Home Journal is Hong Kong's leading design and lifestyle magazine. A high-quality, bilingual monthly, it brings readers the most up-to-date information on the latest decor trends, and provides inspiration by featuring the best local and international homes around.
Bathrooms are one of the most personal spaces in the home – where we are often at our most physically vulnerable state – yet many homeowners neglect this room as a space that can elevate your entire abode.
To this end, we’ve gathered 10 bathrooms in Hong Kong that have got it right in creating a safe haven for cleansing, relaxation and rejuvenation, to elevate your morning showers and time spent atop your porcelain throne. Keep reading for our selection, and head to our Directory to source the best bathroom products for yourself.
Designed by Peggy Bels to accommodate two people, this bathroom in Po Hing Fong features a lightly veined marble countertop and brass fixtures for that edge of decadence. A white paint scheme and darker wooden herringbone flooring creates the illusion of a higher ceiling, while near-floor-to-ceiling windows provide plenty of natural light. (Photo: Mitchell Geng)
Plenty of storage and counter space make this guest bathroom a veritable reading nook and temporary escape within a Simon Chong-designed 2,250sqft family home for a couple and their three children. The floor-to-ceiling white marble helps to bounce the limited natural light around. (Photo: Mitchell Geng)
A fireplace and bathtub flush with the floor make for cosy winter morning soaks in this spacious bathroom belonging to a 7,500sqft home on the Peak, designed by Jason Caroline Design. To the other side of the bathtub, a low window provides views onto the zen garden outside. (Photo: John Butlin)
There's no shortage of reflective surfaces for unabashed narcissists to admire themselves in this elegant show flat bathroom in Soho's Castle One by V residential development. Designer Philip Liao used light marble and bright lighting to further enhance the sense of spaciousness for what is otherwise a modest footprint. A Quadro sink basin from Claybrook anchors the glamorous aesthetic.
Royal blue tiles add contrast to the muted, neutral palette in the guest bathroom of this Liquid Interiors-designed 1,500sqft Happy Valley home, for a striking aesthetic borne out all the more by the round brass-trimmed mirror. (Photo: Edgar Tapan)
A white tub on washed wooden floors against bold-hued tiles lend personality to the master bathroom in Donna Shepherd's Sai Kung home, designed to embody her and her husband's preferences. The three-storey, 1,950sqft abode's bathrooms do not conform to a uniform look, and instead feature touches reflective of their user's unique characters. (Photo: Tracy Wong)
A vanity corner commands this spacious bathroom, outfitted with an illuminated mirror, pendant lights and a marble-topped table. It's part of a 2,100sqft abode in Repulse Bay designed by Twenty'o Eight Designs, where much of the cabinetry and furniture in the home were likewise custom-made by the studio for a coherent look characterised by subtle, rich textures and a muted palette. (Photo: Edgar Tapan)
Fit for a lady, this floral wall covering by Ellie Cashman decks out the powder room of a 2,300sqft home in Jardine's Lookout, designed by hoo for a grand dame in her 60s, and made feminine through French-inspired elements and antique touches. (Photo: Courtesy of hoo)
No expense was spared in the furnishing of this industrial hideaway, designed by House of Beast as a holiday home for a local banker. Intended mainly to host friends and family, the 6,000sqft dwelling's refined elements extend from the living room to the bedrooms and the bathrooms where, as in this one, lacquered tiled walls, a leather rimmed mirror, marble, brass and wood touches come together for a rich and indulgent experience. (Photo: Dennis Lo)
Few things beckon an all-day pampering session like a bathroom decked head-to-toe in black marble with white jade onyx highlights, complete with a sumptuous bathtub encased in a platform, and a rain shower system. This luxurious sanctuary is part of a 2,500sqft home in Parkview, designed by award-winning FAK3, a boutique studio based in Hong Kong. (Photo: Edgar Tapan)
There has been much debate in the creative community about the relationship between style and taste; whether they are inherent qualities or can be learned.
Former editorial director of Condé Nast James Truman once asserted that, “Style without taste is like a singer without a song. Taste without style is an impossibility – an accident that never happens,” and if we are to accept the synergy of these two qualities as a certitude, the Ap Lei Chau apartment of Ross Urwin and Darrel Best – founders and directors of creative agency Infrastructure, which is responsible for, among other things, Design Shanghai – is an embodiment of what happens when they manifest.
