On the hunt for decorating ideas for their new apartment in West Kowloon, Christina Sou and her husband, Lokman Tam, were drawn to French interior designer Peggy Bels, whose designs they saw in Post Magazine . The couple’s instinct – that Bels’ modern, minimal style would work well for their 755 sq ft flat – proved correct. “It was Peggy’s signature concrete finish that sparked our interest – that and her unfussy, chic French style,” says Sou, who works in finance. “We wanted the space to appear larger, contain a lot of storage, and work on a visual as well as a practical level for us as a couple.” With Bels leading the charge, Sou and Tam gutted the entire flat. Ill-thought-out walls that blocked the entrance and wet kitchen from the rest of the home were the first to go to improve the apartment’s aesthetic and flow. The process was slightly hindered by a structural column but Bels suggested that it become one end of a long, marble-topped island, with a “dry” kitchen behind it and storage cabinets beneath. Reflective marble was used, to add depth to the space. “We spent so much time planning the layout of the kitchen and dining area,” says Sou. “It was an audacious move to have an island this big in a small Hong Kong apartment and we were initially sceptical about how it would turn out. My husband said it might look like a sushi bar but Peggy convinced us it would work – and it does. We love to entertain so we use it for sit-down dinners as well as casual drinks. It is practical but it also makes a statement.” Bels’ industrial-chic style is evident throughout but Sou wanted a dash of pink to prevent her home from looking too masculine, so she worked with the designer to incorporate a dusty rose shade in the living room via an upcycled velvet sofa, and pale pink tiles in the wet kitchen. “I’m a romantic at heart while my husband is the more stable one and we wanted elements of both our personalities,” says Sou. “The pink-and-grey combination is a bit like us in that the two colours are so different but they match up well together.” Brass details such as lighting and decorative accessories were also used to lift the decor. They pop against the charcoal and concrete-finished walls in the bedroom and living area while metallic skirting and trim prevent the master bathroom from seeming too stark. Bels balanced the cool marble and the grey palette with warmer wooden cupboards and ever-so-subtle herringbone flooring, which adds a Gallic feel to the flat. Bels transformed what had been a third bedroom into a study. She custom built a computer table over the window seat and created a striking feature wall, going against the dictates of design, which say dark colours and large patterns don’t work well in small rooms. A hinged door with a regular wall would have compromised the light and space in both the office and the corridor so she incorporated one of her signature touches: a sliding glass atelier door and waist-high windows with matt-black steel frames. Rather than allowing the side of the study’s built-in cupboards to remain on display, Bels substituted two of the window’s glass panes with mirrored ones. These hide the cupboards but reflect the guest bathroom opposite, thereby creating an optical illusion of wider corridor space. Similarly, when Sou requested that the unsightly end of the dry kitchen cabinet be disguised, Bels applied the same concrete finish as the walls. Bels and Sou made a great collaborative team although Sou admits that she needed Bels to push her out of her comfort zone. “So many designers do a good job but I wanted to be actively involved in the whole process even if it was scary at times making certain choices,” Sou says. “Although I like having lots of storage and no clutter, I don’t want to live in a hotel – I want a home.” Kitchen The kitchen was supplied and installed by Patata Kitchen . Peggy Bels designed the kitchen island (HK$13,000/US$1,680). The Kurf A American walnut bar stools (HK$6,205 each) came from Organic Modernism and the Colt pendant light was £1,850 (US$2,310) from Bert Frank . Corridor The engineered-wood flooring along the corridor and throughout the flat came from Gobo (243 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2511 9908). The Rabbit chair was € 1,200 (US$1,360) from Qeeboo . Living area When Christina Sou couldn’t find a sofa she liked, she had her old one from TREE reupholstered in dusty rose velvet by Belle Curtain , which also made all the flat’s blinds and curtains. The Palm Springs marble and walnut coffee table with a pink lacquered top (HK$5,425) was from Organic Modernism. The Aegis wall lights were £560 each from Bert Frank. Study The Palm Jungle wallpaper by Cole & Son was HK$1,570 per roll from Altfield . The chair and desk were designed and custom made by Bels and her contractor (about HK$18,000 for both). The Colt desk lamp (£840) was from Bert Frank. Bedroom Bells designed the bed to be high in order to store suitcases underneath. It was made by her contractor and cost about HK$9,000. The Sheldon gold side tables were HK$3,865 each from iDecorate . The Riddle pendant lights (£295 each) came from Bert Frank. The artwork, by France-based Chinese artist Xiaoyang Galas , was commissioned by Sou, and incorporates Bible verses in English, Chinese and French as well as images of the marathon medals won by Sou and her husband, Lokman Tam. Bedroom detail An enclosed walk-in wardrobe would have made the bedroom feel smaller so Bels designed a grey wood veneer cabinet (about HK$10,000) that acts as a semi-partition between the sleeping and dressing areas. Bathroom (above and below) Arabescato wall tiles (HK$850 per piece) by Casa Dolce Casa were bought from Pacific Lifestyle while the Marble Mosaic 3D Carrara Diamond Cube floor tiles (A$12 / HK$64 per sheet) came from Everstone Australia . The tap (A$489) was from Meir , as were the hand shower and overhead shower (A$1,227 for the set). The sliding atelier glass door is one of Bels’ signature looks, adding space and light to the bedroom and en suite. Tried + tested Turn the corner Space matters in a small flat so interior designer Peggy Bels made use of an otherwise wasted corner in the bedroom by creating a built-in, wedge-shaped make-up table (about HK$8,000). As well as being practical, it gives a softer, less angular look to the bathroom wall. The Riddle wall light (£335) came from Bert Frank and the hand-forged bronze Shitake stool with a Japanese patina finish (HK$6,205) was from Organic Modernism. The recessed, vintage-look wall mirror was custom made by Bels for HK$8,000.