Before we moved our family back to Hong Kong, my husband and I made a quick visit by ourselves to look at apartments and schools for the kids. In the end we looked at five schools — but only one apartment. I have to admit that at first I was not convinced this place was for us. It was tucked away in a corner of Happy Valley, difficult for taxi drivers to find and a long walk uphill from the nearest grocery store. It was also on the third floor of an old building with no elevator. But once we made it up the hill, and up all those stairs, we found a bright, spacious apartment with lots of potential.
The only problem with renting, especially for someone design-minded like me, is that you can't change much if your landlord doesn't allow it. And ours thought things were pretty much fine the way they were, including some light fixtures we wouldn't have picked for ourselves and a frosted-glass partition between the dining room and the master bedroom.
Design challenge accepted! A pair of bookshelves we brought from the U.S. blocked the frosted glass perfectly. A convertible sofa and some new blinds changed a study into an airy guest bedroom that can be closed off from the living area with sliding doors. As for the "horn of plenty" light fixtures, we took attention away from them with a big, eye-catching artwork: The Tree, by Brooklyn-based artist Julia von Eichel (www.juliavoneichel.com). Now I don't even notice the ugly lights as I'm too busy enjoying my beautiful art.