x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Turning a house into a home in Stanley, Hong Kong

A rental property in Stanley in Hong Kong undergoes a sea of change to transform it enormously, from an underutilised residence into a family base that is full of cool and calm, writes Tamsin Bradshaw.

One massive main living room area was divided into two zones by a team from Life Styling Ltd. Edgar Tapan / Red Cover; styling by Bridget Saunders
One massive main living room area was divided into two zones by a team from Life Styling Ltd. Edgar Tapan / Red Cover; styling by Bridget Saunders

When Grace Taylor fell sick, she knew what she wanted: a peaceful home that would be a sanctuary for her to relax in.

Taylor and her husband were renting a home in Stanley, Hong Kong, after selling the home that they had owned and loved – they had decided to test the market and the results were swift and surprisingly successful. The three-bedroom, 3,500-square-metre rental home that they then moved into was on a quiet street, with a tree hugging it on one side. “When I saw this house, I said: ‘This is it’,” says Taylor.

Later, however, when she had to spend a lot of time at home recuperating, she found herself having to face all the things that she didn’t like about the place. She desperately needed to feel comfortable – and didn’t.

It was at this point that she contacted Nathalie Edwards of Life Styling Ltd. Edwards worked with the Taylors to redecorate their home, seeing what needed to be changed completely and what could simply be moved around. “Some of the pieces were there already, they just needed to find their home,” explains Edwards. The designer also brought in other elements – curtains, carpets, furnishings and tailor-made pieces – to lift the space and transform it into the haven that the Taylors sought for their family.

The main living room was one of the areas to undergo major change. The space was vast – double the size of a standard living room, as well as double the height. “Previously it was very formal upstairs,” says Edwards. “They had made one room of it, and it was too big to handle.”

So Edwards and her team set about dividing up the space into two living zones. One is larger than the other, with a giant L-shaped sofa that can serve as both a point to entertain from and a place in which to unwind in front of the TV, which is housed to one side of the room in a custom-built cabinet with a taupe-hued sliding door. This zone is decked out in white, grey, taupe and silvery hues. The other area, meanwhile, consists of two love seats in rich, cocoa-charcoal. The wooden coffee table and flecks of gold in the painting above, combined with the fireplace (which is not in use – Edwards placed candles here instead), give this space a warm, cosy feel, setting it apart from its silvered neighbour.

“We wanted metallic to come in, but in very subtle ways,” says Edwards, pointing to the painting, the silk cushions on the sofa and the metallic mesh curtains. “You can have gold and if you do it subtly enough you can still have silver,” she adds.

In distinct contrast to this room is the family room downstairs, which is dressed in cheery shades. The space serves as a gym, a study and a play area for the Taylors’ two boys. It was formerly regarded as the “dungeon” by the kids. “They didn’t want to go down there. They didn’t use it,” says Taylor.

To combat this problem, she and Edwards decided to create a fun space that the children would enjoy spending time in. They used colour (orange) and pattern (a Missoni fabric) on the Ovo armchairs and a Paul Smith rug to liven things up. They repainted the brown bookshelves white. The outcome of these changes is a fresh space that the family loves.

Bright, friendly shades also gave the boys’ rooms an easy, fun feel. “I wanted them to have happy rooms,” says Taylor, who used blue and orange stripes here.

The adult spaces, meanwhile, are decorated in hues that are in keeping with the relaxed feel that Taylor sought. She painted the wall in the stairwell a lovely sage green, which allows the family’s impressive artworks to stand out. “My husband buys all our art,” says the lady of the house. “We move it around, just to enjoy it.”

In the master bedroom, the colours are also soft and gentle. A delicate shade of stone adorns the walls, while a rug in taupes and beiges sits at the foot of the bed. “I find the bedroom very tranquil,” says Taylor.

Both the bedroom and the home as a whole evoke the pleasant sensation of being under water. In part, it’s the green shade cast by the tree outside. But it’s also the refined tones that Edwards and Taylor chose and the soothing sensation that pervades the house. Taylor – who has recovered her health – seems utterly at peace here. “It’s an oasis,” she smiles. “It’s light and it’s bright; it really is just a happy place for us.”

* Red Cover

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