19 October, 2017
Home & Decor

That Flat: Inside the Hong Kong Home of Sian O’Brien, Founder of Sian Interiors

19 October, 2017

Pops of colour


Refreshing and styling countless hotel rooms, flats and offices throughout Hong Kong, founder of Sian Interiors, Sian O’Brien, is serving up serious home décor inspiration in her own home.

Read on for top styling tips and see how Sian uses vibrant pops of colour to add personality to her rented Stubbs Road abode…

Read more: Tim Oulton’s Top 5 Interior Design Tips for a Small Home

That Flat: Sian O'Brien, Founder of Sian Interiors

Tell us about your background and where you’re from.

I was born and raised in the small town of Knutsford, Cheshire in England, however when I was nine-years-old my mother and Stepfather moved to Hong Kong, where I then began floating between the two countries before permanently settling down in Hong Kong after graduating. Hong Kong has always been home for me.

Where do you live and why/how did you choose this flat as your Hong Kong home?

We have a great flat tucked away in one of the terraces on Stubbs Road which looks out over Happy Valley. My parents lived on Stubbs Road for years and my husband and I spent a lot of time in the area, so this was a great compromise. I love an old Colonial-style low rise, the space is perfect for making you mark on and they actually fit your furniture – win!

Read more: That Flat: Inside the Hong Kong Home of Maura Thompson, Co-Founder of Sassy Hong Kong

That Flat: Sian O'Brien, Founder of Sian Interiors

Where have you taken inspiration? Did you initially have a theme in mind?

Gosh, tough one! I take inspiration from literally everywhere and I tend to wing it when it comes to my own home. I find pieces that I love and I make them work (even if they don’t!), that’s almost part of the fun and personality of our space. If I were to choose one running theme, it would be our art; I definitely take a lot of inspiration from pop-art in my personal interior style. There’s lots of white with pops of vibrant colours throughout.

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?

Sadly we rent, but if we did own our flat the kitchen and bathrooms would be the first spaces to go! I’m obsessed with tiles and fittings and often lie in bed thinking of ways to renovate our bathrooms, and they look great… in my head! The biggest change I made however was our new flooring, I swapped out the old, dark parquet wood flooring for a light vinyl tile, which completely updated our space overnight.

A tin of white paint goes a long way in quickly updating a room, along with a change in furnishings. However if you don’t have the time or budget, changing up simple things like cushion covers, rugs, light fittings and your layout will completely transform a space, too. I often do this for clients who are renting as they’re limited in what they can and want to do.

Read more: 7 Ways to Make the Most of a Small Space

That Flat: Sian O'Brien, Founder of Sian Interiors

What’s your favourite piece in your home?

I have so many, but probably my recycled wood dining table! I had it custom made and left it unfinished so it shows a multitude of memories/sins, which I love. Every dent, paint blob and wine mark is a reminder of fun had with friends and family. Corny, but true!

What about your choice of furniture? Why did you choose these pieces?

Our interior has grown with us, and most of my furniture I have had many years. I’ve definitely chosen comfortable and practical pieces because this apartment is our home, not necessarily a showroom for my work.

Read more: Best Homeware Stores in Hong Kong

Where is your favourite place to shop for homeware in Hong Kong?

There are too many to note! I tend to source from all over the world and don’t have any one-stop shops in Hong Kong for furnishings. But I will say Artura Ficus is my go-to for modern custom pieces, they do great work and it is really reasonably priced for good quality pieces. Tip: shop around! Don’t decorate your whole home in one shop.

That Flat: Sian O'Brien, Founder of Sian Interiors

How have you made your space/ a small space work for you?

Plenty of practical storage pieces. I can’t bare unsightly messes or gatherings of “stuff.”

Any tips for combining style with functionality?

Washable sofa slip covers! Get two sets made, they’re incredibly practical. They protect your upholstery and add an update to an old sofa that’s too comfy to part with. They are such a quick and affordable way to change up the colour and look of your space.

Read more: Where to Get Custom Furniture Made in Hong Kong

That Flat: Sian O'Brien, Founder of Sian Interiors

What advice would you give before you move in? Any tips for styling a home?

Measure your windows and ensure you have curtains or blinds that fit… or have enough time to commission them to be made, prior to your first night. There is nothing worse than having no privacy and waking up at the crack of dawn after a tiring move! Don’t rush to decorate your new home, live with it and figure out how you best use the space and existing homeware. Failing that, hire a designer *wink*.

Which interior trend do you wish would come to end?

Chevron! It has been done to death in every format and colour (I’ve been guilty of it myself). It was cool a few years ago, but it is not timeless and seriously needs to go.

Read more: Art for the Home: 5 Foolproof Tips & Tricks

On the flipside, what’s your favourite interior trend?

I’m really loving opulent materials at the moment, shiny copper and rich velvet – swoon! They can be used sparingly for a real timeless look.

Read more: That Flat: Inside the Hong Kong Home of George Lyons, Co-Founder of Apartment 49

If you could design your home from scratch – name 5 [of your] must-have pieces.

Just a few in a never ending list:

1. Bleached Herringbone flooring
2. White railway tiles
3. Navy velvet Chesterfield sofa
4. Copper fittings/fixtures
5. A freestanding tub

Most sentimental item?

My baby’s feeding chair. It was an old bedroom chair I inherited from my mum that I upholstered myself, it was a labour of love.

Read more: Our Go-To Handymen in Hong Kong

One item you’ve had for years but can’t part with?

A vintage, Chesterfield ottoman – it was the first piece I ever upholstered. It’s impractical for our space but I can’t bring myself to get rid! It sadly resides under our master bed with a few other forgotten projects!

That Flat: Sian O'Brien, Founder of Sian Interiors

On a scale of 1- 10, how shocked were you at the size of Hong Kong homes?

Having grown up here the size is not what shocks me, it’s more the ever increasing  price per square foot compared to Europe for example, that renders me speechless.

Favourite homeware brand?

The White Company (its bedding in particular!)

That Flat: Sian O'Brien, Founder of Sian Interiors

One home item you couldn’t live without?

Without a doubt, my bed. We invested in a quality mattress, topper and bedding which was worth every penny. Highly recommend investing in sleep!

Read more: Where to Buy Furniture and Homeware in Shenzhen

If the sky was the limit – what would you splurge on?

More space!

A huge thank you to the talented Michelle Proctor of Michelle Proctor Photography for all of the beautiful images above! Follow her on Instagram @michellejproctor and Facebook at www.facebook.com/MichelleProctorPhotography.

Keen to feature your home on Sassy? Simply send in your photos to [email protected]!

Check out our other That Flat features here.

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