A Sense of Place

Beau­ti­ful vis­tas from this Hong Kong abode set a charm­ing back­drop for get-to­geth­ers


or Vic­to­ria Kelly, there are many par­al­lels be­tween in­te­rior de­sign and en­ter­tain­ing— both in­spire cre­ative self­ex­pres­sion and in both she finds great plea­sure. Per­haps, most im­por­tantly, both are most re­ward­ing when en­joyed with com­pany. “I love wel­com­ing peo­ple to my home and mak­ing them feel com­fort­able,” she says. “A friend of mine, when walk­ing into a beau­ti­fully dec­o­rated room in New York, com­mented that a well-de­signed room just makes you feel good... it’s so true. There’s this magic that hap­pens with the right pro­por­tions and tex­tures and light that can have a truly emo­tional ef­fect. [Here] I feel that, for me, I have achieved it... be­ing in my home makes me very happy.”

There’s def­i­nitely some­thing spe­cial about the home that Vic­to­ria shares with her hus­band and their two young chil­dren in Stan­ley, Hong Kong.

The won­der­ful space ex­em­pli­fies the mix of scale, nat­u­ral light and tac­tile tan­gi­bil­ity that Vic­to­ria ad­mires—from the sun stream­ing in through wood-paned French win­dows that run the length of the liv­ing room to the soar­ing ceil­ings as well as the con­sid­ered ap­point­ments and ac­cou­trements within.

Cer­tain spots in the liv­ing and din­ing ar­eas draw the eye. The gallery wall, for ex­am­ple, “Ev­ery sin­gle piece has mean­ing,” says Vic­to­ria. In­cluded among the col­lage of frames are orchid press­ings by a close friend, Gemma Hay­den Blest; a 17th­cen­tury map of In­dia that Vic­to­ria gave her hus­band for their pa­per wed­ding an­niver­sary; orig­i­nal prints of Hong Kong in the early 1900s; and a sketch drawn by her great-great-grand­mother.

Other art­works by Vic­to­ria’s Italiantrained great-great-grand­mother also en­joy pride of place above the mir­rored cabi­net. Sourced in New York, the strik­ing side­board re­flects Vic­to­ria’s de­sign ap­proach—unique state­ment pieces pep­pered with per­sonal touches. Thought­fully pre­sented atop this par­tic­u­lar fur­ni­ture piece are seashells col­lected on her hon­ey­moon on the Tanzanian is­land of Mnemba, a gi­raffe or­na­ment from Zanz­ibar and a Mao Ze­dong fig­urine pur­chased in Shang­hai.

“We have filled our home with me­men­tos from our trav­els, friends and fam­ily,” ex­plains Vic­to­ria. “They pro­vide a con­nec­tion to places and peo­ple that is ex­tremely com­fort­ing. While I re­ally don’t like clut­ter, those spe­cial pieces that we do have out bring me joy ev­ery day.”

She adds, “Part of my style of decor is a sense of place. I have lived in three dif­fer­ent homes in the last 10 years and I have learnt you can only force your own style on a cer­tain house so much... one of the things I love about the home we live in now is that it has this won­der­ful old-world colo­nial feel to it... a style I love... so it has been a plea­sure to dec­o­rate.”

Vic­to­ria also de­lights in wel­com­ing friends, fam­ily and ac­quain­tances to her home. “I love en­ter­tain­ing. My mother and my grand­mother were fab­u­lous en­ter­tain­ers, and I learned ev­ery­thing I know from them. En­ter­tain­ing and all the ef­fort that goes into it is such a sign of love,” she says. “I love set­ting the ta­ble... it’s such a fun, cre­ative ex­pe­ri­ence. I en­joy the menu plan­ning and the cook­ing. It’s all the lit­tle de­tails about a party that in­spire me. I get to en­gage my in­ner Type-a con­trol freak and also have a cre­ative out­let. It’s the perfect bal­ance.”

For­tu­itously, Vic­to­ria’s cur­rent abode pro­vides the perfect space for en­ter­tain­ing— what­ever the weather. In­door, there’s a large, rus­tic hard­wood ta­ble from Bower­bird that re­calls medieval ban­quets, while a white wicker din­ner ta­ble out­side on the ter­race over­looks the gar­den and the rugged, seaflanked hills be­yond.

“We use the out­side din­ing area all the time,” says Vic­to­ria. “I use it more than my in­side din­ing ta­ble; it’s my ab­so­lute favourite place to en­ter­tain. I love be­ing out­side. All our fam­ily din­ners are en­joyed there un­less it’s ab­so­lutely freez­ing... and even then I’ll try to bribe them with fon­due.”

On the ter­race, Vic­to­ria has thrown mem­o­rable din­ner par­ties, mak­ing use of the beau­ti­ful gar­den to cre­ate an at­mo­spheric and invit­ing am­bi­ence. “I al­most al­ways en­ter­tain out­side... I think there’s some­thing so spe­cial about eat­ing al fresco. I hosted a Thanks­giv­ing din­ner for 20 on a very long ta­ble out in the gar­den,” she re­calls. “I set the ta­ble with eu­ca­lyp­tus branches, green pumpkins and golden can­dles.”

She goes on to de­scribe her ideal din­ner party, re­veal­ing that hers be­gins with a stiff drink. “I al­ways serve a strong home­made wel­come cock­tail... we make a great mar­garita and a ne­groni... and just enough nib­bles that our guests don’t ruin their ap­petite. The next most im­por­tant thing is prepa­ra­tion. My perfect din­ner party is one where I’ve got­ten as much cook­ing as pos­si­ble done in ad­vance so that I can sit and re­ally en­joy my guests.” She adds, “We’ve even been known to fin­ish some din­ner par­ties with a cou­ple of rounds of beer pong in the gar­den... not so classy, but so much fun!” Fun, ab­so­lutely, and also in­dica­tive that Vic­to­ria un­der­stands the key to the art of en­ter­tain­ing: not only a perfect set­ting, but also a lot of heart.

from TOP An ab­stract paint­ing adds bright bursts of colour to the in­door din­ing space; Vic­to­ria plac­ing fi­nal touches on the ta­ble set­ting OP­PO­SITE Lit­tle Birds by Sallyann Johns hangs above an an­tique ori­en­tal cabi­net that dou­bles as a bar

THIS PAGE Art­works min­gle with tchotchkes, adding char­ac­ter to the light-filled space OP­PO­SITE A pair of mid cen­tury-in­spired chairs frame the gallery wall be­hind

from left A muted cadet grey head­board sourced by Sasha Young De­sign struc­tures the bed­room; a Chi­nois chip­pen­dale chair with in­digopat­terned cush­ion set the tone for the guest room’s crisp blue and white scheme PRE­VI­OUS PAGE All set for cock­tails al...

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