Hong Kong interior design
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Photography: John Butlin. Styling: David Roden

How designer turned Indian artist’s Hong Kong flat into a home away from home

A designer has transformed Mumbai artist Veena Mohan’s Tai Tam flat from blank canvas to welcoming haven

Relocations from one country to another are usually accompanied by containers of possessions. Not so for Veena Mohan. Drawn to Hong Kong to be with family, the artist and grandmother of eight arrived in October with a single suitcase.

“I have a house in Mumbai but I didn’t want to disturb or empty it by bring­ing furniture here with me,” she says. “It was also a good opportunity to start afresh and buy everything new so it would all fit in the apartment and go together.

“I wanted to stamp my own personality on my new home but it would have been quite a challenge to do it by myself as I wouldn’t have known where to go for furniture.”

She enlisted the help of interior designer Amrita Khanna, of Zip Code 888, who has lived in Hong Kong for 12 years. Not only was Khanna responsible for buying the furniture; she found her client a flat as well.

Being a rental apartment, the 1,200-sq-ft, two-bedroom, two-bathroom property in Tai Tam came with limits on what could be done in a revamp. But even though the walls, most of the lighting and the kitchen and bathrooms couldn’t be changed, Khanna had an empty shell to work with and could start from scratch with the furnishings.

“Most people have furniture and art that I need to fit in and work around but this apartment was a blank canvas,” she says. “That meant I could take Veena’s vision and style and create it to the max. Most of it was done remotely and we worked together via e-mail. However, filling the home was also a bit of a challenge because it had absolutely nothing in it. I had to remember to buy even the smallest things, such as a soap dispenser and wastepaper bin.”

Mohan doesn’t like clutter so Khanna’s brief was to keep the apartment clean, neutral and fairly minimal, with a touch of glamour. The incoming resident wanted it to reflect her personal style but also to feel comfy and welcoming, calm and harmonious.


Khanna opted for a palette of grey, charcoal and black, with a few pieces in natural wood to lend warmth. She used colour accents in the form of cushions and throws while one central piece of abstract art in the living room cleverly ties the colour scheme together. Khanna also added touches of gold and yellow to lift the look and give the requisite understated glamour.

Although the apartment came with a fresh coat of white, Khanna painted the wall dividing the kitchen from the dining area a sleek and chic black. This feature wall has not only become a focal point, defining an otherwise long and overly white space, but makes a big difference to the character of the flat. Furthermore, it will be relatively quick and easy to paint back to its original colour should the landlord demand this when Mohan moves on.

As Mohan was on a budget, she decided to invest in key pieces and spend less on decorative elements. The sofa bed in the guest-room-cum-den is a case in point. Since Mohan expects family members to visit regularly, she was happy to pay for a model with a decent mattress. Khanna chose smaller pieces of furniture for the den so Mohan didn’t have trouble moving them out of the way in order to pull out the sofa bed.

Mohan wanted the room to be flexible, so she could use it when it was not occupied. That’s where the den idea came in. Rather than sitting by herself in the living area, Mohan can retreat to her den to read or watch television. Black sheer curtains com­plement the contemporary furniture, giving the room an edge and hiding a view of other residential blocks.

Thanks to Mohan’s quick decision-making, the apartment took about six weeks to design and furnish. Having lived there now for just over one month, she says she is more than happy with the result.


“At the start, I wasn’t sure how it would work out,” Mohan says. “But Amrita got my personality and ideas so well. It feels like home – not at all like a newly rented apart­ment – and when anyone walks in, they instantly get good vibes.”

Living room The abstract painting was from BoConcept and the grey suede sofa (HK$33,000) and rug (HK$13,100) were from Natuzzi. The butterfly cushion was about HK$500 from Tequila Kola. The coffee table (about HK$5,000) and Zeal day bed (HK$7,980) were from Ovo. The Pungi table lamp (HK$2,490) and Miller bookshelf (HK$7,490) were from Indigo Living. The Blu Dot Turn side table (HK$3,150-HK$7,150) was from Archetypal and the Ayush Kasliwal small side table was HK$2,346 from Manks. The black chair was HK$12,000 from Establo Lifestyle and the Hai ottoman was HK$4,898 from Spacio.
Dining room The Dust pendant lamps were HK$1,400 each from Ovo, and the tulip-style oval dining table (HK$7,980) and chairs (HK$1,480 each) were from Decor8. The hexagonal tray and vase were HK$420 each from Establo Lifestyle. The flower arrangements throughout the apartment cost HK$1,500 in total from AC Flower Gallery.
Den/guest room The black sheer curtains were HK$8,500 from James Curtain (40A Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2577 1649). The sofa bed (HK$29,300), side table (HK$3,410), coffee table (HK$3,570) and anthracite wool rug (HK$5,340) were all from Natuzzi. The Grasshopper floor lamp (HK$8,000) and geometric cushion (HK$540) were from Establo Lifestyle. The pouffe was HK$1,200 from Ovo Studio.
Bedroom detail The Shika desk was HK$11,010 from Archetypal and the Lukki 5 chair was HK$2,600 from Establo Lifestyle. The framed drawings above the desk are by Veena Mohan (for inquiries, email: [email protected]).
Bathroom Little was done to the bathroom aside from the addition of a bath mat (HK$486) from John Lewis.

Tried + Tested

Black magic The black cords of the twin pendant lamps in the dining area
looked ugly against a white wall so Amrita Khanna, of Zip Code 888 ( [email protected]), painted it a statement-making black. The cords blend into the black background; they can still be seen but aren’t glaringly obvious.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Ho m e aw a y fr o m h o m e