Architect Hubert Un is no stranger to renovations. He has worked on commercial and residential projects around the world, yet, he says, the makeover of his and his wife’s own Mid-Levels flat this year was one of the hardest. “Clients have their own priorities and design issues, which you as the architect have to accommodate,” Un says. “It’s a different story when it’s your own place. I kept asking myself whether I’d chosen the best design solutions, and as I could almost always come up with alternatives, the design concept changed constantly.” He also had to take into consideration his wife’s tastes and requirements, which were sometimes at odds with his own. Whereas his tend towards modern minimalism, she prefers a home that is more traditional and comfortable. A vintage English chandelier in the master bedroom, for example, pays homage to her love of antiques. He chose all the dark wallpaper; she picked light, more feminine florals. It was, says Un, a good exercise in getting to know each other better and making compromises for the greater good. “We have elements of both our style preferences but neither one is over the top or dominates the other,” Un says. “We managed to get the mix and the balance just right.” Having previously rented in Sha Tin, last year the couple bought their first apartment. They chose it for its location – Un’s office is in Central – as well as for its 1,881 sq ft of space. Un gutted and reconfigured the property: he got rid of multiple bedrooms and created a master suite and walk-in wardrobe; a study-cum-guest room with a nearby bathroom; a large living and dining area; and an L-shaped kitchen with domestic helper quarters. Un incorporated lots of built-in cupboards at his wife’s request and they treated themselves to new furniture. “The only problem with sourcing online was that the furniture didn’t all arrive at the same time,” recalls Un. “At one point, all we had was a bed and four folding chairs in addition to kitchen and bathroom facilities.” The delayed arrival of a sculpture by artist Caroline Cheng, which takes pride of place on the dining area wall, didn’t deter Un from designing the entire living space around it. Part of the “Prosperity” series, one piece of which is displayed in the British Museum, the stunning artwork comprises hundreds of handmade porcelain bronze butterflies sewn onto a traditional Chinese robe. It is “framed” by a white recessed wall, and complemented by neutral furniture and a contemporary ceiling light. “Caroline was my wife’s classmate and we are very lucky to have one of her pieces,” says Un. “We knew which one we were getting so I was able to use it as inspiration for the room’s decorating scheme and furniture before it arrived.” A Hong Kong house that is also an art gallery Other pieces add splashes of colour, such as a photograph in the living room by artist Sabine Wild and the iconic Red and Blue Chair by Gerrit Rietveld. Since his student days, Un had been hankering after the latter, which was designed in 1917 but is still produced commercially. “I had a small model of the chair because I loved its clean design, and I was so happy when I finally got to have the real full-sized piece in my home,” he says. Other elements also pay homage to Un’s design aesthetics. He had a car repair shop spray paint the front door with a special brass finish that would oxidise over time and give it a contemporary look. Its panels echo the geometric pattern and colour of the wallpaper in the entrance hall, onto which the door opens. Similarly, Un’s wife has stamped her mark on the apartment with details such as a delicate rainbow of tumbler glasses, a wine cabinet with a door pattern similar to that of the wallpaper in the corridor and their bedroom, and a designated location in the living room for a Christmas tree. “It is the small things that make somewhere home. A cup can just be a cup but if you find one you love, even something that ordinary can make you happy. In the past, we only had a plastic Christmas tree; this year we will have a real one,” Un says. Entrance hall The geometric wallpaper in the entrance (and all other wallpaper in the apartment) came from Tat Ming Wallpaper . The set of mirrors by Cattelan (HK$8,500 in total) and the iconic Red and Blue Chair by Gerrit Rietveld for Cassina (HK$23,000) were all purchased from Sag80. Living area The Flexform sofa (HK$140,000) was from LeCadre Gallery . The silk tufted rug (HK$41,000), by Sahrai Milano, was from Sag80 , as were the Cattelan wall-mounted lamps (HK$5,000 each). The armchairs (HK$30,000 each), the pouffe (HK$11,000), which doubles as a coffee table, and the side table (HK$9,000) all came from Molteni&C . The Lambert & Fils ceiling light was HK$7,000 from The Conran Shop . The photograph, Shanghai by Sabine Wild, was from Lumas . Living area detail The wine cabinet, by Monica Gasperini, was HK$79,000 from artemest.com . Dining area Comprising myriad handmade porcelain butterflies sewn onto a traditional Chinese robe, Prosperity , by artist Caroline Cheng , is the focal point of the dining area. Its bronze/gold hues are echoed by the Argent chandelier (HK$50,000) and complemented by the neutral Cattelan dining table (HK$41,000) with ceramic Lazy Susan (HK$11,000), all from Sag80. The dining chairs (HK$7,000 each) came from Molteni&C. Kitchen The wood grain on each cabinet is perfectly aligned. The cabinets cost HK$360,000 to make and install and are by Toto . Office The built-in wood veneer desk (HK$74,000) was designed by Hubert Un and built by Classic Engineering Company. The Aeron chair (HK$12,000) came from the Herman Miller Store and the Anglepoise Type 75 desk lamp by Paul Smith (edition one) was HK$2,450 from Homeless . Next to it is a condenser microphone (about HK$700 from taobao.com ) on a stand, which is used for Zoom conference calls. Main bedroom The antique chandelier by Ostler & Co was £8,500 (HK$81,000) from Denton Antiques and the Vispring Tiara bed was £20,000 (including airfreight) from And So To Bed . The bedside lights were £300 each from Dusk Lighting and the pendant light in the corner was bought years ago for the Uns’ previous apartment (about HK$3,000 from Artemide ). The wall unit with high-gloss paint finish was designed by Hubert Un and custom made by Classic Engineering Company (tel: 9422 9270) for HK$52,000. On it sits a Miffy lamp, which was HK$1,780 from Homeless. Main bathroom An accent wall of Marvel Gold Hex Sable-Brown geometric tiles lifts the bathroom decor (HK$328 per piece) and is complemented by plainer Marvel Pro Cremo Delicato tiles (HK$398 per piece); all from Atlas Concorde by Pacific . The enamelled cast-iron bath tub (HK$6,000) and Nordholm stainless-steel heated towel rail (HK$5,980) both came from Toto via VSC Building Products (1/F, East Town Building, 41 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2238 2628). The monogrammed towels are from Frette and were a gift. Tried + tested One step beyond As well as providing cubbyholes for extra storage, the central unit in the walk-in wardrobe offers easy access to the topmost cupboards. The lower “step” can also act as a seat for putting on shoes.