The home of artist Didi Abe, her architect husband, Richard Cunliffe, and their eight-year-old daughter, Calder, is a treasure trove. In Abe’s family since it was built, in 1974, this 1,200 sq ft flat in Tin Hau is filled with beautiful pieces: exquisite antiques, yard sale bargains and natural found objects all happily coexist, often in the same display. A cardboard crocodile made by Calder perches on a drawing by American artist Robert Rauschenberg. A pair of “golden bricks”, made for the floors of Beijing’s Forbidden City, prop up family photographs. Artworks by Abe, Calder and the couple’s friends line the walls, and a Ming vase, painstakingly reconstructed from shattered remains, takes pride of place on the coffee table (actually a repurposed antique Chinese daybed). There are books everywhere, arranged on shelves, in tidy piles on tables and chairs, used as pedestals for art and as a telephone stand, their spines adding pops of colour throughout the two-bedroom, two-bathroom flat. “We’re hoping in our older age we’ll have time to read every one of them,” Abe jokes. Statement art and scores of skulls: a luxury jewellery designer’s lavish home While the flat is crammed with objects, the effect is curated rather than cluttered. Items are arranged with an artist’s eye for colour, form and relationship. Many pieces have interesting histories – Oscar Wilde’s travelling case, blotter and pen stand; photographic art by friend Ti Foster; a blow-up of a photograph taken by Cunliffe while waiting to be rescued from an Alpine avalanche – but this is no museum. It is cheerful, warm and welcoming. This is the home of collectors, raising another little collector. “I inherited the collecting gene from my dad and now my daughter has picked up my love of collecting,” Abe says. “We go for walks and pick up interesting things, like feathers and bird’s nests. I used to do the same on the beaches when I lived on Sanibel Island, in Florida.” “I used to collect ‘nice things’, but now I prefer things that are not precious. I like yard sales and markets. For me, it’s about form and the relationship between forms,” she says. “I like multifunctional things. I love kids’ chairs – I repurpose them as bookshelves.” Although Abe’s parents bought the property in 1974, it was never the family home: her father stayed here while on business in Hong Kong, but she and her Japanese mother, Michiko, were based in Tokyo. “We visited but I never really lived here as a child,” she says. Her mother made her own mark on the flat, however, employing a carpenter from Kyoto to convert one of the three bedrooms into a Japanese tea room. “It was really dark,” Abe says. “So when we moved in [in 2009], we ripped it out and opened up the living room.” Bright and large, this open-plan living and dining room is a multifunctional space, defined by a structural pillar in the centre. For several years, before she took a space in Chai Wan, it was also Abe’s art studio (“I always paint on the floor – that’s why the lighting is how it is,” she says). Now it is also something of a music room, housing an electronic drum kit, keyboard and ukulele. How an almost derelict village house became a stunning family home The pillar is a mini gallery for works by the likes of Minako Iwamura, Abe’s contemporary at the Rhode Island School of Design, in the United States, and Rauschenberg, the late painter and graphic artist who became her teacher and mentor when they both lived in Florida. During the 2009 renovation, the couple also moved the door to the guest bathroom, turning it into an en suite for their daughter. “It’s a bit inconvenient for guests but my mother always hated that you could see the toilet from the front door when the bathroom door was open. It felt important to move it,” Abe says. A sense of family history remains. Her daughter’s room used to be Abe’s room as a child and a large black-and-white photograph of baby Didi and her mother hangs above the bed. On the opposite wall, however, are framed paintings by the newest member of the family. “She’s going to be better than me,” Abe says, proudly, of her daughter’s pictures. “At this age, there are no limits.” Entrance Blue Mountain , a giclee print on canvas, is by Ti Foster . The China Trade sewing box was bought years ago from Tai Sing Co Chinese Antiques & Works of Art (12 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2525 9365), the 50s Italian table lamp was from Casa Capriz , an interiors business run by friend Irene Capriz, and the industrial steel cart was from Design Within Reach. Living room Almost everything in the flat is vintage, handmade or a gift. The armchairs and sofa, for example, are more than 25 years old. The multicoloured throws on the armchairs are Tibetan bangdian aprons from a market in Lhasa and the green velveteen Strandmon ottoman came from Ikea . The coffee table is an antique huanghuali wood Chinese daybed bought years ago, as was the reconstructed Ming vase displayed on top. The side tables are a pair of “golden bricks”, made for the floor of an imperial hall in Beijing’s Forbidden City, on modern huanghuali stands. Underneath the one on