Vintage and contemporary design pieces unite in Ross Urwin and Darrel Best’s living room, which overlooks Aberdeen Harbour.
The couple moved to the south-side of Hong Kong Island from Sai Kung almost a year ago, swapping a three-storey townhouse with outside space and direct sea access for a two-bedroom apartment in a modern development.
The downsize facilitated the purchase of a 1920s weatherboard-clad bungalow in the small Australian town of Mullumbimby, which they retreat to whenever their busy schedules allow, at the same time making life in Hong Kong much more convenient.
Artworks, books and ceramics picked up by the pair from various flea markets and design stores around the world add a personal touch to the living-dining area, which is where the couple spend much of their time.
“At first it was odd being in an apartment after nine years of living in a townhouse,” explains Ross, before listing some of his favourite things about their new living situation. “I love the brightness of the apartment, the practical use of space and, surprisingly, the bird song every morning.”
“Also, [I love] the equally stunning views of the harbour and the South China Sea with the constant juxtaposition of old and new Hong Kong. The Jumbo [Floating Restaurant] lit up at night is such an iconic landmark, which exists alongside the traditional sampans and fishing boats that cut in and out between the weekenders on their yachts.”
A Venini pendant from the 1940s hangs above the dining table. Framed pictures of Ross taken by designer Takeo Kikuchi hang in the kitchen, alongside paintings that he collected while in Japan as a teenager. The leather safari chair is one of Ross’s favourite pieces.
It’s hard not to be seduced by the scenes that play out from floor-to-ceiling windows running the length of the apartment – the machinations of working shipyards, the sun reflecting off the sleek lines of pleasure boats moored at Aberdeen Marina Club, and majestic black kites swooping and diving in pursuit of prey.
However, as captivating as the outside world is, the interior of Ross and Darrel’s home has yet more to offer, uniting vintage and modern appointments, artworks and accessories that weave an inspiring narrative through their histories and aesthetic harmony.
I love the brightness of the apartment, the practical use of space and, surprisingly, the bird song every morning.
Soaring ceilings and a generous open-plan room greets you as you enter, with two rugs by designer Omar Khan created in partnership with Lane Crawford anchoring the space and defining how each part is used, at the same time connecting the living and dining areas through their repeating layering of muted blues.
Mid-century icons, including the Eero Saarinen-designed Pedestal Table and Eames’ Plastic Chairs, sit comfortably with industrial-tinged metal display cabinets, vibrant canvases and an eclectic collection of objets d’art that ranges from chalkware figurines to X+Q Art’s seated angels.
In the master bedroom, a rug designed by Omar Khan perfectly complements a pair of mid-century Italian chairs and an industrial chest of drawers.
A glass chandelier from Venini that was handmade in the brand’s Venice studio in the 1940s hangs above the dining table, while a ’60s chrome pendant illuminates a Willy Rizzo coffee table from the same period – all statement pieces that, in this space, work together to create an aesthetic that is greater than the sum of its parts.
The guest bedroom is clean, simple and comfortable, often occupied by the couple’s visiting friends, while the master bedroom with en suite bathroom again illustrates the enviable ease with which Ross and Darrel mix the old and the new.
Here a pair of vintage Italian lounge chairs are the perfect accompaniment to another rug from Omar Khan’s collection for Lane Crawford, as well as an eye-catching industrial piece from the ’40s – Ross muses that it would have started life housing tools in a workshop – whose drawers now play host to sunglasses, cufflinks, watches and other accessories.
The finishing touch is Ross’ childhood teddy bear, which serves as a charming reminder that this home’s success lies not only in its design credentials, but also in the tastes and personalities of the couple that have crafted it.
With Crazy Rich Asians hitting Hong Kong theatres this week, we can indulge in the dramatised lives of Asia’s spectacularly affluent – although that’s not to say there’s any harm in going the extra, vicarious-living mile.
So we’ve gathered some of the most lavish homes featured on our pages in recent years – from high-rise perches and heritage homes on the Peak, to well-outfitted sanctuaries dedicated to entertaining peers and displaying one’s car collection – for a deeper dive into the dwellings splashed with more than just a touch or two of the luxurious. Read on.
