Here you have it, girls – our very first insight into the coolest and quirkiest homes in Hong Kong! And what better way to kick off our brand new series, ‘That Flat’ (and our ever growing obsession with all things home related!) than with our very own Sassy Co-Founder, Maura Thompson. We love the effortlessly cool California vibe of Maura’s flat and remain in constant awe of her Pinterest-worthy décor and bright, colourful artwork. Starting out in a tiny 5-floor walk up in New York City, Maura and her family now reside in a gorgeous three-bedroom apartment in Pok Fu Lam. With a to-die-for view of the Hong Kong ocean and vibrant furniture pieces, she’s got serious #homegoals!
We chat to Maura about what it’s like living in Hong Kong, the inspiration behind her personal and home styles, as well as some all-important tips and tricks for styling a small flat and making a space your own…
Tell us about your background and where you’re from.
I’m originally from Philadelphia in the US and moved to Hong Kong eight years ago – literally two days after my wedding day! Prior to moving here, I lived in New York City for three years with my then boyfriend, who then became my fiancé (and now husband!). We rented a tiny apartment in a 5-floor walkup before making our way here for what was only meant to be for two to three years. Needless to say, the whole Hong Kong thing has worked out as we have fallen madly in love with the place that we now officially call home!
Read more: A-Z Guide for Girls New to Hong Kong
Where do you live and why did you choose this flat as your Hong Kong home?
When I first arrived we moved into a flat in Mid-Levels as we wanted to live somewhere that was close to the hustle and bustle (and in walking distance of LKF!). We lived in that apartment for four years but then decided it was time to move away from the congested streets and made our way to Pok Fu Lam where we’ve been for the past four years.
I really love this area! It’s so easy to get into Central and Kennedy Town, which is so close by, has totally blown up since we moved here. Plus, we have the loveliest view of the water from our flat which is such a great way to find serenity after a long working day in the city. We actually moved flats again a few months ago, but our move wasn’t a far one as it was within the same complex! We decided to upscale to somewhere with three bedrooms to make room for baby number two.
What are the best and worst things about living where you do? What makes the area that you live in different from other neighbourhoods in Hong Kong?
The absolute best thing for me is our view. I love sitting on my balcony sipping a gin and tonic on a late Sunday afternoon while watching the sun set at the end of the day. It’s so relaxing and peaceful and always makes me realise what a stunning place Hong Kong is to live in. I’m also really happy that we live so close to Kennedy Town as I have seen that area grow so much since moving here eight years ago. Even compared to just a few years ago, there’s such a huge difference in the restaurant and bar scene. Plus the new transport links are great! I’m loving that a quick bus trip from right outside my building can bring me to the Kennedy Town MTR which gives me easy access to our office in Sheung Wan.
The worst thing? I have yet to see, but I hear my neck of the woods is home to a few snakes here and there…
Read more: Top 5 Insider Tips for Finding a Flat
How would you describe your own personal style?
I am a big fan of using lots of whites, greys and light wood as a general base and then throwing in tons of colour to accessorise the place with pillows, artwork and rugs. A neighbour once called our style as ‘California Cool’ while my father-in-law has defined it as ‘eclectic’, so I think those descriptions fit the bill mainly in our main living area as I tend to go for softer or monochromatic colours in the bedrooms. In terms of my personal dress style, I always tend to go for simple clothes with a great statement accessory, so in a way I think that philosophy has found its way into my home as I’m all about strong accessory pieces!
Where have you taken inspiration? Did you initially have a theme in mind?
I absolutely think that the water has been my inspiration. When we moved to this area and had a great view of the water I immediately became drawn to using lots of colours like turquoise blue and vibrant pink to complement this. From there my husband and I started to build upon that theme and brought in unique and colourful pieces such as the skateboard decks we have mounted on our wall, which have always been a great conversation piece!
Which room are you most proud of? Why?
Our living room and dining space is the area I’m proudest of at the moment as I feel it really defines the look we’re going for in our home. The addition of our ginormous (possibly too big?!) sofa has created a welcoming feel and I love the use of white and colours that we have interwoven throughout the space.
What has been the biggest home improvement you’ve made? Any tips and tricks for easily updating the look of a room?
I’d have to say our current sofa is our happiest improvement as it has brought so much comfort into our lives while still making a statement. When we moved a few months ago we wanted a new sofa and I really wanted a couch where our guests (and ourselves) could feel super comfortable on when they visit our home – our previous living room space always seemed to lack that feeling. I’ve always wanted a navy blue couch and while we had our eye on an amazing (but expensive!) velvet number I realised what we really needed was one that would give us the communal feeling, so we ended up buying a navy blue U-shaped sofa from Ikea. We are now regularly sprawled out on it on a typical night and I love that our guests can just lounge freely and chit chat without feeling cramped – it has just brought a super relaxed vibe to how we entertain now.
