Smart design can make the difference between a home someone thinks about buying and a home they feel the need to buy. But what exactly is smart design – and how can you use it to improve your own property?
1. Smart layout
Usability is an afterthought in many Hong Kong apartments, which are notorious for their small rooms and odd corners. There are a few easy ways to avoid those problems. Open kitchens have the advantage of making your apartment feel bigger, and they are increasingly popular with young couples and families who cook only light meals at home. Many recent developments, such J Residence and The Avenue in Wan Chai, feature open kitchens.
An open kitchen creates a spacious apartment for cooking and entertaining.
A walk-in closet is another advantage that can boost your home’s resale value. Rather than knocking down the walls between small bedrooms, convert one of them into an attractive storage space with built-in shelves, drawers and a dressing area. A well-designed closet can be a surprisingly attractive space – I once sold a flat with an entire wall of Christian Louboutin heels in different colours. It was a closet-turned-gallery.
2. Smart electronics
Hong Kong still relies on coal for most of its electricity, so switching to energy-efficient appliances is not only good for your pocketbook, it's good for the environment as well. Many developers are choosing appliances with energy-saving features, like Miele washers, whose Thermo spin technology uses less electricity to dry clothes.
Smart control panels are another asset, allowing homeowners to control the lighting, curtains, air conditioning and audio systems from a tablet or wall panel. Centrestage and The Avenue are two Hong Kong developments that feature such technology. Keyless electronic locks make your home more secure while giving you the opportunity to lock and unlock it remotely.
Another advantage of smart home systems is the way they improve your quality of life. LED lighting can be controlled to change brightness and hue throughout the day, helping you wake up in the morning, relax in the evening and fall asleep at night.
Indoor air quality is often surprisingly low in Hong Kong, so it's important to make sure your home is as clean and healthy as possible. Good ventilation systems exchange stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air, while air purifiers filter out pollutants. Larger households can have these installed in the ventilation system directly while smaller homes can use portable devices. Air processing and humidity control are both important to prevent the growth of mould.
3. Smart materials
A home is more than the sum of its parts, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about the essential building blocks of your flat. That means using materials that are environmentally-friendly, healthy and attractive.
Many low-quality materials are treated with toxic chemicals that can harm your respiratory system; some studies have shown that the indoor air quality in many Hong Kong apartments is even worse than on the street. Investing in high-quality, sustainable materials like certified sustainable wood can help you lead a healthier life.