Cover Mei Mei Song relaxes on the private rooftop in her new home

The bright, airy Mid-Levels apartment, which features a private rooftop, is a haven for the family of the Plaza Premium Group brand and product transformation director—one filled with memories from their travels

“We travel a lot for work—naturally, our home has lots of mementos from our travels,” says Mei Mei Song. 

The brand and product transformation director at airport hospitality services company Plaza Premium Group—and formerly an editor at Tatler—recently moved into a new home in Mid-Levels with her husband Mitchel Squires, an architect who is also partner and design director at design firm AVT Studio, along with their young family.

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Given Covid-19 travel restrictions, the 1,400 sq ft, three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment—which also has a private rooftop of the same size, and a 50 sq ft balcony off the living room—has become a “little travel diary” for the family, she says. Before the Covid era, business travel was a regular feature for Song, who is Chinese and Malaysian, and Squires, an Australian native.

A six-month revamp of the property, spearheaded by Squires, means the space is transformed into one filled with treasured pieces bought during their time overseas. “In a time where you’re not able to travel, your home becomes a classroom, an office; you’re hosting and dining at home a lot more. With these new purposes, we’ve created that space and embraced it,” she adds. 

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The rooftop terrace—which, says the couple, is where they made the biggest changes to the property—is designed to have two distinct identities: part of it is a haven for the young residents of the home, with a play area and outdoor shower, while the other is a place for alfresco dining, barbecues and get-togethers with loved ones. The family have spent a lot of time abroad, especially in Australia; this means the children are used to outdoor space, which is an important feature to have in their city home, says Song. “Being in Hong Kong, and not being able to travel, we have used our home and our outdoor space a lot. We are constantly exploring different plants, and we’ve tried to create [this space as] a classroom for our children.”

It is also essential, she adds, to teach the children not to be wasteful, pointing out “the commitment it takes” to populate the space with homegrown shrubs. The plants include lemongrass and hydrangeas, as well as pandan and eucalyptus—the last two closely associated with Malaysia and Australia, paying homage to the couple’s roots.

Three custom surfboards, created and signed by American surfboard craftsman Chris Christenson, which have the names of Song and Squires’s children etched on them, are placed near the entrance. “I grew up on the beaches in New South Wales, and surfing was—and still is—a big part of my life,” says Squires.  “Using surfboards as an art feature—it’s quite beautiful.”

Meanwhile, “a good kitchen” is essential, says Song: “We spend a lot of time there—we love to cook, whether in the evenings or on weekends.” Song likes to pick up treats on travels, and this is where the family enjoys everything from “bags and bags” of nuts brought back from Dubai and lychee rose tea she often bought in Malaysia, served on tableware purchased while journeying through Europe. The original kitchen left much to be desired: taking up room in the middle of the apartment, it was an enclosed space that lacked natural light, and unexpectedly had a bathroom in its midst. A decision was made to demolish it—from the walls and tiles to the appliances—and build a new, open kitchen, complete with a white onyx island.

A sense of place is always nice when you are building something
Mei Mei Song

When guests visit, the irregular shape of the home means they tend to assume it was made by merging two apartments, says Song. “I wasn’t a big fan of it, but as we started conceptualising [the design] and building the space, we realised this was really nice.” High ceilings, parquet flooring and doors that date back to the 1950s—details typically seen in older residential buildings in the city, which are hard to come by in newer properties—were among the features that attracted the couple to the home.

The building, with its traditional details, was quite charming. We were also looking for something that had a lot more light
Mitchel Squires

“The building, with its traditional details, was quite charming. We were also looking for something that had a lot more light than our previous apartment, so that was what led us to buy here,” says Squires. “We wanted to capture some of the charm of low-rises in our home—a sense of place is always nice when you are building something,” adds Song. It is also important for their home to create memorable experiences for their guests: “This is where you feel the most comfortable, and interestingly enough, I think about this concept when it comes to the airport lounges we build.” Much like the rooftop, the apartment has been separated into two zones—one for the children, and another one for the couple to entertain as well as to relax in.

Many of the fixtures and artwork in the home come from Australia. This was not necessarily intentional, but something that is a “reflection of our mixed culture”, says Song. These include a vase from Australian resin homeware brand Dinosaur Design and a piece by Sydney-based artist Vicki Lee. “Your home is a reflection of all the places you’ve travelled to, things you’re interested in—and who you are.”

  • PhotographySteve Wong
  • StylingRuth Du Cann
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