A lot of people talk about the desire for a less hectic lifestyle but few actually achieve it. Not so Dylan Poh, who decided that an old Sai Kung village house, overlooking the sea, would be the ticket to a more peaceful state of mind. “Hong Kong is incredibly busy and everyone gets stressed out earning money to buy things, which only makes a space cluttered and not at all calming,” says Poh, a corporate lawyer who was born in the city. “I am of the ‘less is more’ school of thought and believe we have to live in the moment and then let it go. I wanted my home to be very minimal and Zen, and to give me the space to find solitude, reflection and inner peace.” After deciding to buy the house on first viewing, he enlisted his friend, interior architect Glory Tam Chi-kiu, of Mister Glory, to help him transform it from ordinary to something special. The pair collaborated on the concept for the house for two months before work began. (It took seven months to complete.) Tam then pared it back to a shell and gave Poh some homework: to come up with one Chinese character to reflect each of the four 250 sq ft floors, one of which is a roof terrace. Poh chose the character for “ground” to describe the lowest floor; “white” for the first-floor multipurpose living space; “water” for the second-floor bedroom and bathroom; and “sky” for the roof terrace. Tam then incorporated these concepts into his designs through materials, colours and textures. How taking risks made a spacious Hong Kong flat feel like home “Most of the themes are obvious but I chose the theme of ‘white’ for the first floor because to me it represents emptiness and space,” says Poh. “However, this doesn’t mean ‘nothing’ but rather acts in the sense of a blank canvas to encourage creativity and introspection.” Upstairs in the sole bedroom, handcrafted, blue-striped wallpaper is an abstract representation of the sea and partially covers a gently curving wardrobe. To reinforce the water theme, Tam managed to fit a deep, square tub into the small en suite bathroom, which also worked with the home’s Japanese vibe. “Having a bath is a luxury in a Hong Kong home and rare for a house of this size but I insisted on it,” says Poh. “I am a fan of Japanese aesthetics and the bathtub gives the feel of the Japanese onsen ritual, a time for healing, resting and cleansing. Water is the highest form of purity and goodness.” How a mix of simplicity and detail transformed a Hong Kong flat Banisters that are reminiscent of shoji screens reinforce the home’s Japanese look and feel. Tough, translucent paper fills the upper spaces of the banister’s lattice structure, and in the bottom section (from the first floor up), switchable smart glass, which can be rendered translucent by remote control, offers privacy. The cute little house is minimal in the extreme and reflects Poh’s dislike of clutter. Apart from a fitted kitchen, the only furniture on the ground floor is a wall-mounted sideboard, with a pull-out dining table (see Tried + tested ), and two rounded cuboid seats. The first-floor living room is furnished almost as sparsely, with tatami mats, a floor lamp, two zaisu chairs and a low table. “I want the house to be practical and versatile and become what each visitor or occasion needs it to be,” says Poh. “For example, my nieces and nephews think of the first floor as a play room; I practise yoga and meditate there and my grandfather feels it is a place for sleeping. I also want them to feel the space.” An industrial unit becomes an art-filled, eye-catching studio The bedroom can also be used for other purposes. Tam designed a Murphy bed and installed a row of ceiling-mounted blinds to divide the room. Each storey has some form of outdoor area – a small terrace or balcony – but most striking is the rooftop, with its uninterrupted sea views, stretching to the mountains in the distance. Here, Tam built an outdoor shower and a relatively large square tub for more onsen-style action, leaving space next to it for an easy chair and footstool – the perfect place to read, relax and watch the sun go down. “I am so happy here – this is my dream house,” says Poh. “People are so driven by money and status but all you really need is a simple life and a place to rest, which is what I have here.” Rooftop Glory Tam Chi-kiu and Ada Lam Ching-yi, of Mister Glory (misterglory.com), designed and made the onsen tub. The easy chair and stool came from Taobao (taobao.com). The Caesar floor tiles came from Melos 2 (296 Portland Street, Mong Kok, tel: 2809 2109) and the textured stone tiles behind the tub were from Omega Tile & Stone (shop A, 31 Fleming Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2877 0019). Living room Japanese aesthetics are apparent in the first-floor living space, with tatami mats from Ito Futon (itofuton.com), a home-made low table and zaisu chairs from Taobao, which was also the source for the rectangular floor lamp and round outdoor chair. The smart glass in the banister framework, beneath the paper panels, came from China Glass Network (m.glass.com.cn). The framed Chinese calligraphy is by Vivien Chan (vivienchan.co.uk). Bedroom Tam and Lam designed the Murphy bed and the wardrobes. The latter are partially covered in handcrafted wallpaper by Awagami Factory (awagami.com). The custom-made screens came from Taobao. En suite bathroom The stylish en suite features a cylindrical sink from Classic Bathroom Accessories (249 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2802 0328), a mirror from Zara Home (zara.com.hk) and a Toto loo from Galaxy Bathroom Collection (galaxybc.com.hk). The wall tiles were from First Class Building Material Supplies (290 Lockhart Road, tel: 2877 3218). Ground floor Tam designed and installed the kitchen and the slatted wooden screen, which semi-divides the village house’s entrance from the rest of the ground-floor room. The ceiling light came from Taobao and the raffia basket from Ikea (ikea.com.hk). The floor tiles came from Hop Hing Lung Material (235 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 3013) and the Caesar wall tiles were from Melos 2. Local artist Carmen Ng (carmen-ng.com) created the artwork, The Sun and the Moon . Staircase detail The white shoji paper used in the banisters came from Ito Futon. Tried + tested Floating an idea A permanent dining table would occupy too much space so Glory Tam Chi-kiu and Ada Lam Ching-yi, of Mister Glory, designed a wall-mounted sideboard. A “drawer” fitted with a retractable surface pulls out – perfect for serving meals for two. The bowls came from Hakdei (hakdei.com), the stools from Shibazhi (shibazhi.com). The raffia mats were from Zara Home.