Housed in no less than the Frank Gehry-designed Opus perched on the Peak, this apartment sprawls all of 5,500sqft, is decked out in custom pieces by Promemoria, and features luxurious textures including Antolini stone and marble, dome ceilings – some of them punctuated by statement illuminations such as crystal chandeliers by Lasvit – and million-dollar vistas of the Victoria Harbour, among other lavish appointments put together by veteran interior designer James Tu. Read more.
Built in the 1920s for British diplomats and returned to the government as one among heritage homes after the handover in 1997, this elegant 5,000sqft abode, nestled in the Peak, is now outfitted with mix of Chinese antiques and classic American furnishings, creating a cosy dwelling place inspired by its roots to the past and its place in the present. A spacious patio invites dwellers and visitors alike to revel in postcard views of the city’s concrete jungle landscape, although perhaps its most charming feature is one found inside: a log burning fireplace by the living room, situated amongst cushioned couches for a warm, homey feel. Read more.
A sanctuary dedicated to one’s prized car collection? Why not, proposes interior designer Danny Cheng, owner of this three-storey, 4,400sqft holiday home in Yuen Long. Featuring a garage-cum-showroom of his prized automobiles – that connects seamlessly to the living room to ensure these beauties are never out of sight – as well as two other living rooms, four bedrooms, an outdoor swimming pool and an art collection comprising sculptures just as tastefully displayed around the home, this abode demonstrates no shyness about its valued possessions while commanding admiration for its refinement. Read more.
Spanning 5,000sqft over four storeys in Shouson Hill is the beautiful residence of Gulnar and Kavine Vaswani that merges art, textures, culture and personal curious to gorgeous effect. Simon Chong was enlisted to design this luxurious family home, decorating the interiors with indulgent furnishings from Baker, Promemoria and Hamilton, alongside art pieces sourced from Sotheby's auctions. As the owners of homes in Vancouver, London and Miami, Gulnar and Kavine were partial to applying an oriental theme to their Hong Kong home, as well as the personal touch that Simon applied through the process of getting to know each family member intimately. Read more.
Designed by Leslie Lam of Primocasa Interiors for an elderly couple, this condominium on the 50th floor of Pok Fu Lam's Bel-Air residential complex was renovated in a speedy six months to act as a resting place, adding to the couple's other two-storey property immediately above. The space is populated with royal blue velvet-upholstered appointments from Fendi and gold Visionnaire chandeliers, reflecting the panoramic ocean views through the floor-to-ceiling windows. "Our style is a bit more modern, but ‘luxurious’ is a very common approach. Most of my clients are wealthy, and I help them choose what’s worth spending their money on," says Leslie. Read more.
Clad in onyx and wave marble feature walls that astound with their exuberant grains and patterns, this 2,500sqft residence in Parkview, Tai Tam was designed for Polly Wong and husband Tony Lo by Johnny Wong of FAK3 to evoke a sense of natural opulence. With fixtures and objets d'art from Lalique, Saint Louis and Mathieu Lustrerie, the moody palette of the residence also lends itself to exhibiting artworks by the likes of Mark Kalan and Hirota Minoru. The master ensuite bathroom is especially dramatic, with its overwhelming, floor-to-ceiling striated black marble cladding. Read more.
For more homes that are unabashedly glamorous, stay tuned for our September issue to hit newsstands, or subscribe here to have each issue delivered to you monthly.
When a business couple commissioned Amy Chan and Jimmy Li, the chief designers of Hong Kong interior design firm Decor House, to deliver an urban oasis for themselves and their teenage son, they knew they were in good hands.
“We have been close friends with the clients long before this project began, so this has given us a great advantage in comprehending their preferences and way of living,” says Amy. “As an avid art and travel lover, the wife has such discerning taste for furniture and interior design. She wanted nothing more than a practical, bright and personal sanctuary infused with natural elements.”
Taking it from there, Amy and Jimmy put together an aesthetic approach that emphasised comfort, durability and distinctive character for the Tai Po loft apartment. While there’s certainly no lack of space for this 1,600sqft home and 1,300sqft balcony, the design team made sure to embed an ample amount of storage throughout the environment without obstructing the harmonious flow, inside and out.
