Text Vivien Jones / Photographer Ulso Tsang The first thing that strikes you when you enter the 23rd floor, 6,000 sq ft penthouse duplex of Phoebe Yuen and her entrepreneur husband is the light streaming in from the floor-to-ceiling windows and the enormous skylight that floods the open vestibule. But although essentially new (the previous owner had never lived in it), the flat, in Sha Tin, had to be significantly altered to become what it is today. Its potential was immediately apparent to the couple when they saw the property in late 2011. It may have been a "typical Hong Kong space" with an unsuitable layout and too many small rooms but they were attracted by its size and wrap-around green views, says Yuen. The couple turned to the team at Bugs Design Consultants, who had previously been commissioned to design the Ecols shop in Tsim Sha Tsui, of which Yuen is a co-founder. Their former working relationship bolstered the residential project, and the pair supplied a detailed brief with images and keywords. "[The collaboration] was a surprisingly easy and smooth process," says Bugs' George Lam. "George knew our taste and preferences," says Yuen, "and Bugs' style is similar to ours so it sped up the design process considerably." Five bedrooms were whittled down to two - a suite on the lower floor and, on the top level, the master bedroom, bathroom and en-suite study - plus a gym, a sauna, a wine cellar and maids' quarters. The couple wanted a clean, minimalist interior with a strong Japanese influence. White is the dominant hue and depth was given to the space largely through texture and details - a scattering of the white hexagonal floor tiles in the entrance, dining and main living area have an intricate yet subtle pattern imprinted on them, and the double-height wall at the entrance features a special plastering technique that creates a slightly ridged profile on the wall, inspired by a finish the couple saw at Nadaman, in Tsim Sha Tsui, one of their favourite Japanese restaurants. As a lighting consultant at Ecols, Yuen knew exactly how she wanted her home illuminated and used dimmable LED lighting with automated light-control systems throughout the apartment to create a calm and mellow atmosphere. Since the design relies heavily on a minimalist aesthetic, scale and proportion were used to create visual interest. With high ceilings, a double-height entrance area and enormous wrap-around windows providing views of green hillsides, the apartment is open to its environment while remaining private. "The view guided us throughout," says Lam. The design team has made the most of the outside area by keeping the inside space visually quiet and pure. The couple had four specific requirements for their home: spaces in which to work; relax; eat and drink; and display their collection of art. Walls were demolished and the interior reconfigured to accommodate, among other things, the enormous sliding glass doors to the kitchen, which had to be winched up the side of the building because they wouldn't fit in the service lift. Music is important to the couple, so Lam and his team installed a seamless integrated system with hidden speakers throughout the home, which met the client's hi-tech specifications but did not compromise their minimal aesthetic. One unexpected twist in the design process was the announcement of Yuen's pregnancy, which came in the middle of the renovation and necessitated a change of use for what was originally the guest suite. The couple swiftly created a welcoming nursery. Although they didn't know the sex of their unborn child, they abandoned their minimalist white aesthetic and went with a gender-neutral palette of warm yellows with a custom-made mural covering an entire wall. As the new parents have discovered, some concessions are worth making. Sitting room A skylight illuminates the living area, complete with grand piano. The Bolton sofa, by Giuseppe Vigano (from Poliform, 3 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai, tel: 3102 3189), is backed by a custommade storage unit designed by Bugs Design Consultants (27/F, Winsan Tower, 98 Thomson Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2866 0279) and made by contractors Zillion Design (21/F, Sui Fai Factory, 5 Shan Mei Street, Fo Tan, tel: 8106 5100). The Pebble coffee tables (HK$34,300 for the pair) and the Clara coat stand (HK$6,800) were from Ligne Roset (16 Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2891 0913). The silk carpet came from Fort Street Studio (9/F, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, tel: 2889 5150). The painting is by one of the couple’s favourite artists, Hiroshi Senju, and was sourced through Sundaram Tagore Gallery (57 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2581 9678). The Eames lounger by Herman Miller can be bought from Posh (Hong Kong Trade Centre, 161 Des Voeux Road Central, tel: 2851 0899). Dining room The Hyannis Port dining table (HK$47,200) came from Ligne Roset and the Grand Prix chairs, by Fritz Hansen (HK$4,149 each), were from Manks (3/F, The Factory, 1 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang, tel: 2522 2115). The Bocci pendant light came from Lane Crawford Home Store (Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 2118 2288). The large glass Velaria door panels to the kitchen were from Mooi Living Group (1/F, Fortune Building, 150 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2802 9998). The shelving in the dining room was designed by Bugs. Bedroom A hotel-style sanctuary, the couple’s bedroom is as minimal as the rest of the home. The Autoban 265 double bed (HK$70,000), by De La Espada, came from Lane Crawford Home Store, where the couple also found the Frette bedding and the hanging Decanter bedside lights by Lee Broom (HK$4,500 each). The large silk carpet came from Fort Street Studio. Wine cellar The couple’s impressive wine collection is housed in a temperature- and humidity-controlled “cellar”, installed by Celsius Universe (7 Wan King Street, Hung Hom, tel: 2127 4870). The long narrow room is off the main corridor on the lower level of the duplex. Outdoor In addition to a rooftop lap pool, the apartment boasts a generous terrace. Because the home is surrounded by greenery, Bugs Design Consultants decided to keep the space minimal with the addition of a Japanese rock garden. The Gloster Cloud sofas, coffee tables and umbrella (HK$160,000 in total) came from Everything Under the Sun (9/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2554 9088) and the Zen garden was created and installed by Proto (13/F, Kiu Fu Commercial Building, 300 Lockhart Road, tel: 8123 8168). The outdoor kitchen was designed by Bugs and built by Zillion Design. The floor tiles (about HK$80 per square foot) were sourced from Excelco (14/F, Hyde Centre, 221 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2891 4332). Kitchen The couple enjoy entertaining so a sleek and functional kitchen was a must. The units are from Varenna Kitchen (3 Wing Fung Street, tel: 3102 3189). The Kashiwa bar stools (HK$5,000 each) were from Lane Crawford Home Store. The recycled steel fruit bowl (HK$300) came from Ecols (The One, 100 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 3106 4918). Bathroom The Mutina floor and wall tiles in the en-suite master bathroom were sourced through Anta Building Material Supplier (311A Lockhart Road, tel: 2180 6950) and cost about HK$80 per square foot. The Dornbracht showers are from the Elemental series and came from Colourliving (333 Lockhart Road, tel: 2510 2666). Hide and sleek The bane of a minimalist must surely be the tangle of unsightly cables that accompany any kind of technology. It was this challenge that Phoebe Yuen and her husband presented to George Lam at Bugs Design Consultants: how to accommodate computers, printers and other technology but keep wires, plugs and cables accessible yet out of sight. Lam had Zillion Design contractors incorporate a boxed-in channel that runs along the back of the desk, allowing space and ventilation for the many cables and transformers, thereby eliminating the unsightly mess and dust that typically accumulates.