The latest innovations in home technology help showcase an eclectic array of antiques in a couple's roomy Tai Tam abode. Technology in the home is not only changing the way we live; it's also presenting designers with fresh challenges. Fifi and Keith Collins had specific requirements about how to blend hi-tech facilities, comfort and style when they renovated their spacious new Tai Tam house (4,000 sq ft plus exterior terrace and swimming pool). Keith wanted state-of-the-art technology but also a resort-like home that was dog friendly. Fifi required a relaxing place with extensive display space to show off her eclectic collection of sculptures, artefacts and furniture sourced from the mainland and elsewhere. Enter architects Jason Yung and Caroline Ma of Jason Caroline Design (tel: 2517 7510). 'Our task was to combine all these requirements in one living space,' explains Yung. 'The basic colour scheme of the home is black and natural walnut along with different types of glass and metal to provide a contemporary backdrop and to integrate the Asian artworks and furniture.' The house has three floors - the dining room, living area and kitchen are on the ground floor; the study, second living room and guest rooms are on the second floor; and the master suite and gym are on the third. Outside is a large terrace with swimming pool and stunning ocean views. Each floor is linked by a geometric staircase that adds a modernist vibe. 'Previously, the house style was very classical,' says Ma. 'It was nice enough but the owners didn't feel it was them.' For the redesign, Ma used tactile contemporary materials such as purple slate, tinted grey glass panels with gradual frosting, grass paper and stonewashed oak, all of which work well with both contemporary furniture and the antique elements. Technology also plays a major role, not just in terms of convenience but in creating warmth and atmosphere. To avoid the need for countless switches and remote controls, the Collinses chose the Crestron Home Technology system to manage the various electronic operations (lighting, audio visual, window treatments) in a single panel. Integrated into the Crestron panel is the computer-ised Lutron lighting system, which controls all the illumination. 'This can program many different scenes and moods with the touch of a button,' says Yung. Hence, the couple can dim the lights, close the shades, turn on the television and start a DVD without lifting more than a finger. The lights can create an ambience suitable for dinner for two, a business soiree or a quiet Sunday brunch. In addition, the Collinses installed Chroma LED lighting in the living and dining rooms and the master bathroom. This produces different washes of colour, ranging from pastels to intense hues. 'It's supposed to be therapeutic and you can fix it to a colour you like and have it change quickly or slowly,' says Ma. Conveniently, the main control panel for all this technology is concealed in a custom-designed wall unit, made of walnut and black steel, in the living room. The multifunctional unit also holds a fish tank, creates display space for statues and collectables and helps to divide the living and dining areas into two distinct zones. 'The fung shui master said some kind of water element would be good,' says Ma. 'Also, this design means when you come into the house you can see both the tank and the pool beyond.' Combine all these elements with the master suite upstairs - which offers panoramic ocean views - and it is clear the Collinses have achieved their aim of resort-style living with hi-tech convenience. And their dogs - a pair of schnauzers called Scooby and Smokey - seem pretty happy too. 1 Scooby the dog lazes on a rug in front of a Piano Ortopedico bed (HK$50,000) from Desideri (6/F, Capitol Plaza, 2 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2950 4026; www.desideri.com.hk ). Surrounding the bed is a curtain made of sheer bronze-coloured fabric, which can function as a decorative element or be closed to keep mosquitoes out. The ZIR 10107 fabric cost HK$220 a square metre from Cetec (29 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2521 1325) and was installed by Arredo (shop D, Lucky Building, 39 Wellington Street, tel: 2724 1803). 2 For the ground floor, architects Jason Yung and Caroline Ma of Jason Caroline Design (tel: 2517 7510) designed a walnut and black steel unit in which to house a fish tank, provide display shelves and hide the switches of the Creston Home Technology system from Crestron (shop 2501, Westin Centre, 26 Hung To Road, Kwun Tong, tel: 2341 2016; www.crestronasia.com ). Blue Marines (shop 1919, Nan Fung Centre, 264 Castle Peak Road, Tsuen Wan, tel: 2393 5995) provided advice about the tank, which was custom made by Fifi and Keith Collins' contractor. The glass tank, filtration unit and decoration cost HK$50,000 (excluding the cabinet). Boen Oak Nature Planks in stonewash grey (HK$1,450 a square metre from Equal, 7/F, Grandview Commercial Centre, 29 Sugar Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2881 7066) cover the floor, although the 'floating' stairs are made of walnut. The decorative cross-banister is made using 10mm-thick black steel. On the wall is a Foglio light by Tobia Scarpa that cost HK$3,000 from Flos (shop A, Winway Building, 50 Wellington Street, tel: 2801 7608; www.flos.com ). 3 A wall of wardrobes was designed to run along one end of the master bedroom, adjacent to the bathroom suite, and provide ample storage space. The metal-framed units were custom made by the contractor for HK$50,000 and clad in muted brass-coloured grass paper called Hanmadang II, from Tat Ming Decorative Materials (16/F, Kwan Chart Tower, 6 Tonnochy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2893 2337). 4 The glamorous bathroom has a spa feel. The large oval shower unit features 12mm-thick, grey glass walls. The shower fixtures (HK$9,800) are by Vitra from Arnhold Design Centres (315 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2865 0318; www.arnhold.com.hk ). Inside the shower is a transparent purple Boem stool by Philippe Starck for Kartell (shop 105, Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2810 0408; www.kartell.it ). 5 The cosy upstairs lounge area was the ideal spot for the Collins' oversized antique daybed. The mattress, bolsters and scatter cushions have been covered with vibrant Thai silks. Similar fabrics can be found at Jim Thompson (9 Surawong Road, Bangkok, Thailand, tel: 662 632 8100; www.jimthompson.com ). On the wall behind the daybed hangs Keith's collection of masks from around the world. Covering the windows is a sheer fabric from Cetec known as 1975-01. 6 To the rear of the dining table is a storage unit-cum-display area, designed with sliding doors for flexibility. The dining table (HK$4,500) and dining chairs (HK$500 each) were designed by Jason Caroline Design and made by Wah Yat (flat D, Ka Wing Industrial Building, 19 Ng Fong Street, San Po Kong, tel: 2326 6780). The fabric for the chairs cost HK$936 a square metre from Cetec. Above the dining table hangs a Nur Alogena aluminium light by Ernesto Gismondi that cost HK$4,300 from Artemide (shop 111, Ruttonjee Centre, tel: 2523 0333; www.artemide.com ). The Chroma LED lighting system in the dining area is from Lumen Arts (360 Lockhart Road, tel: 2572 2832; www.lumenarts.com.hk ). The lighting - as well as the audio-visual and curtain systems - is controlled by the Crestron system. 7 The exterior of the house has been designed with tropical flair. A teak deck runs along the side of the house, with steps leading down to the pool. A glass balustrade ensures there are no visual obstructions to the seaview. The white pebbles (HK$10,000 for 14 metres) were supplied by the contractor; the plant pots cost HK$1,000 each from Lung Shan Garden (501 Tai Hang, Tai Po, tel: 2651 2782). tried & tested deep water More resort spa than urban Hong Kong, the luxurious master bathroom was designed to make the most of the ocean view. The double tub was already part of the bathroom suite when the house was purchased; Caroline Ma and Jason Yung of Jason Caroline Design (tel: 2517 7510) simply relocated it. They added a wall of bi-fold, wood-framed glass panels so the owners can sit in the bath and enjoy the expansive sea views through the master bedroom windows. If more privacy is required, the bi-fold doors can be closed. Motorised Vienna Sheer blinds, HK$1,880 a square metre from Arredo (shop D, Lucky Building, 39 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2724 1803), cover the windows.