Shopping for an interior designer can be as simple as, well, shopping. Art director and graphic designer Ivan Au and his illustrator wife, Choily Choi, found exactly what they wanted while moseying around Galleon lifestyle store, in Causeway Bay. “I really liked the style of the store, so I asked a friend to find out who designed it,” Au says. The friend obliged and so Au met Wilson Lee Hing-yin and Emily Ho, of Studio Adjective, who would design the couple’s new 408 sq ft rooftop flat, in Tseung Kwan O. The size was a challenge, but good things can come in packages as small as this – they just require careful consideration. “The apartment is unusual because it has an internal staircase between the top floor and the rooftop, but the size is not big, so it’s important that the space is used well,” Ho says. “They wanted a place that balanced privacy and room to gather with friends for dinner or a barbecue. They were looking for openness. But they work from home sometimes, so it also had to provide a workspace.” We wanted to translate the same language throughout the interior, so the walls are concrete, the floor and countertop are stone and the kitchen cabinets are walnut or stone-look laminate Wilson Lee, interior designer, Studio Adjective Because the building is new, Studio Adjective kept the clean-lined, neutral bathroom intact. The sole bedroom, however, had to go. “It was tiny!” Ho says. “There was space for a bed and nothing else – not even a wardrobe.” Studio Adjective’s solution to the open/private dilemma was to make the bedroom larger and turn it into a room-within-a-room, raised on a platform and with an angled false ceiling over the bed. It is separated from the living and kitchen areas by a glass-and-wood-slat partition that gives a sense of transparency and lets light travel throughout the space while keeping the bedroom relatively private. “We call it the teahouse,” Lee says. “The slats are arranged so they are denser lower down, giving privacy around the bed, becoming more open higher up to allow more light in.” The ceiling panels create a sense of cosiness and, more practically, hide a structural beam. For feng shui reasons? “No,” Lee says, “it’s just not a very nice feeling to lie under a beam.” The “teahouse” also provided space for a floor-to-ceiling wardrobe and a set of shelves that display Au’s collection of beautifully crafted wooden boxes. But most of the flat’s storage is hidden neatly under the platform. “We had to be careful not to make the whole place feel like a storeroom,” Lee says. “You see that so often when designers try to cram in lots of storage.” As well as a lift-up bed and hatch doors in the bedroom, the underfloor storage can be accessed through low-level drawers in both the kitchen and bathroom. Like all the wood in the flat, the teahouse is made from walnut, a key element in Studio Adjective’s restricted palette of materials. “Ivan already had a lot of walnut pieces – a TV unit, shoe cabinet and his boxes – so we used those as a starting point,” Lee says. Complementing the warm, dark wood are cool, grey finishes on the walls and floor. “We wanted to translate the same language throughout the interior, so the walls are concrete, the floor and countertop are stone and the kitchen cabinets are walnut or stone-look laminate,” Lee says. Given the flat’s small footprint, the internal staircase may seem an extravagance, but it makes the 400 sq ft rooftop an integral part of the home. It is furnished with a large table and chairs and Studio Adjective has built in an outdoor kitchen and a large storage cabinet. Drains around the edge of the roof are hidden beneath bright white stones. A glass balustrade makes the most of the sea and mountain views across what will remain a low-rise area of Tseung Kwan O. “We can get up to 20 people up here,” Au says. “But we do need an umbrella.” Living area The combined table and shelving unit was designed and custom made by Studio Adjective . To access the shelving, the Ibata sofa (HK$29,699 from Come in’ ) slides along the floor towards the windows. This also allows both sides of the table to be used for dining. The Circus pendant lamp, by Innermost , came from the owners’ previous flat. Kitchen The kitchen was designed and custom built by Studio Adjective. The bottom step of the staircase was extended to give the impression of a platform under the kitchen. Like the stairs, it is clad in walnut wood from Boen (about HK$90 per sq ft). The kitchen echoes the materials palette used throughout the flat, with a grey marble splashback and countertop, stone-pattern Formica on the base cabinets and walnut veneer on the wall cabinets and built-in refrigerator door, all custom made by Studio Adjective. The hob and hood were from Bauknecht and the granite sink was from Blanco . The Concetto mixer tap, by Grohe, was HK$2,100 from Eurobath Collection (275 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2868 0231). Rooftop The roof is the flat’s main entertaining space and has open views across Tseung Kwan O to the hills in one direction and the sea in the other. The owners have furnished it with a large outdoor table and chairs, as well as an outdoor kitchen and large storage cabinet. Corridor On the right hand side of the kitchen are low-level drawers (glimpsed) that access underfloor storage beneath the bedroom. The bathroom was left intact, but Studio Adjective designed and custom made the mirror cabinet to complement the existing vanity unit. Another drawer in the bathroom, hidden behind the door, also accesses the underfloor storage. Bedroom The bedroom is raised on a walnut-veneer platform inside what Studio Adjective calls the “teahouse”. The bed, platform and partition were all designed and custom built by Studio Adjective. The Virtu television unit (HK$11,499), by Classe, was bought from Come In’. Bedroom storage A set of narrow shelves in the bedroom display a collection of beautifully crafted boxes from Japan and Europe, many from Come In’. Tried + tested Social ladder Removing a small part of the wall between the kitchen and staircase was a simple but effective move. As well as opening up the views from the front door, it brings more light into the rear of the flat and creates a social point at the end of the kitchen counter. “People often sit on the stairs and use the end of the counter as a bar,” interior designer Wilson Lee says. The bottom step was extended under the kitchen cabinets to give the impression of a second platform running beneath the kitchen, echoing that under the bedroom.