CHRISTINA STANDALOFT walks us through her cool Causeway Bay apartment, where she and partner Jay Jordan – both with backgrounds in design – have carried out a clever, space-savvy home makeover.
Where are you from originally?
My mother is Colombian and my father is Scottish. I was born in England, but left as a baby and moved around Asia with my family. Jay is from London and has lived in Asia for the past 15 years or so.
Are we right that this isn’t your first time in Hong Kong?
Yes, I first arrived in 1997 at age three, staying through primary and secondary school. Growing up here meant that I made wonderful friends from different countries and backgrounds – now I’m proud to say I have friends all over the world.
Jay and I met in our high school design class in 2010 and have been together ever since. We both studied architecture in the UK and always planned to return to Hong Kong as we could see the design scene really blossoming. Since officially moving back in 2017, we’ve had the opportunity to rediscover all HK’s oddities and hidden quirks. We love watching this city transform!
Where do you both work?
I’m an interior designer at BEAN Buro. “BEAN” stands for “Between Exchanges of Architectural Narratives” – it’s a French-Japanese interior architecture studio that pursues really innovative and beautiful design for all project types. I have a leading role in my design team, driving the design concept and story, while coordinating with clients, suppliers, consultants and my own colleagues to deliver beautiful, unique spaces.
Jay completed his Master’s this year and also won the Hong Kong Institute of Architects Student Medal. He was then invited to join ESKYIU, a US-HK experimental design studio, where he now works as an architectural designer.
Where is your home in Hong Kong?
Causeway Bay. I fell in love with the area via my friends who insisted we hang out here all the time after school, and who showed me how colourful, complicated and fun it can be. I like everything about it: the vibrancy, the 24-hour shops, the accessibility and variety, the noise, lights and energy.
Tell us a bit about the location.
We’re very close to Times Square. Our building is part of a growing fashionable area in Causeway Bay just off the main road – a row of preserved colonial-style walk-ups from the 60s and 70s. Our neighbours are designer cafés, artisanal delis and independent boutiques. The area is transforming in a really amazing, grassroots way. We’re also next door to Happy Valley Race Course and the HKFC, and there are a lot of designer furniture brands and homeware stores minutes from our door.
Do you have a particular home décor style?
As students of design and architecture, we appreciate a lot of approaches. We often test out new styles at work for different clients. However, what we always love to explore is the contemporary, playful and understated, where we try to really appreciate or celebrate a particular architectural element or material by letting it breathe. We love tastefully incorporating curved forms and organic lines, whether it’s in an artwork, accessory or piece of furniture. In terms of colour palette, for this flat we went for fresh and earthy tones to maximise the natural light. There are definitely traces of Scandinavian and Japanese contemporary design inspiration in our home right now, but we’re always learning and evolving.
Though it’s a small flat, the way Christina and Jay have planned the space maximises the feeling of connectedness through the rooms. “Each decision we made in designing the layout was about creating special, particular ‘moments’, for both ourselves and visitors,” says Christina. She runs us through some of those key decisions here.
#1 Glass Wall Partition
“A full-height frosted glass screen divides the living areas from the private rooms. It’s unconventional, but great for bringing light from the windows deep into the home with a beautiful, blurred effect. When all the doors are open, the entire flat feels like one space.”
#2 Open Living Area
“The living/dining area adjoins our little open kitchen, separated only by a low, long storage unit that we designed, built and upholstered. It means the entire area is very social – amazing for entertaining or relaxing. Whether someone is cooking, watching a movie or getting dressed for an event, we’re always together in this central space. Big, leafy plants add another touch of life and colour.”
“This is our first place together, so we wanted the space and freedom to live and work the way we’d like to. That’s why we created a devoted study and wardrobe space, separate from the main bedroom and living area. The study is like our very own mini studio; our material samples, tools, cameras and stationery are neatly tucked away, giving us space to work on our design and craft projects.”
#4 Low Cabinet Partitions
“Another key thing is how we’ve used half-height display and storage cabinets to partition the spaces while still making them feel connected. By curating these subtle corridor areas, layered with lovely plants, we can make the public living area seem bigger, while keeping privacy in the sleeping and working areas. We achieved the same effect with our bespoke low cabinet that separates the sofa from the kitchen.”
“Each corner and surface is curated with accessories – terrazzo blocks, rattan baskets, brass cups, tinted glass vases, textural ceramics and timbers with soft curving forms that recall different adventures and memories. I love rotating and re-styling to match the weather, season or occasion.”
“One of our favourite things is the beautiful mirror we mounted directly opposite the front door. The mirror frames you as you enter, making the space feel larger and more dramatic – it’s a unique portal effect. We also added a playful curvy mirror to the reading corner.”
The couple pick the places in their home that bring them the most joy.
Christina: My favourite is my reading corner. As space is so scarce in Hong Kong, I find that a luxury like this – a beautiful, comfy corner to relax in – is often the first thing to be given up. When we were planning the bedroom I wanted a simple space like this: no closet, no storage, just a beautiful, bright space where I can rest, read, or roll out a yoga mat.
Jay: I love the study area. Another luxury in HK is having a devoted place to work at home comfortably. We now love working from home, surrounded by plants, beautiful accessories and music. It was also important that the study be visually connected to the main living area, so that even when we’re working, we don’t feel cut off. Combined with the feature art, the furnishings and the huge bright window, it’s a really special space.
What do you like to do in Hong Kong outside of work?
In the summer, we take any chance we can to swim, paddle-board or be by the water. But we also love immersing ourselves in the city; it’s a tradition of ours to just wander around the streets year round, day or night, visiting pop-up shops, galleries, furniture and homeware stores. We’ve been having chilled walks like this since we met at age 16! A decade later, some of our best memories and unexpected experiences and opportunities are from these simple city strolls. As our interests change and expand, so do the different journeys and routes we take, and the way we look at the city.
Where’s the first place you’d like to go when borders open, and why?
Colombia, the UK and the US, to visit my family and best friends that I haven’t seen in far too long. After that, we’re not sure – after moving into our very own space for the first time, every day has felt like a vacation! We feel lucky.
Christina’s and Jays Recommendations
Homeware & Furniture
“A great new discovery for us has been TRIBE by Indigo Living, a great contemporary brand that embraces some really beautiful, emerging design trends while balancing accessibility and affordability. It has great ranges of larger furniture pieces and energetic accessories that have helped us make our new home exactly what we envisioned. Our sofa, dining set and a number of our cabinets are from TRIBE.”
“Other great brands that we have visited often recently include:
- House for Goodies
- At Home
- Establo, and H&M Home.”
Restaurants, Shops & Boutiques
“Recently, we’ve been spending time visiting Sham Shui Po, a historically rich, but now upand-coming area of HK that’s full of hidden gems; our favourite boutique is Pause Rewind & Fast Forward, which sells gorgeous fresh and dried flowers.”
“Also in Sham Shui Po are a number of independent cafés that each offer a completely new experience, with wonderful and weird interior design concepts. Our favourite at the moment is The Soulroom – we recommend the Earl Grey scones!”
“Closer to home, in Causeway Bay, our favourite spots include:
- Sushi Tachi
- Fleur de Sel (for the best crepes in HK!)
- New Feather & Bone in Lee Gardens
- Fine Print, and
This article first appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.