Blog : chiang mai

Nong Ho Holiday Home: Tranquility in the Midst of Nature

Nong Ho Holiday Home: Tranquility in the Midst of Nature

/ Chiang Mai, Thailand /

/ Story: Sarayut Sreetip-ard / Photograph: DOF Sky/Ground, architectural film and photography service /

Nong Ho Holiday Home is a gorgeous tropical home out in the country. An escape from the fast-paced city life, the tranquil abode is intended as a family holiday home during the winter months.

holiday home Chiang Maiholiday home Chiang Mai

Nong Ho Holiday Home stands environed by the pleasant mountain base grounds at Nong Ho only a short drive from downtown Chiang Mai. Strictly speaking, green is the prime color of the surroundings, and the panorama of the mountain landscape is one of breathtaking beauty. Priceless!

Commenting on the design concept, Skarn Chaiyawat, architect and founder of his architectural firm and namesake, said:

“The 300-square-wah, rectangular site on which the house is built is exceptionally good. In the evening, lights blaze in the sky as the sun disappears over Doi Suthep that’s easily seen from a distance.

“It’s really a beautiful sight to see.”

It’s a piece of land with great potential so the main idea driving the design isn’t confined to the house alone. Rather it’s a layout that has the beauty of the natural environment at its core.

On the ground floor, open plan ideas come in handy covering a large area from the sitting room to dining room and pantry, plus a Thai style kitchen at the further end of the interior.

“After careful consideration, I chose the I-shaped house plan. The longer side of the rectangle overlooking the backyard lies facing west, thereby opening every room to the scenic beauty of a mountain landscape,” the architect explained.

holiday home Chiang Mai holiday home Chiang Maiholiday home Chiang Mai

The architect and the homeowners agreed that, to avoid looking harsh or too modern in appearance, it makes perfect sense to blend modern building materials with heritage products in the locality. The result is a modern vernacular home that boasts the richness of natural textures.

It’s built of reclaimed teakwood from old houses in the area and roofed over with clay tiles made the old-fashioned way by local artisans. House floors and parts of the walls are covered in glazed clay tiles made by Mae Rim Ceramics in Chiang Mai.

All told, it’s a beautifully semi-handcrafted home that’s original and unique in its own special way. Plus, it helps reduce impacts on the environment.

holiday home Chiang Mai holiday home Chiang Mai

The more open the house plan, the more exposure it gets to sunlight and moisture. Here, the problem is corrected by constructing elegant extended eaves around the house.

Where appropriate, several arrays of retro-inspired bamboo louvres protect the house from the elements, meanwhile providing a delicate aperture to the delightful view.

Together they reduce the heat, allow in gentle breezes along the east and west facades, and offer the benefit of adding decorative privacy screens to the home.

holiday home Chiang Mai holiday home Chiang Mai holiday home Chiang Mai holiday home Chiang Mai

Here’s what we found. A good home isn’t made for comfortable living alone. It must also be capable of promoting good physical and mental health.

Although it has a street frontage, the family’s right to privacy is jealously guarded. There’s a backyard swimming pool for exercise. Looking out the window, a spectacular mountain view can be seen from a distance. There’s plenty of room left to grow a vegetable garden, too.

In essence, it’s a way of creating an ecology of nature-human interactions.

holiday home Chiang Mai holiday home Chiang Mai holiday home Chiang Mai holiday home Chiang Mai holiday home Chiang Mai

The architect wrapped it up nicely:

“Even while indoors we can hear birds sing and gentle breezes rustle in the trees, plus the sweet smell of plants and rain in the yard. No need to turn on air conditioning all the time.

“It’s a beautiful natural setting that brings peace of mind. For us, that’s the definition of a holiday home.”


Skarn Chaiyawat, Krit Chatikavanij, Phuwadol Khummali, Punika Chaiyawat



A Glimpse into the World of Rare Foliage Plants, Beautiful Garden by Bensley Design Studios

A Glimpse into the World of Rare Foliage Plants, Beautiful Garden by Bensley Design Studios

Bensley Design Studios is a design firm with many world-class hotels to its credit. Notable among these are the Four Seasons Tented Camp, the Four Seasons Koh Samui, the Kempinski Udaipur, the Siam, and the Indigo Pearl to name a few. Founded by Bill Bensley, who collabed with business partner Jirachai Rengthong, the firm has won acclaim for outstanding works in architecture, interior decoration, garden design and landscape development.

Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, ThailandBensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand

“Botanica Garden” is a nursery in Chiang Mai that’s home to hundreds of leaf plant species that Jirachai, an avid horticulturist, has cultivated over many years. It’s an oasis of beautifully maintained greenery that proves a perfect complement to the works of Bensley Design Studios. Some of the young plants grown here are offered for purchase at Kham Thiang Market, Chiang Mai’s largest botanical marketplace.

Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Sunlight gives bromeliad plants their bright color and beautiful form. Bromeliad requires direct sun for only half a day. In a nursery, mesh fabric capable of 50 to 60 percent protection will suffice.

Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Variegated Malayan spurge trees are succulent plants in the Euphorbia family. They thrive in full sun. Plant stems will grow tall and turn mostly green if placed in low light conditions.

For several decades Jirachai has nurtured and grown foliage plants and tropical species from across the globe at this nursery. He started out with varieties of bromeliad, cordyline or good luck plants, philodendron, aglaonema, anthurium, calathea, and agave before moving on to a detailed study in plant behavior and the breeding of plant specimens by natural processes.

As Jirachai put it, “Normally, after we buy unfamiliar species native to the equatorial climate zone, we try propagating them from the parent stock and observe how they respond to new environments. Every detail counts. Some species perform better in Chiang Mai producing brighter color leaves than they do in Bangkok. Interestingly, others fare badly when planted in the ground. Some species thrive in full sun, while others can tolerate partial shade. We also discover that cordyline or good luck plants perform better in soil than in organic coconut husk pieces. They don’t shed leaves when planted in soi, but they do when put in coconut husk.”

Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Philodendron is no stranger among garden growers. Available in many different colors and leaf forms, they are good for interior decoration and make great garden attractions.

Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Panama hat palms are known for beautiful leaves that resemble fan blades. They don’t grow very tall, which makes them suitable for planting as privacy screen.

Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Plants in the family Araceae come in a wide variety of growth forms, both terrestrial and aquatic.

Offering an open view of the surrounding area, the nursery is canopied by black mesh fabric that gives protection from the sun. Plants that thrive in partial sun are grown here. They are safe in the hands of experienced gardeners.

“Propagation by air layering is a method that should be used in a bid to prevent plants from shedding leaves. Once roots have sufficiently developed, the stem can be cut from the parent plant and potted up. This allows the new plant to grow into naturally beautiful form. As for philodendron, coconut husk pieces are preferred over soil,” Jirachai explained. Apart from the propagation of plant species for decoration and sale, the nursery also specializes in cross breeding to produce desirable features in one offspring. Some young plants are so original and unique that they can fetch as much as a million baht.

Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Foliage plants, such as croton, enjoy full sun to produce brilliant color.

“Caring for plants the right way, only Osmocoat fertilizer is added to soil once every three months, while 16-16-16 fertilizer is used once a month. As for bromeliad, ferns, and philodendron, Osmocoat alone will suffice. This fertilizer is effective in stimulating growth in potted plants. The same applies to ferns, but it should be diluted with water and given using sprayers.”

“Pests that attack these plants aren’t many. They include varieties of coccidae, or scale insects, and fungal infections that happen in the rainy season. Sprayed insecticides will likely stay long enough to have effect. Philodendron and anthurium can be raised as indoor houseplants. Give them just enough water and avoid being waterlogged. Place containers where it’s well ventilated. To protect against fungal infections, avoid moist or wet locations.”

Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, ThailandBensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand Bensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, ThailandBensley Design Studios, Botanica Garden, Beautiful Garden, Chiang Mai, Thailand

That concludes our handy hints and a guide to leaf plant care. For more information, drop by Botanica Garden, or give them a visit at Kham Thiang Market next time you’re in Chiang Mai.

Story: Panchach
Photographs: Sitthisak

Furniture Ideas for Spa and Health Resorts

Furniture Ideas for Spa and Health Resorts

Inspiring design creates meaningful first impressions. It adds value to a brand, and make the product and service memorable. That’s reason enough for a team of Thai designers and business owners to put their heads together and create furniture that gives a further boost to the spa, wellness, and health resort industry.



The team also get the help they need from the Institute for Small and Medium Enterprise Development (ISMED), a division of the Ministry of Industry; and the Creative Economy Agency (CEA), a public organization.

To introduce new design into their business, they work jointly with a select team of craftsmen from the Handicraft Retailers Group of Baan Tawai in Chiang Mai, the Furniture Carpenters Group of Sukhothai, and the Office of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion (OSMEP).

