Text Christopher DeWolf / Styling Anji Connell / Photography Jonathan Wong When a couple of newlywed professionals asked local architecture firm LAAB to renovate their two-bedroom, 550 sq ft flat in Olympic, they had one key request. "They wanted a comfy home with lots of storage," says design director Otto Ng Chun-lun. Of course, there were other requirements. The couple like to entertain, so bulky cupboards that ate into living space were out of the question. The apartment is long and narrow and the living room has just one, east-facing bay window, so Ng wanted to make the space bright and open. Early plans to remove one of the bedroom walls, however, were dashed when it turned out to be structurally vital. Ng came up with a solution: a low-slung system of cabinets and drawers wrapped around the living room, providing a ledge on which to display art, plenty of hiding places and additional seating. "This is designed for a couple but also for a party," says Ng. Among the party tricks are LED track lights, the colour and brightness of which can be altered to suit the social situation. Ng paired the dining table with two chairs and a bench, allowing for flexibility in seating arrangements, while the adjacent sofa can be pushed aside to make space for guests. "The furniture is all lightweight so it can be moved around," says Ng. Though the flat had two bedrooms, one is significantly smaller than the other, so Ng converted it into a walk-in wardrobe and vanity room. "They needed a lot of flexible storage so we gave them an entire storage room," he says. Ng removed the room's door and surrounding wall and replaced them with a discreet wooden cabinet for toiletries and clothes; when the cabinet's doors are closed it looks like a feature wall. On the ceiling above the cabinet Ng installed a series of wooden poles that look decorative but can be used as a drying rack for laundry. "We wanted to design a clothes hanger that didn't look like a clothes hanger," says Ng. The living-room storage unit and walk-in wardrobe allowed Ng to keep the master bedroom clutter-free, with a queen-sized bed taking pride of place. Behind it is custom-made wallpaper created from a photo of the couple taken at a local beach. "The name of the estate [the apartment is in] is The Long Beach, so we thought this was a good fit," says Ng. The picture is subtle; the couple are seen holding hands but most of the frame is occupied by the beach and shoreline. "People don't immediately recognise them," says Ng. In the bathroom, a photo of the couple's late Chow Chow dog, in a pointillist style, has been printed onto the shower curtain. The rest of the bathroom, and the kitchen, were left unchanged. Furthermore, the apartment's structure didn't allow room for expansion, and Ng felt it wouldn't be environmentally friendly or cost appropriate to strip out and replace anything significant. "We wanted to focus the budget on the living room," he says. So instead of making structural changes, Ng lifted the apartment by changing its colour palette. The original unit, which was constructed in 2009, featured overbearing cherry-wood doors. Ng replaced them with grey timber doors and installed grey panels above to make them appear taller. A greyish vinyl wood veneer was applied to the existing wooden floor, to reflect the doors' neutral tone. With the new colour scheme, tucked-away cabinetry and spare furniture, the apartment feels airier, but none of its cosy charm has been sacrificed. Living room LAAB (PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, tel: 2858 8687) built the long and low cabinet system for HK$12,000. The aniline leather Comely Hippo sofa was HK$11,000 at Emoh Design (11/F, Sui On Industrial Building, 134 Wai Yip Street, Kwun Tong, tel: 3621 0751). The programmable Philips Hue LED light bulbs were purchased at the Apple Store (various locations; www.apple.com/hk ) for HK$600 each. The bench cost HK$3,700 at Come In’ (7/F, Cheung Hing Industrial Building, 23 Tai Yip Street, Ngau Tau Kok, tel: 3107 8802). Walk-in wardrobe The small second room has been turned into a walk-in wardrobe and vanity area. LAAB made the bay window table and storage unit for HK$6,500. The mirror was bought at Muji (various locations; muji.com.hk ) for HK$200. The chair was bought years ago. Entrance hall The cupboards were built by LAAB for HK$20,000. The door in the middle of the cabinet leads to the walk-in wardrobe and vanity room. The LAAB also made the solid-wood ceiling rods (HK$4,500), which can be used as a drying rack for laundry. The stylish Legrand light switch panels cost from HK$100 to HK$200 each at PLC (210 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2519 6275). Kitchen The kitchen was left untouched. The De Dietrich appliances came with the apartment. Dining area LAAB made the tall cabinet and shelving system for HK$13,000. The Octo birch pendant lamp cost HK$8,000 at online retailer Finnish Design Shop ( finnishdesignshop.com ). The glass-topped Forte dining table (HK$6,700) was from Come In’. The Orga dining chairs cost HK$1,800 each at FrancFranc (various locations; www.francfranc.com.hk ). Bedroom The Foscarini Aplomb suspension light cost HK$3,300 from online shop Nest ( nest.co.uk ). The bed, which contains a hydraulic storage system, was custom made by LAAB for HK$15,000. LAAB also printed the beachscene wallpaper (HK$5,000). Behind bars Hong Kong's concrete walls are notoriously tough places on which to hang anything. When a couple of newlyweds asked Otto Ng Chun-lun, of architecture firm LAAB, to find a way for them to display their many photos, he and his team constructed a pair of shelves linked by multicoloured nylon bands, into which photos and other objects can be inserted. The picture-hanging system was designed and built by LAAB for HK$18,000.