When Nancy and Alex Leung’s landlady decided to sell the 460 sq ft (43 square metre) flat they were renting in Whampoa in Hong Kong’s Kowloon, the couple decided it was as good a time as any to get a foot on the housing ladder. The flat, says Canadian Nancy Leung, suited all their needs. It was conveniently located; it was in a fairly good condition; and having already lived there for six years, it felt like home. They initially thought about a partial renovation but, unsure how to go about it, they asked designer Dylan Tan Dar-luen of WOM Concept to help them out. “Talking to Dylan was eye-opening,” says Leung. “He offered us a lot of suggestions to maximise the apartment’s potential, which we would never have thought about. He was sensitive to our needs and what would be possible in a small space without making it feel cramped. Suddenly, it felt a much better idea to do an entire renovation rather than superficial touch-ups.” So the Leungs moved out to a short-term rental nearby and Tan and his team moved in. Although Tan kept the same basic layout, he integrated the kitchen into the living area to amplify the space and improve the circulation of natural daylight. Opening up the kitchen also paved the way for a dining nook. When slim lighting didn’t work on the ceiling, Tan used it on the wall to frame a contemporary clock and create a focal point. He also knocked down the wall dividing the two original bedrooms to consolidate the space and make it into one larger room, with built-in storage and a study area. A family home filled with natural materials and timeless ‘forever’ pieces “As soon as Dylan took down the wall and merged the bedrooms, I discovered I was pregnant,” says Leung. “There was that split-second thought that we could have made the second bedroom into a nursery but it’s a more unified space without the wall.” Because space is tight, every bit counts so the Leungs sold most of their old furniture to make way for bespoke pieces that would fit precise specifications. According to Tan, the project’s main challenge was a diamond-shaped living room, which was Leung’s biggest bugbear. Although he says he doesn’t normally encourage clients to go for a custom-made sofa, here, it was the only solution. “We’ve never had tailor-made furniture before,” says Leung. “We usually buy things we need, that ‘almost’ fit, and throw them all together. The flat now looks and feels ergonomically great.” Renovating the bathroom wasn’t something the Leungs had entertained but Tan tweaked the original layout to promote better natural lighting and airflow. He did this by moving the washing machine into the kitchen and swapping the position of the shower stall and vanity area to give a larger showering space and consequently a more relaxing experience. Tan advised them to go for the same terrazzo-style wall tiles as in the kitchen and similar wood-patterned flooring to the living room to create the illusion of extended space. When the couple first moved back in to their “new” flat about two months ago, the bathroom in particular gave them the feeling that they were on a staycation. Hong Kong family home has perfect balance of comfort and style Tan came up with a colour scheme of fresh white with matt black details – including door frames, cupboard handles, light switches and lighting – teamed with warm wooden flooring and accessories. Attention to detail is meticulous: for example, all details at ground level (such as plug sockets) are white; those that are waist high and upwards are black. To prevent the flat from looking bland, Tan introduced pops of colour, with two lines of multicoloured, wall-mounted blocks in the living room and bursts of green and orange in the bedroom/study. He also mixed focal and diffused lighting to allow for different mood combinations and create a homey ambience. “The whole process was a learning experience for us,” says Leung. “We couldn’t see the bigger picture and how the different pieces would fit together but if you stick to what you know, you’ll never discover anything better. Dylan challenged what we were used to and got us out of our comfort zone and our home is all the better for it.” Living area Tan of WOM Concept (wom-concept.com) created the coloured blocks of wood that enhance the living room wall. He also custom designed the angled sofa, which he ordered from Taobao (taobao.com), as well as the window seat cupboards and cushion, and the A/V unit, all of which were made by Hoi Tsun Decoration Design Engineering (Superluck Industrial Centre, 20/F, unit F5, Tsuen Wan, tel: 9655 7465). The blind came from May On Decorative Products (may-on-decorative-products.business.site); the floor and table lamps both came from Taobao. The coffee table came from House of Goodies (houseofgoodies.com) and the rug was from Ikea (ikea.com.hk). The Frame television was by Samsung (samsung.com). Bathroom detail Having initially decided not to renovate their bathroom, Alex and Nancy Leung were glad Tan encouraged them to take the plunge. The terrazzo-look tiles came from Atlas Concorde by Pacific (pls.hk), the sink was from Happy Face Discount Depot (ebon.com.hk), and the tap from Hansgrohe (hansgrohe.com). Dining area Going against the idea of cohesion, Tan suggested mismatched dining chairs, all of which came from Establo (establo.hk). The marble dining table was designed by Tan and made by Hoi Tsun Decoration Design Engineering. The ceiling lamp came from Homeless (homeless.hk) and the wall clock from UR Lifestyle (urlifestyle.com.hk) is framed with lighting from I Lighting & Switches (gira.com). Kitchen Royal Kitchen Design (royalkitchendesign.com) designed and installed the kitchen. The room’s terrazzo-look tiles echo the ones in the bathroom. Bedroom The master bed with built-in headboard, cupboards and bedside tables was designed by Tan and made by Hoi Tsun Decoration Design Engineering. The reading lamps, integrated into the headboard, were from Homeless and the circular wooden wall hooks came from Taobao. Study area What was originally a tiny second bedroom is now a study area within the master bedroom. The desk and shelves were designed by Tan and made by Hoi Tsun Decoration Design Engineering. The chair, file boxes and notice board were all sourced from Taobao. Tried + Tested Tan installed a projector screen in the bedroom in the space where the partition wall used to be. It can drop down to the floor and acts as a temporary room divider – as well as offering the Leungs the option of movie nights in bed. The projector screen was supplied and installed by Hoi Tsun Decoration Design Engineering.