Interior design studio hoo made the most of this 338-square-feet space with an elevated loft and light Zen aesthetic.

When you can’t build laterally, build upwards. That’s the philosophy that lies behind the multitude of skyscrapers in Hong Kong, where population is dense and land is scarce, and it’s the philosophy that YC Chen and Arsan Law, founder-slash-creative director and designer respectively at interior design firm hoo, took when doing up this modest, 338-square-foot studio apartment in a newly developed building in Wan Chai. The client, a single female working professional, chose the property for its convenience and proximity to her workplace as well as to various cafes and shops. While hoo has worked with other apartments in the building before, this unit was much smaller in comparison, and easily the smallest project in hoo’s entire portfolio.

“If we put a bed, there would be no space for a sofa, we could only choose either one,” explained Chen. “The other option would be to have a sofa bed, which isn’t very comfortable as you’d have to change it every night. But because the ceiling is quite high, we did an elevated sleeping area on top of the closet.” Opting for a loft arrangement opened up the living area, allowing for the placement of a sofa and breakfast bar next to the open kitchen.

Chen and Law conceived of the loft idea fairly quickly, and the client immediately loved it. With the layout squared away, the colour palette also made for a swift decision. “We didn’t want to have too many different kinds of materials, otherwise it would look too busy, and we wanted to have a kind of zen or Muji feel,” said Chen. “So we used only one kind of wood, which was plywood.” Aside from the Urbani sofa bed by Ligne Roset from BoConcept, the two bar chairs from Hay, and a transparent Kartell chair previously owned by the client, everything in the living and sleeping area was custom-made by hoo. The kitchen and the bathroom were left as-is, since they were already newly renovated by the property.

The walls, fixtures, and accessories such as plant pots and cushions, meanwhile, were white, while Chen and Law stripped away the original wooden flooring and replaced it with greige tiles that wouldn’t clash with the plywood. The designers even incorporated the client’s bicycle into the interiors, making it a feature by hanging it on the wall opposite the sofa and suggesting that the client paint it white to match with the rest of the aesthetic.

“We kept everything very light,” continued Chen. “We briefly thought about a more industrial feel, but we thought that would be too heavy.”

Another important consideration, of course, was storage. Chen and Law incorporated storage space wherever possible in order to minimise clutter. In addition to the existing wardrobe at the entrance and the closets under the loft, the designers added another closet next to the stairs leading up to the bed, another closet at the entrance, and a sideboard running the length of the wall opposite the sofa.

While storage is always an issue in a smaller apartment, there are plenty of other things to keep in mind to ensure a well-designed, comfortable home if you’re working with a smaller space. “Keep your choice of colour to a minimum so that it feels natural and consistent,” revealed Chen. “You can use different colours as long as there’s enough ambient light, but you just have to be careful with your colour choices so that it doesn’t feel too loud or messy.”