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This Tsim Sha Tsui flat combines elements of Bali, Japan and New York to create a warm, welcoming, bohemian space. Photo: Tracy Wong

How a Hong Kong couple come home to a holiday every day in their Tsim Sha Tsui flat

  • The ‘warm, calm, bohemian space’ is inspired by the Indonesian island of Bali, along with a touch of Japanese Zen and New York loft appeal
  • The 867 sq ft space unites tropical plants, natural materials and industrial elements, while Kowloon’s neon lights provide a backdrop

Bali is not the first place that springs to mind on entering an old-fashioned former office in a 50-year-old mixed-use building in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui. But that is exactly where fashion designer Shili Menon and her financier husband, Sasi, landed as inspiration for the two-bedroom, two-bathroom home they would build.

“Bali, with a bit of Japanese Zen,” Shili clarifies. “And a New York loft vibe,” Sasi adds.

And that is what they got, thanks to Liquid Interiors’ founder Rowena Gonzales and designer Michele Tagufa.

“The clients were really clear about what they wanted: they wanted to come home to a holiday every day,” Gonzales says.

Inside a Hong Kong family home inspired by New York loft living

The result is a warm, calm, bohemian space, alive with tropical plants and natural materials (inspired by Bali), wood and stone (Japan), and industrial elements (New York). Softening the hard edges are rounded walls and personal touches in the shape of Shili’s favourite soft furnishings.

“She has an eye for colour and texture and has really made her mark – it was so nice to work with someone who has great style,” Gonzales says.

The Menons chose the 867 sq ft space for its wall of large windows, overlooking the neon lights of Kowloon, and its narrow balcony – little more than a ledge with a parapet, but an outside space nonetheless.


“Because of the age of the building, it wasn’t a problem to replace the windows with sliding doors,” Gonzales says. “With the plants outside it really has a connection between the indoors and outdoors. It’s very open.”

The tiny balcony is one of Sasi’s favourite elements. “Especially at night, when the lights are on behind the plants – it looks really tropical,” he says.

Despite those large windows, the rear of the space is dark. “We knew it would always be dark so we made the entrance corridor deliberately moody,” Gonzales says. “When it opens into the bright living space, it’s like a surprise.”

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Lighting was especially important given the darkness of much of the flat. Backlights and uplighters provide soft, indirect illumination and a smartphone app allows the colour temperature to be adjusted for mood and the time of day. “It’s so much warmer than spotlights, especially at night,” Gonzales says.

Light wasn’t the only challenge when it came to converting the former office. “The space was tricky as there were so many beams,” Gonzales says.


In the kitchen, this was resolved by installing a series of wood beams – some of them artificial – bringing texture, warmth and character in contrast to the grey concrete floor and walls. Other warming elements are the wood veneer kitchen cabinetry and a gleaming copper-coloured metal splashback that bounces light into the kitchen. A colour-changing wall light adds atmosphere.

Large ceiling beams in the main bedroom posed more of a problem. Uplighters “lift” the beams and make them appear less heavy, Gonzales says, and they were clad in wood in a slightly redder tone than the stained oak veneer on the built-in wardrobes. Chunky wood furniture, including stools and tables made from sections of tree trunk – Bali style – are different again.

Inside a Hong Kong home infused with Japanese aesthetics

“We deliberately used different types of wood so as not to be monotone – it gives the space more dimension,” Gonzales says. “It was a challenge to find wood of the right quality: we wanted it to be tactile, to feel solid and heavy. We sourced it in China, but it took a long time to find exactly what we wanted.”


The door to the main bedroom, for example, is made of teak and weighs 70kg, yet fitting it to a black metal industrial-style sliding mechanism means it is light to move.

Careful space planning has allowed for plenty of storage, including a wall of cupboards in the entrance corridor that hides the washing machine, a pull-out shoe cupboard and the door to the guest bathroom – a Balinese-style nook with carved pebble basin and deep bathtub. There is more storage in the dining space, tucked under the kitchen island and in discreet floor-to-ceiling cupboards either side of the ethanol fireplace.

“We used every square centimetre,” Gonzales says. “It was important to get the details right.” 

Photo: Tracy Wong

Living area

“The Bali look came down to materials. Plaster walls create a cement-like texture but are softer on the eyes, and the accents are in natural materials,” says Liquid Interiors’ founder Rowena Gonzales. The wall finish on the fireplace is a combination of plaster and paint, applied by Choi Pik Decorative Paints.


The sofa was from Forth & Company (tel: +852 9209 7320), the coffee tables were from Tin’s Timber (308 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: +852 2341 5300), the Safavieh handmade natural fibre rug came from Overstock and the ethanol fireplace was from Lift Lifestyle International.

The metal sliding doors were designed by Liquid Interiors and custom made by contractor Master Land Professional, which also made the cupboards next to the fireplace. The sheer curtains were by Ego Resources (tel: +852 9432 1383).

Photo: Tracy Wong

Living area detail

Rather than a sharp corner in the L-shaped open-plan living area, Liquid Interiors installed a curved wall to open up the space and improve the flow. The fan was from TY Lighting, the white wooden wall carving came from Deco 79 (on, and the wall-hung baskets were from Rapee Living.


The ceiling beam uplights were from Impression Lighting (tel: +852 6233 7438). The wooden bench (just seen, behind the sofa) was custom made from Chinese railway sleepers by Tin’s Timber. It was supposed to be accompanied by a hanging chair. 

“Covid didn’t really impact the build except that one piece of furniture didn’t arrive,” Shili Menon says. “I like it better without it.”

Photo: Tracy Wong

Guest bathroom

Liquid Interiors had a deep, narrow concrete tub custom made, by Luen Hing Hong Building Materials (Hang Fung Industrial Building, 2G Hok Yuen Street, To Kwa Wan, tel: +852 2391 0356), to fit into the guest bathroom.

The taps and shower were from the Hotbath Italian collection from Oscar Bath & Kitchen (336 Lockhart Road, tel: +852 2988 1694). The Mona stool came from ALOT Living, the wall tiles were from Global Link International and the wood decking was from Gobo Flooring.

Photo: Tracy Wong

Main bedroom

Liquid Interiors designed the bed, headboard, dressing table, mirror and wardrobes. The Pop bedside tables are from Tree and the Fortitude wood and rattan pendant lamps are discontinued items from MyBaliLiving, in Bali. Also discontinued is the tree-trunk stool. The wall tiles were from Thicas Interiors and the bronze recessed reading lights, above the bedhead, were from Impression Lighting.

Photo: Tracy Wong

Kitchen detail

Liquid Interiors designed ceiling beams and shelves, which were custom made by Master Land Professional. The wood stool was custom made by Tin’s Timber. The colour-changing wall lamp by Joan Gaspar came from Marset.

Photo: Tracy Wong

Dining area and kitchen

The kitchen cabinets, splashback and island – which has built-in storage and a Caesarstone countertop in coastal grey – were custom made by Royal Kitchen Design. The kitchen tap was from Quooker. The chairs were from Nature Evolution and the Scorpios rattan pendant lampshades from My Bali Living.

Tried + tested

Photo: Tracy Wong

Top table A waney-edged slice of South American walnut wood fixed to the parapet encourages the couple out to use the balcony. A lip prevents accidental falls. It was custom made by Tin’s Timber. The plants are from Fleurs.