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Polished marble flooring, mirrored ceilings and a light colour palette enhance a sense of luxury and space in this contemporary townhouse

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One of the most common ways to tackle an interior design project is to look at what is fashionable. But playing it safe can be boring. Taking an unexpected approach can provide an exciting alternative.

For the city townhouse featured on these pages, a sense of luxury was a prime requirement, says architect and interior designer Steve Leung. However, he says he didn't want to replicate the look of other luxury homes in the area.

"Many of these homes are decorated in a classic but modern style, which is very predictable," says Leung. "This townhouse has a similarly prestigious address, but its architecture suited a more minimalist style. The design team wanted to show that this look can also spell luxury."

Entry to the four-storey house is via a large foyer on the ground floor. Here, polished marble floors and maple wood panelling provide a light, spacious look. The sense of luxury is enhanced by a large sculpture on an illuminated plinth. A glass platform beside the stairs is also illuminated to echo the design of the plinth and provide subtle lighting at night.

Full-height glass screens are positioned either side of the entrance into the formal living room – a design feature that is consistent with the doors on the other three floors of the house.

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"We wanted to maintain a visual connection between the foyer and the living room," says Leung. "It was important to not close up the space. But at the same time, the maple-framed screens help to define the respective areas and prevent the space from becoming too loose."

To provide a flow between these areas, the marble flooring continues throughout the ground floor. The subtle, tone-on-tone beige and brown palette is also repeated.

"The light tones create a calm and spacious interior," says Leung. "This is particularly important as the ceiling height of all the rooms was restricted by building regulations. Dark colours would have brought the room in and made it appear cramped and dark."

For the same reason, the living room ceiling features a platform with a mirrored extension. The thickness of the slab and the mirror create a sense of depth and make the ceiling appear higher. An illuminated, horizontal mirror panel along the bottom of one wall also enhances the apparent space, as the floor appears to extend beyond the wall.

"The sense of luxury is provided by the use of expensive materials," says Leung. "For example, the leather panels on the walls are very luxurious, but it is a subtle look. We didn't want anything too ostentatious for the walls, which are a backdrop to the furniture."

Leung says some of the wall panels conceal storage cupboards. An aquarium inset into the wall at one end of the room adds visual interest.

Several classic Italian furniture pieces include a bright red Minotti sofa and warm-brown modular seating.

"The furniture has a very sculptural look," he says. "The red sofa is a focal point. But it's not just the colours that are significant. The zebra-wood coffee table is a very vibrant piece that adds interest to the setting. Similarly, the classic Italian light makes a strong design statement."

The second floor of the townhouse also has a lobby, with another illuminated plinth and sculpture. This floor accommodates the kitchen and a large dining room that occupies the entire width of the house. Maple wood flooring helps to link the different areas.

On either side of the doors into the dining room are glass-walled rooms – one contains a cigar collection, the other provides wine storage. Darker brown walls on both sides of the dining room help to contain the space visually.

This room also has a long bay window, which overlooks the outdoor living area. A stand-alone bar, similar to one in the formal living room, features a white marble countertop and maple wood sides.

The third floor provides a family room beside the stairs, and bedrooms. Dark brown modular sofas and a zebra-wood wall create a warm, informal ambience. Again, a mirrored ceiling helps to extend the perceived height of the room.

On the top floor, the design of the master bedroom suite continues the calm, relaxed look of the home's interior. A glass wall provides a visual connection with the large ensuite bathroom, which features a stand-alone tub as a centrepiece. The toilet and shower rooms to one side also have glass walls. However, Leung says the owners do have the option of screening the bathroom from the bedroom.

Another bay window and separate seating area add to the casual ambience.

First published date: 23 August 2004

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Credit List

Architect Steve Leung Architects (Hong Kong)
Interior designer Steve Leung Designers
Developer Henderson Land Development Company
Main contractor Heng Shung Construction Company
Fitout contractor and air conditioning Sun Yu Chau Interior Contracting Company
Flooring Maple wood from Joyful Sky; carpet from Yarns
Wallcoverings Tak Lee Decoration Materials
Lighting Lumen Arts; Zodia Lighting; Apartment
Furniture Space Decor
Upholstery fabrics Cetec Company; Cankon Company
Other furnishings 2B Square
Bar top Wing Ming Marble Co
Bathroom vanity cabinetry and shower fittings Massford (HK)
Bath tub, basins and tapware Massford
Tiles Wing Ming Marble Co
Entrance and second floor sculptures 2B Square