Set amidst a “beautiful jungle,” this Lamma Island home inside a traditional walk-up has undergone a complete overhaul

Space and greenery are often hard to come by in Hong Kong, which is one of the reasons more and more urbanites are choosing to move to greener pastures on one of the city’s outlying islands

This 700sqft, two-bedroom, one-bathroom Lamma Island home, which boasts a private rooftop of the same size, is located inside a classic walk-up building with a distinct layout that's typically found in rural areas in Hong Kong. It’s nestled against a “beautiful jungle,” says Cecilie Koch Larsen, co-founder of Hong Kong-based interior design firm Studio Amal, who designed the space. “The client really wanted to get as much green into the apartment as possible, so they almost have a feeling of ‘living in the trees.’”

Koch Larsen, who specialises in fusing elements of nature into her designs, is a friend of the owners and also happens to be a Lamma resident herself. Taking the owners’ needs into consideration, she carried out a layout overhaul, which maximised the visibility of the green surrounds. She also updated the interiors, going for a modern look featuring Tadelakt, wood, plaster and stone—materials that give the space character.

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The apartment is accessed via an entryway on a lower floor that leads up to a flight of stairs. The stairway continues on to the rooftop. The first thing that comes to view in the apartment is a landing area, and there was originally a door that separated it from the living room. The kitchen, previously “a tiny little room,” is situated on the right.

The designer removed these doors entirely—but that’s not all. “I opened up a big part of the exterior walls to put in big windows,” she says. “This was done all along the kitchen, stairway, bathroom and master bedroom.” This created a marked change to the space, bringing in natural light from both sides of the property that in turn “gave it a bright and open feeling.” Custom-made pocket doors, installed outside the bathroom and the second bedroom, also allowed the designer to maximise the given space. 

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In the open kitchen, an island was put in, though the pièce de résistance is the large window that has been installed, resulting in beautiful views that “emphasised the greenery.” The same windows were also installed in the bathroom by the bathtub as well as the master bedroom, a large space originally occupied by two bedrooms.

“We chose a window frame with a simple slim black frame, which gave a minimalist yet quite dramatic framing to all of that nature,” she adds. A simple colour palette ensured the windows would become the main feature of the home rather than “take away from the views.”

Antique wall panels from vintage furniture store The Birdcage were built into the main entrance door, as well as the fridge door. “The wooden panels, combined with the textures and the greenery, create warm and welcoming character for the space,” she explains. In a nod to the owners’ Hong Kong roots, Cantonese green tiles were put in on the bathroom floor. 

Meanwhile, a built-in bookshelf in a textured plastic finish from Wool by St. Leo is a key feature of the living space. The designer also sourced furnishings from furniture and lighting brand Archetypal: the feature light hanging above the kitchen island not only creates ambiance but also “adds calmness with the shade it casts into the room,” while the dining table does double duty as a mahjong table.

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It was important for the owners to incorporate smart home features into the design, such as light-dimming and voice integration. The designer worked with Hong Kong smart home service Homi to source hardware that would work for the local market. 

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Upstairs, the rooftop is a space the owners entertain in, which affords panoramic views of the island. There is a built-in kitchen with a barbecue grill, sink, fridge, a covered area for al fresco dining. The roof is also home to the owners’ 10-year-old tortoise: it roams freely around the lounge area, which is surrounded by plants in a section of the rooftop dedicated to gardening. Just by the door to the rooftop is an office-slash-guest bedroom: behind the desk is a Murphy bed, which is used to host visitors from overseas.

The owners are described by Koch Larsen as “travellers by spirit,” something that the designer wanted their home to reflect. “They had collected beautiful pieces from all over the world, and I thought it would be lovely to integrate a bit of their Hong Kong story into their new home.”