Outlining the floor-to-ceiling windows by the living area is a solid pine wooden framework that boasts a vintage appearance, framing the tranquil scenery beyond like an ever-evolving artwork. Naturally extending the warm, cosy ambience to the balcony is a newly built wooden storage platform that doubles as an alternate area for entertaining.
“We decided to apply an abundance of wood to bring about a feeling of returning to and embracing Mother Nature, which helps the busy couple relieve stress,” explains Amy. As such, the team has outfitted the bedrooms, the corridor to the private quarters and the bathrooms with the likes of Manchurian ash and teak, contributing to a consistent aesthetic.
Other nature-inspired accents include the bird-shaped door handle for the son’s bedroom and a cabinet embellished with floral patterns in the master bedroom, in which sits a custom-designed bed stand covered in mirrors that creates an elevating illusion while providing more room for storage – another prime example of the firm’s expertise of inventing multifunctional elements.
[The wife] wanted nothing more than a practical, bright and personal sanctuary infused with natural elements.
The team also incorporated a French embroidered lace curtain between the shower and sleeping areas, enhancing the intimacy of the tranquil blue master bedroom. “This way, we successfully added a dose of European romance and created more configuration possibilities with just a quiet, gentle pull,” notes Amy.
In addition to the nature-inspired decor scheme, the team implemented a well-thought-out home technology plan to cater to all the modern needs. An ultra-slim elevating projector lift is magically concealed inside the 10-feet-high ceiling of the living area, allowing the family to enjoy a movie night from the 123-inch projector screen anytime they please. The sliding panel between the open kitchen and living area is another special feature tailored for the homeowners.
We decided to apply an abundance of wood to bring about a feeling of returning to and embracing Mother Nature.
“Both the husband and wife enjoy a good chat with their guests while preparing dishes or cleaning up,” says Amy. “That’s why we took down the original wall and replaced it with our custom-made sliding panel to suit their way of living. The island also functions as a multipurpose unit that holds a 66-inch TV, audio devices, a home bar, a sink and a cupboard.”
When asked about the source of inspiration for the residence, the designers share the same vision: “A travel destination and an ethereal utopia where you escape from the daily hustle.” Such belief has been made especially apparent in the spacious balcony – a platform equipped with an adjustable table doubles as a dining and yoga hotspot.
Facing a picturesque view of rolling mountains is a bar table covered in blue and white tiles imported from Spain, making the outdoor area a prime location for private drinks or a big family gathering.
The most efficient manner to bring the outdoors in, though, is not to overpower the inside or the outside world. Amy articulates: “We specifically chose a white palette to complement the wooden structures for the interiors, so the homeowners can easily transform the mood by taking out or adding soft furnishings. A neutral, stable canvas is of the utmost importance; it’s the key to a timeless yet timely atmosphere.”
When Rebecca Chan, director of Simplex Interiors, was tasked by a couple to transform their new home in Sham Tseng into an abode that had ‘bling’ factor, she was faced with the challenge of respecting the clients’ demands while avoiding an end result that felt too flamboyant.
“At the very beginning, they wanted everything like a hotel, but I told them that it would need to be toned down a bit with a touch of home,” recalls Rebecca. “The space here is only 1,200sqft – it’s not a very generous space, but we still wanted to satisfy their need for grandeur.” To do so, Rebecca and her team focused on communicating this sense of luxury through the material choice and attention to detail.
In the lounge area to the right: Flaire floor lamp from Officina Luce; Ginza coffee table and side table from Longhi; Sofa from OVO
This was achieved not least by reorienting the axis of the main living space along a dramatic gradation from dark to light, as inhabitants enter the main entrance and make their way to the window, and the pristine sea view beyond.
The transition was rendered in different polished marbles – black Nero Marquina striated with white veining dominates the entrance hallway, dining area and master ensuite bathroom, while Legno Grigio marble was used to create a feature wall for the living room TV, all the better to reflect natural light further into the home. The wallcovering on the wall opposite, meanwhile, was picked for its colour and pattern that echoed the marble feature wall.
A view of the Gold Coast, Tuen Mun
With the details, Rebecca chose to incorporate rose gold, a favourite of the lady of the house, into the wall trims as well as statement furniture pieces such as Longhi’s Ginza coffee table and the Kelp chandelier by Brand van Egmond. “Rather than just put a lot of gold or gilding, we tried to mix the marbles but with the right dose of rose gold.” This love of the material continues all the way up into the ceilings, where rose gold accents and recessed lighting feature prominently.