Good design matters to the spa and health resort industry. This “Crafted Journey” furniture set is a product of collaboration with the Handicraft Retailers Group of Baan Tawai in Chiang Mai and the Furniture Carpenters Group of Sukhothai.

Beautifully crafted of rain-tree wood, these duo planters are inspired by flower garland pendants. – From Rungnirand. Designed by Sarisa Viraporn.

“Dwelling of Satisfaction”, a lighted curio cabinet set with antique finish and handy hints about the Thai way. — From Nantiya Décor. Designed by Rush Pleansuk.

The collaborative project aptly named “Crafted Journey” has Siriwan Tempati as team leader. Distinguished members include Rush Pleansuk of the design studio “Sumphat Gallery”, Sarinya Limthongtip of the “Srinlim” brand, and Sarisa Viraporn of the furniture store “Brezza Dee”.

The project debuted its products recently during the “Style Bangkok” event, and will go on show at the Chiang Mai Design Week 2019, which will take place on 7-15 December. Plenty of inspiring designs. See for yourself if you are in town during this time.

Designed to blend in with a round lounge chair, this rope weave partition can be set up vertically or horizontally. — From Chakriya. Designed by Rush Pleansuk.

A two-piece celadon tea set portraying mountain scenery and geometric shape art. — From Chiang Mai Celadon. Designed by Sarinya Limthongtip.

A handcrafted mirror frame inspired by lotuses in full bloom. Lotuses are symbols of purity. — From Bamboosay Craft. Designed by Sarisa Viraporn.

A set of table and curio cabinet gets its inspiration from stupas and other Buddhist shrines around the ancient capital Sukhothai. – From the Wood Handicrafts Cooperative of Baan Ram Yai. Designed by Sarisa Viraporn.

“Pigoon Sri”, antique inspired lanterns with a bullet-wood floral pattern on stained glass casing — From Mai Goft. Designed by Sarisa Viraporn.

“Chabaprai”, a set of stackable accessory containers handcrafted the old-fashioned way, available in both wood stain and color paint. – From Chabaprai. Designed by Sarinya Limthongtip.

“Trayble” is a set of table and tray crafted of teak. The wood tray can detach from the tabletop when needed. — From Baurieo. Designed by Sarisa Viraporn.

Round tables with complementing lounge chair and antique armoire present a relaxing provincial ensemble in the parlor designed for receiving guests.

Paper Series A: A Compact Tropical House in Chiang Mai

Paper Series A: A Compact Tropical House in Chiang Mai

/ Chiang Mai, Thailand /
/ Story: Wuttikorn Suthiapa / Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul /

In house design, the phrase “limited space” raises worrisome questions for some. Here, though, owner Ek (Sarin Nilsonthi) used modern tropical design techniques and inner space connectivity to build large-house functionality and comfort into a compact area.

“I designed this house on one A4 sheet of paper,” Ek says with a smile.

“Since it’s small, I tried to write down all the functionality we’d need on a single sheet of paper, and named the house ‘PSA,’ from ‘Paper Series A.’ The name actually has nothing to do with the A4 paper dimensions, it’s just an attempt at humor.”

Compact Tropical House

This “compact tropical” house is all about size and proportion. Posts and beams are angled and separated in unusual ways to create the right kind of space in each place.

“We didn’t set the beams and posts this way because we wanted to, but in order to set things up in the right way. Still, anyone living in this house will have to be the same height as my wife and I, ha ha!”

Compact Tropical House

Coming in, the first thing we see is a large steel panel, which Ek leaves rusted to show a stylish authenticity of construction materials; this panel shields the second floor from heat while showing off the shipping-container design of the office area. Below is a carport paved with fine gravel reaching up to the house entrance.

Compact Tropical House
Carport and relaxation area beneath the container-shaped office

Compact Tropical House

Ek intentionally shortened the fence, bringing it inwards to create a clearly defined “inside the fence” area, a gravel yard with benches and trees which actually becomes a part of the house itself. The house walls are rough concrete all around, and H-beams sunk into the yard support the office section, which is raised above a lower area where Ek and his wife Pla (Pairin Boonpinid ) plan to open a café in the future.

Compact Tropical House
This inside tree is integral to the design, adding shade and a refreshing atmosphere

Inside, on the lower floor living room, dining area, and kitchen are all connected, each ceiling at a different level.

