Kate Budge has what most Hong Kong residents consider a dream job. She spends one week in four on overseas buying sprees sourcing products for the Banyan Tree stores she part owns. Any month, the professional shopper can be found as far away as the backwaters of India, the United States or Italy sniffing out pieces of furniture and decorative objects that will grace homes. So it comes as no surprise to discover that the four-storey Pokfulam home she shares with her lawyer husband and three children is full of the finds from her trips. 'Actually, I never buy items especially for this home but they end up here,' says the 46-year-old Australian, who has been in Hong Kong for 23 years and with Banyan Tree for 14. Her buying philosophy is simple. 'I buy things because I like them, not because they are cheap. 'What I'm looking at is the quality of the wood, the quality of the finishes, the materials that have been used and the durability.' As such, you might expect her 3,600-square-foot house to be crammed with furniture and curios, but Budge likes plenty of light and space. Entering the home on the open-plan first floor, there is a feeling of calm that is unusual in a home with three children under 11. The living-room area is at the back of the property and looks out through French windows on to a small garden dominated by the swimming pool Budge had built and beyond to the sea. 'It's so beautiful here at sunset. The sun goes down over the water and light comes pouring in, reflecting on the swimming pool and flooding the room with yellow,' Budge says. 'It must be one of the best spots in Hong Kong.' The family moved into the house three-and-a-half years ago after living in a nearby apartment. 'I have always liked this row of houses and when we heard one was on the market we came to have a look. It wasn't in a very good state; there was a lot of water damage but we could see the potential.' While many of the hardwood furniture pieces Budge has chosen for her home are dark, the aspect of the property and the approach she has taken have kept it bright and warm, concentrating on natural wood and light fabrics. The sunny feeling is enhanced by the yellow and white striped fabric on the rattan furniture that was available 12 years ago in Banyan Tree. 'If you had come in a week's time you would have seen the new fabric-covered sofas.' Budge will be keeping the white-washed two-person and one-man 'prison' chairs from Thailand to the right of the seating area. 'We used to buy them about 15 or 20 years ago from prisons. I presume they were made by inmates. Of course, we don't buy from prisons any more. 'But they are extremely comfortable with high backs to support you. We now have them made in the Philippines.' The coffee table in the centre of the room is from South Africa, where Budge has started doing business in recent years. 'It's made from the old railway sleepers which were made of yellow jarrah, an extremely hard wood. It's known as iron wood for obvious reasons. 'The market in South Africa is good at the moment but, like the Philippines was a few years ago, it is becoming very popular. In a few years' time you won't be able to buy the items you can now.' In the corner of the living room is a piece of furniture from the Philippines that is one of Budge's favourites. 'Now it acts as the drinks cabinet but when I first saw it, it was covered in white paint. 'You could see from the design - it looks very ecclesiastical with arched detailing on the front - that it would be beautiful underneath. The wood is some of the most beautiful I have seen.' Curios dotted around the room include blue porcelain from Thailand, silver trinkets and temple toys from India. When a child is about a month old, it is taken to the temple to be blessed. Toys in gold, silver or brass - depending on how wealthy the family is - are given to the child just as Christians give christening gifts. Budge has no training and has picked up her knowledge of wood and furniture over the years. 'I spend a lot of time listening to people. You learn a lot from others. It's amazing how willing people are to talk if someone shows interest. 'You can soon spot the salesmen who are trying to pull the wool over your eyes. 'Now I have a network of contacts who I trust and they trust me. Very often they will put me on to someone else.' The dining room, which adjoins the living room, has picture windows overlooking the front of the property. The feeling of the outdoors is enhanced by the plants Budge has dotted about the room, which is dominated by a seven-foot palm. On closer inspection, you can see all the plants are imitation. 'Try growing a tree in the house!' Budge says, laughing. To the left, an ornate carved window frame from India fills one wall. Backed with a mirror, it reflects the room, enhancing again the feeling of space. In front, an Indonesian leather-upholstered chaise longue sits next to a marble-topped table that holds a chess set from India. The pieces would have taken a craftsman one month to carve and paint, says Budge. 'You don't get items like this from the West because they would simply be too expensive.' Perhaps the piece de resistance is the four-poster Dutch East India Company bed in the master bedroom. The piece, carved with the company's initials, was found in India after a house clearance. Budge's children's only concern is that the family will move again. 'I have a reputation for moving every four years,' reveals Budge. 'But this time I think we'll stay put.'