For an interior designer, there can be no greater vindication of one’s work than to have repeat custom. Keith Chan Shing-hin, who created Silas Leung and Taz Tong’s first home (Fit to be tried) six years ago, felt just that when the couple got back in touch with him last March to have him design their second place. For their new, larger apartment, however, he would have to accommodate not just them but also their children, Trevor and Travis.
While Chan had to win the couple’s trust the first time around, for their second project – a 1,075 sq ft flat, again at The Harbourside, in Kowloon – both sides could be more relaxed.
“I knew what they liked, and they knew how I worked, so the design period was much shorter than last time,” says Chan, founder of interior design firm Hintegro.
There were changes to their modus operandi, however. Parents to two young boys – one now four, the other almost two – the couple had familial responsibilities this time around and were sometimes too exhausted to think about their new home or answer their designer’s questions.
Both avid collectors and brand-conscious consumers, the couple share a love of works by Japanese pop artist Yoshitomo Nara and America’s Kaws (whose signature in his art and toys consists of two crosses for eyes). Their treasures, which filled two small display cabinets in their first flat, are now housed in one large unit in the living room.
“Our family grew and our display cabinet grew,” says Tong, who, as well as being a full-time mother, took charge of the four-month project.
Referencing the first flat just a few blocks away, concrete-look Tadao Ando-esque feature walls were reproduced in the new living area and main bedroom. In addition, acres of cupboards were built to stash the couple’s belongings (Roger Vivier shoes, vintage Rolex watches and the like). And three bedrooms became two because Tong and Leung wanted their sons to bond by sharing a room.
Care was taken to child-proof potentially dangerous spots, including the corners of cabinets (see Tried + tested). And capacious drawers were built, with voids instead of handles, so toys could be accessed and put away easily. More difficult was choosing palettes of colours suitable for children but also pleasing to adults.
“We couldn’t accept Thomas the Tank Engine in their room,” says Tong, who with Chan, played with colours from a Pantone chart to come up with the grey-toned blue, green and yellow scheme for the cupboards.
Black was added as a fourth panel to make the combination appealing even for teenagers.
“They had difficulty imagining the future,” says Chan, “so I interviewed them and planned five, 10 years ahead.”
Thus a low desk can easily be replaced with something higher when the boys are bigger and a wall has been left bare to accommodate a whiteboard.
The Pantone chart came out again to help decide the colour of the individual sofa sections and the mirror cabinets in the children’s bathroom. In the couple’s bedroom, however, hues are much more muted: smoked oak flooring, used throughout much of the flat, continues up the wall to provide a bedhead, which complements the faux concrete wall.
Touchingly, to personalise the couple’s wardrobes, Chan designed handles in the shape of “T” and “S”, for Taz and Silas.
“You noticed that?” Tong says, smiling. “We thought it would be only us who would see that.”
Also not hard to spot is that the couple continue to enjoy their brands: they bathe with Philippe Starck hardware, eat on a Fritz Hansen table, place their feet on a Paul Smith rug and illuminate the living area with an Artemide lamp, which also casts light onto the collectors’ items displayed like museum pieces in the glass cabinet.
Are Trevor and Travis allowed to play with the cute toys on the shelves?
“Not yet,” says Tong, pausing.
“Never,” she laughs.
Living room Silas Leung and Taz Tong wanted to bring the memory of their previous flat into their new home so had designer Keith Chan, of Hintegro (20/F, Block B, New Trade Plaza, 6 On Ping Street, Sha Tin, tel: 3689 4604), recreate the faux concrete wall (HK$800 per square metre) with plywood and plaster. “This time we used a matt lacquer finish,” says Chan, explaining that in its original incarnation, the surface was too chalky. The sofa (HK$42,500) came from Ligne Roset (77 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2778 8748). The triptych, Running Chum, by Kaws, was bought in Japan years ago.
Living room detail The display cabinet (with black unit and white drawers beneath) cost HK$90,000 and was designed and built by Hintegro. On the shelves are works by Kaws and Yoshitomo Nara, bought on eBay, from galleries and at auction. The wooden Cucu clock (HK$4,000) came from Page One (Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2730 6080).
Dining area The Fritz Hansen Analog table (HK$17,750) came from Colourliving (333 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2295 6263). The skateboard-shaped works are by Kaws and Nara. The Philippe Starck-designed Master chairs (HK$2,140 each) came from Kartell (32 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2802 3068). The In-es.artdesign pendant lamp (HK$6,320) was from Archetypal (15 Moon Street, Wan Chai, tel: 2320 0580). Discreet cabinets line the wall behind the dining table.
Kitchen Koda Kitchen (1/F, Keen Hung Commercial Building, 80 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2899 2878) built the kitchen cabinets (with Technistone countertops) for HK$170,000. Three tones of 30cm by 120cm grey floor tiles (HK$400 each) were used, all of them from Anta Building Material Supplier (311A Lockhart Road, tel: 2180 6950).
Kids’ bathroom The children’s bathroom features fun mirrored cabinets (HK$10,000) designed and built by Hintegro. The Hansgrohe tap (HK$5,990) came from Galaxy Bathroom Collection (277 Lockhart Road, tel: 2802 3008). The towel rails (HK$1,200 each) in the reflection were from Sky One Decorator (6/F, Liberal Factory Building, 3 Wing Ming Street, Cheung Sha Wan, tel: 3591 3021).
Kids’ room The wardrobe and toy cabinet beneath (HK$65,000 in total) and the blue bookshelves (one of a pair, which cost a total of HK$18,000) were all designed and built by Hintegro. The grey chair (€120 /HK$1,040) and animal hooks (€20 each) on the door were bought online from www.smallable.com. The Jung green lightswitch panel (HK$840) came from Zodiac Lighting (32 Morrison Hill Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2832 9987). The oval Sleepi crib, from Stokke, was purchased at Mothercare (Ocean Terminal, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2735 5738) for HK$12,380.
Main bedroom The wardrobe (HK$42,000) and T and S handles (HK$100 each) were designed and built by Hintegro, as were the bed and headboard panel (HK$28,000 in total). Smoked oak, used on the floor and for the bedhead, cost HK$1,175 per square metre from Equal (22/F, 111 Leighton Road, tel: 2881 7066). The black switches on round panels were HK$1,030 each from Equal Plus (22/F, 111 Leighton Road, tel: 2881 7066).
TRIED + TESTED
Taking the edge off Designing for a style-conscious couple with two young children meant having to think hard about how to handle potentially dangerous cabinet corners. Instead of suggesting rounded edges, which would have made the cabinet look as though it belonged in a kindergarten, interior designer Keith Chan, of Hintegro, came up with something in keeping with his clients' tastes. "I made the edge triangular because it's more architectural looking," he says. "And it allowed me to add a fun accent colour to the cabinet." Artificial stone was used for the top of the unit and the surface is oak veneer.