Most of us in Hong Kong live in flats that are more akin to large cupboards than real houses. Even if you are lucky enough to have a decent amount of space, it often doesn’t feel that way. So what’s to be done about it? Lament until property prices drop? Recent months (and years) suggest you may be waiting a long time.
In this and future articles, I will explore a variety of ways to make the most of your big-city small-apartment. The step I suggest taking first is assessing your space. Ask yourself what the good features about this little Hong Kong home are. Are there nice windows and good light? Solid walls? A brightly coloured exterior? You will have many options, depending on your personal taste and how comfortable you are with stretching your style boundaries, with which to make the most of what’s available.
One of the greatest, most versatile tools I suggest for tactful decoration is a mirror. When well placed, mirrors can reflect light and life in the home — by doubling the verdant freshness of your windowsill herb collection or by drawing more light into a dreary corner. As a general rule of thumb, when using mirrors, it’s best to have them face open spaces or objects you would like to highlight. For example, lovely greenery is always beautiful when brightly reflected, and a well-lit room can open up adjacent hallways with a carefully positioned bevel-edged mirror. Even if you don’t have a lot of natural light flowing into your space, place a mirror opposite a standing light in the corner of the room and your home will instantly feel a lot brighter and bigger.
One of my favourite tricks with mirrors in a small Hong Kong apartment is using them to line the back of a bookshelf. As an aside to interior designers and partners of interior designers, I hear your collective groan. Admittedly it’s more tasteful to have small standing mirrors as display items on a bookshelf, but for those with simpler styles, this placement bounces light and brightens up a room while remaining inconspicuous.
For those who want a more noticeable display, positioning clean, unframed mirrors horizontally above couches or behind freestanding furniture adds a nice touch. And if you are comfortable with large pieces, I would highly recommend the use of ornate gold-gilded mirrors. They are a striking decorative feature, whether sitting atop a counter or standing full-length against a wall. You can even make it work in a small apartment by having it peek out from behind a sofa or side table.
As clutter is all too easy to accumulate in Hong Kong, careful interior choices are the key to crafting a relaxing city sanctuary, so try to keep only useful or beautiful items in your home. Whatever the choices you make for mirrors, the key is to flatter, complement and highlight the best of your space. In the end, you’ll make your home brighter, more beautiful, and a place that you truly enjoy.