A Hygge Haven on Lamma Island
From stunning seaside homes in Stanley to chic and minimalist studios in Sheung Wan, the passion and creativity that goes into turning a house into home never ceases to amaze us here at Sassy! And while square footage (or lack thereof!) is sadly an issue we forever face here in Honkers, Interior Designer, Cecilie Larsen left the hustle and bustle behind in search of space and natural light – just a hop skip and ferry ride away from Central.
With an eye for simple, Scandinavian-style décor, and a focus on homely hygge traditions, Cecilie lets us in on her secret to crafting a meaningful and functional space as well as some amazing DIY projects she’s taken on since living on Lamma.
Tell us about your background and where you’re from.
I’m Danish born and bred, and have been living in Hong Kong for almost five years. I grew up in the countryside of Jutland, in a derelict farmhouse that my parents had renovated. The house not only had a massive garden, but was also next to a huge forest. We had views over fields where we kept our horses. We also had a colossal garage where you could always find my father. My dad is a super dad, that basically can build anything you can dream of. I spent hours in the garage with my dad creating stuff or helping him with his old American cars, which was his big passion. He always helped me see possibilities in things and how to create stuff out of raw materials or even how to build with all our Lego bricks.
We spent lots of time outdoors and had tree houses, zip lines going over the field and my dad even built a little car using the motor from a tractor grass cutter. My mum is an amazing woman with “green” fingers and always the ability to create what we call “hygge”. She is super creative and always sewed our clothing, created art and went exploring in the nature with us. With all the space one can imagine and a super creative family, I’ll admit I’ve had a pretty awesome upbringing and a wonderful place to grow up.
Where do you live and why/how did you choose this flat as your Hong Kong home?
I live on Lamma Island now and moved here a year ago after experiencing a number of other locations on Hong Kong Island. I was attracted to the space because of the amount of natural light, the big living space, all the greenery right outside the window, the big terraces on each side and the garden next to the terrace where I grow lots of delicious organic vegetables and fruits with our neighbour. I wanted to be closer to nature and have the opportunity to sit outside while I’m home, and this apartment gave me all the options with movable partitions windows on each side of the house so the terrace is basically an extension of the living area.
Where have you taken inspiration? Did you initially have a theme in mind?
My inspiration definitely comes from nature and my home country; I love being surrounded by greenery and natural materials, which for me create a relaxed atmosphere. My roots are Danish and I love the Scandinavian simplicity that is also very modern, cosy and comfortable since we love our “hygge” traditions when we are home. I enjoy the touch and feel of natural materials and exploring how something is made, which also is the reason why many of our furniture and art pieces are home made. Like most people, when I am home I just want to relax and not be distracted by too much stuff around me so the simple Scandinavian style came very naturally.
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?
I built our dining table, which is a beautiful round table with three legs split out to the sides. I wanted to create a nice space where people can gather and I think round tables are especially nice when people get together. I made some sketches of how I wanted it and the size matching the area and ordered the wood on Taobao, I then went to the local hardware shop to get screws and when the wood arrived I had it cut into the right sizes. I am very pleased with the result and we love sitting here having dinner most evenings. Once we found some beautiful wood that had washed on to the beach after the typhoon, which has now found a new life as our outdoor table. I love getting my hands into some DIY projects and it’s quite easy to find interesting materials in Hong Kong.
I painted our bedroom walls in a good quality olive green chalk paint from Thorn & Burrow, which is super easy to use and you can create these amazing textures with very little technique. The colour feels calming to me, and is so different from your typical white room. Paint can completely transform a room whether you want to change the mood or refresh the look. By painting walls, ceilings and even floors, you can change a room completely and there are so many stunning colours available. If painting walls is not an option then you can actually get a wood piece or canvasses in Hong Kong in basically all the sizes you can dream of and this could be another solution to get some colour in to your apartment.
