IT TAKES COURAGE and vision to buy an apartment when you don't like the look of the showflat, but that's exactly what Hein and Rose van Ameringen did. 'We had been looking for a centrally located apartment for ages,' says Hein, 'and as soon as we saw this place, we knew it was the one. Its original style was terrible but we realised it had great potential.' They subsequently asked the developers to stop work on the 1,800-square-foot Mid-Levels apartment and brought local architect Johnny Kember - co-founder with his twin, Paul, of KplusK (tel: 2541 6828) - on board to handle everything from the structural layout to lighting. 'I'd seen work Johnny had done on a friend's flat and liked what I saw,' says Dutch-born Hein, a textile entrepreneur who has lived in Hong Kong for more than 10 years. 'So although we all came up with ideas, I gave him a pretty free hand to go ahead and do what he wanted.' Kember proceeded to knock down all partition walls, rip up the flooring, replace water pipes, electricity cables and window frames as well as change the entire layout of the home. Three small bedrooms became two more spacious ones and were relocated from one end of the flat to the other. The kitchen (which swapped places with a bedroom), living and dining rooms were incorporated into a single open-plan space. 'The Ameringens were great because they were able to look beyond the original state of the flat and imagine how it would be without walls,' says Kember. 'If you can do that, your interior possibilities are endless.' With each floor in the circular block comprising two semi-circular apartments, the result of removing superfluous walls was striking, emphasising the curving architecture and giving the Ameringens a sweeping view of Central and Wan Chai below. 'Space and light were among our top priorities,' says Hein. 'Although people might argue that, for resale value, three bedrooms are better than two, by getting rid of one and rearranging the whole layout, we've created a dramatic space into which natural light pours. Besides, there are only two of us, so we don't need so many bedrooms.' While the couple wanted their apartment to look good, they also stipulated it should be practical to live in. Durable maple flooring by German company Hohns ($40-$45 per square foot from Equal Engineering, tel: 2881 7066) was laid throughout the flat, and in the guest bathroom a tiny bath was replaced with a sizeable shower cubicle. To eliminate bedroom clutter, Kember designed a walk-in wardrobe running the width of the master bedroom which allows air to circulate through clothing and footwear, preventing them from becoming mouldy in humid weather. As well as altering the structure of the apartment, Kember was also instrumental in changing the style of furniture. Out went heavy, dark-wood pieces and in came lighter, modern furniture in materials such as Corian and by classic designer names such as Arne Jacobsen. Kember believes interior redecoration is an ideal opportunity to start a new way of living, as if shedding a skin - and the Ameringens agree. 'Everything is new - apart from one antique statue,' says Hein. 'It gave us a new lease of life. You mustn't be afraid of starting from scratch. Particularly satisfying is the feeling of stepping into the shower and knowing no one else has stood in it but you. 'The most important thing of all is to be on the same level as your architect,' he adds. 'We talk the same language as the Kembers and this is the result. The apartment's transformation has been unbelievable and it means we live in a place we love.' Owner recommends Light up your life Good lighting is integral to creating the right mood. In the Ameringens' living area, Kember installed fully recessed, adjustable lamps in the ceiling and placed fluorescent tubes (which can be dimmed) in a specially fabricated dropped curved cove. Above the dining room table, glass H2O pendant lights by Via Bizzuno ( www.viabizzuno.com ) give off a softer light and are also a striking design feature. Divide and conquer If your apartment has low ceilings, consider using large pieces of furniture rather than walls to define different areas. This simple device creates an impression of space while allowing you to close off 'rooms' when required. Clutter control Making sure you have ample storage space for your needs is a must for any apartment, particularly one that is open plan. A small cloakroom in the corridor was remodelled into two 'rubbish' rooms for sports equipment, shoes, suitcases and the like, which would otherwise have cluttered up this pristine home. Comfort zone Test dining room chairs by sitting in them for as long as you can before buying, advises Hein. A potential chair might look good, but at the end of the day, it has to be comfortable.1: The display kitchen (another preparation kitchen is behind it), comprising a stainless-steel fridge and Smalvic cooker by Smeg ( www.smeg.it ; $28,500 and $4,300 from GIIC, tel: 2410 9003), is open to the living and dining area, and ideal for entertaining. The hollow Hal dining table in Corian was designed by KplusK (price on application) and the Duna armchairs are from Desideri ($4,700 each, tel: 2950 4026). 2: KplusK disguised an ugly water pipe, the only reminder that the master bedroom was formerly a kitchen, by encasing it in stainless steel packed with mineral wool to prevent gurgling sounds. Sheer curtains screen off the bathroom when required. The sleek dressing table is by KplusK ($18,000). 3: A striking custom-made cabinet by KplusK, finished in hand-selected sheets of wenge and curly grained pommele wood, houses the Ameringens' audio-visual equipment and flat screen NEC television on one side, and provides essential storage space on the other. The sculptural Egg chair by Arne Jacobson for Fritz Hansen ( www.fritzhansen.com ; $25,900 at Salotto; tel: 9474 0932) echoes the flat's circular form. 4: The master bathroom features a corner bath complete with water jets (about $3,800 from Genius Concorde, tel: 2877 7770). Multiple heads by Kohler ( www.kohlerco.com ; from Luen Hing Hong Building Materials, tel: 2391 0356) add power to the shower. A stone-look 'Spoon' ceramic sink by Agape (currently reduced from $9,800 to $6,800 at Apartment, tel: 2882 5553) sits atop a vanity unit ($10,000) and in front of a mirror-fronted cupboard (price on application) both by KplusK. 5: Eschewing a small boxed-in study, Kember used a large cabinet to screen off a working area from the rest of the living space. The anodised aluminium home-office unit in the alcove was designed by KplusK and together with the cabinet/storage wall, cost about $40,000. 6: Hein and Rose van Ameringen.