What’s your favourite piece in your home?
This question is like asking someone who their favourite child is! It’s so hard to pick as I love everything for different reasons!
We are huge fans of The Affordable Art Fair and we recently ended up purchasing a piece we saw there this year. We admired it at the show and it stayed in our minds as we were looking for a piece of art to fill a certain wall. The artist is named Campbell La Pun and the artwork is of Dom Perignon bottles in the shape of spray cans. We contacted the artist after the show and he ended up doing the piece based on our colour choices. To create meaning and add a personal touch, we selected our birth years and the year we got married as the ‘vintage years’ on the spray cans.
On the topic of marriage, the second piece I’m loving right now is a bit of a sentimental one. My favourite movie is Love Actually, and for our engagement my husband took inspiration from the scene where Andrew Lincoln knocks on Keira Knightley’s door to profess his love for her using poster board signs. My husband wrote out cards similar to that scene to pop the question, but when we moved here we put the poster boards in a storage unit in the US for safe keeping. We finally cleared that out this summer and since it was such an important moment in our lives we took the signs back with us to Hong Kong and got them framed! They are now hanging in our home and I love that we have incorporated something so special to us into our home décor. For me, it’s great to be able to have that personal reminder of our love story as I walk past it each day.
My two favourites at the moment (professional artwork vs DIY proposal) range in price when it comes to dollar signs, so it’s great to know that you can incorporate cool pieces into your home at every price level. Sometimes it’s all about how best to present an item to make it really pop in your setting regardless of the price tag!
What about your choice of furniture? Why did you choose these pieces?
I love a good lacquer piece so have quite a bit of that in my apartment… and have had to tell myself to stop buying these because they need to be balanced with other things to work well! What I like though is that they can feel traditional in nature yet also really modern based on the colour choices and finish you go with.
I also adore our wooden dining table which we purchased from OVO home; it adds a rustic element which balances all of the lacquer. It also adds a welcome pop of colour which is important to me as well as adding in a nice mix of materials.
And finally, we really love having a mix of artwork. My husband is a big fan of graffiti art so we’re really incorporating that into our home at the moment. Our space is a mixture of pieces that we have invested in on trips to places like Vietnam or at the Affordable Art Fair, as well as prints that we have ordered online at places like Etsy.
Where is your favourite place to shop for homeware in Hong Kong?
Outside of Hong Kong, I have been a big fan of Society6 for things like decorative pillows as they’re so reasonably priced, so there’s no need to stress if you want to change things up with the season. Plus, if you keep an eye out you can sometimes get free shipping to Hong Kong!
Read more: Best Homeware Stores in Hong Kong
Describe your dream flat.
I have always wanted to live in a loft, so my dream flat would be something that has that vibe! A water view, plenty of windows, amazing light and a great closet space will always top my list of must-haves. I also dream of one day having a large US-style washer and dryer in my flat, and I daydream about having a kitchen island where my family can congregate around before they venture off on their day.
How have you made your space work for you?
I love the space we have in our current flat but we still suffer from the typical HK problem of not having enough storage space. I recently began using Boxful to store things we don’t use on a regular basis (like winter coats during the hot summer months) and it’s really helped with creating more space for us. So far, I’ve not had a moment of panic where I needed something in storage immediately, but they are quick in getting your items to you when you need them!
Any tips for combining style with functionality?
This tip requires being neat (which I am not always), but I am a big fan of showcasing things you use most. My closets and shoe cabinet don’t have doors on them so I have easy access to what I need, plus you can put your fabulous pieces on display rather than have them hidden away, so they actually become a part of the room. I also tend to put my favourite necklaces on the dressform I have in my bedroom as I’m able to grab them easily. I think they make quite a statement and add a touch of glamour to my bedroom.
Read more: Makeover your Study Space and Home Office
What advice would you give before you move in? Any tips for styling a home?
Get your window covering options sorted before the big move in day! The worst thing is moving into a new flat and realising that you haven’t sorted your window coverings yet. The girls at the office laughed at me because I totally stressed about getting my (basic white!) coverings ordered before hand, but believe me, they came in handy when the sun came up the next morning and those curtains were drawn!
If you’re the type of person who feels like your style may change from time to time, then I suggest going for neutral shades with your big items such as sofa, window coverings and bedding and then use accessories and artwork to make big style impacts! If your style changes it’s much easier to swap out pillows and things like that. I find that accessories are the perfect way to really let your personality shine through!
Keen to feature your home on Sassy? Simply send in your photos to [email protected]!
A huge thank you to our fab photographer, Nahuan Medina! Check out more amazing pictures on his website or give him a call on 6111 8571 for bookings!
Check out our other That Flat features here.