Living where we do, we’ve had to learn to adapt quickly to the lack of space and limited storage in our little Hong Kong homes! But just because our flats are notoriously small doesn’t mean that we have to scrimp on stylish décor and leave the walls plain.
This month we chat to Catherine Wong, industrial designer and co-founder of Sheer and Sinful photography. From styling a small flat with seasonal trends to mix and matching new and old furniture pieces, she gives us her top tips. We talk the importance of Pinterest (yep, those pins finally have a role to play!) and mood boards as we take a peek at her chic and minimalist studio in the heart of Sheung Wan…
Tell us about your background and where you’re from.
I was born and raised in Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu but Hong Kong has been my home for the past 10 years! In 2006, I graduated (after four years!) in industrial design from Northumbria University in the United Kingdom.
Where do you live and how did you come to choose this flat as your Hong Kong home?
Sheung Wan has been home for the past two years, although I have pretty much lived everywhere in Hong Kong! I’ve lived in seven different places over a span of ten years – from Tung Chung, to Tai Po, Hung Hom and now finally on the island. The location is perfect. I’m never more than fifteen minutes away from home and there so many great cafes and bars. I work close by too which means I can get ready and be in Central in all of five minutes!
The studio apartment came up for rent at the very last moment. It has a really rustic and industrial feel, with a touch of glamour which suits my taste! My boyfriend who lives with me is a photographer and this new studio is a great space to do some studio portraits and work on our photography brand, Sheer and Sinful, which both of us are working on expanding.
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 best things would definitely be the location, no noise pollution, high ceilings and of course, the design of the studio itself. It was newly renovated when we moved in and, as a bonus, it has a shower that’s high enough for my boyfriend. He’s almost two metres tall!
The worst thing is that we always need more storage… but that’s just Hong Kong! We just adapt and learn how to manage.
Sheung Wan definitely has a unique feel to it however, it’s a very trendy little neighbourhood with lots of cafés and bars tucked away in the side streets. It’s very relaxing on the weekends, and I always enjoy my morning coffee from Starbucks… although there’s definitely no shortage of new cafés!
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How would you describe your own personal style?
It’s quite hard to describe and it is seasonal to be honest. Sometimes I feel very girly and sometimes I like to keep it casual with street wear. Other times I like to keep it simple but glam up with accessories – much like my home.
Where have you taken inspiration? Did you initially have a theme in mind?
As a designer myself I am always inspired by trends, and Pinterest has definitely played a big part in my day to day life. Currently I’m super obsessed with the urban jungle theme and decorating the house with green plants!
Which room are you most proud of? Why?
My favourite room has to be the living room. It is where I spend most of my time reading, designing or watching TV. We left it quite spacious so the furniture remains flexible to move around when we need to organise a shoot.
What has been the biggest home improvement you’ve made? Any tips and tricks for easily updating the look of a room?
Definitely installing the hanging chandelier which I bought from a small store not far from the flat. I think that it creates depth and dimension to the room and is a classy centre piece that draws in your focus.
What’s your favourite piece in your home?
The chandelier and our coffee table. The frame for the coffee table was custom made in Malaysia and I actually carried it with me on a flight back to Hong Kong!
What about your choice of furniture? Why did you choose these pieces?
I love black and white pieces as they’re timeless and much easier to decorate with colourful and seasonal accessories.
Where is your favourite place to shop for homeware in Hong Kong?
Describe your dream flat.
My dream flat would be Parisian-styled interior with hanging chandeliers, clean white walls, and chevron floors. It’s a mix of both old and new, traditional design offset by modern, and always chic and stylish, just like French fashion!
How have you made a small space work for you?
Mirrors and rugs! Mirrors help the place look bigger, visually and rugs will always help to group your furniture together.
Any tips for combining style with functionality?
If you like something, find a way to make it work!
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What advice would you give before you move in? Any tips for styling a home?
Location is a priority. After living on the island for two years, I appreciate the extra time that I saved from travelling. High ceilings and storage would be next on the list! When styling your home, make sure to create a mood board and narrow down styles before you go shopping. Find one or two items that you would like to focus on in the house and invest in these key items!
Keen to feature your home on Sassy? Simply send in your photos to [email protected]!