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Enjoying gray days in a tranquil retreat
By Patsy Yang


SLEEK and sophisticated with a lovely outdoor space, this home in the Sheung Wan area of Hong Kong is the retreat of interior designer Peggy Bels.

The simple monochromatic color scheme — the soft palette of gray on the walls and wooden floors — creates a calm, uncluttered feel.

“When we first saw it, the space consisted of four units divided in two — which meant eight units of 23 square meters with neon lighting. It was a collection of tiny rooms facing a deserted roof area,” Bels said.

“We knew what to do after our very first visit. We wanted four bedrooms and a very large open space with the living room and kitchen facing the terrace. The main interest, obviously, was the large terrace all around the flat.”


To achieve this ideal living space, walls were knocked down and a new home created almost from scratch.

“Among the most important things for us was an open kitchen with a large bar area as we love to cook and host dinner with friends,” Bels said.

“I worked on a sliding folding door system giving an open kitchen, but also with the option to close it when we want to hide the sink area.

“It’s very convenient but also aesthetically pleasing when it is all closed, as the cabinets become a long metal feature wall with all the doors concealed,” Bels said.

While she opted for a neutral palette of colors — especially grays — Bels says she was always careful to choose “warm grays.”


“The gray needs to have a bit of red in the mix to be warm and avoid any greenish tone. It’s the same for the cement finish. I always add a lot of water to get this soft milky color and avoid the green side of the cement finish,” she says.

Bels has decked out the flat with all the finishes that she loves: metal on walls, doors and cabinets as well as the cement finishes.

“I love to use black metal as cladding for the walls, doors, stairs and cabinets because these dark backgrounds allow light colors to stand out and create more contrasts and depth. Being rough, it also gives the feeling that it always existed, adding character to the space,” she said.

As an interior designer, Bels says lighting always comes first.

“I always try to have big windows to let the light circulate in a property. In this case, we fully opened the flat onto the terrace, thanks to the large sliding windows and also through skylight windows,” she said.

This flat is a retreat for Bels and her family from fast-paced, consumer-based city life.


She fills her home with things she loves, rather than trying to follow trends and end up with something impersonal.

Bels has furnished the space with treasured pieces and designer items from around the world, such as the kilim rug from Istanbul, the coffee table designed by Bels herself, the Linteloo sofa designed by Paola Navone, the Eames chair sourced in Paris, and lamps from Mariano Fortuny and Serge Mouille.

The walls are decorated with artworks by South American artists Teresa Aninat and Catalina Swinburn, French photographer Claude Gassian and Shanghai-based French artist Christian de Laubadere, whose works incorporate pencil, charcoal and fabrics from China and Japan.

“The sculptures in the living room and outdoors are by French artist Nathalie Decoster, who creates bronze figures with geometrical structures to tell us contemporary tales with humor and philosophy.

“The tiny figures and the giant symbols create a feeling of infinity that invite us to slow down and meditate,” Bels said.


Q: Describe your home in three words.

A: Warm, cozy, well-located.

Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?

A: Take off my shoes and kiss my daughters.

Q: How do you unwind?

A: By going to Bali for a long weekend.

Q: Where do you spend most of the time at home?

A: At the kitchen island counter as I love to cook and host dinner with friends and family.

Q: What’s the view from your window?

A: The garden surrounded by tall bamboo.

Q: How do you scent your home?

A: Candles from Baobab and Dyptique.

Q: What’s your favorite object at home?

A: The Favela chair from designers Campana at the entrance. It’s created from scraps of pinewood fitted piece by piece into one another according to their forms. Each chair is unique.


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