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Open spaces and earthy tones
By Yang Di

MICHAEL Lim's requirements for an ideal apartment in Hong Kong were a high floor location with an open view, plus space for flexibility in furniture arrangements.

This apartment in Hong Kong Island met all his requirements, though the original floor plan of the apartment featured two small bedrooms and a small corridor.

"I thought the corridor took up valuable space and you cannot place any furniture in it, so I decided to take down all the walls and make a new layout to maximize the space," Lim explained.

A friend referred him to Clifton Leung Design Workshop and Lim was impressed by their past projects detailed in a coffee table book.

"As I browsed through the pages, I was able to get an understanding of the standard that CLDW can offer. In addition, I was also able to point out to the designers what I liked and what I did not like in the designs I saw,'' Lim said.

The style Lim wanted to create was "a home away from home," as he travels a lot for work, and is used to living in hotels. He wanted to have the feeling of coming back to a nice hotel room with all the amenities already in place.

"At first, I was being conservative and wanted a bedroom and a study-cum-guest-bedroom. Later on, I was convinced by the designer's concept of opening up the living space to maximize the living experience."

"I was extremely impressed that all my needs were met,'' Lim said. "For example, I was doing my MBA then, and needed a place to study. That was also taken into consideration in the final design."

It took the design firm three months to complete the renovation. In order to create a larger visual and physical space, the dining room and open kitchen are blended together by removing the walls.

The living room and bedroom underwent the same treatment to create a bigger area. Space was also gained to create a bigger bathroom - a top priority for the owner.

Designer Leung said the biggest challenge was removing the walls to create an open-plan design flat, as piping and ducting needed to be carefully dealt with during the dismantling process.

An additional challenge was that the apartment is in an old building and required touching up work and repairs.

From the selection of building materials and colors, to the stylish furniture and displays, this petit apartment boasts a tasteful and warm design with meticulous detail. Core color schemes in different hues of brown exude masculine undertones.

Lim is a keen traveler and collector, bringing home objects from the world, especially paintings.

These help to spice up the environment, creating a tasteful ambience and adding splashes of color to the overall tone. Colorful artworks against white backgrounds work well to break the monotony of the brown hues.

Indirect lighting design creates a sense of warmth against the minimalist white backdrop. White is also a reliable color for the bedroom walls, as it creates a feeling of airiness and makes the room seem larger than it is. When combined with dark bedroom furniture, white brings the focus of the room to the bed and wall decorations.

The tones and materials of the furniture in the living area match those of the dining room - hues of dark brown and black.

The beige carpet and light chestnut flooring blend well with the furniture to create a calm and restful feel.

The mood lighting at the ceiling further enhances the homey ambience.

"I like all kinds of furniture made from walnut wood. I also like to take my time to pick and choose the exact piece of furniture," explained Lim.

"There was one particular incident, when Clifton Leung came across a dining table in a furniture store. He thought it would fit nicely in my flat and emailed me photos for reference,'' Lim said.

One of the highlights of the space is the way that the two functional spaces are divided. Different functional areas are stylishly partitioned by a sliding door on a raised platform with embedded light beneath.

When opened, it creates a combined space for gatherings of friends. When closed, it creates privacy and defined zone for each of the two areas.

Different floor treatments are used to define the two functional zones. The dining/kitchen area comes with dark grey flooring that creates a chic ambience. The lighter chestnut color flooring creates a homier ambience for the living room/bedroom, where owner can indulge in total relaxation where alone, or enjoy a cozy gathering with friends.

Designer Leung smartly maximized the use of space. The study area is fully utilized by an extra-long study desk with storage along the wall opposite and the bed facing the window. The location offers an airy exterior view for an inspiring work session.

For the storage solution, located beside the sliding door is a full height cabinet with maximum storage in sleek design.

The consistent walnut color is used for the rest of the furniture, to create a coherent, clean and seamless design. The up light above the cabinet creates an illusion of a "floating cabinet."

Indirect lighting is applied throughout the flat to create an appealing visual sensation, adding layers and sophistication to create a warm and chic design.


Q: What's the best thing about living in HK?

A: Convenience! It's the city that never sleeps! Hong Kong is a very vibrant city with lots of interesting, international people to meet and interact with, you can never get bored!

Q: Describe your home in three words.

A: A bachelor pad.

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

A: I tend to walk to the windows and look out at the scenery; the extra-large windows make the view outside looks like a living picture of the city, the harbor and the constant flow of traffic.

Q: How do you unwind?

A: Usually by sharing a bottle of nice red wine with friends, while we chat, and with soft smoothing music playing in the background.

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

A: On the lounge chair.

Q: What's the best view outside your window?

A: The view across the Victoria Harbor from my apartment, on a clear day, I can even see the hills separating Kowloon and the New Territories!

Q: How do you scent your home?

A: With a bottle of natural fragrant essence oil and wooden straws. This releases the fragrant slowly and the scent last longer.

Q: What's your favorite object at home?

A: If I am allowed to call her an object, my six-year-old Jack Russell cross terrier, Ting Ting. Otherwise, it's my Scandyna drop speakers hanging from the ceiling.

Q: Where do you source furniture in HK?

A: Usually at Aluminum, G.O.D. and Homeless.


Jackson Yen-Chun Huang

Who is he?

Jackson Yen-Chun Huang, president of IGG Studio, majored in Urban Planning at Columbia University, where he also gained his master's degree in architecture. Industry recognition includes an award from the American Institute of Architects. Projects Huang has worked on include Trump Palace in New York and the Anting Hippodrome Reception Center and Serviced Apartments in Shanghai.

Tell us about your work and name the project of which you're most proud.

We're a professional design studio from America with plenty of fabulous masterpieces around the world. In China, we've participated in many projects in Shanghai, Fujian, Hainan, Taiwan, Hong Kong. We're proud of every project we've worked on.

What projects are currently involved in?

Due to confidentiality agreements, I can't tell you about them. What I can say is that our firm has a good relationship with many well-known real estate developers on China's mainland, such as Shimao Group, Huidefeng Group, Longfor Group, Hilton China. We've worked or been running some projects for them.

Describe your design style.

Since we are chasing for an eternal and classical beauty in our design, we don't have a particular design style. We always try to combine different elements in our designs to make everything look comfortable and harmonious. In another word, we create our own style.

What kind of creative design are you good at most?

I can do any kind of design and I actually do not have a preference. Design has no limits.

What does your home mean to you?

First of all, my home should be a work of art; it's a heritage, which can be passed down. Then it is a safe haven, where I can be comfortable and calm. It seems that everything can be controlled. And it should be a perfect place to welcome my relatives and friends. That's why I always insist a one-to-one mode in our design service. Every design should exactly deliver the correct specification to our client.

What do you collect?

Exquisite and rare real cars and model cars - racing cars, roadsters and antique cars.

Where would you like to go most in Shanghai?

Xintiandi pedestrian street -- with that traditional Shanghai building symbol, the shikumen, and modern architecture style. Every time I go to Shanghai, I visit Xintiandi to experience its multi-cultural atmosphere.

What will be the next design trend?

Years ago, people in China didn't pay much attention to design; at that time, expensive meant good design for them. Currently, Chinese like to mix and match minority decorations element or something ancient. I think, in the future, Chinese will appreciate more low-key luxury and that their ideas about design and the home will mature.

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