A double apartment, two converted to one, is a happy and comfortable family home
Regina Tam and her family have lived for the past 15 years in an elegantly designed and decorated 4-bedroom apartment on the waterfront of Ocean Gardens. She and her husband bought in 2002; initially a B unit, 1,118 square feet, that was 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms. Then when they discovered that the next door A unit - 2,000 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms - was available, they decided to buy this as well and combine the two into one.
“Planning for the project took about one month,” Regina explains, “and construction about three months.”
With over 3,000 square feet to play with, “our idea was to use as much of the area as possible, to push out to the external walls to give us maximum living space. The first job was making a single entrance. We cancelled B’s front door, and joined the two apartments by making an opening along the corridor from entrance A. We then enclosed A’s balcony to enlarge the living room”.
A ceiling-to-floor glass picture window was installed to make the most of the stunning views looking down to the Ocean Gardens park and waterfront and beyond to the Macau tower and skyline.
The kitchen was a major project: “I love cooking and always wanted a kitchen with an island cook-and-work station, and to have it open through to the living area so that I can enjoy the great view and not feel alone or separated from family or friends while I’m cooking.”
And if she’s cooking something very strong smelling, the sliding glass paneled doors to the living room can always be closed.
For privacy when eating, the end of the corridor was built to section off the dining room from the kitchen. The original housekeeper’s room and small toilet area off the kitchen were converted into a laundry and useful storage.
The kitchen is modern, white and sleek, with white corian countertops, stainless steel appliances, sliding smoked-glass fronted cabinets and black marble floor tiles that give a sense of grandeur to the space.
Throughout the combined apartment, the flooring of the corridor and all common areas are a caramel cream Spanish marble.
“All except the bedrooms, which we kept in their original wood parquet. You need the bedrooms to feel warmer and to be different from the public areas,” says Regina.
As one enters the living room, the first impression is how bright it is. The sea view dominates and natural light floods the space. A large, round, white carpet mirrors the shape of the curved half circle window. A white day bed, perfect for reading or just enjoying the view from is matched with a pair of steel-framed, black leather seated armchairs, and a grey fabric-covered chair – such attention to detail to complementing the colour palette! A 6-sided clear acrylic coffee table is centre piece and completes this very light, chic and modern look.
The open plan space leads to the dining room, which is dominated by a huge gold framed oil painting original by Jean Francois Larrieu. Bought from Opera Gallery in Hong Kong, Regina says that she fell in love with the painting because of its vibrant colours. Clearly an enthusiastic fan of the artist, she pulls out a large coffee-table sized book of his collection of paintings. On the opposite wall is another colourful piece brought from South America, an oil abstract closely resembling many hundreds of eyes, appropriately named Observe. On the deep window sill sits a 3’ sculpture by talented local artist Todi Kong. And along side these, standing on the floor about 5’ high, are two gilded wood Thai ladies.
The three bedrooms have been kept as the original layout, with eldest daughter Filipa having the master and Joana the slightly smaller guest room opposite. Both have a similar look and feel, with a floral grey, black and white papered feature wall, other walls painted in pale grey, and the two slatted bed heads in pale, natural wood. The third bedroom with its pull out sofa-bed is a useful guestroom for visitors.
Moving now to the B unit part of this home, the original 2 bed - 2 bath, open living-dining and small closed kitchen layout was converted into a private wing comprising spacious master bedroom and ensuite bathroom, built-in cabinets and work-area. The kitchen was opened up into a bar counter and breakfast area with more ceiling-to-floor windows to bring in the view. Another smart colour scheme of grey floor tiles, black counter-top, white cabinets, and two striking, red art pieces with their red highlighted in the dining chair cushions.
“I like red, and grey goes well with it, but to use too much grey can make a space feel sad,” Regina says, “so to balance the harmony of the red colours we chose to paint the walls a pale yellow in the kitchen and living area. Yellow is a sunny, warm colour and adds to the brightness of the space.
The book-filled shelves, sink-in L-shaped black leather sofa, long pile grey floor rug and large screen TV give the living room a cozy, family, lived-in feel. Following through from the kitchen, the black, yellow, grey color scheme is echoed in the 3-piece Thai artwork hanging above the sofa. The semi-circle balcony was retained but not a plant in sight: “Ah, I have no time!” exclaims Regina. But she plans to upgrade the balcony by replacing the original metal railings with glass to further enhance the view, and then she may feel more encouraged to do a spot of light gardening.
After 34 years as a banker here in Macau, Regina has decided that it’s time now to turn her focus more to projects close to her heart in Portugal.
“We have a small plot of land in Porto which we plan to develop into apartments and a restaurant on the ground floor, and this needs my close supervision,” she explains.
Besides, with both daughters away studying in England, Regina and her husband must surely be feeling the ‘empty-nester’ syndrome and a stronger pull back to Europe.
With all this comes a re-evaluation of their home and a plan to downsize. Never one to shy away from a project, Regina is gathering her energies for yet another renovation on their home – this time converting it back again to two separate units! She intends to sell the larger unit A and keep the small unit B, which after some modifications, will serve well as a pied-à-terre in Macau for visits.