Cover The home's sprawling, open-plan living room

Architect Thomas Griem transformed a Hong Kong apartment into an elegant, British-inspired haven

In this 2,800 sq ft home in Mid-Levels, Hong Kong, a “luxurious, London-inspired timeless international design” was the brief for architect Thomas Griem, whose London-based architectural and interior design practice TG Studio spearheaded an overhaul of the property.

There is real interest in the London-inspired aesthetic—particularly now, says Griem. “It means traditional, high-quality, bespoke items; joinery that is really well done; and not hiding behind—and making—everything beige.” It also means “creating an unusual space”, he adds.  

Tasked with bringing this vision to life, Griem married the clients’ wants with his own style. “[Our projects] are always a combination of my taste and also what I think the client would like,” says Griem. “I like doing confidently colourful, high-end residential properties that are modern, yet influenced by organic elements.” 

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The owners, a couple with two young children, had just bought the property, which offers views of Central and the rolling green hills of Hong Kong Island, when they approached TG Studio. Griem and his team spent three months on the creative process, from initial ideas to estimating costs and timeline, then a further four months on the renovation. 

Developing a new layout from scratch, the architect transformed the apartment—which previously had three bedrooms—into a two-bedroom home, with spaces dedicated to entertainment. He also created a play area and study for the children, as well as a new kitchen.

Griem says the biggest change was creating the “open-plan feel”: “It makes it look as spacious as possible, as high-ceilinged as possible, and as unique and luxurious as possible,” he says. 

The front door opens to a hallway that connects the living room and dining room, and offers an airy, inviting feel. The living room is a lowered space, two steps below the rest of the apartment, meaning it benefits from a higher, recessed ceiling, allowing the LED lighting and air conditioning units to remain largely hidden from sight.

The space is decorated with a dark grey wallpaper from Stereo Interiors, as well as a Minotti sofa and a bespoke coffee table created by Chai Ming Studios, which rest atop a flamboyant red and pink rug from Ember by Rodarte. The wall lights come from Kelly Wearstler, while the lighting is by Deltalight. The TV joinery is finished in matte bronze, real metal application. Meanwhile, flame black granite is used to construct a fireplace. 

The oak chiffon flooring in the living and dining rooms, finished in natural oil, was sourced from and manufactured in London, and took two months to ship to Hong Kong—a wait that proves Griem’s dedication to using quality materials.

“We found that the product is much better in Europe—it is European oak, so it makes sense,” he explains. “It is oiled, strengthened and looks vibrant and alive.” As an added plus, sourcing the material from its place of origin means costs are lower than buying a similar product from a local company, adds Griem. But ultimately, cost wasn’t the main concern: “It was [about] trying to find unusual, organic materials that are very hard to find in Hong Kong.” 

The play area is a haven for the young residents of the home, providing a dedicated space for them. Bespoke joinery in matt lacquer and oak is the centrepiece in this space—inside is a foldout desk for studying, as well as space for books and an AV system. A turquoise Roche Bobois sofa was chosen for its low seating to accommodate the children using the space, and is easily moved should extra room be needed. 

The master bedroom is accessed through a metal sliding door, which also has a mirrored surface. A patterned/carved, solid oak wall panel sits behind the bed, while calming, dim lights from Holly Hunt hang on each side.

The en suite bathroom features a yellow, veined marble—a rarely seen material that fulfils the owners’ brief of “finding a stone they had not seen before”, explains Griem. “I asked all my sources of stone, and one in Italy found this amazing stone.” 

Concealed storage was important for the clients, and Griem created clever solutions throughout the home. The blue wall opposite the entrance is made of timber—behind it is a hidden storage space. The children play hide and seek there, he says, adding: “It’s a lovely space, and [was] a joy to make.” Oversized bay windows—a notorious design found in many Hong Kong apartments—are transformed variously into storage units, a writing desk and an extended make-up vanity. 

Following the completion of this home, Griem, who previously ran an office in Hong Kong, went on to design the owners’ Azimut yacht and office space. 

“I’ve learnt a lot working in Hong Kong,” he says. “People’s sophistication and understanding of space, wanting a bit more and being interested in it [design].” 

The pieces that populate the home, including the art, were suggested to, and accepted by, the owners and sourced by Griem’s team, making the design process collaborative and enjoyable. 

“Sometimes if a client’s not interested, it’s not as much fun, and the product won't be as good.”

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