When Sabine and William Edwards moved from Britain to Hong Kong 10 years ago, they visited Prince’s Terrace, in Mid-Levels, and found themselves charmed by its leafy, car-free atmosphere. Its upmarket prices were less friendly, though, so they bought a more affordable place in Sai Ying Pun. When prices in that neighbourhood began to soar, however, they cashed in and found a place on the street that had first captured their hearts.

Their luck didn’t end there. Four years after moving in, when the couple were preparing to welcome their first child, the apartment below went on the market, opening up the possibility of a duplex.

Hong Kong duplex with Japanese elements makes owner feel at home

“We wanted it to be designer-y but not sterile,” says Sabine, who works for an events company.

“Neither of us is into the minimalist aesthetic,” adds William, a marketing executive. “So many places look the same these days and we tried to avoid that.”

Designer Cindy Chan Sin-yu, of Pure AW's (www.pure-aws.com), helped the couple combine the two 695-sq-ft flats into a three-bedroom, 1,390-sq-ft home with plenty of room for their daughter, now two years old.

“I designed around storage space,” says Chan, only half joking.

Two flats in Kowloon Tong turned into a modern duplex for a family of four

The Edwards are frequent travellers and have picked up plenty of furniture, artworks and knick-knacks from around the world, which they display through­out their home.

For the living room, Chan designed a system of wall-mounted shelves and cabinets accessible from both the living room and the adjacent study.

Like many old Hong Kong apartments, the top flat had a small, closed-off kitchen. The renovation opened it up and expanded it to nearly 25 per cent of the upstairs space, with room for a generous kitchen island.

“Both of us cook,” says William. “We spend half our time eating.”

We wanted it to be designer-y but not sterile
Sabine Edwards

Thanks to the redesign, it’s possible to prepare meals while chatting with people in the living area.

“When people come here, it’s actually odd to sit on the sofa. People gather in the kitchen, around the island,” says Sabine.

The downstairs flat was reconfigured to accommodate two spacious bedrooms – the largest of which belongs to the Edwards’ daughter – and a guest bedroom with extra storage hidden in a false ceiling. Redrawing the apartment’s layout was relatively easy as the building had few structural pillars or internal load-bearing walls. “That was one of the reasons we bought here,” says William.

A modern, family-oriented duplex in Hong Kong

Finding a way to link the two apartments was trickier. Hong Kong’s building code doesn’t offer much flexibility when it comes to installing an internal staircase but, thanks to advice from Sabine’s uncle, a retired architect, they found a solution she describes as “both practical and aesthetic”.

A staircase was carved out of a corner of the upper floor’s former master bedroom and the rest of the space was converted into a study, which is separated from the living room by a sliding door. In the evening, the Edwards keep the door closed to give privacy to their helper, whose bedroom is attached to the study. Sensor-triggered LEDs are built into the staircase so there is no fumbling for light switches when the couple head down­stairs to bed.

Hong Kong aviator goes the DIY route to turn Discovery Bay duplex into dream home

The Edwards may not be fans of minimalism, but they wanted the apartment’s colours and materials to provide a neutral backdrop for their possessions, so they asked Chan to keep things simple. Grey and white are the dominant hues, with a few subtle highlights, such as a thinly whitewashed brick wall that allows some red to show through. Dark, triple-thick silestone countertops provide contrast.

The neutral backdrop gives the couple a chance to shape their space around the artworks and travel souvenirs they love most, such as paintings given to them by artist friends or cushions made from fabric the Edwards bought in Cambodia.

“We wanted all of that out in the open,” says Sabine. “It’s all these things that make it complete.”

Living room Both sofas were purchased from a friend. The Edwards made the sofa cushions themselves with fabric bought overseas. The Union flag ottoman and coffee table were bought years ago while the silver tea set was purchased in a souk in Tunis for about HK$900. The console (HK$5,000) was from Red Cabinet, as was the altar table (HK$2,500) by the window. The ceiling fan (HK$3,000) was from Life’s a Breeze. The television console, from Homeless, was purchased years ago, as were other items, including the speakers, from Wharfedale, the bauble lamp, from the now-closed Tang Tang Tang Tang, and the 1920s-era birdcage, which came from The Birdcage. The art on the wall is, from left, by Tony Soulié; Jacques Bosser; Zhou Hao (top) and Miguel Buades.

Living room detail The armchair (HK$3,950) came from Marc James. The Union flag dog was a gift from William’s parents. The round side table was bought years ago from a shop that has since closed. The pendant lamp in front of the black door and the floor lamp in the corner of the room were also bought years ago.

Study The rug (HK$1,025) was from Lane Crawford. The desk (HK$3,500) came from Red Cabinet and the chair (HK$3,950) was from Marc James. The light fixture (HK$1,900) above the stairs was from Eravolution. Both artworks were gifts; the painting on the left was from artist Robert Monier.

Master bedroom The bed (HK$8,500), which has hydraulic storage, was custom made by Caz. The nightstands were custom made in Macau for HK$2,000 each. The lamps (HK$1,800 each) were from BHV Paris. Fuurn custom built the dresser for HK$7,780. The Hunter Pacific ceiling fan (HK$2,490) was from Life’s a Breeze. The artwork was a gift from artist Bernard Quentin. The piano bench (HK$500) was found in Select 18 (18 Bridges Street, Central, tel: 2858 8803) and restored and re-upholstered by the Edwards for an additional HK$1,800.

Daughter’s room The storage unit (HK$749) was from Ikea. The table (HK$300), from Fuurn, was hand-sawn and lowered by the Edwards. The tepee (HK$1,960) was from Petit Bazaar. The whale poster was a gift; the fish is by an artist in St Tropez; and the black-framed print with a Roald Dahl quote is a limited-edition illustration by artist Quentin Blake.

Bathroom The tub cost HK$2,000 from Walrus. The basin (HK$4,000) was from Classic Bathroom Accessories (249 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2802 0382), which also supplied the shower, towel rack and mixers. The floor tiles were from J Power.

Tried + tested

Stacked up The Edwards wanted to showcase their crockery, so they converted a Marc James bookcase they had purchased years earlier into a display shelf. The extendable volcanic stone dining table (HK$10,000) was from Aluminium. The gongs hanging on the wall were from Laos. The cabinets, countertops and kitchen island were built by Kuchen. The light fixtures were bought years ago.