I often look at old stuff and want to give it a new beginning. My bedside cabinet used to be a boring white IKEA drawer, but is now this funky modern mirror drawer just with the use of mirror film that I bought in the stationary. You can create many things on your own without spending too much money — you just need to be a little creative in using the resources you have available around you.
What’s your favourite piece in your home?
By far, my favourite piece in my house is a jewellery box that my grandfather gave my grandmother 75 years ago. He made it himself and sweetly carved in her initials. My grandfather passed it on to me after my grandmother passed away last year. It’s a stunning piece of craftsmanship, and I am so proud to be the one taking care of it now. They are, and will continue to be, my biggest role models. They have accomplished so much in their life that many people will only dream about.
Where is your favourite place to shop for homeware in Hong Kong?
I actually don’t have a favourite place for homeware, as I like to build stuff and mix and match. I love mixing the old with the new, and everything in between from different origins.
Some of the shops that I like to have a look in are MENU SHOWROOM, in Wong Chuk Hang, Thorn & Burrow, Sai Ying Pun, and occasionally I have a good rummage around the antique shops along Man Mo Market Street. If I go on holiday somewhere, often I will bring back something that either has a unique meaning to it, or will forever remind me of a good adventure!
Read more: Best Homeware Stores in Hong Kong
Any tips for combining style with functionality?
In my daily role at Stylus Studio, we have a humanistic approach and focus on crafting meaningful spaces that balance functionality and aesthetics so the two are one in the same. Ask yourself what is the purpose of the space? Who are the end-users? What stories of the past (the people and the place) can you translate to give your space new context? Everyone can create something nice, but don’t sacrifice functionality and follow trends. If you focus on what’s meaningful to you and your family, the style will endure.
What advice would you give before you move in? Any tips for styling a home?
Don’t rush! When choosing your new home then I would always look at things like natural light, as this is something that plays a big part for me. I think people tend to stress out a bit and want to get things sorted as quickly as possible and end up getting whatever is easiest. Don’t try to follow a sudden style, just use furniture you like and create your own “spatial story.” I recommend creating different mood-boards of images to see the possibilities in different pieces and how you can make it more functional and interesting for yourself when using it. Don’t forget to measure things properly, so you don’t squeeze everything in making our Hong Kong homes look ever more compact! Just keep it simple!
Which interior trend do you wish would come to end?
I am not sure you can call this a trend, but it’s a shame when people overuse things and try to squash as much as possible in to a space. I see it a lot in Asia, where people completely overuse design elements. Some people don’t understand that it is actually okay to have a white wall, or ceiling, without anything on it.
Read more: Our Go-To Handymen in Hong Kong
On the flipside, what’s your favourite interior trend?
I love that there is more of a focus on the actual craftsmanship behind materials and furniture. People are starting to be more interested in how it is made, what it is made of, and where it comes from.
If you could design your home from scratch – name 5 [of your] must-have pieces.
This is super hard… There are so many amazing pieces of furniture out there; especially when you work in interiors you experience so many incredible designers and artists. I wouldn’t mind a couple of Willy Guhl chairs for outside, with a cool little table from Vincenzo De Cotiis in between. I’d love a Pierre Jeanneret armchair in my study with a beautiful table and a funky table lamp, maybe the Napako Mushroom lamp. I’d probably swop my sofa with a Vladimir Kagan sofa and get a nice thick rug. I have an obsession with sculptures and would love a big sculpture outside so I can just lie in my sofa and admire it haha.
One item you’ve had for years but can’t part with?
My toolbox. Can’t live without it!
On a scale of 1- 10, how shocked were you at the size of Hong Kong homes?
I wasn’t really shocked about the size, more the price for the size!
Read more: 7 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Space
If the sky was the limit – what would you splurge on?
I’d love the time to learn pottery and sculpture from masters in Japan, Italy and France. It would be amazing to compare the different philosophies and techniques of this old craft.
Keen to feature your home on Sassy? Send in your photos to [email protected]!
Check out our other That Flat features here.