Understanding his clients' sense of style gave one designer the freedom to use his creative talents to dramatic effect. Architects often have many roles to play when it comes to fulfilling the needs of clients. Apart from building and renovating homes, they can also be called upon to select furniture and even recommend art. It's a job that can require an ability to read minds. 'It's a comprehensive service,' says Samuel Ng, of S&B Design (tel: 2167 8486), who recently overhauled a 3,500 sq ft house in Chung Hom Kok. 'It's a customer-service-based job and you have to take care of them 24/7.' It was just as well Ng understood not only the needs but also the aesthetic preferences of his clients, Andy and Connie Ng (no relation), Chinese-Canadians whose previous home Ng had worked on. 'They didn't give me any instructions, design wise,' he says about his 'easy-going' clients. 'They just told me to be careful with the money.' Although Ng qualifies his statement by recalling several broad-brush instructions, many of the decisions, he says, were unilateral, including that concerning the brilliant stained-glass screens in the formal living room (see Tried & Tested). 'It was a surprise for them,' says Ng. 'I installed them at the end, after most of the workers had gone.' Luckily, his clients appreciated the beauty of the screens, which Ng describes as 'spices' to enhance the taste of the place. 'The owners didn't want a lot of colour,' he says, explaining how the blue, yellow and red mosaic makes up for the otherwise neutral interior palette. 'They also wanted more room for the children to run around in, which is why there's not much furniture.' The three-level house is shared by three generations: the couple and eldest daughter Tiffany, 10, have rooms at the top while three other children and Connie's mother are on the second floor, where the family hang out if they are not entertaining guests on the ground floor. The lowest level accommodates the kitchen, a living area boasting expansive sea views and a dining zone that looks onto a terrace with a waterfall. Ng built the water feature because, he says, 'You don't want to look at a blank wall.' Glass walls were used on the middle and top floors for different reasons. The material was chosen for one of the children's bedrooms because, Ng reasoned, when they are older and attending school in Canada, the room can be converted into an office. More immediately, the glass dividers allow the adults to relax in the living area on this floor while keeping an eye on the baby. On the top floor, in front of a walk-in dressing area, yellow glass encloses the en suite master bathroom to stunning effect. 'The colour was the choice of a fung shui master,' says Ng. 'Originally, we were going to use orange but he said no. On sunny days, it looks great.' Despite beautiful vistas from every floor, the house was fairly dark before Ng began working on it. Apart from introducing glass wherever he could (including to staircase balustrades), he returned ceilings to their original height and extended the master bedroom into the balcony. A glass ceiling in the new section allows more light into these quarters. 'My argument is you can always use curtains if there's too much light, but that's better than not having enough to start with.' Because the family spend much of their free time at home, the rooftop was decked out for fun. A Jacuzzi makes whiling away the hours absorbing the view that much more enjoyable. tried & tested glass act The sliding stained-glass panels that introduce pools of colour into the living room are a dual-function feature created by Samuel Ng of S&B Design (tel: 2167 8486). They are a safety feature to ensure no one falls out the windows when they are open - an important consideration in a house full of young children. 'Now you can open the windows but block the children from climbing out,' says Ng. They are also a style statement in the same way feature walls can be the focus in neutral rooms. And they screen out sharp light. 'On a really sunny day, the two pieces can be moved into the middle and blinds pulled down on either side so the panels work as a sunscreen,' says Ng. The idea, he adds, has already been adopted by friends of his clients, Andy and Connie Ng , such is its appeal. The screens were custom made for about $20,000 each. 1 The colourful panels, a safety and decorative feature (see Tried & Tested), are combined with blinds made by New Asia Decorative Materials (262 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2507 3909). The floor lamp, leather sofa and coffee table are from Lane Crawford (various locations; www.lanecrawford.com ; these items are no longer carried by the store, however), as is the chair occupied by one of the Ng daughters, Christy. The floor tiles (600mm x 600mm) cost $130 each from Vision Ceramics (157 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 8065). 2 German-made bifold doors ($25,000, supplied by Fu Yue Engineering, tel: 3146 5328) open onto a small terrace and guest bathroom on the side. Gracing what used to be a plain wall at the back is a waterfall made with natural black granite stone tiles ($110 a square foot from Sing Fai Marble, 242 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 8375). The dining table cost $19,800 from Apartment (tel: 2882 2198), which also supplied the chairs (about $3,000 each). 3 Glass walls, fitted with blinds made by New Asia, were used for the bedroom shared by two of the youngest children so that, even from the family room, the adults can keep an eye on the little ones. The television platform was constructed by Fu Yue Engineering for $10,000. The toy-train bed was custom made for $6,700 by Art Deco (238 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2834 6203). Engineered-wood flooring on this level and the top floor was supplied and installed for $70 a square foot by Equal (room 302, 3/F, phase 2, Ming An Plaza, 8 Sunning Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2881 7066). To brighten the interior, Samuel Ng replaced the steel balustrades of the staircase with glass. 4 The furniture in 10-year-old Tiffany's room was custom made by Art Deco. The princess bed with trundle and canopy (mattress not included) cost $6,900, the bedside table cost $1,800 and the desk with chair cost $1,800 5 To make the most of the scenic rooftop, the Ngs installed a Jacuzzi ($60,000) from My Collection (13/F, Pearl Oriental House, 60 Stanley Street, Central, tel: 2521 6121). The planks (26mm x 14cm x 4.2 metres) and decking ($85 a square foot) came from Hop Sze Timber (421 Lockhart Road, tel: 2833 6069). The outdoor furniture came from House & Garden (shop 1614, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2555 8433). The table cost $1,534 and the armchairs were $1,064 each. 6 The colour of the glass enclosing the marble bathroom in the master bedroom was determined by a fung shui master. Curtains can be drawn for privacy or pulled back to afford an uninterrupted sea view. Walnut-wood covers the floor and one wall 'as decoration', says Samuel Ng. The pendant lamp hanging over the lounger ($19,800 from Lane Crawford) cost $3,000 from Apartment. The 42-inch Philips television cost $23,000 from Sogo, Causeway Bay ( www.sogo.com.hk ). The curtains cost $230 a yard from New Asia. 7 Metallic mosaic tiles ($98 a square foot from Vision Ceramics) transform an otherwise run-of-the-mill washroom, situated on the terrace to the left of the waterfall. The sink and mirror unit cost $2,000 from Arnhold Design Boutique (1/F, Dominion Centre, 59 Queen's Road East, tel: 2529 7489).