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On second thoughts

South China Morning Post

When it came remodeling their Sai Kung home nine years on from their first makeover, the Wongs knew exactly who to call


Adele Brunner 

Published: 12:00am, 16 Dec, 2012

Text Adele Brunner | Pictures Felix Wong | Stylist David Roden


When Ronald and Vivian Wong asked Richy Ng of Box Design to renovate their 2,000 sq ft Sai Kung home for a second time - nine years after they moved in - there could have been no greater endorsement of the original job he'd done.


"I am a big fan of [British architects] John Pawson and David Chipperfield, so I wanted some of their minimalist aesthetic incorporated into the space, as well as maintaining elements of our previous design," says Ronald. "The footprint of the house isn't large so the challenge was to create linked spaces that would make the place seem bigger than it is without becoming a series of shoe boxes."


The Wong's first renovation had also been minimalist in style, with open-plan rooms, a cement-based self-levelling floor and only essential pieces of designer furniture. But the couple have daughters now - Molly, five, and Mia, three - and they felt their home needed to be more child-friendly.


To that end, Ng extended the kitchen and encased it in glass to make it part of the dining area while allowing it to be shut off for the children's safety. He also enlarged the living room, to create space for the girls' toys and grown-up entertainment in the form of a home theatre.


A ceiling that had been removed to increase the height of the living room was reinstated to create an upstairs floor for the children's bedrooms, maid's room and bathroom. Ng kept the split-level concept between the kitchen and dining room and the lower living room but moved the connecting stairs to one side - in part for safety but also to act as a visual continuation of the main staircase. In the space where the stairs used to be, he built a bench seat on the upper level that doubles as a cupboard for hi-fi equipment and DVDs in use on the lower one. 


"I wanted to create visual and spatial continuity between the various living areas, " says Ng. "I did this by designing a floating bench that runs from the garden across the living and dining rooms from the front door. I also positioned the stairs on the same side of the house to link the living room to the dining area visually and up again to the first floor. "


The interior floor tiles were extended into the garden and up the garden wall to connect the inside of the house with the outdoors.


Simple but clever linear designs are to be found throughout the house. Long, wide floorboards on the two top stories offer a directional feel - they seem to draw you along the corridor and into the bedrooms, The effect is mirrored by a rectangular light trough on the master bedroom ceiling, which has the exact dimensions of a single floorboard and furthers the illusion of height.


"I also incorporated tiered light troughs in the study [which is situated in a corner of the master bedrooms], " says Ng.


"They increase the feel of height in what might otherwise have felt like a small cramped space and look more interesting than conventional strip lighting. "


Ng used glass throughout the house to increase the light and sense of space.


In the stairwell by the master bedroom, for example, he replaced concrete walls with glass ones.


"A stairwell can be a very dark area, " he says. "The glass walls open it up and provide interaction between the stairs and the master suite. The floating glass panels in the banisters also give a very light, open feel - and prevent the children from falling.”


Particularly striking on the upper levels is the flooring. The Austrian rugged oak is, Ng says, “punchy and powerful”.


The wood has been wire-brushed to accentuate the grain pattern.


“Our previous colour palette was light grey flooring and light oak stairs.


We wanted to make the place warmer and chose dark oak flooring -  as dark as it would go,” says Wong, who ranks the feel of walking barefoot on the wood among his favourite aspects of his “new” home.


“My wife and I both work in the city and it’s good to be able to decompress on the way home,” says Wong. “I love the sense of calm whenever we return.” 


Living area (top) The lower living area offers comfort and entertainment for all the family. The modular sofa (HK$80,000) and coffee table (HK$5,000) were from Ligne Roset (16 Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2891 0913). The Hans Wegner Shell chair (HK$23,230) is available from Manks (3/F, The Factory, 1 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang, tel: 2522 2115). The magazine rack was HK$5,000 from Bals Tokyo (Festival Walk, 80 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong, tel: 3106 8958). The television is flanked by speakers, which incorporate picture of Molly and Mia (all from AV Consultant, The Penthouse, 24/F, 1 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2581 2928). The Arco floor lamp, by Castiglioni, cost HK$35,000 from Flos (Wyndham Place, 44 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2801 7608). The overhead fan (HK$2,000) came from Life’s A Breeze (16/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2572 4000).

Dining area The waxed oak dining table was custom designed by Box Design (tel: 2573 3323; for HK$8,000. Molly and Mia’s aqua Tripp Trapp chairs by Stokke were HK$3,000 each from Mothercare (various locations; and the other chairs were HK$3,000 each from Marc James Design (16/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2517 2000). The pendant light cost HK$5,000 from Homeless (29 Gough Street, Central, tel: 2581 1880). The Butterfly stool cost HK$2,500 from Aluminium (36 Cochrane Street, Central, tel: 2546 5904) and the painting above it, by Paul Davis, came from The Cat Street Gallery (222 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, tel: 2291 0006). The artworks on the custom-built shelving (HK$90,000 for the bench, by Box Design) were by Molly and Mia.

Study The floating shelves, desk, cabinet and wall cupboard (HK$150,000 in total) were all custom designed by Box Design.

Upstairs corridor The Austrian oak flooring, by Admonter, cost HK$158 per square foot from Cartina International (21/F, Lucky Plaza, 315 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 3105 0510). The photograph was picked up on holiday in Australia.

Bathroom The freestanding Victoria and Albert bath (HK$50,000;, 333 Lockhart Road, tel: 2510 2666) dominates the bathroom. The Vola attachments in the bath and shower (HK$100,000), the Hydrotherm heated towel rail (HK$8,000) and the Duravit Vero sinks (HK$4,000 each), all came from Sunny Building & Decoration Materials (343 Lockhart Road, tel: 2575 0200). The stone tiles were HK$90 per square foot from Anta Building Material Supplier (311A Lockhart Road, tel: 2180 6950).

Kitchen The all-white kitchen features cabinets (HK$250,000) by Poggenpohl (LG/F, Sunning Plaza, 10 Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay, tel: 2890 9111). The floor tiles (HK$120 a square foot) were from Regent Building Material Supplies (284 Lockhart Road, tel: 2802 3132).

Master bedroom The wallpaper on the feature wall cost HK$8,000 from Altfield Interiors (11/F, 9 Queen’s Road Central, tel: 2524 4867). The bed (HK$10,000) was custom made by Box Design. The bedside lights were bought at Flos years ago. The leather Eames chair (HK$27,000) from Herman Miller ( is available at Posh (161 Des Voeux Road Central, tel: 2851 0899). The reading lamp was HK$7,000 from Flos. The tailor’s dummy is from Ronald Wong’s own collection from Moustache (31 Aberdeen Street, Sheung Wan, tel: 2541 1955) of which he is part owner. The wooden tree (HK$2,800 from Homeless) is used to hang belts and clothes.

Girls’ bedroom The girls’ bedroom features stripy curtains (HK$9,000 for the set) from Canaan (Sai Kung Building, 42 Fuk Man Road, Sai Kung, tel: 2792 9892) and a patterned mosquito screen that was custom designed by Box Design for HK$15,000. The hot pink beanbag armchair (HK$1,000) and frog rug (HK$500) were from Rapee Living (Sai Kung Garden, 16 Chan Man Street, Sai Kung, tel: 2792 8410).

Taking charge To ensure the Wongs' phones and BlackBerrys are always charged, Richy Ng of Box Design (tel: 2573 3323; www. installed a charging station at the entrance to their home. Plugs, sockets and wires are hidden beneath a shelf, which is set into the wall dividing the passage from the kitchen. The couple can now come home, plug in and chill out. The quirky charger in the shape of a firefighter was a gift.

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