of contractor Dick Hung, of Hung Fai International Engineering.
The work involved replacing windows and doors; redoing the electrics; tiling the balconies to extend the split-level living area on the bottom floor and main bedroom a level above; and making the most of the spectacular vistas by installing glass balustrades. Glass panels were also used for the staircase, to give it an airy look. And they managed to reclaim dead space: a light well was reinterpreted as a walk-in wardrobe (see Tried + tested).
Having capitalised on the high ceilings on the top floor, the couple moved son Daniel, now nine, into one of two loft bedrooms: he sleeps “upstairs” in a wooden bed modelled after a boat while his toys are parked below. The other room, used for guests, accommodates up to four people, on queen-sized beds, again on two levels. The couple inhabit a sizeable master bedroom, with walk-in wardrobe, en-suite bathroom and private deck.
Throughout the house, the Allans’ affinity for bold, modern design is evident in furniture and objets collected from around the world. New is teamed with old and designer names – including Philippe Starck, Le Corbusier and Louis Vuitton (in the shape of a trunk, circa 1920) – abound.
The couple’s love of art is also writ large in the paintings and posters dotted around the house, including works by Zhu Wei and Banksy. Displaying their collection, however, proved challenging.
“Normally, you would fill your house step by step,” says Roselle. “We had to start from scratch and test things out … We moved things around non-stop.”
A different kind of visual treat comes in the form of the nightly fireworks over Disneyland. With so much to enjoy night and day, will this be the final stop for the pair?
“There could always be another dream home just around the corner, with a different view and different challenges,” says Chris.
Roselle, however, is firm in her convictions. “The house is our family home,” she says. “We have no intention of selling.”
Styling: David Roden
Living room The classic Michel Ducaroy-designed Togo sofa was purchased years ago from Ligne Roset (16 Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2891 0913), which was also the source for the black Mama lamp (HK$9,300) and Le Corbusier chaise longue (HK$64,000). A Buddha head by a Vietnamese artist sits next to it. Figurines by French sculptor Yves Lohe (www.loheusa.com) sit on an antique Chinese console (about HK$15,000) bought from Marina Home (marinahomeinteriors.com), in Abu Dhabi. The 1920 Louis Vuitton trunk was bought at auction years ago. The moon floor lamp (HK$3,230) came from The One (www.theone.com), in Abu Dhabi. The rug, also from Abu Dhabi, was bought years ago. The spiral Artemide ceiling lamp (HK$15,400) came from Element Lighting Design (48 Morrison Hill Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2573 7772). The coffee table came from Chris and Roselle Allan’s previous home. The low white console in the dining area came from Ikea, which was also the source of the display cabinet. The vintage Louis Vuitton ocean cruiser and “Nice Jazz” posters were found at Vintage European Posters (www.europeanposters.com), in Hawaii.
Home office The Fabio Novembre-designed Nemo chair was bought years ago in Dubai. The handmade coffee table resembles an aeroplane wing and was a gift. The vintage posters were bought at Vintage European Posters. The maps and rug were acquired a long time ago. The Nomade Express sofa bed (HK$30,700) was from Ligne Roset. The Ikea set of drawers came from a previous home, as did the Artemide desk lamp.
Living room detail The painting of Chinese soldiers, by Zhu Wei, was bought from a gallery on Hollywood Road years ago. The television bench came from Tree (various locations; www.tree.com.hk) and was bought for the Allans’ previous home. The female torso, by Swedish artist Gustav Kraitz (www.kraitz.com), was bought directly from his studio in Sweden.
Dining area The dining table, Fabio Novembre Her chair and rug came from the couple’s previous home. The other chairs are years old. The ball-shaped floor lights (HK$2,500 each) came from Dubai’s Nakkash Gallery (www.nakkashgallery.com). Above the dining table, the Vibia Wireflow hanging lamps (HK$27,560 total), by Arik Levy, came from Zodiac Lighting (70 Morrison Hill Road, tel: 2882 9082). The grey abstract painting, by Toni Al, was bought at Reservo Art (www.reservo-art.com), in Bali, Indonesia.
Terrace The living room terrace affords views the sea and green hills of Lantau. The red Dedon armchairs and ottoman were bought years ago from Nakkash Gallery.
Bathroom The tiles (HK$16,500 in total) came from Goodways (Fook Yee Building, 324 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2117 1742). The towel warmer (HK$6,300) was from Pacific Lifestyle (357 Lockhart Road, tel: 2877 7360).
Kitchen The cabinetry was by Dick Hung , of Hung Fai International Engineering (tel: 9551 9449) and cost HK$320,000, including the Corian countertop.
Main bedroom Above the bed is a painting by Oka from Reservo Art. The bed and bedside lamps were bought years ago from Okooko (26/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2870 1132). The white desk and cabinet above it, from Pottery Barn (www.potterybarn.com), in the United States, were bought years ago.
Inner space To increase storage space in their house, Chris and Roselle Allan built a walk-in wardrobe from what was originally a lightwell open to the sky. The three by two metre space, which is now illuminated via skylights and windows, was built for HK$180,000 by contractor Dick Hung.