Little did Deborah Guttieres know when she signed up for an interior-design course last year that she would be able to put her new skills to the test so soon. Within a few months of starting at the Hong Kong Design Institute, she moved with her financier husband from their sprawling 3,000-sq-ft Repulse Bay flat to a new home on Bowen Road.
“We are renting, so there’s only so much we can do to the place. It was the view that won us over,” says Guttieres, who has lived in Hong Kong for about five years since leaving France.
Floor-to-ceiling windows wrap around the dining and living rooms, affording knock-out views of the harbour and across to Kowloon. But because the two-bedroom flat, at 1,800 square feet, is significantly smaller than their previous home, they had to sell some furniture and put other pieces in storage. Some tough decisions had to be made – such as leaving out her husband’s piano – but Guttieres was keen to keep the apartment uncluttered.
“I like the minimalist look. In Hong Kong, there is so little space for living and by not crowding it with things it feels bigger,” she says.
In keeping with the aesthetic, she opted for creamy white walls accented with bold hues, particularly red. The only big changes the couple made to the flat were to add a large shoe cupboard beside the front door and additional wardrobes to the bedroom.
Guttieres, a jewellery designer, has been dabbling in interior design for the past few years. Her colour palettes often begin with a painting. In her home, the bright hues of 3D pop artist Charles Fazzino are picked up in multicoloured B&B Italia cushions in the living room.
You can’t miss the 143-cm-tall leather giraffe in the living room either. Although Guttieres bought the animal for the soon-to-be nursery upon learning she was pregnant, it works so well in the living room that her baby may end up with another one when the guest room is converted.
“I like the idea of having the nursery reflect elements from the adult living space,” she says.
Guttieres has ordered works by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami and plans to put them up in both the nursery and the living room.
There will also be a child-sized version of Eero Saarinen’s red Womb chair, which enjoys pride of place in the living room. Although the piece retains its original upholstery, the couple’s other furniture has been re-covered to complement the new setting. Previously dark grey, the sofa is now creamy white, the same material used for the bed and chair in the bedroom.
“It’s worth investing in high-quality furniture that you can keep forever. If you want a change you can change the covers, but buying quality means only having to buy once,” she says.
But Guttieres is no snob. In the bedroom there are two small Ikea shelves, and the bedside lights are from Zara Home.
“I love to match low brands and high brands,” she says.
She fills her rooms with flowers, just as her mother did in their family home in Paris. Guttieres visits the Flower Market in Prince Edward every week to ensure there are blooms all over the flat. And although there is no vegetable patch, as her family home used to have, she keeps a well-stocked herb garden in the kitchen.
“I think of flowers as part of the design of a home,” she says. “Even dogs, they are part of the design, too.”
Her two Pomeranians know full well they are integral to the flat’s look and embrace their role. Without prompting from the photographer, they sit, paws crossed and head cocked to one side. They help make the picture perfect.
Living room The Deco Sofa, which has been re-upholstered, was from Autoban. The coffee table, rug, lamp and Maxalto Fat Sofa daybed were from B&B Italia. The Saarinen Womb chair was from Knoll (knoll.com) and the Zuny giraffe (HK$5,000) came from Lane Crawford. The ceiling light came from Studio Italia Design.
Living room detail The mirror above the fireplace was left by the previous tenant. The candles came from Zara Home, the vase from Lane Crawford and the ornamental birds from Tree. The limited-edition Karl Lagerfeld work is by holographer Rob Munday.
Dining room The Saarinen dining table and Tulip dining chairs came from Knoll. The Enea sideboard was from Bontempi (arredatutto.com) and the lamps were from B&B Italia. The photograph, Bellhop, is by Boo Ritson.
Kitchen The Moroccan-style bowls (HK$2,500 for eight) came from a Conrad hotel Christmas fair.
Bedroom The Maxalto bed was from B&B Italia. Flanking it are small white shelves (HK$59.90 each) from Ikea. The lamps (HK$500 each) were from Zara Home and the Cecil Beaton triptych prints from Lumas.
Bedroom detail The Maxalto Febo slipper chair came from B&B Italia. Deborah Guttieres designed the wardrobes and had them custom made.
TRIED + TESTED
Grab and go Deborah Guttieres ([email protected]) is a fan of accessories as a way of transforming an outfit, and her handbags are a key part of her look. She designed a cabinet for her collection of bags on the side of the wardrobe in her bedroom so she could quickly pick one to match an outfit, check it in the full-length mirror and head out the door. The shelving was made for HK$9,000.