From the outside, Jo and Willy Lorenz’s village house in Lantau is unassuming and unremarkable. The 2,100-sq-ft, threestorey building looks much like its island neighbours – until you pass through the bold blue front door. Then the true nature of the house reveals itself as a breath of Australian fresh air in steamy Hong Kong.
A colour palette dominated by crisp white and blue, and accented with natural elements of wood and stone has created a “rustic country” style that speaks volumes about its owner’s occupation. A fashion, food and interiors stylist, Jo Lorenz knows a thing or two about putting together a look.
She wanted to create something very different to the usual Hong Kong interior. “There’s a distinctive style to Hong Kong houses – the herringbone floors and so on,” she says. “And we really wanted our house to feel like you’re not necessarily in Hong Kong.
We wanted to step into something a bit more provincial, a bit more like a home that Willy and I might have grown up in.”
For Jo, that meant the freedom of an outdoor lifestyle in Sydney, Australia, while her pilot husband grew up on a farm in the rural United States.
Although the couple met and married in the urban heart of Hong Kong Island, the arrival of their first son – now two – prompted a move to Lantau, where they first purchased a house in a development of 26 similar properties. After redecorating and selling that property, the couple bought their latest home, which was in a less-than-perfect state, last year.
“It was a concrete shell,” says Jo, who was eight months pregnant with her second son when they moved in after a three-month renovation. The couple picked up the restoration work where the previous owners had left off and set about turning three separate 700-square-foot apartments into a cohesive home. That included building an interior staircase from the ground floor to the first floor (there was already access between the first and second floors) and replacing the enormous windows, which were overlooked by the neighbours, with small stained-glass panels of Lorenz’s design (see Tried + tested) to give the family greater privacy as well as adding style and colour.
All the plumbing and electrical work had to be ripped out and reinstalled to meet industry standards, and while the layout remained much the same – three bedrooms, two bathrooms – a new interior was painstakingly created with the help of a contractor.
“You can see I’m boringly obsessed with blue and white,” Jo says, laughing. “But we wanted a livable home. We wanted something that worked and was functional. Everything gets used; everything has a purpose. We wanted to create a really livable space that is also quite magical for the kids.”
While the ground floor is given over to a generous open-plan kitchen-diner-sitting room, complete with faux chimney breast and stone-clad walls, the first floor is devoted to the children, who enjoy an enviable playroom with soft wall-to-wall carpeting and large windows. A guest bathroom and study occupy the same floor, while the top floor houses the master bedroom, a family bathroom and two smaller bedrooms for the boys.
French doors lead from the kitchen to a small patio used to store surfboards and other paraphernalia (Willy is a keen paraglider). One day, the gear may be accommodated in a small guest house, “or man cave”, they are considering building on land opposite the house, across a public path, that is legally attached to their property. One thing is for sure: it will be perfectly coordinated with the rest of this stylish house.
Styling: Jo Lorenz
Kitchen The heart of the home, the kitchen is a rustic haven. The cabinetry, island and Corian bench top (HK$57,000) came from Design Point (290 Portland Street, Mong Kok, tel: 3580 1206). The stone cladding on the walls (HK$90 per square foot) is patio flooring from Omega Culture Stone & Construction Material Company (191 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 9879 8784). The kitchen stools (HK$559 each) were purchased through Taobao (www.taobao.com) while the engineered-wood flooring was acquired through a friend for about HK$70 per square foot. The baby chairs (HK$249 each) were from Ikea.
Under the stairs A white Liatorp console table (HK$1,690) from Ikea is a perfect fit under the stairs. The matching ceramic table lamps (HK$1,085 each) came from Pottery Barn (www.potterybarn.com), in the United States.
Sitting room Jo Lorenz designed a faux chimney breast to disguise ugly pipework. The Ektorp twoseater sofa and chaise longue (HK$6,290 for both), and plant stands (HK$299 each), were from Ikea. The coffee table was a gift. The vintage barn pendant lamp (HK$390) came from sofasale.com.hk; and the Spode Italian dairy jug was a gift.
Playroom The light and airy playroom has a bespoke day bed made by Willy Lorenz, as well as a Backabro sofa bed (HK$5,000) and chaise longue (HK$6,990) from Ikea to accommodate guests. The two Adirondack chairs (US$99 each) and large canvas bucket (US$49), used to store toys, were from Pottery Barn Kids (www.potterybarnkids.com), in the US. The weatherproof cushions came from Into the Fold (www.intothefold.com.au) and the wall-to-wall carpet (HK$36 per square foot) was from Forever Wallpaper & Carpet (260 Lockhart Road, tel: 2519 0278).
Master bedroom The king-sized bed was purchased from Tequila Kola several years ago and is no longer available. The matching Hemnes bedside tables (HK$499 each), Jara lamp shades (HK$99.90 each) and Gaser rug (HK$1,490) were from Ikea, and the wooden lamp bases (HK$520 each) came from Tang Tang Tang Tang (66 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2525 2112). The wooden valet was purchased through Taobao several years ago. The cream carpet (HK$36 per square foot) came from Forever Wallpaper & Carpet.
Bathroom The free-standing Virginia tub by Roca (HK$15,600) came from RocaConcepts (1/F, The Hennessy, 256 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2510 2677). The lights (HK$1,200 plus delivery) were designed by Jo Lorenz and made by Huizhou Sinlong Craftworks (sinlong.en.alibaba.com), in Guangdong province. The small step stool (US$59) came from Pottery Barn Kids. Lorenz made the wooden bath rack and the basket was a gift.
Bedroom The baby’s room is calm and restful. The cot, side table and changing table – which Lorenz made from a wine rack – were hand-me-downs from friends. The carpet (HK$36 per square foot) came from Forever Wallpaper & Carpet; the drum ceiling light (US$129), striped canvas bucket (US$27), striped oar (US$39) and bear mobile (US$59) all came from Pottery Barn Kids.
Rear window While some people would delight at the prospect of floor-to-ceiling windows, Jo Lorenz (www.lamaisondelorenz.com) felt they were a wasted opportunity.
"There were windows everywhere when we bought the house," she says. "I just didn't see the point of these huge glass panels that would always have to be covered by a curtain since they looked straight out onto our neighbours."
Her solution was to reduce the size of the windows and replace them with smaller stained-glass windows of her own design.
"They let in light while at the same time giving us privacy and adding colour and style to the space," she says.
The custom-made stained-glass windows, including this one in the guest bathroom (HK$2,500), were made by Huizhou Sinlong Craftworks (sinlong.en.alibaba.com), in Guangdong.