Adjacent to Wan Chai’s Lee Tung Street – or what was better known before its redevelopment as Wedding Card Street – lies Spring Garden Lane, an innocuous stretch of street that hides a lurid past as a red-light district. In a nod to the area’s colourful history, local home decor brand LALA CURIO recently renovated a small, one-bedroom apartment located in an older building with a vocabulary of lush fabrics and premium materials for a space that belies its provenance.
Clocking in at a mere 400 square feet (thankfully with an additional 1,200-square-foot terrace), the entrance of the apartment opens into the living room, which utilises antique mirror tiling with gold studding – a common motif in LALA CURIO projects – to maximise the illusion of space. A three-seater sofa bed sits opposite a coffee table with a hidden charging dock and an antique curio cabinet.
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Meanwhile, the dining room-cum-open kitchen features arguably the most eye-catching element of the property: a full-height, hand-painted gold-leaf wallpaper featuring a bauhinia tree. The floor is tiled in a pattern reminiscent of Hong Kong in the 1950s, or to LALA CURIO founder Laura Cheung, “[it] more specifically reminds me of this Kowloon City egg tart place I used to go to as a child.” A hexagonal antique wooden English table comfortably seats four, while sliding doors featuring clusters of bauhinia trees hand-painted onto Thai silk hide the bedroom from view.
The bedroom itself is raised on a platform to allow for more storage underneath – a must for any small apartment. Taking this further, the queen-sized bed sits on a hydraulic system also lifts upwards to allow for extra stowage. Jim Thompson silk curtains and a mauve silk wall with pearls embellished in the style of a Chinese mountainscape ensconce the bedroom in a cocoon of soft hues, while the tatami-like seagrass flooring provides the perfect foot-friendly sensation.
Lastly, the bathroom strikes a decidedly more Western tone, with its palette of inky white marble accents, Queen Anne milled brass doors, stained glass shower partitions. monochrome beehive floor tiling and mid-century globe lights. A classic toilet with a solid black wood seat finishes the equation for a maximalist apartment that far outshines its modest footprint. “Who said that small spaces have to be ‘minimal’?” Cheung says. “We cringe at that word!”