Most people waste no time when it comes to renovating a new home. Property investor Tony Lo and wife Polly, however, lived in their apartment in the Parkview estate, at Tai Tam on Hong Kong Island, for four years before deciding to give the place a makeover. By that time, they had accrued a collection of refined artworks and pieces of furniture, and wanted a bespoke setting that would not only show it off but also suit their lifestyle.

The couple turned to Johnny Wong, of interior design studio FAK3, giving him free creative rein, with the one proviso that the result be understated.

“I told Johnny I wanted natural materials, things like wood, marble and leather. I don’t like artificial materials,” says Lo.

It’s not unlike choosing a piece of art – no two pieces of marble are the same
Interior designer Johnny Wong

With marble to be the overriding feature throughout the 2,500 sq ft flat, Wong went to Xiamen, in southern China, to pick the best slabs.

“It’s not unlike choosing a piece of art – no two pieces of marble are the same,” says Wong.

The apartment underwent a year-long renovation, which was completed in April. The space had been hi-tech, but Lo requested that things be kept simple this time around.

“Before there were about 10 settings for the lights in the living room, but they only wanted two – an on/off and a dimmer,” says Wong.

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The pared-back simplicity and natural materials are matched with an impressive level of detail. Each piece of marble – and there’s a lot of it – was given a bevelled edge or steel trim.

“This can be viewed as a celebration of the junction and can only be appreciated by closer examination, whether it be a wall, ceiling, floor or piece of furniture within the project,” says Lo.

Originally a three-bedroom apartment, the space was reconfigured to give the owners a large living room and dining space, a music room, a guest toilet, one bedroom and a 300-sq-ft en-suite bathroom.

Clad in black marble, the bathroom is divided into a toilet cubicle, a make-up area, his-and-hers onyx sinks, a space for “drying off” and a wet room with a shower area and deep soaking tub. A Thermo Ventilator fitted into the ceiling serves as a heater in winter and a dehumidifier throughout the year.

Out goes the clutter for second makeover of Tai Tam duplex

One wall of the bedroom is lined with floor-to-ceiling built-in wardrobes, finished with veneers imported from France; the wardrobes extend around the corner into a private dressing area. Another wall, the one behind the bed, is clad in pastel-grey leather and the remaining walls in green Thai silk.

“The bedroom is the softest space in the house,” says Wong.

The cosiest, however, is the music room. Previously a study, the space was designed as somewhere the couple could relax, listen to music, watch movies and read. There is a feature wall clad in marble, a small study area with a computer and an integrated wine fridge.

Entertaining is done at a custom-made round dining table fitted with a lazy Susan that works well for Asian-style shared meals.

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“Hong Kong is fast-paced and economy-driven, but this client gave us the time and space to achieve a high level of craftsmanship and detail,” says Wong.

He believes that classic craftsmanship, the sort of work carried out by traditional sifus, is making a comeback and that people are willing to pay for exceptional quality.

“In Hong Kong, the level of expectation is getting higher and higher,” says Wong. “Especially in luxury [projects], people want more detail.”

Styling: David Roden

Living room Grey onyx wave marble (HK$3,500 per square metre) – chosen in mainland China by Johnny Wong and bought through Prestige Fine Marble – was used for the feature wall in the living room. The three-seater sofa, coffee table and floor lamp all came from Hermès and the Maxalto armchair and footstool were from B&B Italia. The table lamp and round side table came from Le Cadre Gallery (Ruttonjee House, 3 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2526 1068).

Dining room The dining table (HK$38,800) and chairs (HK$54,640 for eight) were designed and made by Wong’s design studio, FAK3. The chandelier (about HK$400,000) came from France-based Mathieu Lustrerie and the console table from Hermès. The engineered oak flooring (HK$100 per square foot) came from Beste Wahlen.

Bedroom Armani Casa was the source for the bed, armchair, bedside tables and lamps. The floral artwork, by Claude Hemeret, came from Opera Gallery and the turkey, by Ryuma Imai, from Heis Tokyo. The walls were clad in Thai silk (HK$2,500 per square metre) from Dandy Interior Products and Coquilles Leather (HK$1,700 per square metre) from Master Resource.

Bathroom On the walls and floor is Black Ice Dapple Marble (HK$1,600 per square metre) from Prestige Fine Marble, which also supplied the white onyx marble used for the basin counter (HK$3,900 per square metre). The mirrors (tall, HK$7,000; the one above the basin, HK$6,500) came from IWC Deco (tel: 3998 4325).

Music room The audiovisual system came from Fever Productions. The Louis Gray Marble (HK$2,900 per square metre) was from Prestige Fine Marble.

Study The semi-circular desk came from Le Cadre Gallery and the chair from Hermès. IWC Deco built the cabinetry for the integrated wine fridge and the shelf above the desk for HK$18,000 and HK$5,400, respectively. The Louis Gray Marble is the same as that in the music room. The leather inset (HK$1,550 per square metre) on the wall came from Master Resource.

Kitchen The Leicht kitchen (HK$400,000) was supplied by Chest Apply (Asia).


Tried + tested

Heavy duty The highlight of the dining room is a vast expanse of brown marble that covers one wall. The marble is cleverly aligned to conceal two doors – one to the bedroom, the other to the music room. The only drawback to using marble is that it is very heavy, but thanks to a hydraulic pivot hinge (HK$3,000), from Dorma, which can support up to 300kg, the 150kg door can be pushed open with minimum effort.