A Hong Kong interior designer made a family-friendly home without compromising on style



a view of a living room filled with furniture and a large window: Mid-century modernism and minimalism commingle in this hoo-designed flat in Pok Fu Lam. Photography: hoo


Mid-century modernism and minimalism commingle in this hoo-designed flat in Pok Fu Lam. Photography: hoo

“The details are not the details; they make the design,” wrote legendary mid-century designer Charles Eames. It is a principle held dear by Yu-chang Chen, creative director of interior design studio hoo.

For his latest project, a 1,700 sq ft, three-bedroom flat in Pok Fu Lam, he combined his clients’ mid-century-modern sensibilities with fine textural details, creating a pared-back aesthetic shot through with warmth and luxury.

The owners of the flat, an entrepreneur couple with two children, aged three and seven, wanted to incorporate their existing collection of vintage furniture and make their family home child-friendly without sacrificing on style.

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“Mid-century modern is a popular style and when you’re designing this kind of space, it’s difficult not to repeat some elements, but we tried to add something a bit differ-ent here, using lines and curves,” says Chen.



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While not obvious at first glance, ver-tical lines have been employed through-out the flat, from corduroy grooves on wardrobe doors and dado panelling to gently striped curtain linens and thin white tiles in the kitchen, placed in upright rows. The subtle effect draws the eye upwards but also adds to a sense of order and refinement.

“I’m obsessed with lines. I want every-thing to be perfectly aligned ” I’m a bit OCD like that,” says Chen, who also describes an ongoing struggle with his love for mini-malism. “I love lines and texture and colour but, deep down, I am a minimalist. My clients are minimalists at heart, too, but you have to ask yourself: do you have a minimalist lifestyle? Do you hide your toothbrush every morning? Do you hide your books and magazines the minute you’ve stopped reading them? If not, then it’s not for you.

“I wanted to include a minimalist zone somewhere so I made the kitchen very clean, in black and white. It’s where they can go to get their minimalist fix.”

The decision to tile over the door through to the helper’s area with no surrounding architrave reduces the doorway to a simple rectangle, echoed by a light panel on the ceiling of the same dimensions. The panel hides powerful but unsightly tube lighting and evokes the feel of a skylight window.

Texture and lighting are the main players in the open living and dining area, too. A gravelly terrazzo wall and a large round sconce greet visitors at the entrance. All the flat’s lighting features circles and rounded elements.

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Chen also custom designed a number of wall panel features and played with the angle of the chevron flooring, setting the planks at 30 degrees rather than the more usual 45-degree angle. Cigar-box veneer on the low wall unit and a thin line of brass along the black dado panelling add an opulent touch, as do the etched-brass door handles, which appear everywhere but the kitchen.

“I spend a lot of time picking the right materials,” says Chen. “I hate that fake feeling you get from some products. For wood, I want to be able to touch the grains. For the terrazzo, I want to feel the texture, not just see it. You get a real feeling of comfort from that.”

With two small children in the flat, it was important to remove sharp corners and maximise storage. Chen tweaked the general layout by moving doorways and carving out space from the family bathroom to create an extra storage cabinet while all existing wardrobes were made full height.

Round corners look really good in a mid-century space. They add a retro element that I like very much

Yu-chang Chen, creative director, hoo

“Round corners look really good in a mid-century space. They add a retro element that I like very much,” says Chen.

The children’s bedrooms have been decorated to suit their occupant: lavender and dusty pink in one, yellow and grey-green in the other, while the bathroom features geometric tiles and a round tub.

“My clients wanted their kids to enjoy bath time together while they are still small. It’s all about creating fun memories. Who wouldn’t have fun in that bath?”



a lamp that is on top of a wooden chair: Photo: hoo


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Photo: hoo

Entrance A striking terrazzo wall and floor delineate the entryway, created with tiles that cost HK$368/US$47 each from Atlas Concorde. The handcrafted wall sconce was HK$13,000 from Allied Maker. The teak-and-cane bench was made by Phantom Hands for US$2,000.



a room with a desk and chair: Photo: hoo


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Photo: hoo

Dining area The chevron flooring (HK$100 per square foot from Wooderland) and the half-wall panelling, custom made by hoo for HK$40,000, provide a characterful backdrop to the Carl Hansen table (HK$45,000) and vintage Eames chairs, which have been with the homeowners for years.

The pendant lights were HK$8,500 each from Bert Frank. The round mirror was HK$8,000 from &tradition and the three-tier coffee table (HK$8,500) came from Wendelbo. The floor lamp, one of two that cost HK$30,000 each, was from Serge Mouille.



a view of a living room filled with furniture and a large window: Photo: hoo


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Photo: hoo

Living room The sofa (HK$110,000) came from Living Divani. The coffee table is part of the home-owners’ collection of vintage furniture. The rug (HK$22,000) came from The Rug Company. The floor lamp is the same as before. The gold dome table lamp (HK$13,000) came from Artek.

The marble-topped entertainment console (HK$30,000) was designed by hoo. The lounge chair on the balcony is one of a pair that cost HK$10,900 each from Harbour.



a large empty room: Photo: hoo


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Photo: hoo

Kitchen The monochrome kitchen features white vertical wall tiles (HK$1,280 per square metre from Elegante Decoro; 4/F, Kinho Industrial Building, 14 Au Pui Wan Street, Fo Tan, tel: 2185 7515), and large black floor tiles from LS3 (183 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2827 0388) that cost HK$588 each. The cabinetry and countertops were designed by hoo and cost HK$180,000.



a chair sitting in front of a window: Photo: hoo


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Photo: hoo

Main bedroom Hoo designed pinstripe panelling (HK$40,000) with a bedhead (HK$15,000) that extends along the wall. The wall-mounted light (HK$6,800) came from Bert Frank. The bedside table moved with the owners.



a kitchen with a sink and a mirror: Photo: hoo


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Photo: hoo

En-suite bathroom The cabinetry and countertop were custom made by hoo for HK$42,000. The wall tiles came from Living Ceramics and cost HK$360 apiece. The basin was HK$8,000 from Alape and the tap was HK$12,000 from Dornbracht.



a display in a room: Photo: hoo


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Photo: hoo

Son’s bedroom Retro wallpaper (HK$4,000, from Jupiter 10) creates a bright contrast to the bedroom’s grey-green fitted furniture.



a bedroom with a large window: Photo: hoo


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Photo: hoo

Son’s bedroom The rug and vintage Eames chair came from the owners’ previous home. The Louis Poulsen table lamp was HK$8,000.



a close up of a book shelf: Photo: hoo


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Photo: hoo

Daughter’s bedroomThe fitted wardrobes and shelves were custom designed by hoo in dusty pink hues for HK$60,000.



a room filled with furniture and a mirror: Photo: hoo


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Photo: hoo

Bathroom The round tub cost HK$20,000 from Ka. The colourful tiles were from Mutina and cost HK$110 each. Black fittings include a tap and shower head from Vola, which cost HK$42,000 for the set. The toilet (HK$14,500) came from Duravit.

Tried + tested



a room with a large screen: Photo: hoo


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Photo: hoo

Secret bunker Responding to the owners’ seven-year-old son’s request for a “secret base” in his bedroom, Yu-chang Chen, of hoo, designed a 1.2-metre-high bed (HK$40,000) with built-in lighting, storage and enough room to lounge comfortably ” and secretly.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

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