Baan Muan: A Minimalist Thai-Style Waterfront House

Baan Muan: A Minimalist Thai-Style Waterfront House

Baan Muan: A Minimalist Thai-Style Waterfront House

/ Chiang Mai, Thailand /

/ Story: Wuthikorn Suthiapa / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Sitthisak Namkham /

An old-styled waterfront house was recreated for modern living in Chiang Mai. It is made up of a coffee shop, piano classroom and a private space for the family.

Waterfront House

“I want to emulate the Thai style waterfront home of the past, kind of set on land that slightly descends to the riverbank. Like so, the new home is designed with respect for nature. Meantime, it embraces all features that are up to date, from materials to style to character.” So said the designers when asked to elaborate on the concept behind this home project.

The handsome waterfront house featuring smooth exteriors and eye-catching roof design is affectionately called “Baan Muan,” literally home of baby Muan.

Waterfront House
The Mae Kao, a tributary that flows past the property, inspires the owners to create an old-styled waterfront home. The design celebrates the water feature and pristine foliage that have long been the charm of this suburb of Chiang Mai.

The homeowners, Nathee and Kanokwan Nateniyom inherited this piece of land from their grandma. Their baby was born while the construction project was underway.

So both the home and the baby were given the same name. Ekapab Duangkaew from EKAR and Arthasith Kongmonkhol from Full Scale Studio were responsible for the design.

A well-kept lawn is used as the only access to the house’s main entrance. Walking on grass adds fun and excitement to nature inspired lifestyle.

As Ekapab put it, “We were so fortunate to have received full freedom to conceptualize this project. Arthasith and I then proceeded to develop a waterfront house design with an emphasis on relationships with the surrounding terrain features. Various functions were laid out based on their proximity to the water’s edge or existing patches of greenery.

“The next step was about translating the concept to meet the homeowners’ needs and personality.”

A coffee shop is the first thing visible from afar. It separates semi-public spaces from the private zone without obstructing views of the modern front home. Dark stained wood clad exteriors subtly set the shop apart from the rest of the property.

In so doing, the designers had to identify features that were typical of the waterfront house of the past. They looked into every design from Post-Modern to Minimalist in a bid to arrive at a common ground.

The final design showcased the main hallway as the centerpiece of this new home.

Nature permeates through the landscape that rolls down into the waterfront area below. Meanwhile, it serves as the dividing line between different functions on the property.

“At the time we didn’t have a specific design in mind. We just said that we preferred open spaces. My husband wanted to put Mom’s coffee shop in front. For us, we needed a piano room for practicing and giving music lessons at home. Basically, that was it,” said Kanokwan.

Hence the open interior space was the goal. The plan envisaged the main hallway, the kitchen and seating areas for everyone merging into one big space.

Waterfront House
The coffee shop features a sundeck that looks out over the waterfront area. (An interior makeover project was underway on the day we visited.)
The white exterior walls showcase sharp geometric shapes as the designer intended. Clean line design advocates the uncluttered look typical of the minimalist style and leaves plenty of room for nature to pervade.

“I like sitting here,” said Nathee referring to the big dining table.“The waterfront is on this side. Meantime, the main entrance opens to the front yard. On the other side, Kanokwan and the baby are playing on the sofa. They make for relaxing interior spaces and I like it here.

“If asked to describe this home, I will just make it brief – cozy”

Waterfront House
Like several picture frames coming together on a lush lawn, the home not only looks stylish on the outside but also adds variety to the rolling landscape.

The open plan design of the waterfront house meets the needs of this small family of three. Everyone is aware of everything that goes on inside the vibrant interior spaces. It is the kind of plan that merges all parts of the house into one great room.

The designers reserve the second floor for privacy. The first floor has a playroom for the kid and the piano room for Kanokwan. The rest is open.

Open plan design ensures that all interior spaces are easily accessible. Large windows allow abundant natural light and provide visual continuity to the water’s edge.
The child’s playroom makes way for family activity spaces for the time being. The piano was recently moved in here along with Dad’s guitar.

The property comes in two zones, business and residential. The coffee shop sits in front and is covered in natural wood palettes.

From the outside looking in, the roof design is eye-catching in every respect. As a matter of fact, its unique look is dictated by interior design needs.

The designer puts bedrooms on the second floor, leaving the spacious first floor for seating spaces. Kanokwan plans to give music lessons at home in future.

“It has to do with how we want to view the great outdoors from within the home. For this reason, the main hallway steps aside just a little bit so that the waterfront area can be seen in full view from the bedroom. Likewise, one side of the coffee shop offers a sundeck that overlooks the water’s edge.

“It is never meant to be jazzy. Rather we take into account advantages and disadvantages of every component before arriving at the final design,” Nathee explained.

Waterfront House
The homeowners wanted to leave the existing tree where it was, and the designer got that. So the terrace was built around the tree while the building itself was kept a good distance away.

By now, our readers probably feel they have been mistaken all along about design intentions. A house that looks showy at first sight may not be showy after all. Rather it is designed for easy waterfront living based on existing terrain features and homeowner needs.

All things considered, it strikes the right balance to showcase a new kind of waterfront home, one with an eye-catching minimalist style.

[left] The lacy shade of tall trees casts interesting light patterns on the home’s white exteriors. [right] An artist’s rendition shows relationships between building formations and areas near the water’s edge. The drawing demonstrates how existing trees are preserved while the land is being readied for the home project.

Owner: Nathee and Kanokwan Nateniyom

Architect: EKAR and Full Scale Studio


About the Author