South African expat CINDY SCHAFER recently relocated from Soho to a Mid-Levels apartment, where she lives with husband Jared, their new bub Oliver (two months) and Kevin the kitty (adopted from the SPCA two years ago). We find out what she likes about her new home.
Where are you from originally? What do you miss about it?
We’re from Cape Town, South Africa. Of course, I’m pretty biased, so I consider South Africa one of the most beautiful countries! I really miss the natural landscape and vast open spaces. You don’t need to leave the country to experience some of the most picturesque mountains, oceans and rivers. My husband loves surfing, so he especially misses the surfing spots. Most importantly, we miss our friends and family, sitting around a braai and spending time with loved ones.
What brought you to Hong Kong?
Jared had the opportunity to be transferred here through his company. We’ve always loved Asia, and the chance to live and work in the region was an experience we didn’t want to pass up. So we packed up our apartment in Cape Town and started our adventure!
Before moving here, I’d never been to Hong Kong, so I really didn’t know what to expect. But I quickly fell in love with the city on arrival.
Tell us a bit about your art and your online projects.
I’ve always been a creative person, but it was only after moving to Hong Kong that I started to dedicate more time to my art and illustration. I find this a great place to foster and encourage creativity, so it’s been easy to focus more time and energy on my art. At the moment, I’m embracing my love for nature, plants, flowers and landscape scenes in my art. I take a lot of inspiration from the French painter Henri Matisse, with his use of colours, flattened shapes and decorative patterns.
When I’m not creating for fun, I take art commissions and sell prints of my illustrations, paintings and photographs. Each month, I create a monthly free desktop and mobile wallpaper – it’s a fun, creative outlet for me.
How long have you lived in this Mid-Levels apartment, and where were you previously?
In January 2022, we moved to Mid-Levels from the very busy Soho area. We needed a bigger space to support our growing family but wanted to remain close to the hubbub and ease of access of Central.
What attracted you to this particular apartment?
The feel of a home is essential; it needs to have a warm and inviting feeling when you walk in, which this apartment had straight away. We fell in love with the high ceilings, large windows and wooden flooring. The primary bedroom size was a significant factor, as it needed to accommodate our new baby.
The apartment also reminded us of the similar style of apartments you get in Cape Town, which makes us feel closer to home.
Tell us a bit about the location; what do you like about it? What’s nearby?
Mid-Levels gives us the best of both worlds. It’s a quick walk down the hill to the bars and restaurants of Central, but still out of the busy bubble with easy access to public transport and the Mid-Level Escalators. You’re also close to nature and the outdoors, with the Peak trails and hiking on the doorstep and the Hong Kong Botanical Gardens.
Since moving to the area, we’ve also found there is a great community of young and growing families here.
What are some of the key features of your home?
It’s a three-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms and a spacious living and dining area. The kitchen has a gas oven and hob, which is a big bonus, as my husband and I both really enjoy cooking. The apartment has large open windows that allow for the warm afternoon sun to stream through – this is really great in winter, and much loved by our cat, Kevin. We have a small view of the Peak and often we see rock climbers scaling the side of the mountain. On a really clear day, you can see out to the ocean on the opposite side. The bathrooms have a unique 70’s style to them and add character and charm to the apartment.
Is there a spot that you enjoy the most?
We love the spacious living and dining area where we spend most of our time hanging out and entertaining with friends. This is also the area of the apartment where I do most of my art, and where you usually can always find fresh flowers.
Run us through the details of any changes or renos you’ve done on your Mid-Levels apartment.
As we’re renting, we have been limited by what we can do in the apartment. However, we have taken advantage of the tall ceilings and wall space to put up art and photo prints throughout. There’s art from South Africa, Australia, Hong Kong and of course our own photography prints. We’ve only been in the apartment for a few months and we plan on adding more colour to the walls with a splash of paint in the bedrooms.
Do you have a particular home décor style?
A mix between mid-century modern and Scandi.
What are a few things you like to do in Hong Kong when you’re not working?
We love exploring on the weekends. We try to find new neighbourhoods and mission out to somewhere we wouldn’t ordinarily go. When we want to stay more local, we enjoy visiting art museums and galleries, riding the Star Ferry, taking the tram around the city, finding the next ramen gem and spending time with friends. One of our regular favourite things to do is to catch the ferry across to Cheng Chau, wander around the streets and eat an amazing lunch at one of the local restaurants.
Borders are starting to open (yay!); where’s the first place you’d like to go when you travel?
It’s been three years since we’ve been back to South Africa, so we will definitely do a trip back home. Specifically, we plan to go off the grid and do a safari trip – nothing beats a game drive in the morning surrounded by nature and animals!
DarkSide, Bar Butler, COA
Madame Fù, Won Pung Won Korean Restaurant (“for authentic Korean barbecue”), Chilli Fagara
Springbok Wines (“they deliver amazing South African wine”)
Green Lemon, Black Cherry, Excuse My French, Philippe le Bac
FUURN, Hapi, Kapok, Carousell, BoConcept, IKEA, H&M Home, Zara
See more of Cindy’s art at ohheycindy.com.
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