A three-bedroom apartment in Hellene Garden has been given a make-over.  New owner Antonio U shares his design ideas and his enthusiasm for the good life.

Antonio U purchased his spacious 1600 square foot apartment late last year as home for him and his two young daughters.  Originally planning to buy in Ocean Gardens, in spite of concerns on travel time to Coloane he was immediately won over to Hellene Gardens once he smelled the fresh sea air and saw the magnificent views from the apartment.           

“I decided to buy on the same day I viewed this place.  I signed the contract and put down a deposit 3 days later!” he laughs.  And importantly, he adds, “there’s a sense of space for my children, they can go down to the beach, to the park, they can swim in the summer, it’s a certain lifestyle that we enjoy”.  Antonio also appreciates the community feel of Hellene Garden.  He has a friend on the 4/F of his same building, and other colleagues and their families within the complex.

Right from the start Antonio’s plan was to completely gut his new apartment and give it a total design make-over.  “My idea for the space was to have 3 distinct zones; the living room is a relaxed Thai-style feel, the bedrooms and bathrooms are Japanese hot springs resort in style and the dining-kitchen area is techno-modern-cool!” His designer and contractor was Hanks Lan (Tel: 6612-6287 / [email protected]).  The company offers a ‘one dragon service’ – demolition, design and build.  Their focus is on residential.  They produce 3-D design videos of how they propose that the apartment will look like after renovation.  “We spent 2 months going over design ideas;” Antonio explains, “from the video and photo renderings I was able to get a good idea of the finished product and could adjust things to my own personal style and liking.  I’m very happy with the outcome and their work.”

Certainly there is a sense of contentment and of family when entering the apartment.  Strains of Sam Smith and Rihanna play in the background, a giant sea-water fish tank gives off a gentle blue glow and 5 month old Chihuahua puppy ‘Cash’ plays underfoot.  The girls, aged 10 & 6, are away at school but there are signs of them here and there, a chair, a cushion, cute kids’ bedding and toys in their shared bedroom.

Born in Macau, Antonio is an IT consultant – Vice President of Information and Technology for VIP junket MEG-Star and CEO of technology company Smartsoft.  How did he get into this business?  “At school you can learn programming, but not how to set up hardware, firewalls etc – this you learn by doing.”  Over the years he has consulted on projects in Manila, Cambodia, Laos – designing and coordinating the set up of all the IT needs and IT platforms for the casinos there.  From table to cage systems, table shutes, CCTV, “I’ve even got involved in designing uniforms for the croupiers!”

And when he’s not working Antonio is a bit of an action man, living a full life; sky diving, learning to fly a plane, scuba diving, traveling overseas particularly to seaside destination – his favourite place being the Maldives.  A man of charm and infectious enthusiasm. “I enjoy my life” he stresses, “I enjoy trying out the best hotels around the world – the Shangri-La, Banyan Tree signature rooms, the biggest rooms at the Andara, I appreciate good wine and food, I attend events like Hennessy dinners.”  For his home design he found inspiration from the places he’s visited.  The pale turquoise-blue feature wall in the living room – “I saw it in a hotel and liked it.”

Antonio’s appreciation of all things gadgetry and IT is clear to see around the apartment.  From his telephone he can control most of the electrical items, lighting and room temperatures.  The music system with its wireless charger and speakers is a Blueman and doubles as a coffee table.  And labour-saving, quality brand equipment is used throughout:   In the laundry, the 8kg LG TwinWash washing machine allows for whites in the lower drawer, colours in the main washer, to be washed at the same time or separately.  The kitchen has a Bosch dishwasher (a rare home luxury in Macau), the LG double door fridge-freezer ‘Instaview door in door’ model costing the princely sum of almost $23,000, has a ‘knock twice’ function on the front so that a light comes on to see what is inside – can pull out small section for popularly used items, or pull out the full door to access all refrigerated items.   

Suspended from the ceiling in what originally was a balcony off the kitchen is a remote-controlled clothes drying rack (“chosen from Tao Bao” he admits) that goes up and down, complete with fan and light.

Even a suits and shirts LG True Steam dry cleaning machine has been installed in the dressing room cum guest bedroom.  And users of the smart Japanese toilets, operated by passing ones foot in front of a sensor, would benefit from a PhD to fully grasp the whole spectrum of functions on offer!

Modern in design and finish the kitchen has 3 separate cook tops – 2 with gas hobs and one Whirlpool electric plate.  The heavy duty extractor is from Bosch. Counter tops are in a volcanic rock finish, the sink is stainless steel and there’s a sizeable tea making set – “my dad likes this when he and mother visit.” Much thought has gone into the layout where there was a specific wish to have the children’s presence close by during meal preparation.  There’s a gaming machine (another Tao Bao find) at one end that the whole family enjoys. Wooden bench seating for the girls to use when eating or doing their homework is tucked away under the dining table when not in use, so keeping the kitchen feel spacious.  Having the kitchen-diner open to the living area as one long space ensures that when windows are opened both ends there is plenty of cooling ventilation; the sea-air breeze comes in from the beach and when the wind changes direction, the breeze comes off the hills behind Hellene Garden.

Speaking of breezes, it’s important to mention that Hellene Garden is somewhat exposed when it comes to typhoon season and the super-strong gales that can come blowing off the sea.  As a precaution Antonio ensured that his contractor installed a double system of windows and sliding doors to the balcony.

In keeping with the Japanese design aim for the living quarters, beds in the master bedroom and children’s bedroom are platform style tatami.  The rooms are light and bright enjoying lovely sea and green hill views.  The middle bedroom/dressing room is not noticed at first as the door is hidden within the wall paneling. It has a pull out Murphy bed for when the parents come to stay. Bathrooms also achieve a sense of Japanese hot springs from the sunken soaking bath in the girls’ bathroom to the grey slate tiling and spacious shower in the huge master bathroom.  “One of my friends said I could put a bed in here it’s so big” laughs Antonio.

    “I love Macau because my family is here,” smiles Antonio, “but otherwise it’s boring.  It’s so small, for young children all there is are parks.  It would be so good to get something like a mini-Disney or theme-park like Chimelong on Hengqin.”

Another downside is that “there are too many cars on the roads; Macau’s roads have become too congested.”  This is why he especially appreciates the tranquility of Coloane.  From his balcony Antonio enjoys a quiet smoke, watching and photographing some stunning sun-rises.  He can spend hours just looking out to sea.  “25 days the sea looks a greenish grey – but there are the 5 days in a month when the sea is brilliant blue.  You wouldn’t believe it – you have to live here to be able to see.”