Announce this year’s public housing
Top honors go to Karman Ng for a refreshingly modern design that speaks to mid-century sensibilities, cutting-edge trends, artistic expression and most of all the needs of his young family
No fireplace says glamour like Karman Ng’s. The dramatic recessed sandstone with cantilevered limestone hearth makes the room as warm and inviting, as it is chic. The calm continues by skillfully mixing iconic Modernist furnishings, vintage finds from eBay, and colorful accessories. The pairing of a Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona sofa (circa 1930) with newly designed club chairs is particularly striking. We applaud Ng’s tribute to modernist ideals while staying Zen with his use of orange accents, mohair upholstery, and a vintage Japanese aluminum trunk.
Gold, ochre, and amber tones swaddle the swanky entry, which connects the outside to the living area. Vintage pieces make the space with objects found on eBay: gorgeous gold nesting tables, delicious upholstered stools, and a radiant starburst mirror.
By luxury standards, Ng’s 14′ x 11′ kitchen is tiny but with savvy design solutions it offers the same amenities: full-height, full-depth custom cabinets and a 9′ x 5′ island that is rich in storage and style. Custom granite counters echo the earth tones found in the stools, chocolate brown cabinetry, adjacent breakfast nook and family room. The room is cool and edgy with its sleek seats and pendant lights that shout all things modern.
As clever as he is chic, Ng is always looking for innovative ways to optimize a small space. Off the kitchen, he creates a stylish breakfast nook banquette that doubles as storage. A vintage Hans Wegner dining table (also found on eBay) and Eames molded plastic side chairs nod to his mid-century mind-set.
Ng’s design of the powder room is a master class in serenity. The room’s main feature is a custom concrete sink with a sloping basin and hidden drain. The sink is framed by seductive slate tiles that cover the back wall and is bisected by a large mirror. A sleek wall-mounted faucet and pod pendant light complete a space that could rival the best of luxury hotels.
“For my daughter’s room,” says Ng, “I wanted to do something girly and fun, but chic.” Success. The bubble gum pink and Tiffany blue chandelier set the tone for his design and led him to, “an interpretation of a modern, French-inspired room complete with a faux-wall paneling,” says the father-cum-designer. “The furnishings are a mix of shabby-chic (Rachel Ashwell for Target), modern (Kartell lamp), and even mid-century (baby Bertoia chair).”
Tucked away in the back of the house is the Ngs’ master bedroom. He smartly reworks the room to make it feel expansive by making the right lighting choices and carefully editing the objects in the room. In addition to recessed lighting, traditional windows, and a bevy of lamps, a slice of natural light looms above the platform bed creating a makeshift headboard that adds drama to the sleeping area. The sitting area pays homage to mid-century masters with a Bertoia chair, Nelson bench, and Eames lounge in cream leather.
Ng’s fourth bedroom serves triple duty and is his favorite. “It’s a cool experience,” gushes Ng, “This room is a home theatre, a library, and a guest suite (the couch is a sleeper and there’s a full bath) and is one of the most successful in my eyes.” The theater area boasts a 103″ screen and works in conjunction with a ceiling-mounted projector and built-in wall speakers. A low custom platform was built at the rear of the room to offer theater-style seating for two, while the sleeper couch comfortably seats four for a movie or converts to sleep two. Every inch counts in this library where a ladder is not just a pretty accessory; it’s a vehicle to the “two-story” bookcase that maximizes the 12-feet ceilings.
Indoors and outdoors, Ng has a gift for designing soothing spaces. The outdoor living space is adjacent to the main living room and is accessed with a set of nine-feet double French doors. “Because of our great weather in Berkeley, we have these doors open all summer between the two rooms, allowing us to enjoy the California casual, indoor/outdoor lifestyle we love so much.” This outdoor feature offers an ideal oasis. “There are two ‘cutouts’ that afford a view of the water feature—a great Zen-like, therapeutic element in a home.” Adding to the calming effect is a retractable cloth ‘roof’ which can be drawn to cut the heat and glare on the hot summer days. Very cool.
The facade is dramatic and the experience of descending upon their cliff home is the same way. Once guests take the six stairs below street level, “the stainless door only affords you access to the entry courtyard or ‘outdoor living room’ as we call it.” One must transverse water features, bridges and other crossroads from the outside world to this house of supreme style and peace.
Congratulations to the Ng family of Berkeley, California! We award your design the Met Home of the Year with a $5,000 Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Shopping Spree.