Clifton Leung Design Workshop created more space in this 350-square-foot apartment with an ingenious platform storage solution.

In Hong Kong, it’s often not possible for your home to have it all. Instead, you usually need to make a number of choices—between space and convenience, or between a freshly renovated property and a coveted location. When finance professional Mei Yee Lim purchased this home in the new Cullinan West development in Nam Cheong in 2019, she decided to go for amenities over square footage. 

“She found this little oasis off West Kowloon that has sports and leisure facilities, and much more outdoor and indoor space to use within the premises,” explained Clifton Leung, founder of Clifton Leung Design Workshop, the interior design studio that Lim commissioned to design the space. For the past ten years, Lim had been living alone in roomy two-bedroom apartments, so transitioning from that to her new 350-square-foot home was quite the change.

In her design brief, Lim requested a kitchen with an oven, flexible seating for guests, public areas for entertaining that wouldn’t encroach on her private space, and storage, of course. Lots of storage, particularly for her large collections of cooking utensils, clothes and accessories. The flat originally comprised a kitchen-slash-living-area, a bedroom and a bathroom with a narrow corridor leading to it. The first order of business was knocking down the wall between the bedroom and living areas to open up the space and to allow natural light to flow through the apartment better. In place of the wall, Leung installed custom-made sliding wooden doors so that Lim could easily close off her bedroom when she has company over. The bedroom and bathroom, meanwhile, were separated by a curtain.

With the layout squared away, then came the issue of storage. “The client initially had the idea of a loft bed with closet storage underneath,” said Leung. “However, we thought that that would block the window and natural light. Also, the client wouldn’t be able to enjoy the high ceiling with a loft bed.” Instead, Leung came up with an ingenious platform design solution installed across the bedroom and living area. Drawers pull out of the steps leading to the platform, while the sections under the sofa open upwards. Under the bed is yet another storage area that’s opened using a remote control. LED lights were installed within the steps, too, to create mood lighting during dinner parties. “If the space is 500 square feet or under, you need to be a little bit more creative,” said Leung. “One function is not enough; two or more functions is essential.”

“The client didn’t like to have many chairs in the kitchen area, so with that in mind we designed the steps at the raised platform with a combo function: storage and seating,” continued Leung. “We also proposed a flexible and fun modular sofa instead of a regular sofa, so it can cater to different seating arrangements.”

Leung also designed a wardrobe-slash-TV-cabinet for the living area and two wardrobes in the bedroom. In the kitchen, he removed the original cupboard and microwave and replaced them with deeper storage for all of Lim’s utensils. He even turned some of Lim’s utensils into a statement piece with a hanging-rack-slash-chandelier. The developer, Sun Hung Kai Properties, had already installed a “vanishing” sink that can be covered when not in use.

Due to the apartment’s tight space, Lim struggled to find a designer at first, with many studios turning down the project. But Leung was more than up for taking it on. “It is quite challenging to balance between design and practicality in smaller flats,” he commented. “But we always like to take challenges, and being able to complete the mission is our best reward.”