Arriving in Hong Kong as a first-time expat or after a happy posting elsewhere can be very daunting, especially when many others seem so at home in this busy and somewhat chaotic city. This was the case for the occupant of this Mid-Levels flat and her family. After 10 happy and settled years enjoying the relatively slower pace of life in Singapore, the adjustment to life here took longer than expected.
Thankfully, her two great loves, “eco and deco”, were to become her saviours and helped her find her place in Hong Kong. “Eco” refers to her career in economics, which she now teaches to secondary pupils and which she admits has given her life here a perfect balance between work and family. “Deco” is her passion for all things interiors which she shares with many of her neighbours and has resulted in some deep friendships and many happy day trips indulging in their shared love of retail therapy.
In Singapore, the family was lucky enough to live in a spacious house, so one of the challenges they had to overcome here was to make their apartment feel like a home. Originally they wanted to live on the Southside of the island near the sea, but a fortunate detour through the botanical gardens on the way to viewing this property made them realise that there was a pleasant bit of green in the city. The flat, with its almost Art Deco-style original metal panelled window frames and interesting layout, also had the character and soul that had eluded them during their two previous house-hunting visits.
The spacious living-dining room is blessed with windows at either end flooding the entire space with natural light and allowing stunning views down to Central and up to The Peak. The furnishings and accessories are eclectic and include everything from French Regency-style chairs upholstered in animal print to Balinese sculptures and artwork, all unified by a colour palette of brown, camel, beige and green.
Every piece of furniture tells a story. The stunning Indian coffee table is a much-loved statement piece and the perfect spot to display a huge collection of interior design “bibles”.
Although most of the furniture was shipped with them from Singapore, they have tried to modernise the scheme in their new home with the addition of some chrome and mirrored pieces including the two cowhide stools from The Hamptons Furniture. The chrome and glass console table in the dining room was found at Indigo, one of their favourite stores because of its dedication to sourcing the latest interior trends.
Almost every new purchase is carefully considered and a joint husband-and-wife decision, but there are occasional impulse buys on regular jaunts over the border to Shenzhen’s Outer Limits with her team of interior-loving companions. The carpets in almost every room are from O’Seka Carpets there; an attempt to detract from the expanses of dark wood and to create logical divisions of space.
A velvet-upholstered chaise longue next to a Chinese-style coffee table with green leather inlay form a cosy reading alcove in a corner of the living room. The distressed panelled mirror above is from Bowerbird Home and the large canvas of cherry blossoms, a reminder of The Philosopher’s Walk in Kyoto, was found by chance at Dafen art village.
The small balcony off the living room is decorated in a palette of navy and white with Ralph Lauren-style cushions and plants sourced at KK Horticulture in Sai Kung; an attempt to bring a little bit of nature into their high-rise home.
The master bedroom sticks to the calming cream and coffee colour scheme but accents of grey blue have been added in the window blinds, wall colour and cushions from Sogo and Altfield. The deep windowsills have been turned into perfect relaxation spaces with upholstered cushions, most of the fabrics found at New Bedford Interiors in Wanchai. The painting is from Vietnam and was originally in the living room but moved here for its soothing effect.
The couple’s two children both settled into Hong Kong life more quickly than their parents, perhaps a reflection that change becomes more difficult as we get older. They were immediately welcomed into the community at their school and relished the variety of sports and activities available.
Their bedrooms, however, are almost identical to the ones they left in Singapore, a deliberate tactic on behalf of Mum to help them feel at home in their unfamiliar surroundings.
Despite the family’s initial reluctance about living in Hong Kong, they have since discovered the charm, nature and variety that they originally thought was so lacking, as well as the opportunities that Hong Kong gives to every member of the family. Weekends are spent playing rugby at Valley Fort, surfing at Big Wave Bay and discovering quiet coves on Cheung Chau; all things that they admit release stress and soothe the mind. Their flat may be bang in the centre of the action but it is a calming retreat and a place they are now very happy to call home.