Don’t let the stress of a big move thwart your plans – get that space organised easily with tips from our expert!
Moving abroad can be a daunting prospect, especially if you are arriving with kids in tow (or on the way). You’re leaving behind the familiar and embarking on an exciting but also nerve-wracking adventure, so it’s imperative that your home becomes your sanctuary to ease the adjustment to your new city.
Hong Kong has so many wonderful things going for it when it comes to families: mountains for hiking, beaches for swimming, readily available childcare, fabulous kid-friendly restaurants-the reasons just go on and on. However, one item often missing from this list is space. Your flat will most likely not have the same amount of room as what you are used to from your home country. In order to help you navigate this major difference, here are a few key things to keep in mind when it comes to getting your new place organised:
Make your Furniture Multitask:
Space is at a premium, so the furniture pieces you choose should work double-time whenever possible. A bed is a great example: it takes up a large amount of floor area, so put that space to use: have storage underneath the mattress. Gas lift-beds make it easy to move the mattress up and down, and you can put items inside that you don’t use every day like suitcases and winter clothes.
Another example of a smart piece of furniture is a Murphy Bed. During the daytime it can be hidden away, thus freeing up valuable floor space, and then at night it can be brought down for sleeping. Murphy Beds are also great options for home offices that have to double as guest rooms for family members who will inevitably want to come visit.
Choose a Star for your Living Room:
The living room is likely where you will be spending the bulk of your awake at-home hours, so take the time to invest in a sofa that can not only handle the wear and tear of family life, but is also visually appealing and comfortable. In small spaces, one way to make the room look bigger is to select a raised sofa instead of one that sits on the ground or is boxy with a skirt. Furniture with exposed legs creates the illusion of space. While you’re at it, give the star a backup singer: the coffee table. This is another piece that should serve double-duty. It can have storage and be a place to put drinks or magazines. An ottoman as a coffee table also works to provide storage/foot rest/extra seating.
Don’t Think of your Space as Temporary:
A common mistake made by newcomers to Hong Kong when settling in is choosing the bare necessities and then stopping there. No matter if you’re on a 6-month contract or a 6-year contract, you will want your space to reflect your family life as you enjoy it. An oft-neglected area of design when moving into a rental flat, but one that can make such a big difference in terms of creating a feeling of home and permanence, is lighting. Don’t leave that bare bulb on your ceiling for the duration of your lease! Dress it up. What is your personal style? Is it Modern? Classic? Contemporary? The light fixture might not be the first thing that you notice when you walk into the room, but it will be one of the things that ties the space together. Best of all, it’s an investment that you can take with you when you do move.
Choose your Dining Table Wisely:
Depending on the size of your flat, you may have a designated dining area, a small breakfast nook, or a kitchen with an island. Whichever is your reality, choose a table that is versatile. There will be times when it serves as a homework station, cooking prep area, playdate snack zone, dinner party central or office space. Extendable tables are great space-savers. Benches are also helpful as they allow the table to be pushed up against a wall on one side and then pulled out for a large group; they can accommodate many more little ones during those playdates than chairs alone.
Your Bedrooms Is Your Sanctuary:
Hong Kong is a very fast-paced city, so when you come home your apartment, and especially your bedroom, should be your sanctuary. In order to achieve this, it is imperative that your room not feel cluttered, which can be a tall order in a small space. Along with having a bed with storage, think about your bedside tables as another opportunity to hide away those things you need access to (glasses, pens, notebooks, etc) but don’t want to have visible at all times. And if your bedroom does not come with built-in closets, find a wardrobe that has enough storage but can double as a statement piece that you will want to bring with you wherever you might move.
Make it Your Own:
Chances are, a major part of the appeal of living in Asia for your family is the opportunity for travel around the region. Apartment living can feel anonymous and monotonous, so decorate your space with that carving you picked up in Bali or that painting you found in Thailand. Your own personal items (but not too many or it will feel cluttered) should have pride of place in your home. Another inexpensive but highly effective decoration is to enlarge some of your family travel photos and have them printed on canvas to put on your walls.
At the end of the day, whether you are in HK for 2 years or 20, while you are here you and your family will want to experience everything that this amazing city has to offer. And when you come home after a long day (or night) out, your apartment should be a place of peace, happiness and refuge from this intensity. It should feel like home.