Like the yachts berthed outside, this 2,000 sq ft, four-bedroom Sai Kung town house is bright, fresh and streamlined. Part of the Marina Cove development, the accommodation in the split-level house is arranged over six half-floors, which had barely been touched since it was built in the 1980s.
“It was very run-down,” says designer Clifton Leung Hin-che, who was charged with transforming the dated interior into a contemporary family home for Benny Liu, a medical doctor, his wife, Winnie, their daughters, 11-year-old Sarah and eight-year-old Hannah, and their pet turtle. The process, which began in mid-2017, took a year, during which the layout was changed, rooms reassigned and considered alterations made – a skylight here, a set of bifold doors there and walk-in wardrobes everywhere.
It is the second renovation Leung has undertaken for the family.
“Their last home, in the city, had more wood and Scandinavian influences,” he says. “This time, they wanted it to be fresh and marine clean, in keeping with the environment. So we went for shades of grey and lots of white.”
With so many levels to play with, the central staircase became a key element of the new look. Out went the narrow stairs and metal balustrades and in came a single slimline balustrade with wooden handrails.
The materials used on the stairs change as they ascend through the house: practical grey tile in the lobby, living room and second-floor kitchen switches to warmer, softer wood for the third-floor family room/guest room, the fourth-floor children’s rooms and fifth- and sixth-floor master suite and study.
On each level, Leung has maximised the size of the windows, to bring in more natural light, and installed fuss-free white blinds to keep the look clean. Just as neat is the cove lighting, aided by accent lamps and downlights.
In the living room, a wall of floor-to-ceiling bifold doors and large grey floor tiles create a barrier-free connection to the split-level outdoor spaces. “The tiles have an almost concrete-like feel; a bit of loft style,” Leung says.
Outside, he installed a series of large and small steps leading from the terrace to a private floating dock at the edge of the marina. “It’s a more interesting use of the space,” he says of the steps. “It’s a gathering place for the family and their friends, somewhere the kids can play and great for picnics.”
But it’s the large kitchen-diner that is the heart of the home. By moving the helpers’ quarters to the ground-floor lobby, Leung was able to reclaim the space for a “dirty kitchen” behind an opaque grey glass sliding door, which contains cooking smells and hides the washing up. The main kitchen is focused around a large island, kitted out with a breakfast bar, wine fridge, drawers and USB sockets and phone-charging area. Adding interest to the cool palette is an accent area of wooden open shelving, repeated in the wooden wine rack at the end of the island.
“It’s a hint of the warmth to come, upstairs,” Leung says.
The most colourful spaces in the house are the girls’ bedrooms.
“They chose the colours themselves: yellow for Hannah, purple for Sarah,” Leung says.
The twin rooms are peas in a pod, with mirror-image layouts, doors facing each other and matching walk-in wardrobes behind lush velvet curtains. While the girls each have their own rooms, they are not entirely separate: the two spaces are linked by a secret passageway in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing the girls to visit each other and chat and play together.
Mum and Dad’s suite is spread over two floors. On the fifth floor, the master bedroom has a glass-walled bathroom – complete with wet room, egg-shaped bath and marble vanity – and a large walk-in dressing room. Upstairs, Liu’s study is a narrow, high-ceilinged space with floating shelves that stretch up to the pitched roof, and sliding wood doors fitted with portholes, in a nod to the nautical setting.
“It’s like a cathedral roof,” Leung says. “Putting the shelves all the way up really emphasises the height of the ceiling.”
Kitchen “It was crucial to have a large island,” says Clifton Leung, of Clifton Leung Design Workshop. “Everyone loves it – they tend to eat and hang out here.” His workshop designed and constructed the island (HK$58,000/US$7,400), cabinets (HK$229,000) and glass sliding door to the “dirty kitchen” (HK$43,500).
The Can Can pendant lamp (HK$3,400) is by Marcel Wanders and came from Flos. The bar stools were a gift.
Living area The Giovanni’s Pillow sofas (HK$8,999 for the three-seater, HK$6,999 for the two-seater) and Charlie patchwork armchair (HK$3,299) were all from MorriSofa. The concrete coffee table (HK$7,990) and side tables (HK$3,990 each) came from Indigo Living.
The square side table was HK$1,730 from Establo. The Cambridge Audio Mini XL speakers, next to the sofa, were HK$2,800 each from Best Buy Audio Visual Equipment. The floor lamp was bought at a Louis Vuitton auction and the ceiling lamp was HK$32,200 from Flos.
The grey sideboard (HK$24,600), which contains a multi-compartment fridge-freezer for everything from wine to ice cream, and the cabinet (HK$31,100) beneath the television, were designed and built by Clifton Leung Design Workshop.
Dining room Open to the kitchen is a simple dining room with a skylight and large window. The dining table (HK$46,240) and chairs (HK$2,630 each) were from Ulferts.
Study The built-in desk (HK$11,000), custom-made cupboards (HK$39,000) and floating shelves (HK$23,400) were all by Clifton Leung Design Workshop. The cantilever chair was purchased years ago in Horizon Plaza, Ap Lei Chau, and is one of the few items the family brought with them from their previous home.
Terrace The Alloro 140 Extensible table (HK$4,800) and Erica chairs (HK$576 each) were from Nardi. The free-standing stainless steel sink (HK$4,690) was by Clifton Leung Design Workshop.
Terrace detail Leading down to the water’s edge, the series of large and small steps adds interest to the outdoor space. The steps (HK$163,000) and metal handrail (HK$38,500) were custom built by Clifton Leung Design Workshop.
Master bedroom The all-singing headboard (HK$12,000) includes built-in speakers, lamps, USB and electrical sockets and drawers, and was custom made by Clifton Leung Design Workshop, which also built the bed frame for HK$31,400.
Walk-in wardrobe Part of the master suite, the walk-in wardrobe has a built-in dressing table with a fabulous view across Marina Cove. The dressing table (HK$10,300), drawers (HK$21,600) and hanging rails (HK$5,400) were all custom made by Clifton Leung Design Workshop.
Hannah’s bedroom Hannah chose a cheerful buttery yellow for her bedroom, which is linked to her sister’s room by a narrow corridor in front of the angled floor-to-ceiling windows. The bed was HK$13,000 from Avant Garde (100 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2526 0104) and the Comme Ismine dollhouse bookshelves were HK$2,280 from Funny Workshop.
Clifton Leung Design Workshop designed and built the floating shelves for HK$16,500. The rocking horse, Rocky (US$799), by Marc Newson, is part of the Magis Me Too collection and is available from Connox.
Tried + tested
Seeing double Making use of wasted space in front of a bay window on the fourth-floor landing, next to Hannah and Sarah’s shared bathroom, interior designer Clifton Leung installed a sink designed for two, with twin taps, mirrors and drawers. Behind a full-length mirror (to the left) is a cupboard while oak-lined pillars provide privacy.
“The girls can use it together if they are in a rush in the morning,” Leung says. “The window provides natural light, and the mirrors hide the view of a blank wall. I used tiles on the floor to act almost as a wet room.”
The Catalano Premium basin was HK$9,200 from Pacific Lifestyle and the Axor Starck taps were HK$6,400 each from Arnhold Design (315 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2865 0318). The matching mirrors (HK$6,200 each), marble-topped console (HK$18,600) and mirrored cabinet (HK$21,300) were all designed and built by Clifton Leung Design Workshop.