Writing articles about home makeovers proved a rich source of inspiration for a Hong Kong journalist when it came to revamping her apartment. Journalists who make a living out of visiting homes and writing about them can be unusually coy when it comes to showing off their own places. Such shyness is unfortunate, however, because years of viewing the work of architects, interior designers and decorators are often rewarded with a seen-that-want-that confidence when it comes to building their own nests. Take the 1,200-square-foot Pokfulam flat of Anna Koor, a regular contributor to the design pages of Post Magazine. If not for her and husband Nick's imminent departure from Hong Kong, their modern, light-filled apartment, designed by K plus K (tel: 2541 6828), would probably never grace these pages. Fortunately, however, as she reasoned, 'it would be such a lovely memento to have of our home, seeing as it won't belong to us soon'. The seaview apartment, in a building notorious for the poor layout of flats, underwent major renovation to brighten its previously long, gloomy corridor; open the living areas; create two bedrooms from three; install a walk-in wardrobe where an en suite bathroom once stood; and renovate the second bathroom off the passageway so it begged to be displayed rather than concealed. 'We've lived in so many flats in Hong Kong with dingy, slimy, horrible bathrooms,' Koor says, explaining why she and her husband went for a sleek, contemporary, minimal look that features glass, granite and steel. To save space, enhance the feeling of fluidity and tackle the problem of light, the wall abutting the passageway was replaced by a sliding wenge veneer panel. 'The whole point was to open up the corridor and feel as though the room extends into it,' says Koor, adding, however, that leaving the toilet in its original position next to the thoroughfare 'wouldn't have been pretty'. So Paul Kember - who with his twin brother Johnny is K plus K - moved it around the corner and screened it with glass. 'Now we can have this wall open all the time without feeling we're looking at sanitary fittings,' she says. Having seen K plus K's residential work and heard homeowners recounting sorry experiences with cowboy contractors, Koor says she signed the Kembers without hesitation. 'There's a purity about their design,' she says, adding that it never looks dated and the duo encourage the personal touch of clients. 'It doesn't have a specific brand or signature that you might be irritated by - and that's especially important in a home, where you live and breathe the same design every day.' The open-plan kitchen is a case in point. The room's focus, a wide, stainless-steel bar around which guests like to congregate, is really the work of K plus K plus K: Koor was behind the design of the glass bookshelf on the side of the counter facing the dining area. She insists, however, that much of the credit is deserved elsewhere, especially in the attention to detail in the kitchen's outfitting and choice of materials: the combination of stainless-steel tops and aluminium sheet behind the sink gives the kitchen 'a watery feel', she says. It also looks sharp. To keep the 'fluid aspect of space', Koor says, she and her husband chose epoxy resin flooring throughout the flat. The material, which in this flat resembles concrete but is warmer, made it into the numerous mental notes jotted down in the course of her career. 'I'd seen it used in mostly commercial environments: shops, hospitals, car parks, you name it.' Although poor work by the company laying the floor resulted in much angst, at least the couple are wiser about the material's qualities and what to do next time. 'If you're going to have this flooring, insist it's perfect from the start,' Koor says, recalling how attempts to buff away marks and seal the surface were less than satisfactory. 'If not, rip up the whole thing and do it again. Don't try to repair it.' Not surprisingly, the couple have started dreaming about life's next chapter - in Portsmouth, England. With the benefit of hindsight, Koor says she would like to ship back more than memories and a container-load of furniture. What else would be worth conveying to their next home? She says without a pause: 'I would seriously consider taking K plus K.' 1 Flower Study 1 by Thai artist Jirawat Arunsawat, from John Batten Gallery (64 Peel Street, Central, tel: 2854 1018), hangs above a sofa 'inspired by the utilitarian Hong Kong government standard-issue furniture provided to civil servants in furnished quarters', Anna Koor says. The three-piece suite was made for $4,500 in 1996 and later reupholstered for $10,000. The pillows ($240 each), filled with leaves from the Myrobalan plant, are from G.O.D., Leighton Centre, 77 Leighton Road, Sharp Street East entrance, Causeway Bay, tel: 2890 5555; www.god.com.hk . 