Downsizing doesn’t have to mean a change of style. When Jeff and Debbie Blount relocated from their 4,200 sq ft family home in Tai Tam to a four-bedroom, 1,500 square-foot apartment in Ap Lei Chau, the couple simply adapted their colourful and eclectic style to suit the smaller setting.
The decision to downsize a year ago was led by two major lifestyle changes: the couple’s two daughters had left home to attend university and Jeff had a change of career, from practising law to running a property company investing in Myanmar.
Their must-have checklist was simple: the new home needed to have a sea view and be within walking distance of Jeff ‘s new office, in Wong Chuk Hang.
“The apartment has a wonderful view, so even though the balcony is relatively small, it still feels light and airy,” says Debbie, who added comfortable wicker chairs and a collection of blue-and-white plant pots.
The couple travel extensively, but even though it’s an empty nest Debbie wanted the apartment to retain a strong sense of home. She decided to decorate using furnishings and artefacts repurposed from their previous home – including items from her blue-andwhite porcelain collection, mementos from family travels and contemporary paintings by their favourite artists – combined with new furniture selected to fit into the space.
The downside of downsizing – deciding which items to ditch – was avoided by shipping their remaining possessions to their holiday home in the United States.
New furnishings in the Hong Kong home include a pair of bright emerald green sofas from Ikea, to which Debbie added a pair of intricately woven cushions to add a touch of luxury and extra comfort.
“I am not a minimalist!” she laughs. “When I go into a beige home or hotel room, I think it is pretty but I like to live with colour.”
The couple, who met in their hometown of Alexandra, in Virginia, have lived in Hong Kong for 21 years and have accumulated many treasures during their time in Asia.
Deciding what to keep for the apartment was the main challenge but, Debbie says, being disciplined about what would work in the smaller space helped.
“It required thinking about things in a different way,” she says. For instance, a pair of antique Chinese side tables now act as a coffee table, an antique cabinet’s interior has been cleverly adjusted to store shoes while another hides a cocktail cabinet.
Of course, the girls’ approval for the move was vital. “We love Hong Kong and so do the children, so they return home regularly for their breaks,” Debbie says. “We think ‘third-culture kids’ need roots somewhere, so it was important that they liked the apartment and felt at home, too.”
Happily, here small doesn’t mean diminished, as Debbie’s exceptional attention to detail and love of colour means the home is full of treasuredmemories, from rugs found in Morocco to ornaments, paintings and collage works from around the world.
A guest room now accommodates a four-poster bed while a television room accessed off the same corridor has been transformed into highly flexible space with a day bed for extra guests.
The biggest challenge? Books.
“We love books; it was very hard to downsize those,” she says.
“Downsizing can be disruptive, as you move away from familiar surroundings, but the payoff is a new lifestyle with more freedom.
“Moving from a house to a high-rise apartment is a big change, but we can now very easily just lock up and travel, while having a friendly new space to call home in Hong Kong.”
Styling: David Roden
Living area The matching green sofas (HK$12,000 each) were from Ikea while the cushions (HK$2,800 each), tall shelving unit (HK$6,000) and side table (HK$5,000) came from Altfield Interiors (11/F, 9 Queen’s Road Central, tel: 2524 4867). The coffee tables (HK$9,000 for the pair) were purchased from The Birdcage (16/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2580 5822). The blueand- white ceramics, lamps and blackand- white rug are all from the couple’s previous home. The matching armchairs were bought years ago. The fuchsia woven cushions (HK$500 each) on the armchairs were from Inside (Prince’s Building, Central, tel: 2537 6298). The painting of the Star Ferry Celestial Star was bought directly from the artist, New York-based Andrew Chan (www.andrewchanart.com). On the same wall are two paintings by the couple’s daughters while the painting opposite, The Musicians, by Vietnamese artist Nguyen Dinh Dung, came from Apricot Gallery, in Hanoi (40B Hang Bong, Hoan Kiem District, Vietnam, tel: +844 3828 8965). Next to it is a work by Hong Kong artist Maria Lobo (www.marialobo.com). The black and white curtains (HK$2,300) were ordered online from Overstock.com.
