A Compact Hong Kong Apartment Gets a Zen, High-Tech Upgrade

Louetta R. Clark
Picture frame molding makes the living area feel homey, while cavities in the floor platform stow away all manner of possessions.

Picture frame molding makes the living area feel homey, while cavities in the floor platform stow away all manner of possessions.

Inspired by his own experience living in a cramped tenement apartment, Hong Kong architect Patrick Lam works to maximize small spaces by pushing the boundaries of conventional renovations. In a recent Lantau Island project, the Sim-Plex Design Studio founder combined smart technology, secret storage, and feng shui fittings to transform a cluttered two bedroom into a functional, flexible four bedroom for a young family.

Patrick cleverly reconfigured the layout, blending a new open kitchen into the living area and converting the old kitchen into sleeping quarters. He also installed folding doors that can privatize the living room to host the grandmother who frequently comes for overnight visits.

Before: Squeezed into a corner, the old kitchen was incredibly tight.

Before: Squeezed into a corner, the old kitchen was incredibly tight.

Before: The old living room was overflowing with personal belongings

Before: The old living room was overflowing with personal belongings

To create a sense of airiness in the 492-square-foot home, Patrick strove to highlight its prime Coastal Skyline location. He deviated from the expected futuristic style of many high-tech designs and instead utilized natural materials to accentuate the rare views of lush, green hills. “The building has very nice scenery outside, so I wanted to integrate the landscape with the interior,” Patrick explains.

Pale maple and light gray wood veneers top the custom melamine joinery that composes nearly every surface, providing brightness and warmth. White, moisture-resistant paint covers the remaining ceilings and walls. “We did not want to use any dark colors that would make the space look smaller,” reasons Patrick.

Patrick moved the kitchen into the living room for an open floor plan that feels more spacious.

Patrick moved the kitchen into the living room for an open floor plan that feels more spacious.

Courtesy of Patrick Lam

While such optical illusions offer the feeling of expanse, the construction of idiosyncratic, raised platforms in place of ordinary floors adds tangible capacity. Trapdoor-like panels lift from below to reveal hidden compartments that store books, household items, and toys. Another section rises up to become a coffee table for tea ceremonies and snacks in front of the television. Similar camouflaged elements include a drawer that pulls out to unveil a vanity and benches that fit like puzzle pieces beneath the quartz dining table.

In the child’s bedroom, the wooden platform doubles as a seat for the built-in desk for a convenient homework station.

In the child’s bedroom, the wooden platform doubles as a seat for the built-in desk for a convenient homework station.

The intelligent, voice-activated features are tucked away as well. Though verbal commands control the lights, curtains, temperature, and door locks, these modern luxuries are intentionally concealed to satisfy the clients’ desire to adhere to the principles of feng shui. “Although the traditional feng shui aesthetics and smart technology seem to be contradictory, if applied properly, they could also be compatible,” Patrick opines.

To further achieve the proper spiritual balance, Patrick ensured that the entertainment unit was completely symmetrical and framed all the bay windows in wood to avoid having exposed beams over the beds. The result is the ideal combination of zen vibes and smart amenities, two often-conflicting components that have been expertly engineered to complement each other.

With custom millwork, storage is packed into the main bedroom.

With custom millwork, storage is packed into the main bedroom.

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest

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