2 Flanking the bed, which is dressed with a cover purchased for about US$30 in India (Marudhara Handicrafts, A-28 Shastri Nagar, Jaipur, tel: 91 141 228 1029), are a Prealpi-Quadrant night table (foreground, $4,540) and a chest of drawers in walnut with shell-style handles ($7,580), both from Desideri International (6/F, Tak House, 5 Stanley Street, Central, tel: 2950 4026). The AJ table lamp, by Arne Jacobsen for Louis Poulsen, is available through official distributor Forma Lighting (room 4B, 5/F, Eastern Harbour Centre, 28 Hoi Chak Street, Quarry Bay, tel: 2516 6500). The transparent La Marie chair by Philippe Starck for Kartell costs $1,699 at Aluminium (19 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2546 5904). The white perforated roller blind was made by United Carpet & Building Materials (tel: 2802 6978) for $30 a square foot. 3 Narrow shelves, accommodated in a slight wall recess, are a snug home for paperbacks, photographs and CDs. A sliding door opposite, made of environmentally friendly New Age Italian wenge veneer (supplied by Bells Asia, tel: 2519 8682) opens up the guest room-cum-office. Behind the folding dai pai dong table and Leap office chair from Steelcase (1/F, Tai Yip Building, 141 Thomson Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2520 0160) is ample storage for office paraphernalia and clothes. The wardrobe doors consist of three sliding leaves, two in aluminium finish, one in New Age Milan oak veneer (also supplied by Bells Asia). 4 To solve the problem of a long, gloomy and narrow corridor, K plus K installed sliding doors to the bathroom that open up the space and allow light to filter through from two bathroom windows. The full-length, beaten-tin Indian mirror ($4,000) was from Banyan Tree (now Indigo Living). The anti-fog vanity mirror ($450), installed at the insistence of K plus K, gets a thumbs-up from Koor. 'I've since stayed in places where mirrors are constantly steamed up and dripping and it's so annoying,' she says. The Tecla white porcelain basin ($1,500) is from Arnhold Design Centres (315 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel 2865 0318) and the Bongio wall-mounted chrome-finish basin mixer ($2,380) is from Sunny (Pro) (162 Lockhart Road, tel: 2156 0388). 5 The highlight of the open kitchen is the wide bar with stainless-steel top fabricated by Arcon International (tel: 2798 5968) to K plus K's specifications. 'It has been fantastic for socialising,' says Koor. 'Everyone congregates around this space when they come over.' The Fritz Hansen natural beech Model 3107 Serie 7 Chair by Arne Jacobsen and Fritz Hansen Model B412 super-elliptical dining table, also in natural beech, are from Salotta (29/F, Two Chinachem, Exchange Square, 338 King's Road, North Point, tel: 2898 9777). The Smeg fridge in stainless steel ($11,150) is from Grand International Investments (703 Car Po Commercial Building, 18 Lyndhurst Terrace, tel: 2541 8003). Acid-etched glass was used for the back door and overhead cabinets. The D-line handles of the kitchen cabinets, back door and sliding timber-veneer doors in the corridor were sourced through Tung Fat Ho Building Material, tel: 2487 6199. 6 The Eggplant curtain fabric, from Knoll's Veil collection, costs $369 a yard at Pacific Furnishings (tel: 2520 1270). The curtains were made by Wai Kee Curtain & Furnishing (105 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2522 3605) for $1,360. The seat cushions, covered with Quartrefoil fabric by Alexander Girard 1954, is from Maharam ( www.maharam . com) and available through Fabricnation (tel: 2180 8772). Wai Kee made the four cushions for $720, including the foam padding. A lantern from G.O.D. ($85) sits on an outdoor table acquired second hand with the chairs. tried & tested shower power The K plus K-designed shower is not only slick, with its groovy mosaic tiles and shower pole by Philippe Starck for Axor, from Finishing Touch (191 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2507 3232). It is also clever, incorporating a simple design that does away with the need for plastic seals and, says Paul Kember from K plus K, 'those bits and pieces that look pretty awful and tend to fill up with grime'. The hinged glass door overlaps a fixed glass panel when closed, rather than having two glass panes meet flush, which would require rubber seals along both edges to stop water seeping through the seam. The shower floor is also slightly lower than the floor outside, and the glass door and panel are hung so water hitting them simply cascades down into the sunken tray, keeping outer areas dry.