One couple's search for the perfect flat led them to convert a pair of Mid-Levels apartments into a single airy living space. The first foray into Hong Kong's property market for Melissa Moss and her spouse was a huge leap of faith. The couple took a brave plunge, buying two dingy flats in Mid-Levels and knocking them into an open 1,000 sq ft space. 'We decided we wanted somewhere that was big and had a view, or somewhere we could renovate,' says Moss. 'We came here [to the two flats] and thought 'no way'. It was dark and humid and generally in a state of disrepair.' One of the apartments was slightly bigger and had two bedrooms; the other had one. A revamp would mean not only removing the dividing walls but getting rid of a kitchen and a bathroom. Because the flats were tucked away in a lane with limited natural light, the prospective buyers figured that if they created one large open space, the dwelling would be brighter. 'We went away and had a good think,' says Moss. 'We had it drawn on paper, how to divide up the rooms.' Three contractors were invited to have a look at the place, and Moss gave them her ideas. The last one said they were impossible, but suggested an alternative, which the couple agreed to. With that blueprint and the flats now in their possession, dividing walls were knocked down, the space gutted and the front door moved. The resulting apartment is simple: the front door takes you into the kitchen, which opens into the living space. There is one bedroom, a dining area that can be separated from the living space by a floor-to-ceiling curtain and a bathroom. A small terrace at the side of the flat is accessible through French doors. 'We didn't want lots of bedrooms - just the room we needed and as much space as we could have,' says Moss. 'And we didn't want anything too modern - [we were after] something a bit more classic.' She enlisted Gary Yan, director of Interior Design (tel: 2366 8141), whose ideas for storage space became vital, given the open nature of the flat. Apart from knocking down most of the interior walls, he built a false ceiling in the kitchen, rewired the apartment and installed central air-conditioning. Three months after work began, the couple moved in. New to Hong Kong from London, they started with a clean slate, having decided not to bring any furnishings with them, bar a few pieces of art. Therefore, most of the pieces that filled the flat were acquired in Hong Kong, although a few items, such as the sofa, were custom made. When relatives or friends come to stay, the curtain between the dining room and living area can be drawn to afford privacy. The large dining space can then double as a makeshift bedroom. Moss wanted to keep the colour scheme simple: greens with a few neutral shades and the odd splash of brightness. She had hoped to make good use of the small terrace, but admits the limited light is not ideal for growing plants and it's too hot to use the space for entertaining during summer. Still, the addition of a few pebbles and some hardy greenery add to the earthy feeling of the flat. 1 The plan for the living area was to keep it earthy and neutral. The sofa - upholstered with the same material as the dining room chairs - cost HK$20,000 (pull-out bed, armchair and footstool included) from Arredo Interiors (G/F, Lucky Building, 39 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2724 1803). The coffee table cost HK$8,000 from China Art (15 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2542 0982), and the beanbag was HK$1,000 from Arredo Interiors. The curtain for the French doors was custom made in Shenzhen for HK$600. The paintings add splashes of colour and come from the Pan Jia Yuan market in Beijing. The rug cost HK$8,000 and comes from Pakistan. The green throw cost HK$120 from Ikea (Basement, Park Lane Hotel, 310 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 3125 0888). Throughout the living area, the couple have hung pieces of art picked up in Botswana. 2 Keeping the space free of clutter was important for Melissa Moss, so Gary Yan designed capacious wall-to-ceiling cupboards to keep the couple's clothes and personal items hidden from view. TREE (17/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2870 0389) built the king-sized bed (HK$9,500, excluding mattress), which was kept low so as not to swamp the room. The green theme of the rest of the apartment was maintained with the bright throw and cushions. The blinds throughout the flat came from Arredo Interiors. 3 To give the illusion of space, a tall mirror (HK$4,000 from TREE) was placed on one of the living room walls. The box shelves cost HK$8,000 (for the pair) from China Art. Walnut flooring with 12mm plywood backing cost HK$36,000 for 700 sq ft, including delivery, protection and installation by Ply Chance (Asia) (shop 1, 271 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2802 9819). 4 The kitchen was kept sleek and functional, with most appliances - such as the washing machine and dishwasher - tucked away neatly. The Brandt oven cost HK$6,998 from Gilman Kitchen & Appliances (shop 313B, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2730 6747). 5 A few accessories brighten up the chic, streamlined kitchen, such as the industrial-sized Pattoni tap (HK$1,940) from Galaxy Bathroom Collection (shop 3, 283 Lockhart Road, tel: 2802 3008). The Blanco sink ($2,400) is from the same store. 6 The idea for the dining space was to keep things classic and the wood similar to that of the coffee table in the living area. The large table cost about HK$16,000 from China Art. The chairs cost about HK$1,000 each, and are also from China Art but were upholstered with material supplied by the couple. The sideboard was custom made by Gary Yan for HK$8,000; the curtain separating the dining space from the living area cost about HK$4,000 from Arredo Interiors. The painting came from Pan Jia Yuan market in Beijing. 7 To make the best use of space, the couple opted for a shower only, allowing more room for a large sink. The EOS Rettango basin is from Classic Bathroom Accessories (shop 3B, Siu On Centre, 188 Lockhart Road, tel: 2802 9882) and cost HK$2,200, excluding installation. The tap cost HK$1,260 from Luen Hing Hong Building Materials (236 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 3630). The shower head is also from Classic Bathroom Accessories and cost HK$1,500. tried & tested Lock around the clock This quirky lock caught the attention of the couple for its simplicity and dogmatic twist - it gives you a running commentary as you enter and leave the flat. Each time the lock is opened or closed, a computerised voice announces the fact. To use it, you either punch in a code or use an Octopus-style swipe card. As Melissa Moss explains, it cuts out minutes spent rummaging through her bag for a set of keys. The Hyundae 'Lock and Roll' card lock costs HK$2,980, excluding installation, from Hung Ming Metal Supplies (294 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2827 1261).