With its black-and-white tiled verandas, wrought-iron balustrades, graceful arches and symmetrical architecture, you could easily assume this gorgeous white stucco house is a beautifully restored relic of Hong Kong’s colonial past, located somewhere on The Peak, or perhaps in Shek O. It is, in fact, only five years old and situated on the outlying island of Cheung Chau. The site was developed around 1910 to accommodate an American missionary, later being passed on to various owners, one of whom set up a nunnery. But after its inhabitants left for other shores, the building fell into a state of dilapidation and, in 2011, the plot was put up for sale. When a British businessman, who had lived in Hong Kong for decades, heard about it through a friend, he jumped at the chance. Since he fulfilled certain conditions of sale – he would be the sole owner and wasn’t planning to build a large-scale development – the site and the rundown nunnery on it eventually became his. Although his initial idea was to save a piece of Hong Kong’s heritage and restore the old property, neglect had rendered the building structurally unsound. With all permits in place, he demolished the nunnery and engaged architect Eric Chih, of Chih Design, to design and build the 5,390 sq ft (500 square metre), four-bedroom, four-bathroom house that stands on the site today. The chinoiserie lamps that inspired a Hong Kong garden flat’s styling He insisted, however, that anything that could be salvaged be used in the new building, so original stones make up the stylish gated entrance. He also asked interior designer and friend Kaye Dong to create a classic interior with a modern voice. “We worked with Eric and the family from the get-go,” says Dong, founder of The Good Studio. “We were very familiar with their vision for the house and that gave us the framework for the interior concept. Nothing jars or looks out of place and I think that’s what gives the home its very tranquil vibe.” Rooftop jacuzzi, bold yellow sofa improve on penthouse’s hotel-style decor The creation of this symbiotic perfection wasn’t easy. Because no cars or trucks are allowed on Cheung Chau apart from a few small emergency vehicles and the odd village van, everything had to be hand-carried to the site or transported on a tiny trolley; no mean feat when it takes at least 20 minutes to walk to the house from the ferry terminal. “It was a labour of love,” says Dong. “Every single piece of building material came by ferry and had to be taken up there without using regular vehicles – and then came all the furniture and art. It took thousands of trips.” The design concept, arrived at with plenty of input from her clients, was to create a warm and welcoming home that celebrated their roots and could also be used by family and friends as a holiday retreat. With an open-plan kitchen, dining and living areas on the ground floor acting as the hub of the home and all the bedrooms above, it was to be comfortable and stylish without being precious. The interior is a master class in mixing heritage patterns, contemporary features and modern art. British influences can be spotted everywhere from the chequerboard-tiled entrance hall and bathrooms to the authentic red telephone box and postbox in the garden. Fashion designer’s Hong Kong atelier is an East-meets-West study in style White walls meet light herringbone flooring (see Tried + tested ), warmed by bespoke rugs; silver, charcoal and slate grey furniture add timeless sophistication and there are bioethanol fires within faux fireplaces in several rooms. Colour and character are supplied by an eclectic art collection including a wall of paddles by legendary Hong Kong artist Kwok Mang-ho , also known as Frog King. Upstairs, the light, bright and airy bedrooms all have veranda access and en suite bathrooms. Instead of a traditional en suite, a free-standing bath sits in the main bedroom itself, divided by a screen; the shower cubicle, loo and double sink unit are contained behind black-framed glass doors. A pair of bunkrooms is a sleepover delight – for adults as much as children. Dong and her team designed them with queen-sized widths and shared steps for easy climbing. Next to the house stands an enormous boulder over which a platform has been built, accessed by an industrial-looking staircase. Dedicated to alfresco dining and relaxation, it leads up to another similar deck on the roof of the house, featuring 360-degree views of the sea and countryside. “The house took about three years to build from the foundation stage through to completion,” says Dong. “It was a great project to work on and having also been lucky enough to stay here, I can honestly say it is a special place.” Exterior The house was built behind two frangipani trees, which are more than 50 years old. To celebrate their British roots, the family installed a classic red telephone kiosk in the garden from Unicorn Restorations (unicornrestorations.com). Living and dining room The living and dining areas are separated by traditional chequered floor tiles. In the dining area, a painting of the approach to the house is by Filipino artist Allan Flores (@allanybona.flores). The console table below it is from Tequila Kola (tequilakola.com). The dining table with Lazy Susan, the dining chairs and a small circular side table (by the window) all came from Eliz Furniture (eliz.com.tw), as did the living room sofa. The circular pendant light above the dining table came from Zodiac Lighting (zodiaclighting.com) and the lamp on the side table was from Ikea (ikea.com.hk). The circular table in the hallway was from Today Furnishing (today-furnishing.com). The living room mirror and cube shelves came from Tequila Kola. The floor lamp came from Ikea and the wall-mounted drawer was designed and made by The Good Studio (thegoodstudio.com). Master bedroom The master bedroom has a light and fresh feel. The bed was from Eliz Furniture and the bench came from Tom Dixon (tomdixon.net). The rug was from Miss Amara (missamara.hk) and the rocking chair was a gift. The bioethanol fireplace, by EcoSmart Fire (ecosmartfire.com), was bought through Design & Distribution Link (designlink.com.hk). The bath was from Oscar Bath & Kitchen (oscar-hk.com) and the mirrors were sourced by the contractor. The stool and screen moved in with the owners. Rooftop terrace The rooftop terrace, which features a central lightwell, was furnished with items sourced in mainland China by Co-Make (co-make.com). Veranda A veranda runs around the first floor of the house, connecting all the bedrooms. The wrought-iron table was from Irony Home (ironyhome.hk) and the chairs came from Eliz Furniture. Corridor An artwork from Redsea Gallery (redseagallery.com) adds a pop of colour to the upstairs corridor. The console was from Tequila Kola. Above it are black-and-white shots of the old nunnery that once occupied the site. The vintage fan came from a local antiques shop and the rug was from Miss Amara. The balusters, interior designer Kaye Dong says, added “that old colonial building look”. Stairwell Paddles by artist Kwok Mang-ho aka Frog King (frogkingkwok.com) make a jaw-dropping display on the staircase. The provenance of the Bruce Lee artwork has been forgotten. Tried + Tested The herringbone flooring looks and feels like wood but is actually tiles. Kaye Dong, of The Good Studio, says she avoided timber because the salt in the air due to the house’s proximity to the sea would cause it to deteriorate and rot. The bunk beds were designed by The Good Studio and made by Co-Make, which also found the reading lights. The coffee table and chair came from Eliz Furniture and the custom-made curtains (here and throughout the house) were from Hoover Window Fashion (8/F, Thriving Industrial Centre, 26 Sha Tsui Road, Tsuen Wan, tel: 2516 5501).