The client wanted that sense of detail, refinement, and luxury.
Given the modest footprint of the property, the need for concealed storage was paramount to maintaining the air of refinement within the abode. To this end, Rebecca took one of the original four bedrooms and joined it with the master ensuite to enlarge it, as well as to add a walk-in closet and vanity area to create “a sanctuary for relaxation.”
Kelp chandelier by Brand von Egmond, from Zodiac; Artu dining table by Longhi, from Farrington Interiors; Gatsby dining chairs, from Bowerbird
The wall between the children’s bedrooms was knocked down to make space for floor-to-ceiling wardrobes concealed using sliding doors, while space was carved out of the kitchen and dedicated instead to floor-to-ceiling shoe cabinets in the foyer.
Keeping in mind the longevity of the design, the children’s rooms retain an elegant aesthetic that is abundant throughout the rest of the home. The colour palette is kept light and airy by using a silver-grey wallcovering, while the parents weren’t afraid to splurge on the fixtures – a playful Bolle ceiling light from Giopato & Coombes hangs alongside professional studio portraits of the family in the son’s room. “The client still wanted that sense of detail, refinement, and luxury,” explains Rebecca.
King-size bed from OVO; table lamps and night tables from Tequila Kola
In more ways than one, the final result is a resplendent example of the interior designer’s role in negotiating the brief into something greater than the sum of its parts. Gleaming, minimalist and sophisticated, this is one for the ages.
Such was the effect of the Tsing Ma and Ting Kau bridges on architect Frankie Ke upon visiting the property that would be one of their projects, a residence punctuated as much by the view it overlooks as its 3,000 sqft real estate.
“When we saw the view, we thought all areas should be connected – from the inside out to the garden, toward the sea and sky,” says the founder of KES Interior Design, of the three-storey abode.
Developed by Sun Hung Kai Properties, the standalone unit had originally come with clear, if not visibly demarcated, zones: foyer, living room, dining room, garden. It was nothing out of the standard template although, against the fluid view that lay in wait, the layout felt rather rigid.
So they decided to rework the layout. Like the water it overlooked, says Frankie, the living and dining rooms had to flow – out, toward the garden, into the view, and vertically as well, through the first and second floor bedrooms, up to the master bedroom on the third floor.
They started by creating a more open feel within the ground floor, connecting it to the outdoor space and enlarging both living and dining rooms as a result. “At the beginning they had no intentions to redo the garden,” says Frankie, “but seeing the view, I had to persuade them to work on it as well.”
The rest of the house’s refurbishment followed suit. At the entrance, metal and wooden slats were installed so that what’s inside comes into view in waves, explains Frankie: first the living and dining areas, then the outdoor garden, then the views. A similar treatment was applied to the floor of the entrance, too, with wavelike patterns subtly priming visitors and residents alike for the magnetic draw ahead.
When we saw the view, we thought all areas should be connected – from the inside out to the garden, toward the sea and sky.
Out into the garden, the pathway was paved with stone, flanked by still water volumes on either side “to bring the water from the sea to the home.” Grass and other plant appointments were set in place to further connect the space to the views across. Back inside, midway up the staircase – which the team also had to widen – a commanding blue marble stone, sourced from Yuen Long, greets comers and goers while harking back to the sea close by.
Water touches continue to ebb throughout the upstairs bedrooms. In the master’s room on the third floor, cream upholstered panelling are etched with strokes and likes evoking movement.
Luckily for Frankie, this was a zero-fuss client with a simple brief – one who loved detail, as well as materials of stone and metal, and had a preference for luxury. “All they wanted was something luxurious, with detailed workmanship,” says Frankie. Care was taken to source furniture from Italy, save for the Crystal Saint Louis chandelier in the dining room.
It helped that the house in its original form also had strong points. The bathroom, for instance, as well as the kitchen, carried marble and walnut motifs that fell right at home with the rest of the house’s new, contemporary luxe feel.
All [the client] wanted was something luxurious, with detailed workmanship.
