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Touched by nature

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An uncluttered interior emphasises this apartment's connections with natural light and nearby trees


A successful renovation often results when designers seize opportunities and make the most of them, as well as improve on existing features.

When architects Jason Yung and Caroline Ma were shown an apartment on the top level of a three-storey block, they immediately saw the design possibilities. Built in the 1970s, it had 165m2 of living space and generous proportions, including 3.1m-high ceilings. The apartment, near a park, was surrounded by trees, giving it a light, leafy-green atmosphere. It also had a staircase that led up to an undeveloped roof space.

"Our aim in renovating the apartment was to allow the maximum amount of light and greenery to penetrate the space and emphasise the high ceilings," says Yung.

Floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors, fitted to what was originally a balcony off the living room, allow extra light to flood in, so this space appears larger.

To heighten the effect of the greenery outside the windows, the designers used as many natural elements inside as possible. Floors in the apartment are covered with unpolished oak boards to create a rough, naturally textured look. A brick wall in the living room contributes another natural, textural element to the living space.


Colours are simple and neutral, with predominantly white walls, white furnishings and natural timber shelves. The main splash of colour is the soft green sofa in the living room.

"This type of simple colour scheme, where lots of walls are painted white like a gallery, provides opportunities for us to express our own personalities by displaying favourite items such as artworks, antiques and photos," says Yung.

"Because this was our own apartment, we saw it as an opportunity to experiment. We have taken the design one step away from a minimalistic approach by exposing as many elements as possible in the space without creating chaos or clutter."

This experimentation has taken the form of trying to do something unexpected in each room.

"To achieve this, we have flipped several walls inside out. For example, we have reversed the shelving unit that you might expect to find in a study so that it faces into the dining room. The white brick wall that might normally be ina kitchen now appears in the living room. An opening in this wall helps to connect the two rooms.

"Probably the most unexpected example of this can be seen in the master bedroom. Here, we have removed the wall between the closet and bathroom and replaced it with a transparent glass wall. This not only saves on space but also makes the bedroom appear visually bigger," says Yung.

The other main improvement Yung and Ma have made to their apartment is the development of the roof area. A curved teak bannister has been added to the staircase leading up to it. At the top is now a shelter that covers one-third of the roof and contains a simple kitchen and indoor dining space. To make it more transparent, this shelter has windows and sliding doors on two sides.

The middle third of the roof has been decked with wood and the final third has been transformed into a Zen garden. Yung and Ma say they can entertain up to 50 people in this space.

First published date: 03 September 2003

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Credit List

Architect Jason Yung, Caroline Ma, Jason+Caroline Design (Hong Kong)
Interior design Jason+Caroline Design
Construction KC Lau
Kitchen designer Caroline Ma
Kitchen manufacturer Grandfield International
Lighting Desideri International
Furniture Desideri International
Upholstery fabric Cetec
Home audio Universal Audio
Benchtops and splashbacks Grandfield International
Oven, stove, microwave Smeg
Refrigerator Whirlpool
Bathroom cabinetry, shower fittings KC Lau
Bath, basin, taps, toilet Classic Bathroom
Flooring Oak planking
Banister Teak
Window treatments KC Lau