Needing a substantial home for a blended family of six, Ben Wong Hiu-fei knew he had found the “bones” in two identical 1,800 sq ft apartments, one on top of the other. After securing the units, on the fourth and fifth floors of a 30-year-old residential building in Tai Hang, Wong also knew whom to call. Years earlier, Wong had recognised two flats he once owned featured in Post Magazine as a stunning duplex conversion by Gabi Ho Design Studio . When he once again had two flats, one on top of the other, the semi-retired executive contacted Ho. Both units were to be gutted and their rooms realigned to create four bedrooms, five-and-a-half bathrooms, and a shrine room. Living areas would become bedrooms; the kitchen, bathrooms and utility zones transplanted and, of course, the two units joined. It helped that there was only one unit per floor in this building, meaning no neighbours. Wong didn’t want the 2.9-metre ceilings lowered, so Ho had to create wall cavities to take plumbing, electrical conduits and drainage pipes to places they were never intended to be. Bulkheads were necessary for the ducted air conditioning system, and since their positioning would ultimately affect the spatial arrangement, this part of the process was critical to the entire renovation. “It involved a lot of coordination with the engineer, and taking his proposals back to the client to discuss his priorities,” Ho says. A modern, family-oriented duplex in Hong Kong Having specified a grand “arrival” to the home, Ho took Wong to the New Territories, where a remote factory stocks marble from all around the world. Inspired by the colour of the sea in Portugal, the most recent of the international locations where he has lived, Wong chose an azure blue marble from Brazil. Originally cut as a single block, it was sliced for transport into four slabs and pieced together using a mirror-format, book-match technique, on the double height, five-metre-tall wall behind the staircase linking the two floors. Off the foyer on the top floor is a gallery-like space with a timber feature wall that hides a secret; opposite is the cavernous open-plan kitchen, living and dining rooms. Robust tri-fold doors lead to a balcony with glass balustrade where Wong enjoys his morning coffee, evening glass of wine, and tends to the potted herbs he uses in cooking. He specified a high-spec fit-out for the kitchen (also on the top floor), which features Poggenpohl cabinetry and Gaggenau appliances. While folding balcony doors are not unusual in Hong Kong homes, Ho says her client was not satisfied with the quality of the China-made versions available locally and opted for a more robust Schüco brand system engineered in Germany. Wong also insisted on a high-end lighting scheme, opting for a customised system by American brand Lutron. “I’m a bit spoilt,” Wong says. “In homes where I’ve lived in the past I’ve always had nice lighting – it’s hard to live without it.” Owing to the size of the home, Wong, a Tibetan Buddhist, is also able to have a dedicated shrine room, a meditative space in which he finds solace. Three flats become one to house Hong Kong family Halfway through the build, Wong says, his relationship with his fiancée broke down. So instead of being home to two adults and four children, now there’s just the single father and his teenage daughter. The renovation, completed in April, continued as planned, except that one of the original four bedrooms has become a library, and there is now a generous guest room with en suite. Downstairs, the fourth floor is dominated by a main suite of expansive proportions. With its own foyer, this private retreat features walk-in wardrobes (one with airtight sliding glass doors to keep humidity at bay) and an en suite bathroom with a bathtub. Slightly less grand, but still generous, is the bedroom and bathroom designed for 19-year-old Bella. With a full set of wardrobes, her room has hints of the “adventurous” blue colour her father enjoys. Despite the break-up of his relationship, Wong feels blessed to live in such a beautiful and substantial home, which he calls “my silver lining”. He also pays that forward: a calligraphy of a Tibetan greeting hanging in the foyer gives an auspicious welcome to all who enter. Lift lobby The bespoke bronze-tinted mirrors with bevelled edges were designed by Gabi Ho Design Studio and built by LCS Construction & Engineering and cost HK$2,000 (US$258) per square metre. The Square Roots bench (HK$6,800) was from Ovo and the basket (HK$479) from BoConcept . Living area The Player sofa (HK$95,542), ottoman (HK$25,200), Tribeca occasional tables (HK$9,800 each), Badiane armchair (right; HK$33,400), Curl armchair (HK$31,400) and rug (HK$35,543) all came from Roche Bobois . The Chiswick Glass wall light (HK$1,712) was from Mooielight . Kitchen The sand-grey lacquer wall units and oak base units (HK$377,000) were by Poggenpohl from Kitchen Infinity . The Wever & Ducré suspended lights in copper-plated glass (HK$3,000 each) came from Beam Factory . The Simple Human hands-free dual recycling and rubbish bin (HK$1,600) came from Sogo , and the Porada Ester Sgabello bar stools (HK$55,900 each) were from ITAL Designs (Happy Mansion, 39 Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2892 1809). Staircase The staircase, designed by Gabi Ho and built by LCS Construction & Engineering, is finished in ceramic tiles from Cercom’s Brera Nat series (HK$980 per piece), from Wellborn Building Materials Supply . The blue feature wall in Brazilian marble cost HK$100,368 from Hop Ching Marble (11/F, 157 Kowloon City Road, To Kwa Wan, tel: 2472 0772). Guest bedroom BoConcept supplied the Austin king size bed and headboard (HK$20,507), the Bordeaux bedside tables (HK$5,499 each) and Cupertino work desk (HK$8,579). The Gemme stool (HK$600) came from Francfranc and the bedside lamps cost HK$125 each from Ikea . Daughter’s bedroom The Mascotte side table (HK$9,587) by the window was from Armani Casa . The white-lacquer table and the headboard with lightbox (HK$5,000 each) were designed by Ho and built by LCS Construction & Engineering. The Vikhammer bedside tables (HK$549 each) were from Ikea. The artwork above the bed was a souvenir from Portugal’s National Tile Museum . The rustic chair, from Italy, was a gift. The walnut wooden floorboards cost HK$110 per square foot from Karlian (karlianintl.com). The Adelaide desk chair (HK$4,489) was from BoConcept and the Boja bedside lamp cost HK$399 from Ikea. Master bathroom The Toto free-standing bathtub cost HK$30,465 from Galaxy Bathroom Collection . The Axor floor-standing thermostatic bath mixer in brushed gold optic (HK$49,480) was from E. BON . Behind it, a bespoke limestone feature wall was designed by Ho (HK$8,000 per square metre). Powder room The bespoke vanity unit (HK$17,000), with Carrara marble and satin bronze metal frame, was designed by Ho. Restoration Hardware supplied the Sutton cross handle tap (HK$4,619), aged-brass toilet roll holder (HK$372) and Cannele wall sconce (HK$2,666). The indigenous Brazilian feather headpiece, considered a lucky charm, was bought years ago. Tried + tested Screen time Off the foyer, a timber backdrop to a glass sculpture screens access to the back-of-house utility areas and helper’s room. “Ben Wong wanted it to be unnoticeable, so the door had to be built into a concealed mechanism, with door handle integrated,” Gabi Ho says. There’s more: this screen wall extends over an existing window, where it becomes imperceptibly slatted to allow subtle natural backlighting for the artwork. Part of the screen wall can be opened, providing access to pipework and air-conditioning machinery. The sculpture of a fish etched on glass is by Canadian artist David Montpetit .