When Maria Bizri and her family settled in to the Repulse Bay area, it was the splendour of the location that lured them in. “When I chose this place, my husband hadn’t seen it – and I remember when we parked outside, he wasn’t exactly impressed. Then we entered the flat, he walked out to the balcony and drew a quick breath. He was sold,” recalls Maria. It’s no wonder, as the setting offers an explicit view of Middle Island, Tau Chau and the ocean glistening in the afternoon sun. Stepping out to the balcony, the only thing moving in the picturesque image is a rare boat passing by, and for Maria it feels like being at a resort.
When settling in, Maria and her family kept two tasks in mind: to make it comfortable and to allow for first-rate entertaining. “My husband and I are very social. We love having people at our house rather than anywhere else,” says Maria. And their vast balcony appears as if it’s made for just that. With a long dining room table from Tree and custom-made seats lining the balcony area, the family can comfortably accommodate dozens of people. The space also allows for a bar area on the balcony, as well as a large barbecue where the pair whip up delicacies for their guests. “I don’t think I’ve ever entertained at my dining room table, ever. We’ll have long dinners and lunches out on the balcony where everyone can enjoy the view,” Maria shares. With a backdrop like that, we’re quite jealous of those who receive an invitation to such a soiree.
The balcony opens up to a spacious sitting room with a fireplace, where the family makes melted cheese sandwiches and roast marshmallows on cool autumn evenings. The two era-specific chairs were handpicked from Indonesia. “I pick pieces I love, whether they fit in or not. I don’t necessarily love matching things. I think pieces should speak for themselves,” says Maria, who also confesses that most of her stuff comes from impulse buys. “I have to fall in love with things in order to buy them. Then you also have to accommodate you falling in love with things and your husband falling in love with things, which is not always easy.” Yet Maria has managed to elegantly fill the space with pieces they have collected over the years, from a variety of places. Her design brief is homey and the ethos slow and comfortable, creating a relaxed and languid mood. “It’s important to feel at ease in your own house and for guests to feel at ease when they visit you. I’m sure I have some silly cheap stuff around, and some is much more expensive – and that’s okay. I want it to be a home rather than a decorated space,” says Maria.
The sitting room leads to a TV den and a spacious dining room, of which Maria’s favourite part is the bubble light and cupboard. The cupboard is an old period piece from Indonesia, while the mirror above the cabinet is an antique from Bangladesh that used to be an old window. The monk figurines adorning the vintage cabinet by the window are from Myanmar. “My husband brought a suitcase full of them,” Maria recalls.
For Maria, what makes her home special is the way it’s laid out. “Wherever I am, I can hear everyone – and that’s very comforting to me, with kids especially. It’s a very open feeling; there is nothing hidden. All the windows look out to the balcony, and there you have the sun and the moon and the sound of the waves,” Maria says.
Maria has succeeded in achieving what she originally set out to do. With her warm and sincere demeanour, she has created a relaxed, joyful and stylish home for her family. That, combined with the spectacular view, makes everything come together, creating a seaside haven which is an absolute pleasure to visit.