Practical Scandinavian haven set in urban Hong Kong abode

The Hong Kong apartment of Maggie Hammond is designed for urban living with soothing colors and clean lines. 

The Hong Kong apartment of Maggie Hammond is designed for urban living with soothing colors and clean lines. 

Maggie and her husband, who work in financial services, wanted an ideal family space with three bedrooms, a good kitchen, an open view and some outdoor space. They also wanted a nice neighborhood, close to work but with some green space suitable for a family.

“We liked this residential building located in Sheung Wan at first,” said the English-born mom of two young boys. “We saw other renovations in the building and knew that the space could work well.” The building is practical and with only two flats on each floor, it is not too crowded and feels more personal and friendly. “The view outside the window is a combination of harbor and all the buildings nearby with some green space in between. The most beautiful is the sunset.”

Maggie found Clifton Leung Design Workshop to help them achieve an ideal living space — it was their second project with the design firm. 

“It was the first time we did an Internet search but it felt like they were right for us. We love the design style,” she said.

Leung’s brief was to create a flat of light colors with modern and clean lines. They also wanted well-structured storage to avoid clutter.

It took Leung six months to finish the project. The major change was the layout — instead of a typical Hong Kong flat layout, they changed it to make the space a dynamic one. 

Courtesy of Clifton Leung Design Workshop / Ti Gong

Connecting kitchen, dining and living area into one large integrated space means the homeowners can see what is happening even when cooking.

“Open design is still increasingly popular because it imparts a sense of airiness and creates a visually and physically large interior,” Leung said.

A challenge during the renovation process was to create an extra room for the owners’ provision of the second baby. 

To cater for an extra room, the guest bedroom is made smaller to make the space. 

Leung understood what the owners wanted — a livable space that had a contemporary look but still stylish. 

“This is my second project with the client and I wanted to create something different for them, a new home,” Leung said.

“At the heart of Scandinavian design is the family, hence having features that encouraging bonding is key to creating such a style at home. However, there is not always enough space for a special corner for this purpose. 

“As the saying goes, a family that eats together stays together. I have created a homely corner with an island in an open kitchen — an island where the whole family can eat, cook and chat together,” the designer said. 

“Connecting kitchen, dining and living area into one large integrated space means we can see what is happening even when cooking.”

Courtesy of Clifton Leung Design Workshop / Ti Gong

The master bedroom features an urban view of Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.

The second import feature in this flat design was to welcome natural lighting. 

“As the winter lasts quite a few months in Scandinavian countries, it often gets dark and cold there,” Leung said. “So a key feature of Scandinavian design is its natural lighting, which adds warmth to homes. To do so in Hong Kong homes, in this apartment, we used glass partitions that further invite natural lighting into different rooms, such as the use of glass in the semi-open kitchen. Natural lighting is not only smoothing, but also opens up spaces.” 

As the aim was to create a calm and relaxing family ambience, so Leung has kept the colors simple, using a light-toned palette of beige, cream and white and an abundance of natural wood. This allows the couple to keep the look clean and calm or jazz it up as and when they like with colored art and accessories. 

“To keep the apartment from appearing too minimalist, we also used one color besides white and the color of the wood — grey,” Leung said. “Grey is used as the third color in the hanging lamps, kitchen and picture frames. Grey works well as an accent and highlight in a Scandinavian design as it is a universal color and to maintain a minimalist and modern look.” 

Courtesy of Clifton Leung Design Workshop / Ti Gong

A light-toned palette of beige, cream and white is used in the kid’s room.

To achieve a minimalist look with inconspicuous storage — the most challenging aspect is probably the large amount of storage spaces in a small apartment. To make the use of storage spaces less claustrophobic and more minimalist looking, the designer has used platforms in bedrooms below the bed. The elevated platform could also visually separate the sleeping area from the rest of the room to make it feel like its own separate space.

Another way is to ensure that cabinets include some open shelving and insert indirect lighting above and below the storage units to make them seem less bulky.

For Leung, the essential elements to make a living space welcoming is showcasing the owner’s own character — sometimes, you need to give them “space” and “freedom” to display their own collections, according to him. 

“I create designs that don’t date. I like making a space feel roomy and peaceful in an understated, timeless way,” Leung said.

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