In the dining room, meanwhile, a marble wall similar to that by the staircase tie in the various touches of hotel suite luxury throughout the home. Lighting fixtures in hand-blown crystal exude warmth when in use, and cede to a clear, glassy sheen when switched off.
As Frankie speaks, it’s tempting not to wonder if, perhaps, there is one way to defy the gravitational pull of a good view, after all: with details so sublime yet so subtle, to see them, you have to turn away.
A faint breeze rustles the needles of a wizened pine tree, which extends a tender bough over a channel of raked pebbles and towards a boulder bordered by shores of moss.
A wayward sunbeam warms a patch of a handcrafted tatami mat, teasing out the distinctly transportive scent of woven igusa straw. These elements form a zen microcosm within a whitewashed courtyard and an adjoining meditation room – yet they aren’t nestled within an Edo-period machiya townhouse in Kyoto’s Higashiyama district, but in a two-storey, 7,500sqft family residence on Victoria Peak, occluded by forest on all sides.
Indeed, Japan’s cultural capital is a frequent reference in this home of two devout Buddhists who are frequent travellers to Kyoto, as well as their young daughter. Deferring to the design talents of husband-and-wife duo Jason Yung and Caroline Ma of Jason Caroline Design, the homeowners sought to transform their property – a rarity in Hong Kong for its relative seclusion and abundant outdoor space – into a personal nirvana that’s separated from the chaos of the city below.
“When we were in architecture school in the ’80s, we were all influenced by Japanese architects of that era, so we understand the traditional Japanese style well,” explains Yung. Yet he’s quick to distance himself from calling it a Japanese home, instead referring to it simply as “zen minimalist design – an empty, minimalist type of approach.”
Even then, this label threatens to oversimplify the aesthetic that, upon closer inspection, unfurls a cornucopia of details. Past the front entrance, the level bifurcates into upper and lower levels – the stair bannisters leading upwards featuring a complex, abstract leaf pattern cut from a sheet of metal, while the downward stairs are accompanied by a “handrail” reminiscent of the sacred shimenawa rope that’s traditionally hung over the torii gates of Shinto shrines.
It’s not so much Japanese as zen minimalist; it’s an empty type of approach.
Intentional connection defines the floor plan. Since cooking is a favourite pastime for the family, the kitchen serves as a nexus of sorts, connecting to the zen garden and the dining room, which in turn connects to the organic garden in the backyard.
The home theatre, meanwhile, is demarcated from the study by locally sourced shoji sliding paper doors, while the master bedroom’s high volumes allowed Yung and Ma to create a mezzanine level for a TV lounge.
Perhaps the most jealousy-inducing aspect is the daughter’s bedroom; thanks to a similarly ample ceiling height, it’s able to accommodate a loft that can be reached via a bouldering wall, thus adding a third dimension to the space.
Throughout, Yung and Ma also sought to connect the home’s inhabitants with the surrounding nature using windows and skylights as framing devices – a design choice that harks back to the famous Windows of Enlightenment and Confusion at the Zen Buddhist temple of Genkō-an in Kyoto.
We don’t have to be a millionaire to design for a millionaire, but we need to get into their life.
The monastic atmosphere continues inside the living room, with its prodigious use of walnut walls and flooring, but stops short of becoming overly austere thanks to an unmissable lime-green Tufty-Too sectional designed by Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia.
On their nuanced approach to designing these interiors, which needed to function as a luxury home as much as a religious sanctuary, Yung explains, “We don’t have to be a millionaire to design for a millionaire, but we need to get into their life.” In the same vein, it doesn’t take a devout pilgrim to foster a sense of reverence for this deeply purifying abode.
Tasked with re-booting a small apartment on Kangping Road in Shanghai, TOWOdesign did away with following the strict grid of the floor plan.
The design firm started out with ‘function boxes’: four box-like volumes integrating fixtures and furniture for rest (such as a loft bed), entertainment (a TV), cooking (a kitchen and built-in dining table), and cleaning (a bathroom and washing machine). These volumes, complete with hidden storage, would slide easily into the apartment’s compact layout in a neat design solution.
However, things proved less simple than anticipated. The function boxes made the room feel cramped, with the multimedia box in particular interrupting one’s flow of vision upon entering the already compact home.
