A serious home renovation, the kind that involves more than just a new paint color or a powder room refresh, is an exercise in keeping sane. The months-long disruption, the draining bank account, the incessant dust, the steady stream of strangers in boots—none of it is something that most homeowners want to go through again.

Mandy Lee, the blogger (Lady and Pups) and cookbook author (The Art of Escapism Cooking), lived through the down-to-the-studs ordeal twice…in nine years…in the same apartment.

The first overhaul was in 2010 when she and her husband moved from New York to Hong Kong for his job and bought the apartment. They gutted the space. “I was still clinging to the industrial/lofty aesthetics that we left New York with, and everything was distressed concrete, distressed woods, distressed metal and glass panels,” she says of that renovation. “The kitchen had a concrete wall finish with stainless steel cabinet doors, very ‘you can take the girl out of Brooklyn but you can’t take Brooklyn out of the girl’—[except that] I’ve never lived in Brooklyn.”

Nine years later, they gutted it again. In between, the couple had moved to Beijing for a few years before moving back to their Hong Kong apartment—and they’d grown up. “We did the first renovation in our late 20s, when our lifestyle and mentality were completely different from where we are in our late 30s,” she says. “The functions and layout no longer fit our current lifestyle.”

The latest redesign still shows an affinity for distressed wood, but everything else has been replaced. Gone is the hardness of concrete and steel; in their place, billowing curtains, soft colors, and textured walls.

Let’s take a tour. And be sure to check out Mandy’s characterful kitchen in our earlier post (Kitchen of the Week: The ‘Angry Food Blogger’ at Home in Hong Kong.)

Photography by Mandy Lee.

Above: “The first design element I knew I wanted was a completely plastered interior, Venetian plaster to be exact.” says Mandy, who ultimately opted for Roman Clay by California company Portola Paints. “We couldn’t find a worker to properly apply it so we ended up doing it ourselves after moving in. It was us a total of six months to completely finish the apartment.”
Their third-floor apartment is in an old walk-up building in Happy Valley, a residential neighborhood in Hong Kong. &#8
Above: Their third-floor apartment is in an old walk-up building in Happy Valley, a residential neighborhood in Hong Kong. “We prefer it to the new high-rises because the ceiling is slightly higher.” A small balcony is just off the living room. “It’s not much, but I love the corner where I planted an olive tree and some decorative plants to brighten it up.”

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Lonely traveler, l like to explore with my camera and my laptop every part of the earth.
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