A Gen Z green sofa set off with yellow and red, feng shui partitions, rattan seating and textured paint – Ap Lei Chau pad tips its hat to old Hong Kong
From the view of the now-closed Jumbo floating restaurant to the raw brick tiles and textured paint that remind property owner Lucas Sam Si-long of his grandmother’s home, the word that best describes his one-bedroom, 1,070 sq ft (99 square metre) flat in Ap Lei Chau is nostalgic.
“It’s not retro – I don’t like that word,” says its designer, JJ Acuna of JJAcuna / Bespoke Studio. “It takes those little bits and pieces we have in our memories, but it’s not a pastiche or clichéd. It’s nostalgic, but it’s very now.
”The flat is the second project Acuna and Sam have worked on together; the first – Sam’s Happy Valley coffee shop, Coffeelin – also has a nostalgic vibe. In a nod to the Milan origin of the Griso coffee served inside, Acuna gave it a dark green exterior, vintage mirrors and wrigglywall graphics in the Memphis Milano style
Italian elements can also be found in the flat, notably in the lighting. But there are also influences from England, where Sam went to school, and old Hong Kong. The Jumbo, for example, influenced the colour scheme in the living area: mustard, burgundy, and a sofa in that particular shade of dark green that pops up all over the city, from trams to the pagoda roofs of the iconic floating restaurant
All the furniture in the study, apart from the wall shelves, is free-standing for flexibility so this room can be reconfigured easily for use as a bedroom
The 1,070 sq ft apartment’s vibe is earthy,natural and soft to touch – ‘there’s not much glassor mirrors or bling-bling,’ designer JJ Acuna says
“Pantone has even given it a name: HK Tram Green,” Acuna says. “Green is also the colour of Generation Z – we use it in a lot of our designs.”
Other elements were the result of a consultation with feng shui designer Thierry Chow Yik-tung.
“Feng shui says you should have a threshold, or partition, between the entrance and the rest of the home, so you can’t see straight in,” Acuna says.
Here, that takes the form of a rattan screen around the six-seat dining table, which hides it from prying eyes at the front door and also defines the dining area within the open-plan living space. The pattern of the rattan is echoed in the textured fabric on the space-saving banquette seating.
Linking the dining area and kitchen is a“buffet bar”, clad in small red brick tiles, perfect for hosting guests (“When my family come, they all come together,” Sam says). Similar brick tiles wrap around the quintessentially English white ceramic butler sink, but Acuna specified polished terracotta for the splashback (“more practical”). Like the brick, the wood cabinetry and kitchen ceiling have a natural, unpolished finish.
“Lucas loves wood so we tried to incorporate a lot of it,” Acuna says. “There’s not much glass or mirrors or bling-bling. Everything is soft to touch, earthy, natural.”
A half-glass wall separates the living space and study/guest bedroom, allowing more light into the living area, with a thick curtain ready to be drawn for privacy.
"All the furniture in the study, apart from the wall shelves, is free- standing for flexibility so this room can be reconfigured easily for use as a bedroom in future,” Acuna says.
Access to the study, main suite and guest bathroom is via a small, walnut-lined hallway, with both a raised floor and lowered ceiling. It’s a cosy, dark space with hidden storage that provides a clear division between the public and private spaces.
“The master bedroom was originally small and awkward, and there was a tiny half-room used as a nursery, and a corridor. We combined the space, moved the en-suite to the back corner, and raised the floor another step to create a sense of difference,” Acuna says.
The en-suite boasts a half-sunken bath with a fabulous view of Aberdeen Harbour and a wall of fluted glass that screens the bathroom from the dressing area. Another wall of fluted glass hides the walk-in wardrobe, leaving the bedroom itself as a neat, uncluttered square.
The dark green sofa was custom designed by the homeowner, Lucas Sam Si-long, and fabricated by Colormatch (colormatchsofa.com). The Julian rug and concrete-and-resin coffee table were both from Soho Home (sohohome.com). The ceramic wall lamp was from Haos (studiohaos.com), and the side table by Ariake from At Liberty (at- liberty.com). The charred vase is available from Origin (origin- made.com).
Living area detail
The raw brick buffet bar links the kitchen and dining area and provides the perfect setting for the portrait of himself Sam commissioned as a housewarming gift to himself from British artist Brendan Fitzpatrick (brendanfitzpatrickart.com). The bar, oak cabinetry and shelves, and walnut wall panelling, were all designed by JJ Acuna of JJ Acuna / Bespoke Studio (jjabespoke.com) and custom built by Design Information Centre (dic.hk).
The flooring is lightly oiled oak herringbone by Wonderfloor (wonderfloor.com).
The rattan screen, banquette and table were all designed by JJ Acuna and made by Design Information Centre. The Regent Chandelier was from Schoolhouse (schoolhouse.com). The Drawn HM3 chairs are a 1956 design by Hvidt & Molgaard and came from &Tradition (andtradition.com).
A raised floor helps to differentiate the space in the dressing area, and also allows plumbing and services to be run under the floor. The marble mosaic floor tiles were from Top Star (topstarbms.com.hk).
The walnut-lined hallway and bedroom door, which leads to the private areas of the flat, and the dressing table, mirror and shelf unit, were all designed by JJ Acuna and built by Design Information Centre. The rug by Kahoko and stool by Ariake were both from At Liberty, and the wall lamp was from Atelier de Troupe (atelierdetroupe.com).
The bed, with its integrated storage, the headboard and the bedside tables were all designed by JJ Acuna and custom made by Design Information Centre. They also custom designed and made the fluted glass walk-in wardrobe doors, set in an off-white frame.
The wall lamps were from Lightology (lightology.com) and, on the ceiling, the Ray surface mount lamp came from Schoolhouse. The curtains were from Kvadrat (kvadrat.dk) and the cushions from Baea (baea.com).
The low millwork ceiling, oak cabinets and black stone countertop were designed by JJ Acuna and custom made by Design Information Centre. The small brick tiles, polished terracotta tiles on the splashback and white ceramic stone floor tiles were all from Top Star.
Photo: Xu Liang Leon
Tried + tested
Red alert During their consultation, feng shui master Thierry Chow Yik- tung (thierrygolucky.com) told property owner Lucas Sam Si-long that the guest bathroom was in the flat’s “fire” area. “This meant there had to be something red,” he explains. JJ Acuna’s solution was to clad the floor and lower part of the walls in large slabs of natural red marble, which he also used in the main en-suite for cohesion.
The bathroom was designed by JJ Acuna / Bespoke Studio and the marble came from Stone Wealth Marble Contracting (6/F, Tak King Industrial Building, 21 Lee Chung Street, Chai Wan, tel: 9660 8310; email: email@example.com).
Despite the apparent simplicity of the bedroom, there is texture and detailing everywhere – even the paint has texture, a plaster finish that Sam says reminds him of his grandmother’s place in Macau. Acuna nods. “It’s nostalgic.”