Living in SoHo is undeniably cool but everyone needs a break from its relentless bustle. Matt David and Daria Rokk, from Britain and Romania, respectively, reached the point when they wanted a change of pace. David was hankering after an “urban sanctuary”; Rokk felt they had outgrown their home. “We wanted to get out of our bubble,” says David, who works for a creative experience agency and has been in Hong Kong for 16 years. “Living and working in Central became too much; we wanted the option of disconnecting.” Armed with a list of requirements, David and Rokk trawled property websites and visited rental apartments throughout the city. The minute they walked into their current home, in Happy Valley, they knew they wanted to live there but they bargained too hard and the landlord accepted a “better” offer. “I was so upset because apartments in this block don’t come up often,” recalls Rokk, who moved to Hong Kong eight years ago, and works for a global leadership advisory company. “We aren’t great believers in destiny but a fortnight later, the same apartment came back online so we went for it properly this time.” Concrete chic: how a French designer created a modern, minimal home Fast forward a month and the couple have stamped their mark on the 1,200 sq ft, one-bedroom flat. Blessed with natural light and leafy views, the airy apartment comprises a large, open-plan kitchen and living area and a spacious bedroom with an en suite bathroom and office nook. It had already been tastefully decorated so all the couple had to do was move in their furniture and add personal aesthetic touches. To get it just right, they asked interior stylist Flavia Markovits to help. They first met via an advertisement on the classifieds website AsiaXpat – Markovits was selling a sideboard that Rokk and David bought and still have – and they liked her taste. Once in the apartment, Markovits, who is a fan of Japanese tidying guru Marie Kondo, organised the couple’s kitchen and wardrobe. She helped them position their existing furniture to maximise the space and went on sourcing sprees online and off to find pieces to fill the gaps. “Flavia focused our attention on the most important details,” says Rokk. “She helped us to declutter before we left our previous flat, which was cathartic, and she did a phenomenal job showing us how to spend our money wisely on design details that would make a real difference. Her expertise was a game changer.” Tactfully advising against the purchase of a rattan cabinet to fill the space behind the sofa, Markovits suggested a green triptych of carved wooden palm leaves as a focal point, and the creation of a secondary seating area. Woven baskets used for shoe storage beneath the bench are both pretty and practical; the bench can be moved to the dining table to accommodate dinner guests. “Flavia has a design mindset but she also offers solutions that are practical as well as beautiful,” Rokk says. “Matt wanted something that had a purpose for that space behind the sofa and we got stuck on a cabinet – but why? It would have taken up so much floor and wall space, whereas Flavia’s idea gives the room an extra dimension.” The flat came with white walls, pale flooring and natural wood cabinetry but it also featured an abundance of copper panelling, notably in the bedroom and living area. To tone it down, Markovits introduced a casual beachy vibe and although David and Rokk love the colour green, she persuaded them to add accents of blue in the form of throws, cushions and ceramics. “You don’t need to be a millionaire to make somewhere look and feel special and everything I found for Daria and Matt I would have bought for myself. I wanted to keep everything simple to sustain the flat’s light, almost weightless feel but I didn’t want it to seem cold,” Markovits says. Described by Rokk and David as an “interiors superwoman”, the designer did everything from putting up shelves to breathing new life into old pieces by repurposing them. “Flavia made sure each detail tells our story and we literally love every corner of our apartment,” says Rokk. “We had become immune to SoHo’s constant background noise. Here, it’s all so calm and quiet that it feels as though we are staycationing every day.” Living room The leather sofa from Indigo Living was bought on sale years ago. The coffee tables (large HK$999/US$129; small HK$599) were from Zara Home . The vintage Moroccan rug was HK$5,000 from Berber Things and the leather pouffe was HK$500 from Moroccan Bazar Arts, both featured on Etsy . The green carved wood triptych was HK$2,995 on sale at Sonder Living . The bench was HK$3,320 from Organic Modernism and the water hyacinth baskets beneath it were HK$245 each from TREE . The built-in entertainment cabinet came with the flat. Near the dining table is the solid-wood sideboard that Daria Rokk and Matt David bought from designer Flavia Markovits when they first met her. It was originally from home store Shambala (now closed). Above it is a Stockholm mirror in walnut veneer (HK$990) from Ikea . The blue and gold metal lamp (HK$999) on the sideboard was from Zara Home. Living area detail The lounge chair was bought years ago from Shambala and the side table was acquired second-hand via a Facebook group. Kitchen David and Rokk’s landlord chose and installed the kitchen. The blue ceramic vase was HK$169.90 from Ikea. The large bottle (HK$99) and green marble board (HK$249) were from H&M Home . Dining area Rokk saw this painting by Romanian artist Radu Pulbere at an exhibition in Transylvania’s Art Museum of Cluj-Napoca and was so drawn to it that she tracked him down and purchased it. The dining chairs (HK$2,790 each) and dining table (originally HK$14,000 but bought on sale for HK$7,000) were from Indigo Living. Corridor Built-in mirrored cabinets provide invaluable storage along the corridor, which is prevented from feeling dark by the pale wood flooring. Office Leading off the bedroom, a study nook with a built-in desk also contains a long, semi walk-in wardrobe. The chair (HK$900) is a modern take on French architect Charlotte Perriand’s Rush chair and was purchased from Harbour . The Anglepoise desk lamp (HK$1,950) is an edition by Paul Smith and came from Homeless . The bamboo shelves cost HK$129.90 each from Ikea, and the cups on them were HK$283 (for a set of six) from Anthropologie . Main bedroom The landlord supplied the two major pieces of furniture in the master bedroom – the bed and the low cabinet. Markovits advised Rokk and David on the decorative items including a ladder mirror in teak (HK$2,950) from TREE and an Ikea rug (HK$799). To tone down the copper panelling behind the bed, Markovits used fresh white bedlinen (duvet set, HK$899) from H&M Home paired with a navy linen blanket (HK$999) from Zara Home and a Hmong blue lumbar pillow (HK$525) from Tribal Collection on Etsy. En suite bathroom The bathroom was installed by the landlord. The larger ceramics came from Ikea and TREE; the small one was bought from Amalfi during a trip to Australia. The storage baskets cost HK$180 each from Muji . Tried + tested Dividing the kitchen from the dining space, a low cupboard opens on both sides, offering easy access to its contents no matter which area you are in.