Yet instead of scrapping the function box idea and starting from scratch, TOWOdesign opted instead to make one tiny adjustment to their design: rotating the placement of the function boxes by ten degrees.
The difference is dramatic. Thanks to the slanted positioning, one’s line of vision is widened, making the space feel significantly bigger. The addition of reflective surfaces also add to the sense of spaciousness, with TOWOdesign ensuring they do not mirror the sleeping area, a taboo in Chinese culture.
Check out this video for a tour of TOWOdesign’s 10° Home.
The 48sqm apartment is outfitted with four 'function boxes', incorporating elements of entertainment, rest, dining and cleaning to the home. The 'multimedia box' is seen here, decked out with shelves and a TV. The yellow volume features hidden storage as well as the kitchen.
The kitchen portion and cabinetry in a cheery yellow hue.
Next to the kitchen, the bathroom sits behind a semi-camouflaged door, while reflective surfaces outfit the main entrance and more cabinetry to the side.
The loft bed, which comes with yet more storage space within the staircase.
The loft bed and its built-in shelving system.
For more home inspiration, visit our Interiors tag, and don’t forget to pick up a copy of our August issue and the latest edition of our annual home decorating bible, Home Solutions, on newsstands now.
“It all came together very easily; things naturally fitted into place,” explains architect Greg Truen (of the acclaimed firm SAOTA Architecture and Design) about the process behind his and wife Liz’s holiday home at Silver Bay along South Africa’s West Coast.
“It was dictated firstly by the site itself, which drops down towards the sea. Choosing to locate the living area on the upper level to maximise the views and to see the shoreline, and placing the bedrooms and a playroom downstairs for a walk-to-the-beach connection, was almost automatic.”
Sliding aluminium and glass doors lead on to a wind-protected courtyard on the north side of the house, providing an extension to the single-space living area of the upper level.
More than that, the couple wanted the entire upstairs area (indoors and out) to enjoy as close a relationship as possible with the unsurpassable ocean views and the natural surroundings of beach, sea, dunes and fynbos. This extended to creating wind-free outdoor living spaces that communicate directly with the internal environment and are also connected to the greater natural context.
“We wanted to treat the entire space as a single room, so the effect on entering was of walking into one large space, with the sea dominating everything,” explains Truen. “Many of the design decisions were made purely to expand the magnificent views and to bring in light and the natural surroundings as far as we could.”
At any turn, it’s impossible to forget for a moment that despite being a two-hour drive from Cape Town, this is an entirely different world.
Other than the views, the focal point in the living area is a cowl flue chimney made of Corten steel and a generous fireplace set in an off-shutter concrete plinth. Greg chose the specific steel because of its propensity to rust to a certain point, which again softens the modern elements of the house and is in keeping with the traditional character of the area.
Another consideration was no less important: to refer back to traditional West Coast vernacular architecture without compromising the contemporary aesthetics and modernist lines. And from the protected pool courtyard on the northern side of the house to the stepped glazing of the downstairs bedrooms, and to the rustic thatched roof, all of this has been has been achieved and more.
Bleached poplar beams support the open roof, softening the flamed granite flooring that echoes the natural boulders so typical of this stretch of unspoilt coastline. By using steel tie beams instead of horizontal timber beams to support the roof, Truen has created a generous double-volume space flooded by light from roof-height triangular windows. Lime-washed oak walls further the organic, softening effect of the thatch, while steel and wrought-iron elements keep the house firmly within the modern idiom.
Vintage Turkish carpets in the same colours as the shells found on the beach have been cut up and re-stitched together, bringing warmth to the flamed granite floor. The blue tables are made of Jacaranda branches wrapped in steel.
This house is the perfect place to relax, unwind and banish all thoughts of the city.
Spaces are expansive yet distinct; the palette is uncomplicated, drawn from the natural environment; simple furnishings are oversized, tactile and chosen to enhance absolute relaxation. But it’s the connection with the landscape that is the house’s most striking, dominant feature. At any turn, it’s impossible to forget for a moment that despite being just a two-hour drive from Cape Town, this is an entirely different world.
