A two bedroom apartment in Nova City, that has been stylishly decorated into a comfortable home for the Chan family and their two boys
Sam and Candy Chan originally bought their two bedroom, 2 bathroom 1,300 square foot apartment in Nova City as an investment property. Once their tenant moved out however they decided to move in themselves, but first, it needed a complete make-over. So they called in their friends from JWCC Architecture to help with design and project management.
The first job was to adjust the layout to better accommodate 2 adults and their 2 young boys together with all the storage that a growing family requires. The corridor wall leading to the two bedrooms was moved by over a foot into the boys’ bedroom thereby widening the corridor to make space for a whole wall of built-in cupboards, starting from the living/dining room and running the entire length of the corridor continuing straight into the master bedroom. These have bi-fold doors to save space, in American walnut veneer, with elegant, Chinese style brass handles.
There was no lighting in the corridor so wiring was concealed in the top of the cupboards enabling LED strip lighting to be placed in light troughs at the top of the cupboards, to cast light upwards. This gives the space a needed brightness, and at the same time, warmth.
The lost space in the children’s room was saved by using a sliding pocket door instead of a standard door for their room.
Kitchen and bathrooms were fully renovated. Grey porcelain tiles were used – JWCC specified white grouting to show the tile details so that the look is not too flat. White marble vanity tops with grey veining give a sense of texture and depth. The door to the kitchen was removed for space saving and in its place hangs an elegant white and taupe textured curtain that pulls back when the kitchen is in use. Likewise a walk-in room store room has been converted into a day rest-area for the Chan’s housekeeper, partitioned off with a sliding door and taupe curtain, the latter being most often used for convenience and air flow.
Then came the job of the flooring; the Chans wanted natural wood; “Real timber is difficult to maintain, but we love the texture and feel under foot” explains Sam. “We chose 35 cm wide planks, 8 mm thick, solid oak, (not cheap!), laid in a herringbone style. The finish is natural, not covered with the thick shiny varnish so often seen here in Macau. Yes, it’s vulnerable to water as it will soak straight in, so we just use a damp cloth for cleaning”.
In the living room is a striking feature wall, painted in muted ‘Navy wool’, from Nippon paints. JWCC had recommended the Prince label as the paints are without any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – solvents that emit harmful toxic chemicals. The other walls are “Contemporary white” from Dulux, which is gentler to the eyes and the ceilings a lighter brighter white. Two feature walls in the dining room are painted in taupe.
On the navy feature wall hangs a painting which has an interesting story. Candy explains that “We found a floral pattern on line, photo-shopped the sections we liked and agreed on the colour scheme, then commissioned a painter in China to copy it. The rest of the colour scheme of the room is built around the painting – plenty of white to break up the darkness of the wall, the purple flowers are highlighted by our purple arm chair and the grey sofa was chosen to complement the blue.”
The sofa, designed by JWCC and made in China, was inspired by the famous Chesterfield which tends to be more round – “we like the classic architecture of the traditional Chesterfield but wanted to elevate it to a more contemporary look by squaring the arms.”
The Chans choose not to have a center coffee table as the space is small and they prefer keeping it as clear as possible, especially with young children. The striated black and tan living room rug with its four vibrant yellow flowers is 100% wool – “again we love the texture, the depth, the richness and the tactility”, smiles Sam.
Candy points out the storage cabinets in the living room; “We really needed a lot of storage for our personal effects, our wine collection, crockery, glassware – many things that we couldn’t fit into our kitchen, so JWCC designed these; sliding doors to save space, white with brass trim, for an elegance and shine. We’ve used quite a lot of brass trimming throughout the apartment as its gold shine adds a sense of luxury and opulence to an otherwise predominantly contemporary look. The cabinets all sit on a solid black base of Nero Marquina marble. It’s a very classy looking marble and we love its veining”.
We have kept our base colours plain, so that we have a plain canvass to work with and then we add in patterns for texture, such as rugs and curtains. Some unusual ceiling lights, introduced by JWCC’s design team, bring in a sculpture element.
Not everything in the apartment is about architectural niceties and keeping things ‘perfect’, as is so often the case in designer decorated homes! The vintage 30-year old rosewood piano, an old fashioned stainless steel coffee machine, some paintings waiting to be hung, and the Chans’ ‘Halfbike’ exercise bikes give the living room a cosy, live-in, ‘family-feel’.
In the children’s room is a custom-built 3-level bunk bed. Both top and bottom are double beds, and there’s a pull out bed underneath for the children’s friends when they are here for sleep overs. “We’re in block 15”, says Candy, “where the ceilings are higher, so we could do this.” Built-in at either ends of the top and bottom beds are stairs – more solid and safe than the usual ladder style stairs”, she explains. The front elevation of the beds is designed to look like a Macanese-style shop front with louvers and pitched roof. The same palate navy from the living room feature wall is brought in to this room and is again used as the bed-head feature wall in the master bedroom. For wall decoration “we let our oldest boy choose these when we’re away on holiday, so that he feels included in the décor of the room”. An IKEA rug, minimalist ceiling lights, and a black hanging rod at the window, complete the look.
In the master bedroom, a clever design feature suggested by JWCC was to install white and brass trim on some of the walls in line with the height of the door frame, “with such high ceilings this helps bring the sense of the room to more of a human scale”. Likewise the tiniest of details enhances the space – such as the brass trim in the door edge, so that when the master bedroom door is open, you have a strip of gold light.
Photographs for the Macau Closer, by Eduardo Martin