Creating a peaceful haven in the middle of the city was the brief from an art lover wanting to accommodate his spiritual needs. As the saying goes, home is where the heart is. In the case of John Truong's Central abode, home is also an escape from the frenzy of Hong Kong and a source of rejuvenation for the body and soul. As a practising Buddhist, Truong wanted a tranquil resting spot to return to at the end of a hectic day. Although compact, his flat emanates a generous impression of peace that far exceeds its 400 square footage. Born in Vietnam, Truong lived in Australia and Japan before settling in Hong Kong several years ago. 'The property market was low when I started looking to buy, so this place was a steal,' he says. 'I love this location; it is convenient to everything, especially to where I work.' Truong always dreamed of opening an art gallery so as the managing director of Wellington Gallery and Wellington Showroom, studios that feature contemporary Buddhist imagery by Asian artists, he is able to combine his faith and aspirations. The flat renovation, by Hernan Zanghellini of Zanghellini Holt Architects (tel: 2914 2563), posed a challenge. 'It is very hard to work in such a tight space,' says Zanghellini, who normally designs commercial properties and restaurants. 'We couldn't have more than one crew member working at a time and we were never able to get the custom-designed bath tub into the elevator.' Still, he says, it was an enjoyable project. 'I have known John for a long time and knew he wanted a calm, seductive place. I am not 100 per cent minimalist, but the size demanded a simple mixture of materials.' With that brief, Zanghellini demolished everything and converted a pokey two-bedroom apartment into an open studio with a concertina door that can conceal the sleeping area from the living area. Several large windows take advantage of the open views and allow in light. The interior reflects Truong's pan-Asia life exper-iences and has a spiritual ambience. The front door opens into a small passage that leads to a work station, the living area and the sleeping space, dominated by a raised Japanese-style platform bed fashioned from rich French rosewood, complete with storage space beneath. The kitchen, to the right of the living area, has all the modern conveniences and extra storage space tucked near the back door. The bathroom, with tub and bidet, is off the sleeping area. A full-length closet is hidden near the bathroom door and overhead storage was created by adding shelving at ceiling level. The simple textures and materials used by Zanghellini are earthy and sensuous. Red birch wood horizontal veneer delineates the living area, bringing to mind the interiors of Buddhist temples. The poured concrete floor of the living and kitchen areas is smooth and contrasts with the rough black granite of the kitchen wall. Grey - on the walls and floor - complements the charcoal sprayed on the wall that divides the bedroom and bathroom. The cloudy white of the remaining walls and ceilings expands the space. The result of this serene colour palette is a cool flat with a warm vibe. Truong finds satisfaction in his home every time he enters it. 'When I come home I can switch off even though I'm in the middle of the city. It is very relaxing.' 1 The rough granite wall in the custom-designed kitchen offers a tactile counterpoint to the smoothness of the poured concrete floor. The wooden stools ($11,000 each), resting against the partition door, are from Nest (since closed), as is the Cassini couch ($38,000). 2 The raised, Japanese-style platform bed gives the flat depth and offers extra storage space underneath. A motorised wall bracket ($2,500) allows the Bang & Olufsen BeoCenter 1 TV ($36,800, Bang & Olufsen, Tak Shing House, 20 Des Voeux Road Central, tel: 2526.8800; www.bang-olufsen.com ) to be viewed from either the living area or the bedroom. The Frette linen is from Lane Crawford (Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 2118 3668; www.lanecrawford.com ). On a shelf above the round table ($4,800, from Ligne Roset, 16 Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2891 0913) is a Buddha head bought in Cat Street for $5,500. John Truong picked up the mirror in Spain and the painting over the bed was a housewarming gift. 3 The partition can slide across to separate the living and bedroom areas. The bedside table ($7,600) is from Dentro (shop 4, B/F, Tai Sang Commercial Building, 24 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2866 8829; www.dentro.com.hk ). The versatile coffee table ($27,000, from Ligne Roset) is on wheels, is vertically adjustable and can fold open to become a dining table that seats four to six people. The desk was custom designed by Hernan Zanghellini. 4 The book shelf and ceiling cabinet provide precious storage that does not reduce the living space. The pair of pencil drawings are by Somboon Hormtientong, an artist Truong represents. The wall-mounted BeoSound stereo is by Bang & Olufsen. 5 A bath tub that was custom made for the flat did not fit in the building's elevator, so Truong found a replacement in Wan Chai. The Phillipe Starck Duravit bidet and toilet ($15,000 for the pair) are from H2O (332 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2834 1661). The Aboriginal tribal mask was bought in Australia. 6 The custom-made sink is like a slice of granite bursting from the Earth. The accompanying custom-designed cabinet, by Tim Ho (10 Anton Street, Wan Chai, tel: 9077 7853), fits perfectly under the sink. The vertical clothes closet was built into the door frame. 7 The custom-designed desk to the side of the main living area separates it from the rest of the space. The desk chair ($2,700) is from Nest. The Japanese-inspired desk lamp ($3,200) is from Flos (shop A, Winway Building, 50 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2801.7608). tried & tested air apparent To supplement breezes afforded by the flat's large windows, designer Hernan Zanghellini installed a propeller-style ceiling fan over the platform bed. 'I rarely use air-con,' says John Truong. The circular ceiling nook in which the fan is mounted frames it artistically, highlighting its form and function. The 36-inch-diameter, brushed-aluminium Cirrus model is from Modern Fan ( www.modernfan.com ), an American manufacturer that distributes internationally.