Upon entering Elena Kwok's Mid-Levels apartment, the eye is immediately drawn to an intricate hand-carved pattern of a tree on a partition screen.
With the front door opening into the living area, and a balcony directly opposite, a fung shui master advised Kwok to divide the space, so that 'money doesn't flow out of the house'. The solution - the tree motif - is in keeping with the expanse of greenery that dominates the view from the balcony.
'We enlarged a computer-generated image and printed it onto tracing paper, then the contractors carved it out for us,' says Kwok's sister, Regina. The siblings are joint partners of Artwill Interior Design House, and Regina designed the apartment with the help of Jay Leung, who works for them.
The property is the first Kwok and her banker husband, Kenneth, have bought since they were married 10 years ago: 'We just didn't have time [to look for a home],' she says. For the same reason, the busy couple decided to delegate the job of redesigning the interior.
'Elena came up with the concept and we interpreted it,' Leung says. 'When you enter the apartment, one of the first things to catch your eye is the view. [There are] just a few buildings in the distance and also the harbour, but there are lots of trees [and bushes] right in front. Elena loved it and that's why we've incorporated something of the outdoors inside the apartment. We've introduced a lot of natural, organic materials: different types of wood for the floors and walls, and for a feature ceiling panel; then there's the marble dining table, the glass coffee table and the slate-like tiles in the master bathroom.'
Originally, the 1,500 sq ft property comprised three bedrooms, one bathroom, separate living and dining rooms, and a galley kitchen leading off a long corridor. All the interior walls were demolished to create a spacious, contemporary dwelling featuring an open-plan living area, a master bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, and separate his 'n'hers walk-in wardrobes, plus a guest bathroom, a study and an enlarged kitchen.
'But not too big,' Kwok says. 'We don't do a lot of cooking.'
All the floors were replaced and a false ceiling was created in the living area to embed the spotlights and conceal wiring.
Leung says the focus was on creating a balance of light and dark, and warm and cool. 'Elena likes white walls and neutral shades and Kenneth likes dark wood and richer colours; he also dislikes clutter, but Elena likes collecting things.'
Kwok concurs: 'He's a very neat and tidy person, that's why there's a lot of concealed storage behind the walls to keep clutter out of sight.'
The panelled wall in the living area slides back to reveal the master bedroom and guest bathroom. The walk-in wardrobes in the master bedroom are concealed behind panelled walls and the study has a piano and cupboards hidden behind sliding walls. There's even a discreet storage area for shoes by the front door.
The main wall in the living area is teak while the opposite wall has lacquered white panelling. The effect is a stylish combination of both tastes and the ideal backdrop for the couple's eye-catching art and travel mementos.
The living area houses an impressive entertainment system, with a projector and large, retractable screen for watching films and for Kenneth to indulge his passion for football.
Entertaining is another way the couple winds down. 'We like to have friends over to drink wine,' Kwok says. 'We've got a collection of good wines we like to share, and we'll lay out some cold cuts and cheeses. There's no time to cook, but we find time every day to enjoy wine.'
1 Room divider
The white lacquered partition features an original, hand-cut tree design by Artwill Interior Design House (19/F, 103 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2877 8618). It was created for about HK$40,000.
2 Reading area
The green Arne Jacobsen Swan chair (HK$40,000) came from Manks (3/F, The Factory, 1 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang, tel: 2522 2115) and complements the painting, bought in London, Britain. The shelf, by Artwill, cost HK$3,000. The glass cube (HK$18,000) came from Lane Crawford Home Store (Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 2118 3668).
3 Dining area
The chunky marble table (HK$40,000) and bar (HK$150,000) were designed by Artwill. The benches (HK$5,000 each) were also by Artwill and the Diana chairs were housewarming gifts. The pair of hanging lights cost HK$8,000 from Flos (44 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2801 7608). The textured panelled feature wall dividing the main living area from the bedroom was designed and made by Artwill for HK$50,000. The artwork on the wall was picked up in London's Portobello Road market.
The units and appliances were from Oscar Bath & Kitchen (48/F, China Online Centre, 333 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2988 1949) and the total price, including installation, was HK$400,000.
5 Living room
The engineered wood flooring by Boen was HK$150 per square foot from Equal (3/F, Phase 2, Ming An Plaza, 8 Sunning Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2881 7066). The entertainment system (HK$120,000), including a projector and retractable screen, came from Asia Theatre Central (19/F, 1 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2180 2701). The Red Edition Canape Fifties sofa (HK$26,800) and transparent coffee table (HK$32,000) came from Lane Crawford Home Store. The rug was bought from Equal Plus (3/F, Phase 2, Ming An Plaza, tel: 2881 7716) for HK$8,000. The custom-made wall shelving unit was designed and installed by Artwill for HK$20,000. The Eames lounger and ottoman were from Posh (3/F, Warwick House, Taikoo Place, Quarry Bay, tel: 2169 9288) and cost a total of HK$45,000. The side table (HK$12,000) was from Matisse (2/F, Shun Kwong Commercial Building, 8 Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan, tel: 3184 0903). The curtains (HK$10,000) were from Vintage Collection (9/F, Eastern Harbour Centre, 28 Hoi Chak Street, Quarry Bay, tel: 3583 5055). The feature wooden beam on the ceiling was designed and installed by Artwill for HK$35,000. The downlighting was purchased from eLighting (206 Lockhart Road, tel: 2802 3068) for HK$20,000. The two floor lamps cost HK$32,000 for the pair at Flos. The butterfly stool (HK$5,000) came from Aluminium (8 Kingston Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2577 4766). The giant painting behind the sofa is of a section of the Eiffel Tower and was picked up in Portobello Road Market. The Eiffel Tower and London bus ornaments on the side table are mementos from the couple's travels.
6 Master bedroom
The bed (HK$22,000) was from Slumberland (Sogo, 555 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2833 8338) and the headboard was custom made by Artwill for HK$26,000. In her favourite space in the flat, the en-suite bathroom, Elena Kwok listens to music (there are speakers on the ceiling) and relaxes in a deep bath from where, she says, 'You can enjoy the view and hear the birds sing in the mornings.' The tub (HK$23,000) was from The Professional Depot (373 Lockhart Road, tel: 3106 6008). An electric blind and one-way-glass window provide privacy. The wall tiles (HK$370 a piece) and flooring (HK$380 a piece) were purchased from Anta Building Material Supplier (311A Lockhart Road, tel: 2180 6950).
The sliding walls concealing the cupboards and the piano were built by Artwill. The desk was bought years ago. The Philippe Starck Ghost chair cost HK$2,790 at Aluminium. The rug (HK$80,000) came from Anterra (5 Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2577 5716). The artworks were bought in Maui, Hawaii.
Tried + tested
Socket to you
The dining table has a nook carved out of the solid marble that houses plug sockets used to power electric hotpots and other items.
Styling David Roden