By: Chelsea Werth; photos by Rebecca Bisset
If you’re a fashion stylist by day, you’re probably going to know a thing or two about styling a home as well. Ellen Lobler certainly does, as Expat Living discovered on a visit to her Sai Kung residence.
Take a peek inside fashion stylist Ellen Lobler’s Sai Kung home in our gallery above
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon we find ourselves heading up a small hill above Sai Kung and along a picturesque row of houses towards Ellen Lobler’s residence. In a parking lot, we stop to ask a man on a motorbike if we have the right place; it turns out to be Ellen’s husband, Joost. He shows us the way inside and introduces us to Ellen, her two daughters (Josephine, 13, and Pippa, nine) and their two very friendly dogs. Originally from Holland, Ellen is a wife, mother, home decorator and fashion stylist, and she seems to relish every one of those roles.
Our tour of her home begins on the open patio, perfect for entertaining, and with a great statement piece in the form of an old pew; the couple brought it over from their last home in London, along with quite a bit of their furniture.
The four-storey, three-bedroom house is 25 years old but it still works style-wise and there are pops of colour in nearly every room. Ellen and Joost felt it was important to paint the walls and treat the space like it was their own; luckily they have a great expat landlord who allowed them to do this.
The house is full of beautiful and intricate pieces the family has collected during their travels. In the centre of the living room is an exquisite old coffee table from the Congo; it was originally a bed. Thank goodness beds have developed since those days, though Ellen admits that, after a party, one guest managed to spend the entire night on it.
The walls are covered with family photos, taken by Venture Photography, as well as old photos of their previous houses, including in London and the Caribbean. There are plenty of interesting books, too.
The master bedroom, painted deep blue, has an impressive amount of built-in storage space. In Hong Kong, any storage is a luxury, so it was one thing that immediately appealed to the family on their initial viewing of the house. Being able to look on to the pool surrounded by pretty communal gardens was a bonus – a nice alternative to only having other buildings in view.
So how do Ellen and Joost feel about living in Sai Kung, away from the hustle and bustle of city life? Joost makes the commute to Central every day; he rides his motorbike so he can cut through the traffic. The couple loves living away from the busy city and, of course, the house is a lot cheaper and larger than anything they saw on the island. There’s a very cute village just down the hill from them and a growing Western community all around.
Like most of us, Ellen never really considered a move to Hong Kong before it happened; the family was very settled in the UK in a gorgeous house when Joost was offered work here. Since the banking industry in Hong Kong was looking a lot more positive than it was in the UK, they took the decision to uproot and relocate.
The first priority on arrival a little over two years ago was to find a school for the children. This proved difficult, however – as it does with many expats moving to Hong Kong. At first, they could only get them into Quarry Bay School on the island, so there was a lot of commuting; still, having this home to come back to made it worth the effort. Now the girls go to King George V School and Clearwater Bay School.
Speaking of commuting, although Ellen lives in Sai Kung, most of her styling clients are in town. There is an MTR about 10 minutes away, but she finds it easier to drive since she is constantly carrying things that she has bought to show clients. She just makes sure she doesn’t travel at peak hours.
Her client shopping includes trips to Shenzhen – it’s really convenient to get to, the fabric selection is outstanding, and the prices are a steal. It’s obviously quite a knack feeling comfortable with the bargaining side of it and it’s not for everyone. Normally, Ellen takes photos of clothing or accessories to send to her clients before purchasing.
In the course of her work, Ellen has also scoped out a plethora of home-decorating shops; favourites include Indigo, Bowerbird, Sofa Sale and Red Cabinet. For clothing, she tends to go to Shenzhen for hand-tailoring, but she also frequents Zara, Massimo Dutti, Cos and Top Shop. She now knows where to go to find sizes for Westerners, which cuts out a lot of time.
When Ellen has visitors she loves to show them around the old villages in the New Territories, preferring to head to traditional Hong Kong spots rather than the busy city. In particular, she recommends the seafood restaurants in Sai Kung Village as a great experience. If you’re lucky, she says, you might even see dogs dining in matching outfits with their owners (something Ellen and Joost are yet to do with their own two dogs!).
On the island, Ellen enjoys taking visitors to Cat Street for antiques, Soho, and the art galleries on Hollywood Road. She loves sourcing items that originally had other functions, encouraging her clients and visitors to purchase these as they make fantastic decorating pieces. A bit further afield is another of her favourite places to browse for things for the house, Ap Lei Chau’s Horizon Plaza. Closer to home, you might find Ellen getting her nails done at Sabai Day Spa in Sai Kung or having a foot massage at Ozon in the nearby old town.
And when she’s not somewhere on the road between Shenzhen, Sai Kung and the city, Ellen likely to be hard at work on her website, loblerdelaney.com, where she collaborates with fellow fashion stylist Sara Delaney on everything from wardrobe weeding to personal shopping.
2 Lee Lok Street, Ap Lei Chau, Unit 5, Level 2
2552 2727 | bowerbird-home.com
Cos | cosstores.com
Massimo Dutti | massimodutti.com
Sabai Day Spa
2F/10D, Po Tung Road, Sai Kung
2791 2259 | sabaidayspa.com
10/F, Lok’s Industrial Building
204 Tsat Tsz Mui Road, Quarry Bay
2541 1230 | sofasale.com.hk
The Red Cabinet
Shop 209-210, Retail Podium 2/F One Island South,
2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang
2536 0123 | red-cabinet.com.hk
Top Shop | topshop.com
1/F, Winway Building,
50 Wellington Street, Central
2885 6262 | venturephotography.com
Zara | zara.com/hk