Many people who move to Hong Kong fall into the expat trap of buying ‘temporary’ furniture for a fast fix and then become dissatisfied with the style and comfort of their poorly styled apartment. A tip I would offer for those new to Hong Kong is to buy a good bed, a decent couch, a beautiful mirror, and practical, but aesthetically pleasing storage racks; these are a few of the items that can really drag a space down if they are chosen carelessly. If you don’t have a budget and must ask a wine shop for their beautiful empty wine boxes to stack together to make a wardrobe/storage space, so be it. Whatever you decide on, make sure it’s beautiful – there’s no space to waste on ugly throwaway items here.

Then what? Beyond the basics, there’s actually a lot you can do with your little Hong Kong apartment. There’s some interior design debate over the idea of putting big furniture into a little apartment, but preferences aside, it can be a very useful trick for creating the illusion of space. The key to this technique is to choose one central item of furniture to feature. This piece will draw the eye to a focal point in a room and decrease visual clutter. Keep in mind that working magic with this strategy is a matter of scale and proportion; make sure these larger items fit well, but still have room around their sides to increase the illusion of spaciousness.

Before you rush out to find your centerpiece, grab your tape measure and assess your space. Accurate measurements are an absolute must, so write them down and adhere to them! Additionally, as I often mention, it’s very helpful to know what theme you like best and want to use, whether it be modern, bohemian or glamourous, so you can choose key pieces within that theme. If you aren’t sure what your apartment theme is or will be, envision your ideal central piece of furniture or think about your favorite item from your old digs – it’s often a giveaway about what style you like best. Once you know this, you can align the rest of your interior styling accordingly.

There are several items you can choose to feature. For example, eye-catching sofas, strong wooden tables and regal beds can all beautifully dominate the theme of a room. Furniture with legs, crisp, clean lines, and smooth surfaces are recommended to minimise distraction and elongate the space by drawing the eye along the straight horizons of the furniture. These items are best chosen in monochrome or bold contrast with the walls and other items around them.

Lastly, where to put these pieces? Contrary to popular belief, pushing all items against a wall won’t do much to make the space look bigger. Placing items out from the walls can actually create an airier and more spacious effect, as can dedicating some precious space to an eye-catching plant or sculpture. For example, if you have a window, it’s worth leading the eye there by placing a beautiful mirror, plant or painting nearby. By combining the clean lines of larger furniture with lovely display items, one can take full advantage of the square footage available and create the illusion of spaciousness through clever manipulation of size and proportion.