For good ventilation and a sense of spaciousness, the living room ceiling is “doublespace.” Ceilings in the dining area and kitchen are lower, with electric lighting giving them each a unique identity.

The staircase has no railing, so is accessed from any direction; you can just walk down to sit and relax in the dining area, which is also used to store kitchen necessities: spices, condiments, even a refrigerator.

Living room with “doublespace” ceiling and tall glass windows on both sides

Living room with “doublespace” ceiling and tall glass windows on both sides

Openings perfectly arranged to let in air and light for a spacious feeling

Going up the stairs and turning left brings us into the container-shaped office, the rusted outer wall reaching up to the third floor as protection against heat.

The container surface is rainproof, with a layer of insulation between it and a pressed wood surface that gives an orderly look to the interior.

On this floor also is a guest bedroom, currently used as a reading room, but planned as AirB&B tourist accommodation once the café opens.

The workroom opens to greenery on both sides, and includes storage space and a large table for work and meetings

The workroom opens to greenery on both sides, and includes storage space and a large table for work and meetings

The master bedroom entrance is in back, along a walkway next to the kitchen; Ek designed it as a separate building, so as to remain private when the café/hostel section opens, accessible without going through other sections of the house.

Here the floor is raised up above the ground as protection against moisture, and there is a skylight above for indirect lighting.

This bedroom has a “floating” storage space above reached by ladder, clothes closet below, a bed directly on the floor to give more space, and a bare cement ceiling positioned for to reflect light indirectly

A tree reaches up into the second floor, its top directly in front of the office’s picture window.

This and other features combine to give this compact house a comfortable, airy feeling, enhanced by imaginative placement of openings for breezes and natural light.

Ek refers to the greenery and openness as creating “breathing space,” as rooms are all interconnected, airy, sunny, and in touch with the natural world.

Compact House
Bedroom in back has a slightly raised floor

Ek likens this house design to a well-tailored suit: the tailor has to measure, ask about the wearer’s taste, and plan everything to be comfortable and pleasing.

Architect: D KWA Architectural Design Studio

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Good Old Days: A Lovely Wooden House with Panoramic Views

Good Old Days: A Lovely Wooden House with Panoramic Views

/ Chiang Mai, Thailand /

/ Story: Patsiri Chotpongsun / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Sitthisak Namkham /

Turning left into a side street opposite Chiang Mai’s Mae Rim district bureau, rice fields on both sides of the road have matured and only just begun to bear fruit. In the middle of it, all emerged a two-storey wooden house with vintage Thai-style appeal. It stood hemmed in by tall trees and lush green lawns. This two-storey wooden house showcases a mix of concrete and timber, its wide façade looking out on a fabulous panorama of mountains and paddy fields.


wooden house
Open-back bookshelves contribute to an airy interior made for lounging, reading, and viewing pictures in the gallery.

wooden house


Anchan, the housedog, gave a welcome bark, followed by greetings from the mustached host, “TomApichai Wangtragul. He introduced us to his better half, “SaaNarawan Rajchasee Wangtragul, AKA the heart of the house. The Retro look of her Thai-style sarong matched the atmosphere of the home named “Good Old Days.

“Back in Lampang we had a small coffee shop offering snacks and selling guitars. It was very warm there, so we started looking for a new home in good weather. We found one on Google, not far from where we wanted to build our first home in Chiang Mai. One day that piece of land was up for sale, and we were lucky to have bought it,” Saa said.

Tom was teaching draftsmanship courses in Lampang, when they met, and the rest is history.

In Chiangmai, he designed the new wooden house after first setting up a model to determine effects of different building orientations at various times of day. He kept track of amounts of sun and natural air circulation and used the information to aid in the design.

The result was a home that fit in well with its natural surroundings and weather conditions.

As he puts it, “The home facing west gets a full dose of afternoon sun. The glare can be felt, no doubt, but the trade-off is worth it.

Panoramic sunsets can be seen every day.” To solve the problem, he has put in moveable latticework, which reduces the sun’s harsh glare.

wooden house
The kitchen counter boasts naked concrete finishes similar to those found in coffee shops.

wooden house
A draftsman’s desk sits by the window that opens to take in cool breezes and views of the surrounding landscape.

“I grew up in a wooden house on the water’s edge. I told him I wanted one with a shed roof made of corrugated sheets just like old times,” Saa recalled.

“Tom said that could not be done. So we built our new home using metal sheet roofing instead. I wanted doors with plantation shutters and places to showcase collectibles that we have cherished for a long time.”

