Ready to join the space race? Used creatively, glass can help make your home a light and airy oasis. SLOWLY BUT SURELY, developers are realising domestic bliss does not necessarily thrive in compartmentalised units with pinhole windows. John and Theresa Yeung and their two teenage sons knew this when they found their new home in Kowloon East. Rather than choose from the limited menu of fixtures and finishes on offer from the developer, they decided to leave their designer with an unadulterated shell in which to run wild. Architect William Lim and his home interiors team at Living in Central were remarkably restrained, however. The 2,550-square-foot space was divided into practical spaces: a living/dining room, kitchen, study/guestroom and three bedrooms. Natural light bathes every area except the passageway, where one non-structural wall was replaced by semi-transparent frosted glass, double-leaf sliding doors and partitions opening to the study/guestroom. This allows daylight to percolate into the hallway, while creating an impression of extra width accentuated by floor-to-ceiling mirrored glass panels on the other side of the corridor. With a property business on the mainland, the Yeungs were already familiar with Lim's crisp, clean approach, having worked together on an office tower in Shanghai a few years earlier. However, when it came to their domestic space, John felt more reserved. 'My husband likes his surroundings to feel homely and not too progres-sive,' says Theresa. John finally relented and agreed modern and minimalist was the way forward, but Lim turned the design process on its head to focus on his clients' needs. He escorted Theresa round Hong Kong's upmarket furniture boutiques, helping her pick out key items and accessories to shape the home. She was captivated by luxuriously crafted furniture from Armani Casa and Ligne Roset, so to create the right backdrop Lim devised a setting subtle in palette but not devoid of texture, including a near-seamless floor laid from rectangular sandstone tiles. 'I like to look at walls as planes rather than things that simply wrap round a space,' says Lim. Vertical panels of glass clad the living room, graduating towards champagne-tinted aluminium (from Jeb Asia, tel: 2520 2839) around the dining area. The same material has been used to wrap the widescreen television-set housing, which creates a focal point without causing the oversized appliance to dominate the room. The hard surfaces are the perfect foil for Armani Casa's slab-like timber consoles and sideboards, and double-layered sheer curtains at the windows. And for another soft touch, Lim sourced unusual Finnish flooring made from minute strips of birch that resemble bamboo. 'We were looking for something unusual - something pale in colour but with sufficient depth,' he says. 'Normally a client will ask us to use plenty of different materials but in this case we cut it down to the bare minimum.' So has the experience brought John round to a more minimalist way of thinking? 'Thankfully he loves it,' says Theresa, 'even to the point where he discourages me from cluttering the place.' Tried and tested: Subtle lighting With an outlook as good as this it's essential nothing should spoil the view, so Lim decided ceiling lights were out of the question because they would cause unnecessary glare at night. Instead he decided to create a hidden trough in the ceiling (see 2) and installed custom-made lighting, which washes the upper walls with a soft glow. To create the trough, a false inner wall was required that would end short of the ceiling. But to minimise the amount of living space lost, Lim tapered the false wall so it slants towards the floor. The existing wall was clad with a 2.7-metre plywood frame to which plywood planels were fixed. Lim then attached 90-centimetre-wide panels of white, back-painted tempered glass, each six millimetres thick. He specified crystal glass because it does not radiate a green tinge like ordinary glass. The cold-cathode linear tube lighting was custom made by Far East Engineering of Kwai Chung (tel: 2614 6198) and wired into the trough. 1. Vermilion acrylic canvases by Malaysian artist Kumari Nahappan (available through Plum Blossoms Gallery, 1 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2521 2189; www.plumblossoms.com ) inject vibrant colour into an otherwise neutral palette. On a solid, pickled-oak Torino drawer unit ($28,700 from Armani Casa, Shop 203, 2/F Chater House, 11 Chater Road, Central, tel: 2532 7755; www.armanicasa.com ) stands a collection of glass and ceramic vases from Living (62 Peel Street, Central, tel: 2521 3623). 2. An Opium One-Armed Chaise (from $61,500, with the One-Armed Sofa as shown) from Ligne Roset (16 Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2891 0913; www.ligne-roset.com ) marks out the lounge from the dining area. Above the mocha iroko Versailles dining table ($23,800 from Armani Casa) and French Line dining chairs ($3,500 each from Ligne Roset) is an opal glass Logico suspension lamp ($7,600) from Artemide (Shop 102-103, Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2882 6863; www.artemide.com ). The magazine rack in the foreground costs $1,500 from Anterra (1/F, The Ellipsis, 5-7 Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2525 9874). 3. In the master bedroom, degrees of transparency and colour are created by a triple layer of curtains, two sheer and one blackout (from 182 Fabric World, 182 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2527 0999). The Finnish birch flooring ($500 a square metre) is available through Jumbo Plan Engineering (tel: 2598 1333). William Lim of CL3 Architects (tel: 2527 1931) designed the floor-to-ceiling cushioned PVC leatherette headboard. The Jelly armchair is by Piero Lissoni for Living Divani ( www.livingdivani.it ; $10,400 from Anterra) and the Oktopus floor lamp ($4,700) is by Arik Levy at Ligne Roset. 4. In the guest bathroom, the shower cubicle is exposed to Victoria Harbour. The toilet is by Philippe Starck for Duravit (available from H2O Pro, 145 Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2882 8136), and the midnight-blue glass basin (seen right, from MY Collections, Shop 112, Ruttonjee Centre, tel: 2521 6121) provides a shot of colour. 5. Soft textiles provide a counterpoint to hard reflective surfaces in the living area. A custom-made wool rug by Carpet Point of Ap Lei Chau (designers only, tel: 2866 8851) frames an Ipso Facto glass and lacquered-steel coffee table ($7,100 from Ligne Roset). Illuminating the Le Paresseux adjustable recliner ($18,800 from Ligne Roset) is a parchment and stainless-steel Bank floor lamp by Palluccoitalia at the Louvre Gallery (Shop B, LG/F Ruttonjee Centre, Central, tel: 2526 8400; www.palluccobellato.it ).