Co-living is touted as a new trend, but in Chinese culture a multigenerational household has long been considered ideal, even in small flats. The design of this Yuen Long home shows how it was possible for one “blended” family to live harmoniously under the same roof: the 453 sq ft apartment is home to a young professional couple, their parrot, the wife’s mother and her cat. “The couple treat their pets like family members,” says Patrick Lam Kwai-pui, founder of Sim-Plex Design Studio, in Sheung Wan. “The pets have their own personality and need their own space. The owners chose to live with the mother so they could take care of each other. They were eager for a layout that would give each of them a partly private, partly communal co-living arrangement.” Packaging everyone’s requirements into such a small space required creative thinking. Because the flat was open plan, Lam had free rein over the layout. He began by situating the two bedrooms on opposite sides of the flat, with one opening into the living space and the other into the dining area, allowing convenient access for both to the sole bathroom. The rest of the space is flexible. A frosted-glass-and-melamine foldaway divider between the living and dining zones allows the owners, Ken Chu and Teri Wong, to expand the space when entertaining. The living room, which is used mostly by the couple, is on a 45cm-high platform, with lift-up panels concealing storage compartments beneath. In lieu of a sofa, there are just cushions on the raised floor because, Lam says, his clients, who work in education and IT, like to sit “tatami style”. In fact, apart from the dining-room seating, there is no other loose furniture in the flat, the owners having opted for customised, built-in pieces to optimise space and storage. Also on the platform is a fitted cabinet below the window that accommodates the large cage of the parrot, Pa, who likes to bask in the sunshine. The cat, called Meow, enjoys the run of the house, so her needs have been met, too. Round holes cut into the cabinetry provide places to hide, explore and play while shelving built into the mother’s wardrobe acts as a climbing frame. The litter tray can be found beside the main door, tucked unobtrusively into a custom-built cabinet, which doubles as a shoe seat. Six of the best pet beds: cosy designs for your furry friends The parrot likes to fly free at times, apparently untroubled by the cat. Knowing that clutter would inhibit the pets’ play, Lam designed a dining table that folds away, murphy style, when not in use. (See Tried + tested below). The flat’s minimalist decor, featuring plywood, melamine and timber-look ceramic tile flooring, might seem attuned to the couple’s contemporary design sensibilities but these materials were chosen for reasons other than aesthetics. “They are fireproof, scratch-proof and odour-resistant,” Lam says, adding that they were the most suitable finish for a home with feline and feathered occupants. Hong Kong pets lap up the luxury in own rooms with private baths The circular cut-outs, which enable the cat to venture here and there, inform the overall scheme, including as door pulls in all the cabinetry, which in turn eliminates the risk handles might pose to a bird in flight. It also explains the unusual, triangular-shaped internal doorways, reminiscent of a pitched-roof fairy-tale cottage. Lam felt it “just made sense” to continue the geometric design theme, although he says the manufacturer needed some convincing. For this thoroughly modern household, Sim-Plex’s design solution, titled Pets’ Playground, adroitly balances privacy and companionship through spatial layout. Lam hopes it will bring inspiration to the co-living social challenges of our time. Living area The living-room platform (HK$20,000) and bi-fold room divider (HK$30,000) were designed by Patrick Lam of Sim-Plex Design Studio . The main bedroom door is beside the melamine feature wall that houses the television and extends to a ceiling canopy (HK$18,000 for both). It helps to define the living space while concealing the mechanism for the room divider. Design detail Informing the design scheme are geometric shapes: the doors with triangular tops are purely for aesthetics. Design detail The circular cut-outs allow Meow, the cat, to roam. Bathroom The triangular-shaped doorways lead to the bathroom on the left and the kitchen on the right. Each triangular door cost about HK$2,000 more compared with conventional doors. Mother’s bedroom Shared with Meow, the room features a single bed with storage below, a fitted wardrobe and a climbing area for the cat, all of which was custom made by Sim-Plex for HK$50,000. Couple’s bedroom Space was saved by designing the bed, bedside table and wardrobe as though they were one streamlined piece of fitted furniture. The tall, narrow window has a louvred melamine screen in lieu of a curtain and the open space on the bottom left-hand side of the wardrobe is Pa the parrot’s night-time nook. The custom-built furniture was designed by Sim-Plex for about HK$55,000. Tried + tested Play area The homeowners wanted their pets to have room to play, so Patrick Lam designed a dining table (HK$6,000) that folds away when not in use (pictured above and below). Slide out the top and the legs unfold to form convivial seating for eight. The dining “chairs” (HK$1,000 each) are made up of four sturdy boxes each capable of holding two people. When not in use, the boxes, which also serve as storage compartments, slot back into the living-room cabinet.