FOR MANY PEOPLE, creating a contemporary home would entail buying the latest gadgets and trendiest furniture featured in glossy magazines. But to John and Wendy Chow, who decided to give their Kowloon Tong duplex a makeover after eight years of living there, it meant looking back to the 1960s for inspiration. With the help of design-duo Caroline Ma and Jason Fung of Jason Caroline Design (tel: 2517 7510), they created an up-to-date interpretation of the retro style rather than simply replicating it. 'Basically we felt our home was looking tired and needed an update,' says Wendy Chow. 'We wanted it to look hip and feel more spacious.' This would ordinarily be a relatively straightforward project but because the Chows are firm believers in fung shui, Ma and Fung were also required to incorporate the dictates of the family's fung shui master into their plans. 'Making sure their home adhered to fung shui principles was one of the Chows' main priorities,' says Fung. 'Some designers feel their creativity is stifled by fung shui but the master set out a clear brief - such as the exact positioning of certain pieces of furniture - and allowed us to achieve it in our own way. It was an interesting way of working and generated a unique look.' The design concept throughout the 6,500-square-feet duplex was based on the free-flowing circulation of energy-bringing chi. Walls were knocked down, particularly on the ground floor, to open up the space and corners were carved into smooth curves. Sharp angles, believed to generate bad energy and create disharmony in the home, were eliminated by the recurrent use of rounded furniture, simultaneously giving the home a theme and a cohesive identity. Even Wendy Chow's walk-in wardrobe was transformed into a circle, enabling her to see all her clothes at once. 'I love the round concept,' says Wendy. 'It is simple but very fresh and makes it easier to keep things tidy.' Instead of a permanent divider, Ma and Fung used furniture to create two separate but harmonious living areas downstairs. Two pairs of mustard-coloured Minotti chairs are placed back-to-back and two different sized versions of the same curved Minotti sofa are installed in each area to link them. 'The Chows enjoy entertaining and this arrangement gives them great flexibility,' says Ma. The fung shui master set out colours that were suitable for each family member, so Ma and Fung stuck to a neutral palette highlighted with golden mustard (Wendy's favourite colour), which also ties the entire residence together. Different focal backdrops have been created throughout the home, incorporating a variety of textures that add to the retro feel. The module system behind the television in the main living area is wenge wood, for example; one dining room and one bedroom wall are panelled in white and mustard vinyl respectively; and at the top of the stairs, custom-designed storage space is fronted by walnut with chrome circles. 'A home should reflect the personality of its residents rather than blindly follow what society says is fashionable,' says Ma. 'The 1960s look happens to be very 'in' at the moment but it doesn't suit everyone. The Chows enjoyed living in that era and the architecture of their neighbourhood has that retro feel, so it's perfect for them.' The homeowners agree. 'We had to move out of our home and rent a flat nearby for the seven months it took to renovate,' says Wendy Chow. 'But it was worth it. We are happy with our new home - very happy with everything.' Owner recommends Inner space Low ceilings coupled with teak floors tend to create dark rooms. By changing the flooring to white Italian marble (ordered through Megawell, tel: 2381 9938), painting the walls and ceilings white and installing large mirrors, a feeling of light and space has been created. Cheap chic Employing a designer does not necessarily mean you have to stick to designer furniture. A few well-chosen items from chain stores (such as the rug from GOD adopted here) can look as stylish as their more expensive Italian counterparts. Looks for cooks Having an open kitchen makes a space seem larger but the nature of Chinese cooking, which incorporates far more ingredients in one meal than Western cuisine, means Chinese chefs worry about the resulting mess being on display. In this home, a semi-open kitchen created by frosted-glass sliding windows, achieves the same effect but allows flexibility. Stylish fung shui 'A lot of people think good design and good fung shui can't co-exist - but they can,' says Fung. The most important point is to allow the fung shui master to work with designers from the beginning of the project.