Empty nesters’ home renovation with art deco touches exploits tree setting to create restful interior; natural stone, wood, and green accents tie outside and inside together


“Hong Kong people are too often fixated on harbour views and think the higher floors of an apartment block are better because they are more open. Here, higher up, you see the mountain but you also see other buildings and pylons in the distance, which aren’t as attractive as nature alone.”

Gary Chang Chee-keung created a bespoke vanity area and designed a mirror with integrated LED lighting. Photo: Eugene Chan

The three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment had not been renovated since his clients acquired it 15 years previously and was consequently looking tired.

Additionally, as the couple’s son had grown up and left home, they had decided that the third bedroom, formerly dedicated to schoolwork, was underused and therefore a waste of space.

Rather than downsizing, they decided to refurbish the home they loved to make it more appropriate for their stage in life.

Although Chang gutted the flat, its layout did not change drastically. The property had started life as two separate units before being combined into one so there were a couple of load-bearing walls that could not be removed.

Consequently, the kitchen, living and dining areas were kept in the middle of the apartment, flanked by the main bedroom on one side, the son’s rooms on the other and an en suite bedroom for the family’s domestic helper at the back.

The windows all around the apartment, including the son’s bedroom (above), display the natural landscape almost as artwork. Photo: Eugene Chan

“Due to the structural walls, I couldn’t make the communal area any larger so I merged what had been the son’s quarters into another main bedroom and large bathroom.

“It gives my clients their own spaces but can be easily transformed to accommodate their son when he visits,” explains Chang, who took 18 months to complete the project.

The flat’s superpower comes in the form of two balconies and six huge bay windows into which Chang built desks and daybeds. He also strategically engineered the furniture placement in each room so that if his clients sit or lie on the major pieces, they always look out onto the greenery.

Our designs are simple but elegant and timeless. Our clients listened to our ideas but we also wanted to give them the opportunity to … have some fun with their home

Gary Chang Chee-keung, architectural designer

Framed in black metal, the windows display the natural landscape almost as artwork and Chang heightened the indoor-outdoor connection by using natural stone, neutral timber and a wash of soft green as a colour accent throughout the flat.

Because the relatively small kitchen could not be enlarged, Chang created a sleek cocktail bar in the dining area. It acts as an extension of the kitchen and is often used as a preparation space before meals are served.

He backed the bar’s alcove with bevelled mirrors and used the same materials as in the kitchen to tie the spaces together.

A wash of soft green as a colour accent was used throughout the flat. Photo: Eugene Chan

“I took a subtle art deco approach in the creation of the bar, with the mirrored wall and pale-green, powder-coated wood panelling around it, which disguises cupboards and the fridge,” says Chang.

“My clients can use it to display their glassware and having a dedicated serving area gives the apartment a luxurious feel.”

Art deco elements appear elsewhere in the apartment, too. Obvious references to the period’s interior trend include the liberal use of luxurious textures, symmetrical fluted panelling on walls and furniture, and retro-style sconces, pendant and table lamps.

Chang describes his studio’s strategy as being all about change and choice. He is a fan of modular furniture (see Tried + tested below) and this extended to the living room rug, where he collaborated with Tai Ping Carpets to create the “Carpet with a Purpose”.

The rug comprises a “frame”, made of a simple, durable material that showcases a circular “artwork” consisting of two detachable halves in silk wool. These semicircles exist in a wide variety of designs and can be mixed and matched. When not being displayed in the living room, spare segments can be used elsewhere such as on either side of a bed.

“Our designs are simple but elegant and timeless,” says Chang. “Our clients listened to our ideas but we also wanted to give them the opportunity to be creative themselves and have some fun with their home.”

Six individual tables in the living room can be used separately or slotted together in different configurations. Photo: Eugene Chan

Living and bar area

The cocktail bar’s bevelled mirror splashback was custom made by Gary Chang of EDGE Design Institute (edgedesign.com.hk) and the worktop was created from technological quartz in Unique Calacatta Black by Compac (us.compac.es). The Blossi table lamp was from Manks (www.manks.com).

The pale-green fluted walls are made of powder-coated wood and hide a fridge and cupboards although the wine fridge, from Vinvautz (vinvautz-france.com), is on display.

Both just visible, the Iago sofa was from Natuzzi (natuzzi.com) and the Buffet AK2732 television sideboard in elm and Corian was from Manks.

Dining area

The Adler extendable dining table was from Draenert (draenert.de) and the Hauge dining chairs were all from BoConcept (boconcept.com). The Linear Chandelier Thin is by Tom Kirk Lighting (tomkirk.com).

On the storage unit designed by Chang is a Cestita Batería cordless lamp, by Miguel Milá for Santa & Cole, bought from Colourliving (colourliving.shop), and a framed architectural plan of the apartment.

The sculptures, Bearbrick x CLOT Summer Fruits Yellow Watermelon Set, are available on ebay.com.

The galley kitchen was designed by Chang. Photo: Eugene Chan


The galley kitchen was designed by Chang and installed by Mia Cucina by Towngas (towngasmiacucina.com). The floor tiles were sourced by Chang’s contractor, Christie Yau, of Vivo Contracting (tel: 9162 6288).


A built-in desk by Chang looks out onto the green view. The Husk chair by Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia was bought from Colourliving.

A built-in desk by Chang in the study looks out onto the “intense vegetation” of the nearby hillside. Photo: Eugene Chan


Chang designed and installed a faux skylight in the entrance to introduce more light. He also designed the bench seat while the flooring tiles were sourced by his contractor. The Blossi wall sconce came from Manks.

Son’s bedroom

Lined in wood veneer wallpaper to match the flooring, the main bedroom features a bed and built-in window seat from which to enjoy the verdant views. Both were designed by Chang.

The bedside tables are by Verner Panton and came from Manks as did the Blossi pendant light. Through the door is the en suite bathroom.

A faux skylight in the entrance introduces more light. Photo: Eugene Chan

Vanity area

Chang created a bespoke vanity area and designed a mirror with integrated LED lighting. The Zaha silk sintered stone splashback and worktop tiles in Unique Calacatta Black were from Neolith (neolith.com).

Tried + tested

The modular Pinwheel HM7 table by Hvidt & Mølgaard is a Danish design classic from 1953. Bought from Homeless (homeless.hk), it comprises six individual tables that can be used separately or slotted together in different configurations.

Another configuration of the vintage Pinwheel HM7 table in the living room. Photo: Eugene Chan

The Carpet with a Purpose was a collaboration between Gary Chang and Tai Ping Carpets (taipingcarpets.com).


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