Few commutes can compare with that of jewellery designer Janeth Weil, who lives in the remote village of Luk Chau, on Lamma Island. The 15-minute speedboat ride from Aberdeen Harbour across one of the world’s busiest shipping channels is a trip she has been making for nearly 20 years.
The 2,800-sq-ft, five-bedroom, four-bathroom home is an amalgamation of two village houses, with two roof decks surrounded by an extensive outdoor terrace, bringing the total area to more than 5,500 sq ft. With its own dock, small stretch of sandy beach and uninterrupted views of the sea, it is a haven of secluded tranquillity.
Despite the seafront location, the original property was surrounded by a high perimeter wall that made it look like a Chinese courtyard house, says Weil, who left the Philippines for Hong Kong in 1995.
The first thing she and her then husband did was demolish the barrier and open the house to the scenery. The home has since gone through two major renovations, the last one undertaken seven years ago, when Weil dispensed with “99.9 per cent” of her possessions and redesigned the interior.
Two fireplaces were removed, staircases reconfigured, new windows installed and the kitchen and bathrooms extensively renovated. The project took more than a year and Weil rented a neighbouring house for the duration. Given the remote location and difficult access, it proved to be a costly and logistically challenging project, she says.
The result, however, is stunning. Inside the essentially white “shell”, Weil’s colourful art collection and eclectic home furnishings pop with energy.
“When I renovated, I got rid of all the clutter and made the house very modern. I wanted it to be clean and functional with white walls and white flooring. I wanted to simplify.
“As a jewellery designer, I work with colour so I have used colour as an accent everywhere I can. I wanted a modern house with a soul, a place you can relax in – somewhere quite bohemian.” In fact, “The Yellow House”, as it was once called, is now known as La Boheme.
Where once the two houses were clearly delineated – one was for the parents, the other for the children (Weil’s two sons are now in their 20s) – these days Weil uses both houses as a single unit with her main bedroom, study/office and sitting room in the original “parents’ house” and the kitchen and dining room in what was the kids’ house.
Several pieces of artwork in Weil’s home are by Filipino artists who are part of Pintura Circle, a Hong Kong-based group that raises funds through exhibitions, events and workshops for charitable organisations in the Philippines. Other pieces were chosen specifically for the renovated house, or have been picked up in recent years in Hong Kong or on Weil’s travels abroad.
In the time that she has lived in the house, it has become both a home and a refuge.
“To come here is calming,” she says. “Even if everything else in your life is going crazy, you wake up here and realise: life is good.”
Styling: David Roden
Living room The self-assemble filigré Algue room divider (US$115 for a pack of 25 pieces) is by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and was purchased from Vitra. The Venice two-seater sofa (HK$9,800) was purchased from Artura Ficus and the television cabinet (HK$16,500) came from 2B Square Design Gallery. The Peruvian alpaca wool carpet (US$600) was bought several years ago in the United States. On it is a round Candle Loop lamp in chromed steel (US$957), by Voon Wong & Benson Saw, from FontanaArte. The Bang! Desk Lamp (HK$2,999), by Bitplay, was from Aluminium. The painting on the easel is Someday I’ll Fly, by Gerrico Blanco, and Martin Honasan’s In Awe is against the wall (both were bought from Pintura Circle). The coffee table is a pair of Davaga LED Cubes (HK$3,150 each) and were purchased from Everything Under the Sun.
Dining area The dining table (HK$9,500) was custom made by The Hamptons Furniture and the colourful Mademoiselle Missoni end chairs (HK$5,900 each) were purchased from Lane Crawford Home Store. The perspex Tobias chairs (HK$699 each) came from Ikea. At the bar, the Samba stools (HK$2,550 each) came from Aluminium. The Moody ceiling light (HK$15,800), by Alt Lucialternative, was found at The PLC Group. The wooden console table was salvaged from some junk and the shell candelabra (HK$7,000) was bought from Ito Kish, in the Philippines.
Office The Tree of Life wall mural was painted by I’M IN LOFT Studio (tel: +79 147 906657). The desk was bought years ago. The yellow chair (HK$159) was from Ikea. The Artemide Tolomeo table lamp (HK$3,100) came from Lane Crawford Home Store.
Outdoor area Dining alfresco is a pleasant option at La Boheme. The table is made from a wooden slab on top of a pair of cement plinths bought several years ago in Los Angeles, when Weil also purchased the pink chairs.
Roof terrace The four-poster bed (US$5,500), from Restoration Hardware, is the perfect place to catch the sea breeze.
Master bedroom The dramatic feature wall is covered in Boheme paper (HK$1,300 per roll) by Graham & Brown, available from Tat Ming Decorative Materials (16/F, Kwan Chart Tower, 6 Tonnochy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2893 2337). The Caboche ceiling light by Foscarini (HK$7,800) was purchased from Desideri. The California king bed (US$3,500) and 1930s French mirrored vanity table (US$2,900) both came from Restoration Hardware, in the US, as did the bedside lamp (US$350).
Bathroom The guest bathroom is a symphony in blue. The American Standard basins (HK$550 each) came from U’Land Sanitary Ware. The Tom Dixon pendant lamp was bought in the US years ago.
TRIED + TESTED
Paper trail A bathroom lies behind the “secret” door in one of the walls in the lounge. “We didn’t want an obvious door, which would destroy the continuity of the wallpaper,” says Weil, who opted for a frameless door flush with the wall and disguised with Cole & Son’s Fioretti wallpaper (HK$1,200 a roll), from Altfield Interiors.