Hong Kong Apartment: The Great Unpack

Movers arrived on Thursday last week after weeks and months of anticipation (read about it here)! One hour later the movers were gone, and our place looked like this:

A Life Shift 2015-05-21a
Box city – yikes!

I was still at work later that day when I got a text, “OMG. So much stuff!!!!” Braden had just walked in the door and, as expected, was a bit freaked out. That feeling disappeared over the weekend as we tackled The Great Unpack. Our strategy quickly changed from putting everything where we planned for it to go to just unpacking every single thing, placing it on any available surface, then finding its home eventually. We were able to get the bedroom and, specifically, our clothes in fairly decent order quickly. The two main closets were already in place, so they got loaded up. The dresser had some clothes in it when it shipped but it appears it made the journey on its side.

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Everything shifted to the far left of the drawers. And socks fell out of the drawers and jammed up the rails.  Ugh!

Interesting trivia: tenants own all the fixtures in the apartment, including window coverings and lights. The previous tenant left behind the curtains and lights, so we are free to use them. For now we are using the curtains (will probably replace later – not a priority) but we wanted to replace the lights (and it would be way easier to do that before all our furniture was in place). We love the Hektar Ikea fixture; it’s available in three sizes: small, medium, and large. Of course, only the small and large sizes are available in Hong Kong. And what size did I want? THE MEDIUM. When Braden was in Vancouver a couple weeks ago, though, he picked up two, boxed them up and shipped them as his second piece of luggage. Our ceilings are 11′ tall, which is freaky when standing on the top rung of a 6′ ladder to do the wiring and installation. We were going to borrow a ladder from the building but it was no taller than our own, so we devised a plan to use the Ikea Pax cabinet as a stable structure next to the ladder for Braden to hold on to before we moved it in to its permanent location in the bedroom. It was a great idea for stability and it also gave him a surface to place the tools while he was working to install the light fixture.

This was a serious operation - no pics allowed while installation was in progress.
This was a serious operation – no pics allowed while installation was in progress.
Luckily Braden brought his drill over (ignoring my protests) and it was been very useful. We had to purchase a converter so we could charge it.
Luckily Braden brought his drill over (ignoring my protests) and it was been very useful. We had to purchase a converter so we could charge it.
Before & After: isn't the new light so much better?!?!
Before & After: isn’t the new light so much better?!?! Hint: it’s the one on the left!

So, once the lights were installed we moved the third Pax into the bedroom and we were pretty much set. We also ended up reorienting the bed from its original planned position so that we had more access to closets which means our nightstands will no longer fit. We’ll probably sell them on the Hong Kong version of Craigslist (if that exists)…! There’s always another project to tackle it seems, even in a place as small as ours.

It felt like Christmas as we unwrapped item after item. Braden was The Unwrapper and I was The Paper Disposer. We had boxes and boxes of discarded packing paper which got stacked on the deck as we worked. It was absolutely amazing to unwrap every little thing, each having been so carefully packaged. Amazingly every single thing arrived in pristine condition. We had so much fun opening up each little paper packet, and I had fun guessing what might be in some of the packages based on my memories of them getting wrapped. Quite quickly we had every box opened and unpacked. So fun!

Look at all those little bundles. They were wrapped and shipped with such care.
Look at all those little bundles. They were wrapped and shipped with such care.
On the top of the very first box we popped open the night everything arrived was a huge bag of Munchie Mix and a huge bag of Chicago Mix.  Hooray!
On the top of the very first box we popped open the night everything arrived was a huge bag of Munchie Mix and a huge bag of Chicago Mix popcorn. Hooray!
A couple days before everything arrived Braden asked me to bring back his favourite mustard next time I'm in Vancouver. And then he found one in a box.
A couple days before everything arrived Braden asked me to bring back his favourite mustard next time I’m in Vancouver. And then he found one in a box.
Canadian staples: Kraft Dinner, Heinz ketchup and (less Canadian but hard to find in Hong Kong) salsa!
Canadian staples: Kraft Dinner, Heinz ketchup and (less Canadian but hard to find in Hong Kong) salsa!
It was less exciting for Braden when the things he unwrapped weren't his.
It was less exciting for Braden when the things he unwrapped weren’t his.
Unpacked status: the kitchen.
Unpacked status: the kitchen.
Unpacked status: the living area.
Unpacked status: the living area.
Unpacked status: the TV area. (Note all the cardboard on the balcony.)
Unpacked status: the TV area. (Note all the cardboard on the balcony.)
Unpacked status: the bedroom.
Unpacked status: the bedroom.
Unpacked status: more bedroom.
Unpacked status: more bedroom.

The final big hurdle to tackle is our kitchen island. We have very little counter space, so a significant part of our strategy to make the flat functional for us was to devise a solution for additional counter space and also create an eating area. Luckily it was Ikea to the rescue again; Stenstorp is the perfect solution. It was much cheaper in Canada and available in black so I planned to ship it. However, when I went to Ikea days before the movers packed us up in New Westminster I found the black was out of stock (and black isn’t available in Hong Kong) so I ended up shipping a white one. A white kitchen island just WOULD NOT DO though, so I came up with the idea of painting it. We are midway through the painting project and I can say with confidence 1) it’s going to look great; 2) what a dumb idea to create another project at this stage of the game; and 3) any DIY project in a 440 sq ft apartment (other than, perhaps, knitting a small scarf) is very ill-advised. I’ll post photos of the completed kitchen island but for now just imagine packing paper covering every available floor surface of the kitchen and then imagine it strewn with random shaped Ikea pieces strategically placed on makeshift cardboard plinths for drying. Then imagine us navigating our way between the front door and the bedroom as if playing hopscotch. It’s a joke! However, we’ll soon be sorted out, have a place for all our kitchen items, and feel like our life is really getting in order.


2 thoughts on “Hong Kong Apartment: The Great Unpack

  1. Hahah Ali I can just picture the two of you hop-scotching around the apartment and navigating everything! Sounds like an exciting/interesting adventure!

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