Having a clear idea of what you want and finding the right contractor is crucial to ensuring you acquire the home of your dreams, as one couple discovered when redecorating a flat in Repulse Bay. When remodelling your home there is nothing wrong with leaving everything up to an architect and contractor, but some clear ideas of your own can make it more personal and tailored to your needs. Such was the case with Thomas and Daisy Hoy, who found their ideal apartment in Repulse Bay after searching for several years. 'We knew exactly what we wanted and fortunately our architect, Toby Man (tel: 9499 8384), was very accommodating and executed our ideas perfectly,' says Daisy. 'My husband Thomas was fantastic - he went up and down Lockhart Road, sourcing marble for the floors, picking out wallpaper, designing the lighting ... everything.' First the 1,700-square-foot apartment had to be gutted and an outdated 1970s look replaced by something much more modern. 'The previous owner had taken down walls and incor-porated a small room into the living/dining space, so there was one red area and one blue area,' she says. 'We thought it would be best simply to knock everything down and start again.' They pushed back a section of the wall between the living room and study to create a shallow alcove for an audio-visual unit, replaced the brick wall at the entrance to the study with glass and borrowed about a metre of space from the master bedroom to make the en suite bathroom larger. 'It [the bathroom] used to be small and plain but now it includes a walk-in shower and a big tub, and still feels quite spacious,' says Daisy. Small but ingenious touches have been included for added luxury. A heat lamp for use on chilly winter mornings was built into the ceiling of the bathroom and a frosted window was replaced with clear glass so the Hoys can lie in the bath and gaze at the sea. Clever design ensured ample storage. Mirrors around the sink open to reveal space for toiletries, while a floor-to-ceiling, built-in linen cupboard was positioned behind the door. The latter was raised off the floor and fitted with slatted shelves so the humid air from steam can circulate without dampening the towels and bedclothes. 'A precise contractor such as Bright Fortune Engineering [tel: 9277 9726] is essential,' says Daisy. 'For example, drawers beneath the sink unit had to be positioned just so - one millimetre out and they would have hit the base of the shower before they were half open.' Practicality was also non-negotiable. 'I am very practical so it wasn't enough for the apartment to look pretty, everything had to work,' she explains. 'I love my cupboards and now the place has 93 per cent 'space efficiency'.' Other important considerations included making the flat airy but cosy without being over-stylised. The Hoys wanted a home where they could kick back and relax, have personal belongings around them without it looking messy and allow their beloved rabbit Bo Bo to roam freely. Although a neutral palette has been used, nothing is stark white and the liberal use of cherry-wood fixtures and fittings creates warmth. 'We decided to go for cherry wood because walnut looked too dark and beech too minimal,' says Daisy. Versatile lighting, particularly in the living room, adds to the homely atmosphere. Rather than fluorescent lighting, which can be too cold, the Hoys' apartment has several recessed spotlights visible around the edge of the ceiling as well as lots of smaller strategically placed bulbs. Tried & Tested A glass act At the entrance to the study a brick wall was replaced by glass to ensure maximum light. The glass wall separates the study from the dining area and creates a sense of space while offering a degree of privacy. Commercial-grade glass was used because it is more soundproof and tougher than the ordinary variety and two sandblasted stripes were added, both as a decorative detail and, more importantly, to prevent anyone running into the transparent wall by accident. (The Snoopy lithograph by artist Tom Everhart was from Peabody Fine Art Gallery, 603 Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park, CA 94025, United States, tel: 650 322 2267; www.peabodyfineart.com . The beige sofa cost $2,500 from Casa Vogue, 165 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2529 4841). 1 Daisy Hoy has breakfast on her balcony overlooking Repulse Bay. Her custom-made sofa ($40,000), glass coffee table ($8,000) and cherry-wood audio-visual unit ($21,000) were all from Euro Decor (135 Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2890 1332). Next to the Toshiba plasma television set ($35,000, from Pro Audio, shop 825, 8/F, Times Square, Causeway Bay, tel: 2877 1778) is a Steiff Millennium Carousel (about $15,000 from Exclusivites, shop 326B, One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, tel: 2722 5423; www.steiff.com ), a collector's item with a built-in musical box. 2 The balcony has been decorated to match the outdoors. Slate was used on the floor; an uneven brick facade covers the two side walls and unsightly metal railings were replaced by glass to maximise the view. Spotlights in the floor offer soft illumination and an electric socket was included in a corner of the balcony to accommodate a lamp or an electric barbecue. 3 The Hoys preferred to invest in Vietnamese art (painting by Pham Luan, about $50,000 from Galerie La Vong, 13/F, One Lan Kwai Fong, Central, tel: 2869 6863) rather than blow their budget on furniture. The cherry-wood and glass round table cost $5,500, the chairs were $800 each (all from Elm Casa, 63 Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, tel: 3428 5707) and the clean white place settings were from G.O.D. (Leighton Centre, Causeway Bay, tel: 2890 5555; www.god.com.hk ). Adding a touch of glamour is a crystal chandelier ($8,800 from KP Lighting, shop 3316, China Hong Kong City, 33 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2736 1679). 4 Above an antique burlwood cabinet ($9,000 from Pasadena, 10/F, Lee Theatre Plaza, 99 Percival Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2506 2228) in the dining room is another painting by Vietnamese artist Pham Luan (about $40,000, from Galerie La Vong). 5 A study opposite the dining area has a glass wall, which offers privacy without blocking the light (see Tried & Tested). The cherry-wood desk ($3,150) with a pull-out shelf for a computer keyboard, is from Elm Casa and the adjacent wood and leather filing cabinet is from Lane Crawford ($7,800, Queen's Road Central, tel: 2118 3668; www.lanecrawford.com ). The cream leather chair and the black-and-white prints on the wall were gifts from friends. Nordic Light Venetian blinds with blackout backing ($70 a square foot from G.O.D.) were installed to block the bright glare of the sun reflected off the sea. 6 Bo Bo the rabbit relaxes on the Hoys' bed ($5,800 from Elm Casa), which is dressed in Frette bedlinen ($4,900 from Lane Crawford). The silk curtains with blackout lining and the seat are from Tak Mei (155 Wong Nei Chung Road, tel: 2895 2765); the crystal chandelier is from KP Lighting. 7 Although the master bathroom is not huge it has been cleverly designed to ensure maximum space and incorporates a walk-in rain shower ($2,500 from Classic Bathroom Accessories, 249 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2802 0328), a sink, a bath with Jacuzzi jets and toilet. Apart from the shower, the Roca sanitaryware came as a package on a special promotion ($10,800, from BSC@colour.living , 333 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2295 6881; www. colourliving.com). The walls are covered in reconstituted marble, which is tougher, more evenly textured and cheaper than the real McCoy. 8 The apartment's original kitchen units were replaced with sleek, made-to-measure cherry-wood cabinets, granite counters and Philco appliances from Gilman Home Appliances (tel: 2418 3239; www.gilman-appliances.com ). The kitchen leads onto a utility area and maid's quarters.