Text and styling Anji Connell / Photography Jonathan Wong As Catherine Zeta-Jones famously said, “For marriage to be a success, every woman and every man should have her and his own bathroom.” The Welsh actress, whose motto continues to resonate among interior renovators worldwide, would probably also agree that, like any marriage, bathrooms need a regular overhaul. That’s how British barristers Mary and James Thomson felt having lived for almost a decade in their 2,288 sq ft Repulse Bay flat, into which they moved in 2004 with their two sons, now at university in Britain. With the entire building getting a facelift anyway, they felt it was the perfect time to give a nip/tuck not just to their two bathrooms (which were “looking a little tired and worn”, says James) but to the whole three-bedroom, sea-view apartment. They also wanted to revamp their “very ugly” main bedroom, which lacked light because a big, walk-in wardrobe blocked a window. The couple began looking for inspiration in magazines and shops. It was while browsing through bathroom fittings in a Wan Chai store that a name was recommended to them: Nirender Lehar, of Leehar Home, who works not only as both designer and contractor, but is also a commercial pilot. “After our horrible experience with a contractor years earlier it was a delight to meet him,” says James, referring to some shoddily made kitchen cupboards built for the couple shortly after they moved in. This time around, the Thomsons wanted to be sure of what they were getting, so Lehar produced mock-ups showing details such as layout and materials. “His computer visuals gave us a clear idea of how the finished product would look,” says James. Lehar’s brief for the project, which included renewing the electrics and plumbing, was to “give us the ‘wow’ factor, bring in light, recycle as much as possible and stay within budget”, says Mary. Replacing dark parquet flooring, doors and cupboards with light oak throughout the apartment gave the space an instant lift. And swapping sliding balcony doors for bi-folds allowed the living room to be fully opened and extended and, at the same time, flooded with light. Lehar also removed a false ceiling in the dining room, adding height, and built a sleek kitchen, with contemporary light-oak cabinetry and marble-look tiles. “The units were falling apart due to very bad workmanship, the appliances were not working properly and the oven was too small,” says Mary, who now has plenty of storage space and a slew of appliances at her disposal. Keen recyclers, the Thomsons kept a lot of their pre-renovation furniture, including the sofa. Wardrobes in the guest room and study (previously a bedroom) were given a facelift by way of new front panels. Now the flat is completed, the Thomsons say they have rediscovered their love of living in Repulse Bay and are enjoying every aspect of their home, in particular the extended living areas. “We’ve always used our balcony but now it gives us so much more pleasure,” says James. “We eat and sit out there whenever we can and have friends round for barbecues.” “[The apartment] has such a modern and spacious feel,” adds Mary. “We feel like we are in a new flat.” Living room The sofa was bought at Hammonds ( www.hammonds-uk.com ), in Britain, years ago, as was the coffee table, which came from Artura Ficus (15/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 3105 3903). The armchair (HK$4,990) and Quincy lattice rug (HK$5,990) came from Indigo Living (various locations; www.indigo-living.com ). The floor lamp was bought years ago at Ikea (various locations; www.ikea.com/hk ). The artwork was a gift. The Aeratron fan (HK$3,588) came from Sofasale (10/F, Lok’s Industrial Building, 204 Tsat Tsz Mui Road, Quarry Bay, tel: 2541 1230). The corner round table came from the Thomsons’ previous home. Covering the floor is engineered oak (HK$45 a square foot) from Sunwood Building Materials (308 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2827 0990). Dining area A ceiling light (HK$2,290), from Stockroom (20/F, Hong Kong Industrial building, 444 Des Voeux Road West, Sai Wan, tel: 2817 0999), hangs over a dining table bought years ago at Tree (various locations; www.tree.com.hk ); the store now carries a similar model, called Fissure (HK$13,000 to HK$18,000, depending on size). Also acquired years ago were the sideboard, from Tequila Kola (1/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2518 3193); the mirror, bought at a second-hand furniture sale; and the lamp, from Indigo Living. The dining chairs were gifts. Study The armchair (HK$4,990) came from Indigo Living and the cushion (HK$798) from Stockroom. The floor lamp, from Ikea; bookcase, from Tequila Koa; and table lamp, from a market in Bangkok, Thailand, were bought years ago. The Korean cabinet was a gift. The pictures on the wall are school photos of the Thomsons’ sons. The bin came from a market in Malaysia. Master bedroom Ikea Klabb lamps (HK$299.90 each) adorn bedside tables that were gifts from a relative. The blueand- white jar was picked up in a charity shop. The bed is an old model from Tequila Kola. The silver-beaded cushions (HK$245 each), sequinned cushion (HK$295) and duvet and pillow set (HK$2,350) all came from G.O.D. (various locations; www.god.com.hk ). Master bedroom detail The glass cupboard (HK$30,000), designed and built by Leehar Home (9/F, Hollywood Centre, 77 Queen’s Road West, Sheung Wan, tel: 6579 8702), lets in light from a window previously blocked by a walk-in wardrobe. Bathroom The Italian wall tiles (HK$420 per square metre) and floor tiles (HK$340 per square metre) came from Hop Hing Lung Material (235 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 3013). The marble countertop (HK$225 per square foot) came from Po Kwong Marble Factory (278 Lockhart Road, tel: 2392 3188). The tub (HK$11,500) was sourced in the mainland by Leehar Home. The Gessi bath tap (HK$12,800) came from Colourliving (333 Lockhart Road, tel: 2510 2666) and the Grohe rain shower (HK$6,038) from Hop Hing Lung Material. The basin (HK$4,100) was from Stonetech (7/F, Corn Yan Centre, 3 Jupiter Street, North Point, tel: 2887 9398). Kitchen The white marble-look tiles (HK$300 per square metre) on the floor and walls, and the white marble worktop (HK$225 per square foot) came from Hop Hing Lung Material. The cabinetry (HK$136,000) was by Leehar Home. Optical illusion Nirender Lehar, of Leehar Home, used wood-look ceramic floor tiles (HK$68 per square foot) from Hop Hing Lung Material for the balcony. The tiles start where the engineered-oak planks in the living area stop, providing a near seamless look that helps to visually expand the living area.