Melding Hong Kong’s traditional craftsmanship with Japanese aesthetics, this 3,100-sq.ft. Hong Lok Yuen residence in Tai Po creates for a young couple a healing living space with a resort-like ambience.
Everyone misses the days when they can just hop on a plane and travel to a brazenly beautiful country on a whim. But any skilled interior designer would tell you that, with an interior done right, you can create a relaxing getaway in the comfort of your home. Take this double-storey residence in Hongyuan Park in Tai Po.
The house belongs to a pair of young couple in their 30s, both of whom are millennials and senior executives in their respective industries. Living with two dogs and their children, and given a busy work life, they wanted to recreate that gorgeous tropical holiday vibe in their home. Luckily, they had the help of the pro to help remake their abode.
“The male homeowner’s father has been living in the house since the 1990s. It’s only recently that he wanted to move to a more accessible place, so he passed on the residence to his son’s growing family. When the lady of the house met with us, she mentioned that the popular minimalist style is way too cold for a home. What they prefer is something warmer, something that’s more relaxing,” said Keith Chan, founder of Hintegro.
The pair’s yearning for vacation in far-flung destinations is integral to the design concept. As soon as you set foot into the house, you are greeted with immense comfort and a sense of Zen: the two connected entryways reference those serene Chinese and Japanese courtyards.
Within the semi-outdoor foyer, there’s a tiny fish pond and a hundred-year prized bonsai next to it. Kusari-doi is a water diversion device commonly seen in Japanese gardens: the lock is composed of a string of lotus flowers. When the rainwater, collected by the canopy aqueduct, flows down the lotus drop by drop, the sound of the water becomes mellow, echoing the opposite century-old juniper to conjure up a poetic tableau.
The other foyer has a special sunroof fanning the warm, natural daylight across the room. The homeowners can just sit back, let go of the hustle and bustle, and unwind in this cosy space every day they get back home. “Whether it’s sunny, cloudy or rainy, we want our clients to be able to enjoy the different outdoor scenery,” Chan said.
The male client is a car connoisseur. That’s why Chan deliberately added a round-glassed window between the garage and the living room, so that he can appreciate his beloved car collection – including a Lotus and a Jeep – even when he’s in the living room. This space is also a private exhibition hall to display the framed photos and skateboards he owns – an exclusive, personal corner just for him.
In the living/dining room, walnut and beige tone are balanced against a range of colourful Hermès pieces – including the Les Trotteuses D’Hermès coffee table, as well as other brightly coloured china tableware and furnishings, giving the space a restrained elegance.
As the four-legged companions often scratched and bit the wooden tables and chairs in their former residence, the design team especially commissioned local carpenter Yat Muk to manufacture a wooden dining table, paired with the metal legs custom-made by Hintegro.
Making the furniture pet-proof means that the table and chair legs will no longer be covered in marks and dents. The designer also covered the bottom of the folding door, which demarcates the dining room and the kitchen, with a copper sheet: even if it is full of scratches, it gives the impression of the organic, spontaneous patterns on the copper sheet; one can also easily grind it away if they wish.
The stairs leading to the upper floors are also in a league of their own. The design team chose the Mattonelle Margherita floor tile series, made from Mutina, Italy, for this corner. Nathalie Du Pasquier, who helms the series, also designs the silk scarves for Hermès. The tiles go well with the Hermès collection owned by the female owner, its colour also echoing the male owner’s amber-toned sports car. Elsewhere, the original stairwell railing is retained to pay homage to the male owner’s father.
In the master bedroom, the design team preserved the original pitched roof and used in the headboard the characteristic green bricks, which is commonplace in traditional village houses across southern China. The main toilet is brimming with a resort style: the Japanese-onsen-inspired bathtub is segmented by a glass-brick partition, another classic feature dating back to 1980s and 1990s Hong Kong. The era carries special meaning for Chan and his clients, as they were both born and raised during the period.
“The first hollow glass brick was invented in 1886. It’s an important material for the Art Deco buildings at that time. Coincidentally, when the famous architect Renzo Pianothe designed the Tokyo Hermès flagship store, the entire building's facade is constructed of glass bricks. The size of the glass brick is similar to that of a Hermès silk scarf. It’s even more meaningful for the female owner who has taken a liking to Hermès,” said Chan.
Inside the master bathroom, the round walnut wooden frame on the bathtub is yet another creation from Yat Muk and a handy feature for placing fragrances or candles. The red copper wash basin is made by Hong Kong's time-honoured Ping Kee Copper Ware.
“Ping Kee has been supplying copper utensils for herbal tea shops and hotpot restaurants in Hong Kong since the 1940s. This is the third time we have commissioned copper wash dishes from them. The colour of the copperware will evolve over time and it’s poised to become a unique item at home,” added Chan.
This project also sees the collaboration between Hintegro and the Japanese door lock brand UNION. The distinct door lock BAMBOO is a thought-provoking piece taking cues from bamboo shape: “Bamboo is an indispensable element in oriental aesthetics. In our traditional culture, it’s associated with grace, strength and style. In Japan, it’s a symbol of vitality and auspiciousness. In the realm of architectural design, bamboo is also a sustainable material. All this inspires us to begin with the concept of bamboo.”
From the layout and furniture, to the wall tiles, flooring and even door locks, ingenious details have gone into crafting this cosy home. It not only evokes the understated luxurious lifestyle of the owner and his wife, but pulling off a luxe look without too much lavishness.
“We often stress that a design doesn't have to use the most priced materials and fabrics. The right matches and execution can totally transform the look and feel of your interior,” Chan concluded.