Marina Cove House: From a traditional townhouse to a contemporary family space

For those in search of sanctuary from central Hong Kong’s unceasing bustle, Sai Kung always looms large as the first port of call. Set at the easternmost point of the New Territories, this unspoilt peninsula boasts beautiful beaches and hiking trails, and even a discreet waterfall or two. Given its undoubted allure, it’s no surprise that many who come to visit often wonder if they could make this enchanting enclave their permanent home.

Marina Cove

It was the chance to occupy a traditional townhouse in such scenic setting that appealed to Dr Benny Liu when he purchased a 2,000sq.ft four-bedroom split-house in the Marina Cove development, seeing it as the perfect place for him and his wife to raise their two young daughters and, of course, a pet turtle. Built back in the ’80s, his chosen residence had sat unoccupied for several years, obliging him to invest in a little contemporary refurbishment.

Early in 2017, the family set about tweaking the townhouse in line with their personal preferences, but soon found themselves a little out of their depth. It was then that they called on the services of Clifton Leung Design Workshop, an award-winning Hong Kong-based specialist in interior design. No novice when it comes to refurbishing the perfect family-friendly space, Clifton Leung, the consultancy’s founder, saw creating a synergy with the nearby marina as one of his key priorities.

Marina Cove

With a surfeit of space to play around with, he and his team set out to deploy a natural look to every nook and corner of the home. Paying particular attention to the lighting – both natural and artificial – one of his priorities was to optimise the size of the windows, pairing them with bright white blinds to maximise the interior brilliance. Skylights were also installed at key family focal points.

A further family-friendly nexus was formulated in the kitchen, where a commodious island / breakfast bar dominates the central space. Commenting on the thinking behind this, Leung said: “A space for preparing and serving food is the natural heart of any home. In this instance, everyone loves the island feature and likes to hang out here even after meals.”

Overall, only two rooms are notable for their digression from the natural palette that typifies the rest of the residence – the sleeping spaces of the doctor’s two daughters. Choosing the decor themselves, the two girls – an eight-year-old and an 11-year-old – were delighted that their rooms were set side by side and linked by a secret passage.

Upstairs, the master bedroom for the parents is spread across the top two floors. Linked to this dominant sleeping space is a glass-walled en suite bathroom, complete with an extensive wet area, marble vanity and an egg-shaped bath. Within the connected study, the shelving feature is notably lofty, which craftily emphasises the ceiling height and renders what Leung terms a “cathedral roof”.

Marina Cove

The beauty of the home isn’t only found internally, however, with the beautifully landscaped rear garden occasioning a majestic and scenic view out across the harbour. This makes it just the perfect place to enjoy a family brunch, before tiptoeing down to the water’s edge along a series of artfully-contrived concrete steps.

It’s rare, indeed, to find a Hong Kong home so in tune with nature and the rawer elements of maritime living, yet the Marina Cove house succeeds in this magnificently. Somehow it manages to incorporate the natural beauty of its location, reflect it and magnify it, yielding an alluring blend of sea and shore, while embodying the kind of domestic bliss most of us can only dream of.

Text: Bailey Atkinson, Photos: Clifton Leung Design Workshop

Scaled and polished: The Dragon Lake House is as beautiful as its namesake

To the minds of most, Guangzhou is not a city renowned for its high-class residences. It is somewhat overshadowed by the sheer style and scale of Hong Kong, its southerly neighbour, while the reputations of Shanghai and Beijing cast equally long shadows over its somewhat humble homesteads. However, there are one or two true gems to be found in Guangzhou – among them the Dragon Lake House. With a view that looks across the grounds of the Dragon Lake Golf Club – the glorious, international-standard green that the home shares its name with – this 15,000sq. ft residence is ideally appointed, with its setting the perfect perch for its eclectic mix of East and West design conceits. Officially part of the city’s Haudu district, it is close enough to the commercial centre to take the sting out of commuting, but far away enough to provide an oasis of calm for its residents.

Dragon Lake House

Its luxury interiors come courtesy of Clifton Leung, an award-winning Hong Kong-based designer. Explaining his approach, Leung said: “I like to say a house is very similar to a gallery. It’s not just about white walls – you have to bring your own favourite works of art, your cherished belongings, your much-loved sofa, your music… You have to transform it through your own very individual presence. Above all, a home should have its own character, and that character should reflect the unique personalities and interests of its residents.”

Dragon Lake House

Thoughtfully-crafted comfort aside, perhaps the most striking aspect of the Dragon Lake House is the very modern take it offers on a truly classic element of Chinese architecture – the siheyuan. Essentially a square courtyard, surrounded by residential structures, it was a common feature of many well-to-do Beijing homes, with the very first examples said to date back to the time of the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046-771 BC).

Dragon Lake House

As with any classic siheyuan, the Dragon Lake House is built around an inner courtyard, ringed with heritage-style, yet modern spaces. The spaciousness and the apt use of natural light that characterise the courtyard are motifs that are revisited throughout the home. The living room, for instance, spans two storeys vertically, bestowing upon it a high ceiling and an accompanying sense of freedom. This sensation has only been further enhanced by using crystal-clear glass windows, optimising the flow of natural light into the home.

Dragon Lake House

Another aspect of the Dragon Lake House to be cherished is its embrace of all things aquatic. As well as the aforementioned water garden, there is a recessed swimming area and a glittering water curtain. In keeping with the preferences of the current owners, the home’s water features are stocked with a beguiling array of fish, with some chosen solely on aesthetic grounds and others chosen to one day adorn the residence’s bespoke fine dining table.

Dragon Lake House

All in all, it’s a sumptuous residence, one that clearly stands apart from the many houses to be found throughout Guangzhou, homes where, all too frequently, pragmatic insensitivity and utility have triumphed over any truly aesthetic impulse. No such suggestions, however, could be made of the Dragon Lake House, a setting where the land, the layout and the luxury accoutrements are as one, rendering it almost as rare as the mystical creature it so aptly name-checks.

Text: Robert Blain; Photos: Clifton Leung Design Workshop