Companies go to great lengths to achieve the right look and feel for serviced apartment interiors, with a view to combining style, function and the best possible use of space. In doing this, the guiding principle may be to adopt a distinct design theme and palette throughout, or allow for greater flexibility and individual choice. Either way, the key is to consult widely. And not just with design professionals and those in trades, but also the people who matter most - current residents and prospective tenants. 'To gauge feedback and comments, we renovated three apartments as mock-up units,' says Rene Holenweger, general manager of Gateway Apartments in Tsim Sha Tsui. 'Our objective was to create what is needed for a modern lifestyle, but with a better utilisation of space and a comfortable, homey feel.' The process presented different layouts and interior fittings. For example, for the studio mock-up, a sliding door was added to the bedroom, giving residents the choice of greater privacy or an open-plan look. A one-bedroom unit was upgraded to become a '1 + 1' including a second room for use as a child's bedroom or a study. And it was shown how the larger two- and three-bedroom apartments could allow for flexible configurations to suit families with differing needs and budgets. 'All renovated apartments now feature wooden flooring, which is what residents want,' Holenweger says. 'In redesigning the interiors, it was important to review market trends and understand residents' changing needs and higher expectations. This ensures we remain competitive with a focus on functionality, practicality and style.' With more than 170 apartments in their portfolio, the team at CHI Residences have a similar list of priorities. The first thing is to give guests a sense of 'home', while also offering the convenience, modernity and fashionable touches which people associate with Hong Kong. 'Our core design philosophy is to create affordable and comfortable luxury living spaces,' says CHI's chief executive, Pilar Morais. 'Everyone appreciates thoughtful design, but there is no point in our apartments having beautifully designed pieces of furniture if they go unused.' The company's basic approach is to give each of its buildings a distinct look and theme. This reflects the overall brand, the location, and whether the apartments are intended more for families or individuals. A substantial amount of time goes into deciding everything from configurations and colour schemes to fixtures, appliances and entertainment systems. Where appropriate, the needs of, say, business people or pet owners also get special attention, making sure the focus is on service standards and practicalities, not just appearances. 'We work closely with a number of interior designers, who bring their own professional knowledge and creative flair to the mix, which is why no two homes are exactly alike,' Morais says. 'As a family-run business, we create apartments which we would want to live in, and even get involved in the final touches, such as hand-picking the pieces of art and selecting cashmere rugs.' Daniel Kerr, director of operations for Ovolo Group, also notes the sense of having consistent design themes which still allow for variety and interpretation. On the commercial side, there is a certain advantage if prospective residents broadly know what to expect, and like it. The usual starting point for Ovolo is to create interiors which are light-filled and tech-driven. For example, all apartments have Wii and X-Box available, plus high-end sound systems and wireless internet to keep in touch with everything going on in the wider world. 'We tend to plan things to give as homely as feeling as possible,' Kerr says. 'That means making sure all the space can be used by guests and that they have the creature comforts they want.' Easy as it may sound, it requires real hands-on involvement and meticulous attention to detail to achieve the desired balance of style and functionality. 'In general, we don't want to overcomplicate things,' Kerr says. 'We do, though, use colours to bring subtle differences to all the properties and, in their discussions, our sales team make a point of understanding client needs.'