While some fear that innovation and creativity are constrained by scope and proportion, Hong Kong-based multidisciplinary design practice NC Design & Architecture (NCDA) proves such worries are unfounded with this treehouse-inspired residence in Kowloon–measuring a mere 370sqft.
Nelson Chow, the principal of NCDA and lead designer on this project, says, "We saw endless possibilities in this space when we first arrived – the floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room and the forest view in the bedroom, to name a few."
Having known one another for a long time, the homeowner granted Nelson and his design team complete freedom to work their magic. "Nelson is the best person to design my apartment," says the homeowner. "I entrust him to make all decisions. After all, good design can only be achieved when the designer is allowed to take the reins."
As expected, the results don’t disappoint. Nelson took down the dividing wall between the living room and the bedroom to take full advantage of the picturesque, panoramic view, with rarely found greenery in the bustling city. To utilise the compact space as much as possible, he decided to create a platform bed, which later led to the treehouse idea. "We clad the bed with furnished pine wood and added a simple wooden ladder for access," recalls Nelson. "It goes perfectly with the verdant surroundings and aptly maximises the 10-foot-high ceiling."
Setting the design apart from the standard method of infusing light palettes and mirrored surfaces to enhance spaciousness, Nelson put his client first and created a tailor-made retreat that genuinely reflects his personality. "The homeowner is in his 30s and works in the design industry," he explains. "Our aim was to build a home that feels masculine and moody, which suits his individuality." Accordingly, Nelson selected a subtle shade of grey blue as the dominating colour, which also evokes an appealing contrast against the greenery beyond. To highlight the original kitchen in reflective brass finishes, built by the developer and designed by Yabu Pushelberg, Nelson focused on the interweaving of raw materials such as solid paints, wood and marble to balance out the shine.
To ensure a unique living space imbued with class and elegance, yet without appearing smaller than its actual size, Nelson insisted on designing with clean, uncluttered lines, as well as a restrained selection of furnishings and accessories. "We have to think about what you want to be seen and what you want to be hidden," he explains. "For this project in particular, we made sure we created enough storage space for clothes and shoes that need to be concealed." While the home is opened up as much as possible, Nelson cleverly distinguishes the dining area from the living quarters without closing up the space by installing pinewood panelling above.
Looking around this poised and tranquil abode, it’s hard to ignore the unconventional art piece hanging above the sofa. Nelson sourced the black Gigacer tile from Anta Building Materials and had it framed by Crownwell. What caught the designer’s attention was its multi-faceted appearance when viewed from different angles, as well as the subtle and bumpy texture that this 5kg ceramic slab showcases.
Devoting fine execution and thorough consideration to every nook and cranny, Nelson has undoubtedly done justice to the compact space. He adores the outcome just as much as the homeowner. While the latter enjoys working under the treehouse with panoramic scenery, Nelson says with a sense of fondness, "It feels extremely meditative from the linear window, as if you are transported to a Japanese tea room combined with a treehouse. That’s my favourite cocooning spot."
Photograhy: Dennis Lo | Dennis Lo Designs