When doing up a home’s interiors, designers must balance the needs of all household members—but rarely does a home consist of a family as diverse as a young couple, an elderly mother, and a pet cat and parrot. This was the conundrum that Patrick Lam, founder of Sim-Plex Design Studio, was faced with when couple Ken Chu and Teri Wong commissioned him to design their 453-square-foot flat in Yuen Long.
The couple decided to move out of their former home in Tuen Mun to live with Teri’s mother, intending to look after her in her old age. The move was also an opportunity for the couple to seek a home with more storage and space for their pet parrot, Pa. Moving in with Wong’s mother, however, also meant adding her cat Meow to the mix. Since the clients consider their pets part of the family, their design brief for their new home was filled with requests for the animals, from spots for Pa’s cage and Meow’s litter bin to adequate space for them to roam and play. At the same time, the interiors had to provide private and communal space for both the couple and the mother, while accommodating the mother’s mobility issues.
Although this was the first time Lam found himself faced with such a pet-oriented project, he tackled it with great aplomb. First, he positioned the two bedrooms on opposite sides of the flat, with the master bedroom opening onto the living area and the mother’s bedroom opening onto the dining area. Between the living and dining areas is a frosted glass and melamine folding divider, which allows the space to be opened up for entertaining purposes or closed off for additional privacy. The divider also serves to separate the two pets when Pa is let out of his cage, which is positioned on a low cabinet in the living room in front of the window, allowing Pa to enjoy the sunshine.
Special features were incorporated for Meow too. The couple wanted her to have more space to run, so Lam came up with an ingenious dining table design that folded away into a cabinet when not in use. “The challenge was to have a flexible dining room, so we decided to use an extendable table that accommodated dining when pulled out and allowed for more space when put away,” said Lam. Round holes cut into the dining room cabinetry and a climbing area incorporated into the mother’s bedroom also offer Meow more space to explore.
The cabinetry and built-in furniture was made custom by Sim-Plex. “Our firm often tailor-makes furniture to increase the flexibility and capacity of the space,” commented Lam, who also conceived of a platform system to fulfil the couple’s request for more storage. Lam initially proposed that the platforms cover the entirety of the apartment, but having to step up and down from them proved inconvenient for the mother. Finally, the platforms were confined to the living area, which is mostly used by the young couple.
The wooden appointments—light maple in the master bedroom and living area and white oak in the mother’s bedroom and dining area—also infused the space with a sleek, minimal look. “The typical style of my firm is to expand the possibilities of limited space,” summed up Lam, “but in a way where the outlook is minimal and poetic.” This home, which wraps a unique combination of functions into an aesthetically appealing package, is definitely proof of that.