Curious to see how Team Sassy deck out our homes? Take a look inside the Sheung Wan home of Elle Noble, SMG Partnerships Manager.
Known in the Sassy office as the queen of DIY, it comes as no surprise that our very own Elle Noble’s home is decked out with unique and handmade pieces. From collecting items from her worldwide travels, to crafting bookshelves from old wine crates, Elle’s Sheung Wan home is giving us all the inspiration we need to add a little personality to our own spaces. Read on to find out where Elle hunts for pieces for her next upcycling project, where she shops in Hong Kong and for a peek inside her beautiful home…
Tell us about your background and where you’re from.
I was born in the U.K. and grew up in Norfolk by the seaside. I lived there until I was 7, then moved to Essex, followed by London, and now Hong Kong. I think I’ve moved house around 20 times, so I’m not really sure where I’d call “home.” In 2014 I left my job in Fashion Styling in London to take a year out and travel around the world with my boyfriend. Hong Kong was our final destination before heading back to the U.K., and after spending two crazy, fun-filled weeks in Hong Kong, we were hooked and decided to stay for a year…five years later and the adventure is still going strong.
Where do you live and why/how did you choose this flat as your Hong Kong home?
I currently live in a converted studio in Sheung Wan. When I first arrived in Hong Kong the only belongings I had with me were those in the backpack I’d been travelling with. So I was very lucky to have a couple of friends who lived here, who were extremely generous and let us stay with them for a while until we got set up and found jobs. We weren’t intending to stay in Hong Kong for much over a year, and so I didn’t see the point in investing in furniture or having a whole flat to deck out, so our next move was into another shared apartment with friends and inherited furniture. When me and my boyfriend finally realised we were kidding ourselves on the one year thing, we knew it was time to find our own place and make a home for ourselves here. After what seemed like hundreds of viewings, we finally came across our place. We had initially ruled out studios, but we decided to compromise because this apartment had the open plan layout we’d been looking for (which is rare in HK!), and we were lucky that the landlord agreed to install sliding doors to create a separate bedroom. I was worried about the space losing lots of natural light once the doors were added, but we used frosted glass doors, and we’re so happy with how it turned out!
Where have you taken inspiration? Did you initially have a theme in mind?
Oooh, I definitely don’t have an initial theme in mind, I’m always inspired by our travels and we’ll often purchase something for the home from each place we visit, as it’s such a nice reminder of the amazing trips we’ve been on. However, I’m drawn to really colourful, patterned things, so I’m constantly trying to figure out how to tie everything in and make sure the colours complement each other, and the space doesn’t just look like a crazy bazaar full of random souvenirs!
What has been the biggest home improvement you’ve made/want to make? Any tips and tricks for easily updating the look of a room?
As we rent our apartment, we’re pretty limited with big home improvement options. I find an instant way to improve the look of a room is to add plants or fresh flowers, and something simple like adding cushions or a throw to your couch or bed can make the room feel much more more homely. I don’t think home improvements need to be really expensive either, I recently found some fabric scraps for $10 in Sham Shui Po which made perfect cushion covers. I found an old picture frame someone was about to throw out, so I gave it a new home and sprayed it gold, and it makes the perfect frame for all our polaroids. I also made our bookcase out of wine crates that a shop was throwing out. I’m always looking for ways to upcycle things!
What’s your favourite piece in your home?
I’m really into crafting and customising outfits and accessories for festivals or dress-up parties (fancy dress is not limited to HK Sevens for us – it’s a VERY common occurrence amongst our friends), so I have an overflowing fancy dress box, and a crazy collection of hats (the perfect festival/fancy dress accessory!). Earlier this year I decided to create a DIY hat rack wall to house our never-ending collection and make the hats into a feature.
I also recently brought the colourful rug in our lounge whilst on a trip in India, and then I came across the turquoise Moroccan pouf and cushions from Thorn & Burrow (which match the colours perfectly), and so I’m loving how these new pieces have really given the lounge a fun, fresh update.
Where is your favourite place to shop for homeware in Hong Kong?
When I’m looking for specific pieces I usually try to find pre-loved furniture first, either from friends that are moving, the wonderful junk stores (the ones around Cat Street in Sheung Wan are my local faves), or websites like Asiaxpat, GeoExpat or carousell. Sham Shui Po is great for material, kitchenware, lights and electronics. If I’m looking for something new or gifting, then I love shops like Thorn & Burrow, Ohemia and H&M home.
Any tips for combining style with functionality?
I’m always trying to find creative way to store things, and I find that sometimes you can use fun items that are awkward shapes or too big to store (bags/jewellery/shoes) as a feature in your home, as long as it’s a nicely curated and organised selection of your most aesthetically pleasing pieces!
We have limited cupboard space in our apartment and so we hide messy items like storage boxes and home appliances behind a wooden folding screen.
What advice would you give before you move in? Any tips for styling a home?
Measure everything! I think this is really crucial especially in Hong Kong. If you’re moving into an apartment that’s not on the ground floor, check your furniture can fit into lifts etc. We once had to move a solid wooden bed frame down 15 floors as it wouldn’t fit in the elevator, and I know friends who have had to completely return furniture they bought as it simply wouldn’t fit through the door!
When it comes to styling the home, I think the best way to start is to de-clutter, clear your space and think about the things that you really enjoy being surrounded by and that you want on display.
Which interior trend do you wish would come to end?
To be honest nothing really comes to mind! I wouldn’t say that I tend to follow particular trends.
On the flipside, what’s your favourite interior trend?
I love handcrafted items, and seeing lots of natural materials used for interiors.
If you could design your home from scratch – name 5 of your must-have pieces.
- A big round table as we love a good dinner party!
- A bar cart to whip up cocktails for the party
- A bright and colourful sofa
- A walk in wardrobe (thinking Cher’s closet or Carrie Bradshaw’s!)
- A big comfy bed, as I really need my sleep
One item you’ve had for years but can’t part with?
As we moved here without furniture or things for the home, there’s not really anything I’ve had for years. Although as I worked in fashion for so many years, I have quite a huge collection of clothes and accessories, and I guess I struggle to let go of those, so that’s why an organised closet and shoe cupboard is key!
On a scale of 1- 10, how shocked were you at the size of Hong Kong homes? Why?
Maybe a 3, after renting and house sharing in London I’m used to small spaces.
If the sky was the limit – what would you splurge on?
I guess the dream would be an incredible boudoir, lined in the most beautiful hand-painted de Gournay wallpaper, with a walk in wardrobe. Oh and of course a huge bathtub… but don’t most of us in HK dream of that?!
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