The tranquility of Bernard and Youchi Chan's apartment in North Point is no happy accident. The high-flying couple wanted their recently purchased 1,200 sq ft apartment to have a Zen-like quality so they could unwind together at home, but also entertain, work and raise a family there.
'Our jobs used to mean a lot of working away from home' says Youchi, a Taiwanese management consultant. 'Just after we bought the place, Bernard decided to launch his own online fashion business and started working from home. Plus, we plan to have kids soon, so the time is definitely right to settle down a little and spend more time at home.'
To handle their demanding brief, the couple called in a friend of Bernard, Ivan Wong, who is an architect and a founder, with Agnes Lee, of In- Between Design.
'They definitely put all their trust in me,' Wong says. 'The real test came when I told them to remove the stepped floor that separated the living room from the dining space. This feature is what first attracted them to the apartment but I told them to rip it out.'
This grand room, now refloored in light matt oak, forms the heart of the home. Its key feature is a breathtaking view of the city and Victoria Harbour. But Youchi confesses that this room is not her favourite, and that she's fallen in love with her bathroom. 'I was so surprised,' she says. 'I've never been very interested in bathrooms, but what they've created is like a mini spa.'
An en-suite, the wet room features a striking stone wall, tranquil LED lighting and a hidden, wireless speaker system over which Youchi plays music from her iPod.
The second bathroom, off the main living space, is Bernard's. Decidedly more masculine, but equally luxurious, it features a powerful rain shower and is finished in dark Italian slate.
But Bernard's room of choice, and a truly macho domain, is the kitchen. It's full of hi-tech cooking appliances and has an extractor fan that wouldn't look out of place in the galley of the Starship Enterprise. 'I love to cook,' Bernard says. 'Now I've got my dream kitchen it's almost impossible to keep me out of it.'
From the Tom Dixon lights in the dining space to an oversized floor lamp in the living room, the home's modest decoration uses a simple palette of black and white. Completing the noir theme is a classy, upright piano in the dining space. 'My mother shipped this piano to Canada when we moved there in the 1990s,' Bernard says. 'We brought it all the way back to Hong Kong, but the hardest part came when we moved here. We had to call a specialist to take it apart and carry it up 22 flights of stairs.'
And speaking of hard work, a generous office can be found at the entrance to the apartment, where Bernard conducts his business. In-Between Design expanded the depth of the wall that separates the study from the entrance hall to install hidden shoe storage (see Tried + tested). Inside the office is a neatly disguised bed, which folds out with a gentle tug on a handle disguised as a picture frame. This secret sleeper allows the office to double as one of the apartment's two guest bedrooms.
The second guest bedroom is situated directly across the hall from the master bedroom. And it's here that the couple hopes to create a nursery, transforming this apartment from a glamorous executive pad into a luxurious family home.
The cabinetry, worktop and sink, costing a total of HK$91,000, were from the Mia Cucina range by Towngas (59 Paterson Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2557 8606). The Roblin extractor fan (HK$14,000) was also from Towngas. The oven, double-fridge freezer and steamer cost a total of HK$52,000 and were from Siemens (13 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2511 2323).
2 Living room
The sofa, rug and lamp are from Bernard and Youchi Chan's previous apartment. The bleached oak floorboards (HK$90 per square foot) were sourced by The Wooden Collection (tel: 2545 1388) and the dark Italian slate (HK$70 per square foot), used for the backdrop of the television feature wall, was supplied by Anta (311A Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2180 6950). The TV bench (HK$5,000) was built by contractor Living Space (7/F, Block A, Gold Way Industrial Centre, 16 Wing Kin Road, Kwai Chung, tel: 9643 9688). The wishbone chairs (HK$2,400 each) were sourced by In-Between Design (20C Gaylord Commercial Building, 114 Lockhart Road, tel: 2117 3973).
3 & 4 Office
Bernard's home office can be converted into a guest bedroom thanks to a clever Murphy foldout bed built by Living Space for HK$9,000. The dark floor tiles (HK$40 per square foot) came from Pacific Gallery (159 Lockhart Road, tel: 2827 9918). Designer Ivan Wong of In-Between Design took the photographs lining the wall. Above the desk are inbuilt ceiling lights (HK$640 each) that use energy-efficient LED technology and were bought from 4Group Lighting System (18/F, Winsan Tower, 98 Thomson Road, Wan Chai, tel: 3421 2933). The desk (HK$650) and lamp (HK$200) were from Ikea (various locations; www.ikea.com.hk ). The chair (HK$2,000) was bought from Ovo Studio (The Arcade, 100 Cyberport, tel: 2529 6060).
'Bernard hates the idea of sharing a toilet,' says Youchi with a laugh. 'So the guest bathroom is really designed to be his.' This 'manly' washroom features the same dark tiles as the feature wall in the living room. The Grohe taps and shower mixer (HK$8,500 for both), and Toto wall-mounted toilet (HK$2,000), were from Hop Lung Building Materials (300 Lockhart Road, tel: 2802 2274).
6 Dining area
The full-height cabinetry was built for HK$18,000 by Living Space. The table and chairs came from the couple's previous apartment. Overhead are pendant lamps (HK$3,700 each) from Zodiac Lighting (Amber Commercial Building, 70 Morrison Hill Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2882 9082). The piano, which Bernard's mother bought in Hong Kong 20 years ago, has travelled from Hong Kong to Canada and back.
The bed came from the Chans' previous apartment and was originally bought from Simmons (14/F, Caroline Centre, 28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2378 4848). On either side hang chic, black Tom Dixon pendant lights (HK$3,800) from Ovo studio. The alarm clock was bought at a market in Japan.
Tried + tested
A shoe in In-Between Design created this hidden shoe cupboard for footwear junkie Youchi Chan's precious pairs. The wall had to be thickened to accommodate the rack, which slides in and out on rails. Beneath the rack, a small, leather-covered bench can be rolled out to give Chan a place to perch when putting on her heels. The entire structure cost HK$9,000 and was built by contractor Living Space.
Styling David Roden