For a small dog, Sam Bat (Cantonese for “38”) has a big presence. The sole pet of Maggie Chu Ching-man and her partner, Vodka Li Hoi-yan, the twinkle-toed Pomeranian is treated like a little emperor around whom the world revolves. This is why the 270 sq ft apartment in Hong Kong he shares with his mistresses has been designed with an impressive array of creature comforts – both his and theirs.
Designed for one-room living, the flat in the New Territories new town of Ma On Shan was, perhaps incredibly, a two-bedroom home when Chu and Li bought it three years ago to claim a rung on the property ladder. Having viewed 20 other apartments, they opted for this one largely because of its view –across Sha Tin’s Shing Mun River to green peaks – but also because it offered the right kind of environment for their dog.
“It’s good for him to walk around here,” says Chu, revealing how a stress-related problem he developed in their previous home vanished soon after the three made the move from Kowloon to the New Territories.
To ensure the flat would be comfortable for all, Chu enlisted the help of Zip Interiors, after being introduced to the design director, Chris Lam Chik-fung, by a mutual friend.
“We wanted a studio flat and a simple design,” says Chu, a buyer for a chain retailer. They also wanted plenty of storage, plus a bigger bathroom and kitchen than were in the original apartment. Another must-have was space for canine “activity”.
In a 30-year-old building of small flats made even pokier by bay windows, those requirements gave Lam few options but to remove all existing internal walls and swap around the kitchen and bathroom so the hub for work and meals segues into the zone for sleeping and lounging. Geometric elements on a feature wall and the kitchen island “energise” the flat, Lam says, and the monochromatic palette sharpens the look.
To introduce a sense of separation into the open-plan layout, Lam raised the bedroom area on a wooden platform, which he aligned with a window bay to make use of otherwise wasted space. A double mattress and Sam Bat’s cushion (“He likes to lie in the sun in the morning and enjoy the view,” Chu says) take up much of the space, although there’s room for another mattress should guests sleep over.
While two steps to the top of the platform would have provided comfortable access for most people, Lam designed an additional step so the dog could run up and down on his own. Each step also accommodates a drawer and, naturally, Sam Bat (whose name is the last two digits of Li’s ID number) has his own, for clothes.
Facing the bed is a capacious wardrobe designed with a sliding door wide enough to do double duty as a screen for movies and video games. The cupboard is so spacious, Chu says, that they were able to buy a couple of suitcases, where they had none before.
The pièce de résistance, however, is the bathroom, which Chu loves not only for its brutalist concrete surfaces but also for its spaciousness: a bay window now forms a deep shelf in the roomy shower, and the sink bench is generously proportioned. The old set-up was so constrained, she says, “I could rest my head on the wall when on the toilet.”
Now, there’s no such restriction. Despite its pint-sized footprint, the apartment has room where it matters. That sense of space extends to the kitchen, which accommodates a full-sized fridge (one used to live outside the kitchen), an oven and a sink large enough to fit a wok.
“I love it,” Chu says. “It’s bigger than the sinks in other flats.”
Her enthusiasm wanes slightly, however, when asked what she’d want if she had a bigger home.
“A sofa!” she says without hesitation.
That piece of furniture may not be too distant a dream, unfortunately, and for confounding reasons. Aren’t they going to stay for as long as Sam Bat is happy, I ask.
Chu clicks her tongue in exasperation and says: “This building doesn’t allow dogs.”
Zip Interiors designed and made the sliding wardrobe door (HK$7,800) wide enough to double as a screen for movies. Behind the door are simple Algot storage units from Ikea. The plywood tray on the kitchen counter cost HK$400 and was made by Zip Interiors. On it is a glass pyramid display (about HK$150) sourced through Taobao.
Chris Lam, of Zip Interiors, turned a bay window into a banquette (HK$3,800), which his clients accessorised with cushions (HK$400 each) from chocoolate.hk. The Starfish bar stools (HK$1,280 each) came from Unica Interior. The tap (HK$7,080) was from Luen Hing Hong Building Materials.
Above and below: the pendant lamps (HK$1,040 each) in the bathroom came from Stockroom. The rain-shower head (HK$6,300), hand shower (HK$2,800), basin (HK$5,800), tap (HK$1,400) and toilet (HK$12,430) all came from Luen Hing Hong.
Geometric patterns sharpen the look of this studio apartment, which features a marble kitchen island (HK$42,000) and white kitchen cabinetry (HK$52,000). The joinery was designed and made by Zip Interiors, which also designed the bedhead wall (HK$15,000) and plywood sleeping platform (HK$46,000).
The bedroom platform has ample space for a double mattress and a single at its foot. The bedside lamp (HK$1,399) came from Home Essentials. The black-and-white rug was HK$299 from Ikea.
Tried and tested
Secret passage Toilet runs for Sam Bat the dog are a simple matter of ducking under the kitchen island and through a short “tunnel” into the bathroom. Because the door to the bathroom is mostly closed, the private corridor allows him to enter unaided, day and night.