Friday, January 29, 2010

Moving to Hong Kong Part 2

Color Theory

After two days of paintwork, our apartment is feeling more and more like a home. In our old apartment in Singapore, we painted the walls ourselves – three walls in shades of charcoal, pewter and silver – over the Chinese New Year break. While I can say that we did a decent job, we decided to hire someone to do our Hong Kong apartment.

The process of choosing paint color is a lot like trying to figure out what you want to do in life. Questions like these arise: Is this what I really want? Will I be happy with this decision? What if I go for the safe choice instead and just coast along? Shall I follow my own vision? I like to refer to it as the Dulux equivalent of an existential crisis. I would say Farrow and Ball, but sadly they are not available here.

We were never much for color. When it comes to interiors, I am inclined to varying shades of gray while it is a stretch for BB to use anything brighter than beige or anything darker than chocolate brown. And so it is quite a derring-do for us to introduce new colors to our home — a pale blue that is close to robin’s egg and a shade a tad brighter than sage. Hardly daring I know.

Our painter, a Mainland Chinese guy whom our contractor hired, started with the one wall in the master bedroom I wanted to be painted in a very high gloss black. We chose Deep Onyx which took long to dry because of its consistency and the moisture in the air. Our painter who knows very little English and who has a habit of showing me his work permit and pointing out that it says he is a decorator and painter kept uttering the word wet to me whenever I entered the room.

“This wet,” he would say pointing to the wall. Then he would scratch his head followed by this off-putting gurgling noise. I would ask how long it will take to dry and he would reply, “This wet. One wet. Dry two,” plus the point, scratch and gurgle three-part body language. I didn’t quite figure out what he meant until our maid, E, walked in the room to tell me that the first coat is wet and that when it is dry he will do the second coat. I should mention that E doesn’t speak a word of Chinese having just moved here a week after we arrived.

For two days, our painter went from room to room, applying paint with the barest tools – a bucket of paint color and a 7-inch wide brush. No roller, no painter’s tape. How he managed to paint on a straight line or how he was able to avoid getting paint on the baseboards and the other walls was impressive. I guess he is an expert and perhaps that is why he kept showing me the notation on his work permit that he is a decorator and painter.

When I woke up this morning, I walk around the apartment and checked the rooms. The guest bedroom looks like a Tiffany Box (Alice Blue), the curved wall on the dining room (Veil) looks dramatic especially with the black glass chandelier and the huge photograph of model’s parted lips painted a very glossy red hanging above a tufted banquet, and the living room (Shy Blossom) is soothing and calming. The master bedroom with its black lacquer-like wall is very sexy.

The photos below do not give justice to the paint job but they give a hint of what’s to come.

Living Room

Dining Room

Guest Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Thursday, January 28, 2010

... And We're Back. Moving To Hong Kong Part 1

We've been missing for a few months due to lots of changes in our lives. We are happy to say that we have moved back to Hong Kong after two years in Singapore. Our moved happened about a week and a half ago. You would think that after moving several times we would have mastered the process. But that isn't the case.
We arrived at our apartment in Hong Kong that was furnished
with rented furniture until ours arrived. Thus, we had a bed that felt like brick, mismatch dining table and chairs, a TV console that was larger than the sofa and towels that had seen better days. It was a good thing that one of us had the foresight to bring with us our own towels, sheets and comforter. By that time we checked in at the airport, we had 10 checked luggage plus a dog.

Almost immediately, the whole process of putting the apartment together began. Two days after we arrived, my friend P, who is an interior designer from the Philippines flew in to help me sort out everything. There being no curtains in the guest bedroom, we spent his first day taping black cardboard on his windows. Followed by a meeting with a contractor who would do the paint job and the floor to ceiling bookshelves. We also spent several hours with a curtain maker who between showing us different fabric swatches and tassels revealed that her marriage hasn't been working for a long time and that she's found herself attracted to women.

Our furniture, home accessories and personal effects were delivered to us a week after we arrived. Some 200 plus boxes. The first day was madness as the rented furniture company had to pick up their stuff early in the morning to make way for our own. When our movers arrived half an hour after the furniture company had left every inch of the apartment was covered in boxes. It also turned out that we have accumulated an insane amount of art and framed photographs. Piled together, they ate almost a third of the size of the living room.
We spent four days sorting out the boxes, organizing the closets and the kitchen, deciding on where best to hang the art. As for the furniture, we already knew where everything was going as we had toyed with the floor plan for several weeks.

We leave you for now with images of the mess that is our apartment and sketches of how we envision it will be once we've cleared the rubble. We will also update frequently to show you the progress.

Handymen trying to sort out our chandeliers

The living room is one big mess at the moment

A rough sketch of my soon to be closet/home office