No matter how busy our schedules, wellness experts advocate allocating some 'me time' every day. Regular self-nurturing, they say, reduces stress, helping us remain balanced. Although there may be plenty of places to let off steam, sometimes all we need is time out in our own home. This is where 'special rooms' - which may not be an entire room at all, but a nook or a corner - come into play. We looked at some of the innovative ways Hongkongers are staking out these spaces in their city homes. Marie Lee, designer and cross-media artist Special room: studio Marie Lee's home on campus at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where she teaches at the School of Creative Media, needs to double as a studio. The spacious living room, with its dark shiny floor, pale yellow walls and open layout, is perfect. 'I believe simple is better so I try not to overload the place with items,' says Lee. 'I have some of my drawings framed on the wall and a poster by my favourite Iranian designer. These can be quickly taken down when the wall space is needed to display other artwork. Otherwise, the walls are left blank so I can put up my work in progress.' Paints, books and materials currently in use are kept in plastic boxes on an Ikea storage shelf. Hidden nails are strategically placed and hold lengths of string on which works are placed for review as needed, without disturbing the look of the room. Natural light is important and the large floor-to-ceiling glass door to the balcony allows for it. Lee uses her floor for her art, laying out paper and using her body to create large, abstract paintings with rhythmic, purposeful strokes. The dining table doubles as a work bench for intricate, time-consuming tasks. While many artists retreat to their studios, closing their doors to all distractions, Lee has extended her workspace so that she and her loved ones can live in it. 'It's flexible, comfortable yet practical. It is not static but changes depending on my mood and what I am currently working on,' she says. 'It can easily transform into a playground for our niece and nephew, accommodate our extended family for dinner, and turn back to a studio in no time.' Two doctors Special room: home spa Jason Caroline Design was approached by two busy doctors who had just purchased the flat above their south-side apartment. They wanted to turn it into a private retreat - an instant getaway from their hectic lives. The designers went one step further by adding spa elements to the mix. They even captured the 'sky garden' feeling the owners wanted, despite the flat being on a lower floor of a residential tower. 'The space offered plenty of fresh air and a captivating view of greenery,' says Jason Yung Kei-yau. 'Our idea was to create a luxury home spa where the natural scenery merges with the interior, and to introduce water into the space as a spiritual purifier.' The 2,700 sq ft space was divided into five zones without barriers: a jacuzzi area, indoor courtyard, open deck, sitting area, and Zen room. The 3.2 square metre jacuzzi incorporates a waterfall and serves as a focal point in the centre of the room, while the balcony was extended inside. Two fountain walls run along the open deck and the indoor courtyard serves as a backdrop. The teak ceiling acts as a spine for the space, linking the various zones. The sitting area incorporates a long bar table with a kitchen behind it. Tucked away in a more private corner is the Zen room for yoga or meditation. The result is an oasis of relaxation - just what the doctor(s) ordered. Eve Roth Lindsay, fashion designer and image consultant Special room: dressing room Eve Roth Lindsay has a dressing room she loves. She designed the room when the Lindsays bought their waterfront home in Clear Water Bay. It is the size of a bedroom, and adjoins the master suite on the top floor via an 'invisible' sliding door. 'I absolutely love it, and it works perfectly,' says Lindsay, who runs image consultancy Savvy Style. There are shelves that go from floor to ceiling holding everything from jumpers to handbags. Rails set at different levels house tops, jackets, dresses and evening gowns. 'I have a shoe closet so I can easily get the shoes I need. The room is designed so I can get dressed easily, quickly and without stress.' The room has no natural light, as Lindsay says it would destroy her clothes. But there are special light bulbs that simulate natural light so she can make sure colours match correctly. 'It is a room that is only for dressing but I also have a desk, chairs, music and mirrors that give front, back and side views,' Lindsay says. She loves the room because 'it works', she says. 'I can do everything I need to do with my clothing in that room.' The Fischers Special room: rooftop Banker Aaron Fischer and his wife Anna wanted to replicate their outdoorsy Australian lifestyle, so with the help of designer friend Liang Tan, they converted the rooftop of their Pok Fu Lam apartment into a hip entertainment area. The 1,500 sq ft space has a cabana, a jacuzzi and an outdoor kitchen complete with volcanic stone bench top, a five-burner barbecue and built-in fridges. But the piece de resistance is the outdoor cinema. The couple built a giant, all-weather projector screen for DVDs. A surround sound system piped throughout the rooftop has speakers that can be controlled from various areas enabling movies to be enjoyed from wherever they are sitting - including the spa. Black bamboo fencing for privacy, slate tiles and wooden decking, romantic outdoor lighting and a lush range of tropical plants complete the picture. 'We wanted an outdoor space that would feel like home,' says Anna Fischer. 'All our friends love to come over, and we are always hosting parties.' Mark Mowday, meat and seafood importer Special room: garage Every Aussie bloke needs a shed, and living in Hong Kong for 25 years has not changed that for Mark Mowday, proprietor of South Stream Seafoods. His, however, is no ordinary shed. The garage adjoining the Mowdays' Yuen Long home is decked out as a Formula 1 workshop, complete with chequered black and white tiled floor, a flat screen television to keep an eye on the action, and a vehicle lift to hold his Ferrari. It also holds various 'boys' toys', including Norton and Triumph motorcycles. The home has ample entertaining areas, but Mowday's mates tend to not even make it inside. Which is fine by his wife, Angela. 'That's his space - and everyone needs their own space,' she says.