Secure home in mountain retreat

THIS delightful two-storey family home, nestled in the Tai Po mountains, is a cosy escape from the sea of high-rise apartment blocks that litter the city.

Hong Lok Yuen estate is a peaceful area in a rich suburban neighbourhood where security is kept tight. Each car that enters the gateway must pass through a checkpoint where the driver signs in and takes a special ticket which is returned at the gate on departure.

The estate is fast becoming a popular area for expatriates.

They are attracted by the quaint duplexes, peaceful aura, excellent club facilities, convenient shopping centre and an international school on the premises. A shuttle bus to the Tai Po markets leaves every 15 minutes.

This duplex has a plain exterior. It is located on a narrow street similar to a private driveway. All duplexes on the estate have a terrace or a garden, this one features a terrace area and a garage with space for one car.

A short stairway leads to the front door which opens on to a small entrance hall.

The floor is carpeted in plum; rich colours are used thematically in the home, although there is no clearly-defined scheme. The designers seem to have used a little of everything that tickled their fancy.

Furnishings are sparse in the hallway; there is only room for a small table and chair. The walls are covered with white floral wallpaper and there is a mirror wall facing the front door which gives the impression that it is a larger room.

The layout inside is unusual. Instead of the conventional downstairs kitchen and living area, with the master bedroom and bathrooms upstairs, this duplex is the reverse.

The three rooms that lead from the entry hall are the master bedroom, bathroom and bedroom/study.

The first bedroom is average-size, decorated in olive green and pale blue, well-lit by a large window. This room could easily be converted into a study or television room - there is plenty of space for a large desk and a bed. It is also suitable for a child's bedroom.

The master bedroom is decorated in bright burgundy and cream. It is large with wide windows and two sections of floor-to-ceiling pine cupboards. Furnishings are sparse yet there is enough room for several items; a bookcase, a table or a lounge chair. Theen suite bathroom has splashes of yellow, white and grey. It also has a large white and grey marble bench with a yellow sink and silver fittings, which is reflected in a full-width mirror. The bath/shower is also yellow with silver fittings. The floor is covered with pale yellow tiles.

There is a small bathroom leading from the entry hall which is almost identical to the en suite. It features a white/grey marble top and a beige-coloured sink with silver fittings. Dark yellow tiles cover the floor and walls; the bath/shower is also beige.

The adjacent bedroom combines olive green with blue. It's a bright room, with plenty of shelving and cupboard space, perfect for a child. It is suitable for conversion into a study area or large storage room.

The stairway is covered with a rich plum-carpet which washes to pale blue as it reaches the landing.

Upstairs, the walls are painted white. At the top of the stairs there is an overhanging white ledge which could be used to hang pictures.

The kitchen is quite small but utilitarian. It is a workers'kitchen,there won't be many people hiding in here at parties.

Appointed in brown and white, there are beautiful mountain views from the large window.

Although it is small, there is plenty of work surfaces, overhead cupboards and an oven. Everything in the kitchen is simple with two silver sinks and matching fittings.

A narrow hallway is carpeted in pale blue. It leads to a glass door which slides open to a large terrace. This is an ideal area for entertaining. There is enough space for a party and it has outdoor furniture and a bar fridge. The floor is covered with small white tiles and there is a sweeping view of the mountains and the picturesque estate.

Half the terrace is covered and is a very pretty area, which could be used for outdoor plants or double as a laundry area.

The dining area is perhaps the nicest room in the duplex: a small elegant room dominated by a large dinner table. The walls are white, with a ledge stretching across the ceiling. This is an interesting place to display figurines, plates or photographs.

The floor is covered with a large Persian carpet. The adjacent living room is twice the size of the dining area; a charming family room with a cosy feel. It is well-lit by full-width windows, one looking out to the street, the other looking out to the terrace.

The estate's country club is a short walk away. It has a swimming pool, tennis and squash courts, a gym, playground, sauna and restaurant.

FACTFILE LOCATION: Hong Lok Yuen West Rd, Hong Lok Yuen, Tai Po. SIZE: 1,420 square feet FEATURES: Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, terrace area, garage, full club facilities. PRICE: $4.38 million. CONTACT: Chesterton Petty on 840-1177.