Dining area The dining table (HK$13,000) was from Tree (28/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2870 1582) while the cream leather dining chairs (HK$1,500 each) were from Ikea. Debbie Blount added a hand-tufted Beni Ourain rug acquired on a recent trip to Morocco. The collection of Chinoiserie tableware was from One Kings Lane (www.onekingslane.com). The console table was bought years ago from Inside while the blue bookshelves (HK$15,000) were custom made by Artura Ficus (15/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 3105 3903) to accommodate the couple’s collection of traditional Chinese children’s hats displayed in custom-designed Perspex boxes (about HK$1,000 each) from Zetter (40 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2542 4269). The twin pagodas, part of the “Home, James – Chinatown” collection, were from One Kings Lane. The painting, by Vietnamese artist Do Son, was bought years ago in Hanoi. The blueand- white bowls, plates and jars atop the bookshelf are part of a collection of Iznik and other ceramics from a previous home and were acquired during various trips to Turkey.
Balcony The wicker outdoor chair and cushion were purchased as a set (HK$3,000) from Patio Mart (16/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2555 8988) while the floral cushion (HK$300) was from World Market (www.worldmarket.com). The side table cost HK$900 from Home Essentials (33 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2870 1400). The trio of Perspex side tables (HK$1,700) came from One Kings Lane.
Den The day bed was bought years ago. The black shelving unit (about HK$15,000) was custom designed for the Blounts’ previous home and made by Joineur Family Store (43 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2866 6733). Blount added Jardin Chinois wallpaper from Waterhouse Wallhangings (www.waterhousewallhangings.com) and a Chinese trunk as a side table (HK$3,000) from Bowerbird (2 Lee Lok Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2552 2727). The lamp (HK$3,400 for a pair) was from One Kings Lane while the decorative items on the shelves are mementos collected over the years. The cushions came from the couple’s previous home.
Master bedroom The bed and headboard (HK$18,740) were made by GQ Interiors (2/F, Oceanic Industrial Building, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2501 0905). The lamp (HK$2,090) was from Inside and the bamboo side table (HK$5,000) from Altfield Interiors. The Paris cityscape painting is by British artist Barbara Macfarlane, who is represented by The Rebecca Hossack Gallery (www.rebeccahossack.com), in London. The Aboriginal painting, by Mickey Jampijinpa Singleton, of Warlukurlangu Artists of Yuendumu (www.warlu.com), was bought at a charity auction. The floral painting is by American artist Susan Brown.
Guest bedroom The four-poster bed cost HK$15,000 from Inside while the world map print was found through Etsy (www.etsy.com). The collage is by American artist Pamella Bounds-Seemans. The lamp and side table were bought years ago. The vibrant green paint, called Sweet Leaf, was from Yuen Fat Ho Paint Shop (77 Hollywood Road, tel: 2546 8020).
Bathroom The print is by Hong Kong-based artist Louise Hill and was bought at Mirth (Yip Kan Street, Wong Chuk Hang, tel: 2553 9811). The ceramic tray (HK$400) was from Inside. The monogrammed towels (from about HK$130 for a hand towel) come from Neiman Marcus (www.neimanmarcus.com) while the shower curtain seen reflected in the mirror is Designer’s Guild (www.designersguild.com) fabric, made to order by Choi Designs (4/F, 43 Queen’s Road East, tel: 2866 6816).
TRIED + TESTED
Low key Debbie Blount added a whimsical touch to each room with a colour co-ordinated tassel that also helps identify the apartment's keys. Here, the master bedroom door is adorned with a beaten silver and blue silk tassel (about HK$200) picked up in Marrakech, Morocco.