Tom made sure his loved one got what she wanted. He searched and found reclaimed timber in Sanpatong and paired them with old wood imported from Lampang.

The timber supplies included Burma padauk wood, ironwood, and teak. The couple sought blessings for peace and prosperity before every piece was put to good use.

Apart from carpentry details, Tom is passionate about modern style with an emphasis on naked concrete finishes. Together they make the building feel light.

The interior living spaces are light and naturally ventilated, thanks to plenty of openings on all sides. Each function area is clearly defined with floating furniture for easy updates.

This design concept applies to the sofa in the living room and the dining table by the rear windows. The kitchen comes fully equipped, as their house becomes a home-stay destination.

The couple does everything in-house from selecting natural ingredients to preparing indigenous meals. It is attention to details and good health practice that keep customers coming back.

wooden house

wooden house

Tom’s hobby projects have been the source of many décor items.

Triple-shutter design : In the Northern region, the window with three shutters in a row is generally preferred for cost effectiveness. The ingenious design needs only one latch to lock all three windows.

Tom keeps a collection of vinyl records for sentimental reasons. He likes listening to relaxing music on the old-fashioned phonograph while Saa cooks. Some of it is rare on this day and age. Here time goes by so slowly that it seems stuck in history.

The floor plan features a flight of stairs made of concrete and wooden steps. Located in the center, it keeps the two bedrooms on the first floor a good distance apart for added privacy. There are cabinets where old books and other collectibles are neatly kept. Nearby stands a gallery made for lounging, reading, and viewing pictures on the wall.

The second floor offers two good-sized bedrooms : one for guest accommodations, and the other for the couple’s exclusive use. There are antique beds in all of the bedrooms. Saa said she felt good about them knowing they came from good homes. She bought them direct from their previous owners. Between the two rooms stands an office space, where Tom spends time working at his draftsman desk. The workspace is bedecked with collectibles including old cameras and vinyl records.

As Saa puts it, “This is the wooden house that strikes the right balance for the two of us. It effectively chronicles our love story and journey through time. I am just happy being here.

“Chiangmai is such a delightful place, with canals, plenty of water, trees, and beautiful culture. During the period from November to February, our house becomes a home-stay destination.

Known as “Good Old Days,” the house has become a wholesome getaway for like-minded people. The service is not available during summer months, because we don’t use air conditioning. Time is well spent in the great outdoors.

Owner/Designer: Apichai Wangtragul


A Boutique Farm Stay in Chiang Mai

A Boutique Farm Stay in Chiang Mai

A boutique farm-stay destination in norther Thailand has provided a good example of how a business could involve the community every step of the way. It thrives on showing respect and fitting in with local ways of living. It’s secret: City and local people stand to gain from each other’s presence and coexist in peaceful harmony with nature.

/// Thailand ///
Story: Punchat /// Photography: Supakorn Srisakul, Sitthisak Namkham  /// Owner & Designer: Jak Ladpli

The farm stay offers four rooms with garden views at the rear of the building, one on each floor.

An architect from Bangkok recently started the boutique farm-stay in Mae Rim District, a 15-minute drive from central Chiang Mai. In a unique way he adapted to be in sync with the new environment and still remained very much in vogue. How did they do it? The answer can be found at the wholesome destination called “Chic 39.”

Farm stay owner Jak “Joke” Ladpli said his was an interesting piece of architecture in the middle of a lush landscape. Chic 39 is offering guest accommodation and operating in conjunction with the surrounding community. It thrives on a simple concept — Make the space modern and keep decor local.

“Call it modern local if you will,” said Joke. “As newcomers, we respect the community, its people, and their ways of life. In our hearts we are modern, kind of like a man donning business attire. But such a formal outfit would be out of place here. The contrast would be too obvious. So we chose a modern cube-shaped design, and paired it with materials that represented local values and wisdom.”

“That’s the metaphor defining our design concept. Like a business outfit made of folk fabric known as “Mo Hom,” the hotel building offers textures and finishing touches crafted of materials that are readily available locally. They include bamboo, palm tree trunks, and old-fashioned corrugated sheets.”

The farm stay involves the community in its day-to-day operations. Joke said: “In this area 4-5 villages are actively engaged in flower farming. Having done it for several generations, the growers produce cut flowers for a wide variety of decorations, from shops to hotels to even food. Especially yellow chrysanthemums, they prefer to grow them during winter months.”

Flower growers leave electric lights on at least three hours after sunset. Increased exposure to light helps flower stems grow a bit longer in time for harvesting.