It’s one of huge, empty landscapes and of pungent sea air, with a soundtrack of crashing waves, gentle breezes, rustling grasses and the occasional deep, dark notes of a dramatic foghorn. It’s a world where tortoises plod along sandy tracks, where small antelope wander into the indigenous garden to forage for tasty succulents, and where uninterrupted views offer sightings of endemic Heaviside’s dolphins, southern right whales and several bird species. And it’s no less remarkable that the house so easily blends into and becomes a part of that same world.
In the back bedroom, a German marine biology diagram of whales is a reminder of what lies outside, as is the organic sisal rug, which warms the cold surfaces. The wooden four-poster bed continues the rustic timber theme and old chairs inherited from Liz’s family hark back to yesteryear.
Off-shutter concrete ceilings echo the textures of sand and rock on the beach below, while open glassed gables in the roof-ends provide a moving-picture show of clouds and sky. Sisal carpets, the tent-like thatch and timber (such as the lime-washed oak walls and doors) bring in the softer natural fauna elements of the surrounding reeds and grasses. A large conical mass of corten steel forms the pivot of the upstairs space; with its rusted surface, it wouldn’t look out of place on one of the weathered ocean-going trawlers that languidly pass along the horizon.
“It doesn’t happen often,” muses Truen, “that a house so quickly and easily, so straightforwardly, falls into place – when everything just fits and feels right.” Looking around, one knows exactly what he means.
Liz sits at the enormous rustic James Mudge table in the upper living level, which has been treated as one large space, with the kitchen as its hub.
Wrought iron lights created by Cape Town metal-work maestro Peter Forbes of Bad Machine and steel elements keep the house firmly within the modern idiom, softened by the organic thatched roof – a nod to traditional West Coast architecture. Chinese timber stools are in keeping with the influence of Japanese architect Tadao Ando.
The entire roof is supported by a big steel I-beam, with steel tie beams replacing timber ones in order to create an expansive, double-volume space.
At the entrance is an oak-clad door leading to a guest bathroom. The artwork is again by Liz’s mother, Margot Morris.
The main bedroom’s en suite bathroom features a picture window cut into the wall, looking out into the swimming pool.
It’s a feature that provides a huge visual effect, with the ever-changing movement of water and change of light.
The house’s indigenous fynbos garden blends into the natural coastal landscape. A timber walkway at the side of the house offers direct beach access.
Home to a family of four, this Harbour View Terrace unit is a calming, bone-white enclave dominated with curves and a flood of natural light.
Things didn’t always look this bright, however. For the North Point home, it took repositioning doors, taking down walls, and redoing the dining-living room layout to inject much-needed light to the space.
A sofa and coffee table from Unica Interior furnish the living room, while a rug from India lends the predominantly-white space a jolt of blue.
“In the original space, sunlight couldn’t penetrate the unit,” says Mancy Li of Design Action & Associates. Two of the bedrooms, which faced east, received the most natural light. To direct its flow to the living room, the designers repositioned the bedroom entrances toward it, and elongated the height of their sliding doors.
The 1,250sqft apartment also originally had the dining and living rooms in an L-shaped layout. “The space felt dark,” says Li. “The kitchen and master bedroom were also connected through a long corridor. The spatial planning wasn’t very good.”
Two of the four bedrooms in the house face east, receiving the most natural light throughout the home.
Together with interior designer Vincent Li, the Design Action team pulled down the partitions, redid the floor plan, and brought together the dining and living rooms in a singular, linear volume – enlarging the space, and opening it up to receive more light.
Today the family home keeps its original four-bedroom setup, including a maid’s quarter, while accommodating the family’s requests for an ensuite bathroom in every room.
Each bedroom now boasts an ensuite bathroom – a requirement that proved challenging for the Design Action team, given the home’s spatial distribution. Ultimately, Vincent Li and Mancy Li were able to pull it off.
A passionate cook, the lady of the house also requested a larger kitchen, a requirement heeded by Design Action with improved spatial distribution, as well as the inclusion of a curve-edged island for increased counter space.
Curves dominate much of the home’s new look, employed in the ceilings, built-in cabinets, and through some of the furnishings, as in the coffee table from Unica Interior, and the spherical lighting in the balcony, repurposed from a chandelier. The balcony balustrade was also replaced with clear glass panels, in another bid to reduce barriers to infiltrating light. Ceramic floor tiles with a wooden look accent the home, while a rug from India, in a cool pop of blue, punctuates the living room.