An all-white palette, textural details and ingenious use of mirrors bring light into every corner of a once-dark Jardine’s Lookout home.
Words Tiffany Chan Photos JLA
*Featured in Crave’s Issue 82, April 2017
White is a difficult colour to work with. Too much, and a home can seem cold, sterile and uninspiring. In the autumn of 2015, architect and designer Jessica Lee was approached by a couple – referred by family friends – to renovate a 1,000 sq ft home they’d just bought in Jardine’s Lookout, overlooking lush green mountains.
“In terms of the palette, they wanted something quite Japanese and Zen, and at the same time, quite timeless,” Lee says. “When we visited the flat the first time, it felt very dark, so the idea was to make the space as bright as possible.”
Intent on allowing as much light in as possible, Lee decided on an all-white theme
“White was a strong element, to make all the walls and cabinets as clean and light as possible to help reflect the natural light. I picked materials very light in colour, very natural. We used a lot of wood and white matte lacquer finish. By using light materials, we managed to brighten the apartment so much more.”
The danger of dressing a space all in white is that it can seem bland and lifeless. To keep things interesting, Lee experimented with materials and textures – building a subtle accent wall and applying pattern and texture to details to create contrast without overwhelming the lightness of the space.
“I tried to introduce patterns on the door to create animation. On the other side of the living room, there’s a wall of cabinets where I introduced taupe colour alcove shelving to create a contrast with the white cabinet doors. It highlights the space without being too powerful. “Whatever they display, it doesn’t clash,” she says. “I also used oak veneer on the sliding door, painted white in brush finish. It creates a play of shadow and light so it’s less boring and feels quite tactile.”
To brighten the space even more, Lee used mirrors to help bounce the natural light around the home, placing them strategically to reflect the green views.
“Mirrors and pale materials reflect natural light, and then there are the shadows, so there’s always an interesting play [of light],” she says.
“It’s all in the subtle details. Behind the bed, there’s a backboard with off-light effect; to the left, I used a mirror to reflect the outdoors into the room. It creates an extension of the uplight,” she explains. “The full-height mirror in the dressing room separating the bedroom, too, has this effect. Once this door is closed, it reflects the view from the outside. There’s a bit of elevation and reflection of the hills and greenery.”
Beyond the aesthetics, the practical challenge was to enabled the living room to be converted into two bedrooms for the couples three children when they come home for the holidays. To accomplish this, Lee raised the floor platform and stored the extra beds underneath.
“They didn’t want the extra bedrooms to go to waste when the kids were not in town, so to convert the living room into two bedrooms, we inserted a sliding door made solid wood and fabric, which can be drawn to separate the rooms when the kids are back. We also have futons hidden under the floorboards, so when you lift them up, it transforms into a bedroom,” she says.
“Of course, that means the ceiling is slightly lower, but living in Hong Kong it’s about saving space and making as much storage as possible.”