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Added attraction


Design-savvy Kiwi Tamsin Bradshaw writes about creating a specious new home from two Hong Kong apartments

Tamsin Bradshaw


Published: Sep, 2014

After years of working for an interior design magazine and stepping inside other people’s beautiful homes I was desperate to oversee a renovation of my own. But, initially, my husband JP and I weren’t intending to do up our apartment – we had our hearts set on finding a new place.

We had already bought a 160sqm apartment in Pok Fu Lam in 2007 when we moved to Hong Kong (we’re both Kiwis but we’ve been in Hong Kong seven years now, and in Tokyo for a couple of years before that). Our home was more than big enough for us to live and entertain in, but we didn’t have any outdoor space and we longed for a garden or a terrace. Our property searches left us cold: Hong Kong’s property market is notoriously overpriced and anything with outdoor space even more so.

In the end, it was JP’s brother, Tama, who suggested we should buy the place next door. He also lives in Hong Kong, and he’d heard that the flat next to us was coming up for sale. It didn’t have any real outdoor space, but the extra square metres we would gain by knocking the two flats together would more than make up for the lack of terrace. >

The next step was finding the architects to help us with a project that would include knocking down walls, changing layouts and completely reworking all the electrics. Eventually we chose Box Design, a local firm run by Richy Ng, a Scottish-trained Hong Kong architect. Richy came armed with excitement and clever ideas for the layout, so we knew he was our man.

My passion lies in picking and combining materials, colours and furniture – all the finishing touches in the design process. It took a year and a half of planning and building to get to the point where these elements came into play, which seems an awfully long time when you’re as impatient to create something as I was.

Of course, many of these elements can be decided before construction begins and I had a pretty clear look in mind from the start. I knew I wanted our home to be a dynamic juxtaposition of refined and raw – a mix of elegant herringbone floors and panelled cabinetry with industrial features, such as concrete floors and steel with a rusted patina. I am also drawn to interiors with a “sexy” mix of grey, black and bronze elements.

Luckily my husband was happy to leave the interiors to me while he took charge of the functional aspects: the layout and the flow. JP was also determined to have a bar and a walk-in wine cellar (partly because he felt it would be a selling point if we ever put our home on the market).

JP got his bar and I was able to decorate our home the way I wanted to. Finding all the materials and furnishings was no easy feat though. >

Hong Kong’s furniture stores have a great selection of designs but, having worked in the industry for so long, I had seen enough homes decorated with Tom Dixon Beat Lights to last me a lifetime.

So I chose to look further afield, searching online for original, painted bathroom tiles, seeking out vintage stockists in Hong Kong and elsewhere for one-off pendant lamps and armchairs. I found some stunning 1930s Italian factory lights in General Store in Hong Kong and a 1950s, Mad Men-esque coffee table through Casa Capriz, which is run by Irene Capriz, an Italian friend who imports beautiful vintage pieces from Europe.

I also worked with a Hong Kong-based interior designer Candace Campos, of ID Hong Kong, to create bespoke pieces for our place. Candace is known in Hong Kong for her restaurant interiors and she often makes the chairs, tables and lights that adorn them. She produced our bar stools, the dining table, sideboards and several other pieces, using woods such as walnut and oak and finishing some items with copper accents that add warmth to the rooms, along with our colourful, eclectic collection of art and books.

We love our home. It’s filled with the objects – and often the people – we love, and designed with entertaining in mind. In that respect we have been more successful than we ever expected. It’s been the scene of a series of dinners and barbecues, and our TV room has hosted many a long afternoon spent watching the All Blacks play their hearts out.

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