At night the weather is cold, and the flower farm is aglow with colorful neon lights. “If you don’t feel like going to bed early, just hang out and enjoy the views,” Joke said, adding, “In fact, the lights are left on for a good reason. Increased exposure to light helps flower stems grow longer before they are harvested the morning after. “If you are an early riser, put on a pair of boots and go help the planters harvest some flowers.”

A Trendsetting Row House Renovation in Chiang Mai

A Trendsetting Row House Renovation in Chiang Mai

/ Chiang Mai, Thailand /

/ Story: Atta Otto / Photographs: Sungwan Phratem /

Plankrich, led by Kwanchai Suthamsao, is known as a trendsetter in row house renovation. He decided to build a home of his own in Chiang Mai. His fans and admirers may expect to see exciting construction techniques and exquisite materials, but it turned out the design was kept simple. Kwanchai’s main goal was building a house to meet his urban lifestyle. Thus, the prime location is in the inner Chiang Mai city.

The newly designed front façade boasts an interesting mix of lightweight materials. Weathered boards in slightly varying shades complement the pastel gray of fine-ribbed, corrugated metal sheets.

“A detached home was out of the question, the land was very expensive. Another option was a row house. After the survey, I chose this three-unit shop house. The size was right, I was able to give it a complete makeover.”

The old staircase was removed to make room for a new set of stairs supported by an I-shaped steel beam.

Kwanchai literally removed everything, including the old stairways for the row house renovation. The only remaining were pillars and beams.

The floor plans for all three units were completely redesigned. He wanted each unit to have its own characteristic, but the space was limited. So, he only focused on making the right corner look different instead.

The small guest room with a bunk-bed is tucked away at the far end of the first floor.

The small guest room is tucked away at the far end of the first floor. Custom-designed double bunks make it suitable for sleeping two guests.

The mezzanines were taken out. The omnipresence of reclaimed wood beams and floorboards brings back vintage charms. On the ground floor, sits a compact 2-person guest bedroom and a carport.

A chunky upholstered sofa adds warm, cozy feelings to the interior. A window covers with a wooden blind allows natural light to shine through.

The second floor is neatly designed for multiple uses. The sitting room is in the front section, the dining space in the middle, and the kitchen and bathroom in the back. The dining area is a bit narrowed, to make room for the stairway.

The décor exposes the owner’s love for vintage collectables. Oblique-aligned wooden wall and floorboards give a warm, homey feeling.

The second floor features a dining space. The floor and the walls are covered in recycled boards from the homeowner’s collection.

L-shaped design turns the small kitchen into a fluent cooking area. Cabinet doors in neutral shades make the room light and bright.

Every space is neatly planned. The aisle separates the microwave and convection ovens from the washer and dryer. The door at the far end opens to the dining room.

On the third floor, the bedroom in the front section is kept clean and uncluttered. In-room dressing room and bathroom are separated by a sliding door.

The interior continues to be a neutral shade for relaxation. The décor is minimal with only a few essential pieces of furniture.

The bedroom is kept clean and uncluttered to provide a balance for limited spaces. The walls are covered in beech boards. Large sliding doors open to the cube-shaped glass enclosure that adorns the front façade.

The changing room-cum-walk-in closet offers wardrobes on both sides of the aisle, which connects to the bathroom at the far end.

The key to this row house renovation is reclaimed wood. Added for more natural light are wide windows. The result is an airy house, one that is small but has everything for a vibrant city lifestyle.

A glass wall with a sliding door separates the laid-back sitting room from a compact semi-outdoor space. An opening in the exterior wall allows diffused natural light into the living space and the stairway.

[left]The midway landing offers a built-in cabinet made of reclaimed boards. [right] On the way up, shoes are neatly stored here.
[left] Marks on the wall and concrete frame tell stories of a recent home makeover project. The owner intentionally left them as a personal reminder. [right] A rusty sconce adds vintage charm to the naked concrete wall. Beneath is a wood box storage for home improvement tools.

Owner: Kwanchai Suthamsao

Architect: Plankrich Co.,Ltd. ( by Kwanchai Suthamsao


Baan Muan: Minimal Thai-Style Waterfront House

Baan Muan: Minimal Thai-Style Waterfront House

/ Chiang Mai, Thailand /

/ Story: Wuthikorn Suthiapa / Photographs: Sitthisak Namkham /

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


“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.

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 home 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.

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”

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.

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