the right is a cube-shaped leather travelling case – complete with steamer stickers – that belonged to Oscar Wilde and was bought at a Christie’s auction. The pair of Tang-dynasty sancai horses, on the windowsill, came from Tai Sing Co. Shoal , the four mixed-media artworks above the sofa, is by Didi Abe, as is the large Chinese ink and gesso painting. The four small oil paintings hanging vertically on the pillar are Hermaphrodite I-IV , by Minako Iwamura . The colourful acrylic painting on the left is Poison Mushrooms , by Abe and Richard Cunliffe’s daughter, Calder. Living area detail The huanghuali table and large cupboard (just seen) were bought years ago. The white Alex drawers came from Ikea. Oscar Wilde’s ornate pen stand was bought at a Christie’s auction and the vintage stacked-ball lamp was from a private dealer in New York. The vintage Braniff Airlines posters, by Alexander Calder, were from Picture This Gallery . Below them (left to right) is a print of an Indian god by Cornwallis, from Udaipur; Rainbow Jungle , by Abe and Cunliffe’s daughter, Calder; and Score , by Laurence Getford, from Ashiya Gallery , Kyoto. A painting by Calder sits on one of Abe’s collection of children’s chairs. The large green vase is a vintage Italian olive oil bottle from Casa Capriz. Dining area The 1960s teak dining table, Ico Parisi mahogany and white leather dining chairs, vintage rattan mirror and glass rose vases were all from Casa Capriz. The Louis Poulsen PH5 suspension lamp was from Design Within Reach and the crystal bowl is a vintage piece by Orrefors . The sancai Lokapala tomb guardian, on the windowsill, was from Tai Sing Fine Arts. The candleholder, one of a pair, was made in Macau in the 70s. “They were made by the same craftspeople who made our metal security door, which I didn’t have the heart to replace when we renovated,” Abe says. Dining area detail The collection of Depression glassware came mostly from car boot sales in Otley, in Yorkshire, England, on visits to Cunliffe’s parents. “I pay about a pound apiece,” Abe says. The Elsa Peretti Thumbprint bowl was from Tiffany & Co . The art deco table lamp was a gift from a friend in Miami and the vintage Italian glass bar trolley was from Casa Capriz. The large mixed-media artwork was by Abe; the découpage Indian goddess was by Rosie Cornwallis, from Udaipur; and the Tropical acrylic painting was by Calder. Abe has owned the Japanese ukiyo-e print for years. Kitchen Mosaic tiles in a vintage Hong Kong pattern line the floor and walls of the galley kitchen, which was renovated in 2009 by Creative Decoration and Furniture (Micah Ho, tel: 9431 3068). The fish-shaped vintage Vallauris majolica dinner set was from Casa Capriz and the green majolica salad plates were from a flea market in Marseillan, France. The still life is by Gary Feinberg. Main bedroom The bed is dressed with a vintage patchwork camel blanket from Udaipur, pillows made from vintage linen tea towels bought in a French flea market, Chinese indigo cushions from Mountain Folkcraft and bedsheets from Anthropologie . The faux bamboo bedside tables are plant stands from an estate sale in Miami Beach, and the table lamps (from Hollywood Road antique store Windsor House, now closed) were a gift. The artwork above the bed is Chances, Are and on the floor is Hairpin, both mixed-media pieces by Abe. The vintage Italian mirrors were from Casa Capriz. Master bathroom “That’s what happens when your shower curtain is short,” Abe says of the curtain’s charming Chinese indigo fabric extension. The sanitary ware, sink and taps were from Czech & Speake “because I couldn’t deal with another space-age toilet”. The lamp was from Alexander Stuart Designs and the vintage metal laundry basket came from Lane Crawford . Daughter’s bedroom A black-and-white photograph of baby Didi and her mother, Michiko, hangs in Calder’s room, surrounded by framed pages from Alexander Calder’s 1931 book, Fables of Aesop . The toleware chandelier was bought years ago in New York. The vintage teak bed is dressed with sheets from Anthropologie, a kantha quilt from Inside and toy mice from Barefoot . The prayer flags were from a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Woodstock, New York, and the string of pom-poms came from Anthropologie. Tried + tested Finders keepers A vintage enamel table in the dining area houses a collection of shells and other objects – crucifix catfish skulls, part of a turtle’s breastplate, crab shells, even a rusty piece of wire that reminded Didi Abe of an angel’s wing – that she picked up on the beaches near her old home on Sanibel Island, Florida. “It’s famous for its shells – they call it the shelling capital of the world,” she says. “I used to drop them on this table inside my front door.” The table was picked up at a Florida yard sale for US$5, and the Perspex top was added in Hong Kong to keep curious little fingers away from the potentially sharp-edged shells. Abe and her daughter, Calder, continue the tradition, adding nests, feathers and other interesting objects found on their regular walks. The gold foil and acrylic artwork on wood is by Minako Iwamura.