Most of us have fond memories of our first homes because of the experiences within – and not necessarily because of the aesthetic. When interior designer Louisa Lawless and her husband first moved to Hong Kong from their hometown of Sydney almost a decade ago, they landed in a poky flat in Causeway Bay that she remembers for its less-than-stellar view of the opposite building’s concrete facade and the bizarre tendency for objects to come careening dangerously downwards from the upper floors. When the couple decided to expand their family, they decided it was high time to move.
“My husband was definitely in charge,” recalls Lawless of their hunt for a new apartment. “He knew what he wanted and found it. We liked this space, its facilities, its green outlook and its proximity to Central – and it just felt like a home.” Indeed, the flat’s sprawling layout provides ample space for the couple’s three young children to play, for the couple to entertain friends and family, and for her to oversee her newly established business: Trunked by Louisa Lawless, a line of luxury jewellery storage trunks.
Lawless founded the business after 14 years in interior design, specialising in luxury hotels, resorts and casinos for firms such as The Gettys Group and Hirsch Bedner, after which she created residential interiors on a freelance basis. “When I was growing up, I always dreamed of having a walk-in wardrobe,” she reveals. “But in this day and age, especially in Asia, space is so precious. Obviously, these trunks aren’t walk-in wardrobes, but they’re good alternatives.” Trunked’s signature New Yorker trunk stands proudly in her bedroom, filled with her jewellery as well as sunglasses, clutches, wallets, scarves and fascinators.
When it came to her own home, Lawless wanted to allow its design to evolve naturally over time. The only large-scale renovation the couple embarked on before moving in was to convert the study into an open kitchen; for that project, they called on Wojia Kitchen and Bathroom, which transformed the space in just four months. Lawless filled the rest of the space with furniture and accessories from New York-based home decor store One Kings Lane, but otherwise she allowed the family’s personal effects to have free rein. “We’ve been accumulating slowly,” she says. “My style changes and with kids, everything has to be homey and comfortable. I don’t want it to be like a show flat, where you’re too afraid to touch anything.”
The resulting space is abundant in taste and character. The living and dining areas are characterised by vibrant artworks set against muted, modern furnishings. A winding hallway takes us through the master bedroom, the two children’s rooms, the guest room, and the study before arriving in the large open kitchen, where the colours truly pop.
When asked about the most beloved artworks in their collection, Lawless points out a few: a piece by famed Australian artist Nicholas Harding, which was acquired when she and her husband got married; a work recently purchased from Art Central that hangs above the kitchen table; the black-and-white photographic portrait of Georgia Jagger that graces the entryway; and a bronze sculpture of a mother and son that was purchased on one of her many work trips to India. “When I travel somewhere and like it there, what I try to do is always bring one small thing back,” she explains.
During the week, the living room doubles up as a home office and a play room, with Lawless taking care of laptop business on the sofa, simultaneously keeping an eye on the kids in their generous play area next to the seating arrangement. Weekends mean barbecues on the terrace or even the odd visit from a family member visiting from Australia. During our shoot, Lawless is in and out answering work emails and – at the end of the day – welcoming her children home after an afternoon of swimming at the nearby Ladies Recreation Club. Serving as the site where the couple’s children will grow up and where her business will certainly flourish, this home is set to see plenty of energetic days to come.
Photography: John Butlin
Art Direction: May Lau
Styling assistance: Emily Harrison