Getting Along in HK: 18 months

Well, time certainly flies, doesn’t it?!  Suddenly we have been here for almost eighteen months.  At this stage, I feel like I can finally write a good post about things that I wish I had known before I got here.  … Continue reading

Getting Along in HK: One Year (part 1)

We have survived our first year in HK! We also experienced our first Chinese New Year. Kong Hei Fat Choi! (This means Happy New Year).  Our apartment complex had a Lion and Dragon dance to bring in the Year Of … Continue reading

No guts, no glory

So today something happened that I honestly never imagined would: a magazine came to take photos of our apartment. No, not Elle Decor or Home Beautiful, but a local magazine here in Hong Kong called Playtimes. As the name suggests, … Continue reading

Who the… what the… how the…

…heck is it 2015 already? Every year I am surprised at how fast the whole year flies by, but especially the holiday period. It is my favourite part of the year and it seems to be over sooner every year! … Continue reading

Our HK Home: Living Large

Well, not really.   When you live in an apartment, you are living compactly.  When you are living in a HK apartment, you are living VERY compactly!  I keep trawling interiors websites for some new and amazing “living in small spaces” tip that will magically make our apartment seem huuuuuuuuge.   No luck yet!  To be honest, I don’t know why people keep writing these articles!  If you have nothing new beyond “use mirrors, use light and bright colour schemes, have built-ins made to use every little inch, have dual use furniture with hidden storage” then why keep re-hashing these same ideas?!  But I keep looking for some new and amazing idea that will suddenly transform my life….

But I digress. As usual.  Back to our apartment.  Today, I thought I would show you the living room.  Our place has an open plan living/dining area but today it will be just the living room you will see as the dining room is currently storing some parts to Will’s old crib that I need to take to our storage unit. Actually, it’s more like a cupboard than a storage unit as that is really the size of it – 4ft x 4ft x 10ft high.  We needed it for the Xmas stuff, big suitcases, travel crib, etc. I plan to take my husband’s golf clubs over there too (ssshhhhh, don’t tell him…) as they take up too much room in our spare room cupboard. So no pics of the dining room until it’s a tad more presentable!

Our old house in Sydney had a formal lounge area as well as a family room area, which had to be whittled down to just this one area.  This room also has to store pretty much aaaaalllll the kids toys because their bedroom is so small (check it out here) that there is no room to swing a cat in there, let alone have any kids toys. Will’s room also used to have his little play kitchen plus about a third of the toys. Before we left Sydney I did a big cull of the toys.  If it wasn’t played with almost daily, or if it was broken in any way at all, or if it was just ugly and I didn’t really like it (!); it went!

When I started to think about this room, my main concern was that I didn’t want it to look like a kids play room, even though it would need to house all these kiddy toys.  The family room in our old place had a brightly coloured rug and bright artwork and I was over it.  I wanted something adult, with less colour and overall a very masculine look really.  Not that I am over pink.  Not at all – in a few weeks you will see what the spare room is and that is going to be a hive of prettiness!  But I have been a little bit in love with walnut wood this past year – the texture and pattern and the deep, warm colour.  But it’s not glossy or too dark the way the “chocolate” furniture can be.   I just managed to get rid of pretty much ALL our chocolate brown “wood” furniture.  I got sick of dusting it and then having it look dusty again two seconds later.  Natural textures are very forgiving!  All that variation can hide a multitude of sins….

Anyhoo, I got rid of our very large lounge set that we brought back from the US, got rid of side tables, put art in different spots in the house and moved the cow hides from the dining room into the lounge room and spare room.  I pulled together a board to see how different bits and pieces from around the house could be put together in the living room instead.  With a small space to work with, I wanted the lounge dining areas to work together, but not necessarily match completely, and I also needed to use existing furniture and not buy any more!  There is no room for any more!  So this was my design board:

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So we have our existing family room couch, media cabinet and Expedit. The cowhide was in the dining room in our Sydney house, the gold swan chair was in our bedroom, the art was previously in our formal lounge and master bedroom. Put it all together with a couple of new cushions and a side table (from IKEA, no less!) and voila:  The new living room plan!

Having made up a gazillion design boards, I love it when I get to see one translated into an actual room.  It doesn’t happen often and I find it a great learning process to see the actualisation of something that has previously only lived in my head 🙂  I haven’t purchased the cushions in this board yet (I am using cushions that were in our master bedroom in Sydney) and I haven’t gotten the woven baskets yet (IKEA was out of stock, unfortunately), but I think it is complete enough to get the idea.  So here it is in real life:

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The IKEA Expedit bookcase is directly behind the couch, with about two and a half feet as the walkway behind the couch.  I just bought the black door inserts as I found the colours in all the kids toys was too bright for my new palette!  I hated the crappy little handles they had though – these awful matt silver cylinders.   So I changed them up to look like this:

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All I did was superglue on some $HK2 coins!  The coins are a lovely flower shape and I think they are really pretty.  So I cleaned four of them and just glued them on.  The added bonus is that the kids can open the doors much more easily now than they could before.

For the tv wall, I wanted to try a gallery wall.  I had been meaning to do this in our old place in Sydney but just never managed to find the time to hang extra pictures!  But I love the idea of making the tv seem a little less prominent in a room.  So I picked pieces that had a lot of gold and black to “match” the black of the tv!  I am really happy with how it turned out:

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And where are all the toys you say?!  Well, they are behind the two doors of the tv cabinet, in the baskets under the tv cabinet and also in the bottom half of the Expedit. The little play kitchen is tucked in between the bookcase and the window.  By the way, those baskets under the tv cabinet were bought from Freedom Furniture over TEN years ago.  They have lasted longer than I ever would have expected! I’ve used them to hold so many different things over the years.  One of those things that although they seemed a bit pricey when I bought them (back then I was 25 years old and lived in a share house!), they have proven their worth one hundred times over.  Small storage is something you never regret buying, especially in natural textures as it’s so versatile.

The desk was a late addition due to necessity.  We were going to put it in the spare room but we realised two things: firstly, the spare room is smaller than I had remembered so it doesn’t fit very well, and secondly, we needed somewhere to keep a computer in our living space. We use Apple tv to stream tv shows and movies ALL the time so we constantly had the laptop floating around being put in different places. But it never had a “spot”.  It annoys me when things don’t have a home.  Looks messy and you never know where to find it.  It has been so useful having a work space in the lounge room.  The kids just don’t let me go off into a room on my own and work but they will happily play while I work on the computer near them.   The desk itself is an IKEA one that I got second hand on EBay for $1.25. I used a $3 roll of zebra print vinyl from Bunnings and now I have a desk.  It’s very compact (only 60cm x 100cm) and the top is just resting on the two aluminium bases so it’s very light and easy to move around.  I wanted to spray paint some gold feet on the desk but I ran out of time in Sydney and living in an apartment now, spray painting isn’t possible! I may try gold leafing, Rub’n’buff, or just a gold pen. I will keep you posted if I find somewhere to buy some sort of supplies to attempt this.

So there you go!  That is our living room right now.  What do you think?!

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