FAME reimagines a Hong Kong apartment to create a materially sophisticated journey across thresholds

Captured by Frames

Residing in Hong Kong, one of the densest cities in the world, means that a 1,300-square-foot apartment is palatial.

Still, for FAME, designing this family residence meant that the space had to not only blend the husband and wife’s diverse aesthetic preferences. She wanted a sun-kissed, beachy glow reminiscent of her Southern California hometown, while he wanted a moody, cosmopolitan oasis—but it also had to allow the family room to move and grow.

The apartment’s first frame is anchored by the sculptural white dining table and custom seating (Gary Ng)

The long window and banquette wall help to create an open-frame geometry (Gary Ng)

FAME, a California-based architecture and interior design office led by Marina Bourderonnet and David Bruce Lee, took the organizational strategy of “framing” as the starting point for this apartment renovation. “The frames wrap the space in L shapes, resulting in this magnetic tension,” said Lee. These formal design interventions elevated what was originally a standard Hong Kong apartment defined by deep soffits, recessed lighting, and a closed kitchen and shaped it into a light and airy space with a natural flow.

A thickened wall creates opportunity for a built-in shelf system (Gary Ng)

The first “white” frame is anchored by a sculptural white table and custom built-in seating. “The table worked perfectly with the coastal feel, as it resembles a piece of sea glass. But those soft curves also mean that children won’t bump any edges when running from place to place,” said Bourderonnet.

The architects shifted the door over, blending it into the wood screen wall to work around a difficult kitchen (Gary Ng)

A thoughtful use of materials blends warmth, as evidenced by the wood wall, and hints of California, like in the rippled glass vase that mimics the movement of the ocean (Gary Ng)

Next, a thickened wall creates an opportunity for a built-in shelf system that displays art, objects, and books that personalize the interior. Lightness and white tones still characterize this area, which is peppered by deeper taupes and earthy tones.

Furnishings by B&B Italia, Bonaldo, and Penta Lighting create a gentle environment (Gary Ng)

Finally, the third frame introduces a pattern of striation. The small and enclosed kitchen entrance began as a constraint for the architects and client alike. “What was originally an eyesore was retooled to fit the new space,” said Lee. “We took the door and moved it instead,” hiding it behind a wooden-slat pattern. To tie it all together, a white, floating bar cantilevers in front of this lined texture. Whether acting as a place to throw your keys or to pour freshly shaken cocktails for guests, it anchors the entire frame.

A built-in desk continues the apartment’s theme of integrating the furniture into the structure to maximize the small space (Gary Ng)

After resolving issues in the great room area, the architects focused on the long, dark corridor that led to the bedrooms and master suite. The architects chose to lower the ceiling and recess the doorframes: when closed, the subtle edges resemble fine line work.

A light, white-walled bedroom differs from the dark corridor connecting the private areas, where the architects chose to lower the ceiling and recess the doorframes (Gary Ng)

FAME delivered a warm envelope that makes the entire apartment feel contiguous and identifiable. Nothing exists without intention, and everything is envisioned as part of a larger apparatus. This family home benefits from intelligent formal design that creates the perfect urban oasis.