BANGKOK / Here’s the story of a home renovation done right. Cherishing memories of the good old days, Chatchawan and Punjama Lertbutsayanukul recently had grandma and grandpa’s house restored to its former glory. They sought advice from Jun Sekino of Jun Sekino A+D, who turned it into a beautifully crafted home with added personality and character.
Sharing his renovation ideas, Jun Sekino said: “After having talked with the homeowners, we were determined to keep the front-gable house plan very much intact. Several inspection visits in the ensuing days also gave me some ideas to do it right. It was like a journey back in time to preserve all its 1940’s splendor.”
The 80-year-old house soon transformed into a new home that’s more warm and inviting. It’s aptly named “Nobita House” after the much-loved, fictional boy character in the 1970’s cartoon series “Doraemon”. In the fewest possible words, it’s about rebuilding for a better future.
Restoring the old house to a good state of repair, the architect made sure the original framework was not damaged or impaired in any way. Thanks to collaboration with a team of structural engineers, the carport was reinforced to make it capable of accommodating two vehicles side by side. The front façade was built of reclaimed timber from the old house installed vertically with protective finishes over the top to protect it from the elements.
The gable roof was improved using new material and sloping at an angle that’s proper under the circumstances. To make room for a higher ceiling, the second floor was built 1.50 meters taller than the original plan. On the ground floor, suspended panels were removed to reveal awesome ceilings with exposed wood beams. At the same time, wood windows and extra units of construction were added on to increase the floor space from 100 to 300 square meters.
Where appropriate, a system of micropiles was erected to carry an additional load. The covered shelter in front of the entrance was enlarged, while the side of the house reserved for shoe storage connected conveniently to the carport. Meantime, fully open layouts translate into better natural light and ample space for social cohesiveness. On one side, the exterior glass wall looks out over a backyard garden. On another lies a corridor leading to a small courtyard at the rear.
Thanks to open floor plans, the interior living spaces are easy on the eye. White walls with stained wood trim paired with natural light streaming in through the overhead transom create the illusion of a larger space. Nearby, white screens and Terrazzo floors combine to add vintage touches to home décor. Meanwhile, structural components made of steel, if any, are painted white to blend harmoniously with light backgrounds.
The second floor contains workspace with wood windows that evoke memories of years past. Wall paneling is flush with adjoining post and beam construction. The door frame with overhead transom is glazed using patterned glass. Not far away lies the restful master bedroom that’s furnished in a simple style. The old living quarters for house workers accessible by a mosaic walkway remain intact. It’s separated from a nearby outdoor laundry room by steel railing along the edge.
There are tall buildings nearby, while the house ground level is lower than the street. To effectively drain rainwater from the yard, decorative landscaping gravel is used. This is where garden designer Premrudee Cheewakoseth comes into play and where possible turns the ground into beautiful Japanese rock gardens.
Trees that are planted for shade include Jackfruit and bamboo, while Mini Mondo Grass or Sneak Beard provides a lush ground covering. To avoid looking too Japanese, small terraces with garden path are put in. Overall, the house boasts certain appeal similar to that of the house of “Nobita”, the much-loved, fictional boy character in the famous cartoon series “Doraemon”.
Design: Jun Sekino A+D
Landscape design: D.garden design by Premrudee Cheewakoseth
Owners: Chatchawan and Punjama Lertbutsayanukul
Story: Samutcha Viraporn
Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul
Style: Suanpuk Stylist
A renovation done right turns this 40-year-old house into a white minimalist home that oozes charm and character. It’s spacious with all mod cons. The original frame of the house is retained, but important interventions are added to improve structural integrity, enhance indoor comfort and boost curb appeal. Among them, an array of vertical blades provides vital sun shading integrated in the façade.
Condominium living is awesome for young adults and families without kids. But as their family grew, Prem and Wasinee Chatmanop soon found it unfit to answer their lifestyle needs. That was reason enough to go searching for a house to buy starting from their familiar neighborhood. Call it serendipity. It wasn’t long before the couple found a fixer-upper located on a 40-year-old housing development in Choke Chai 4 area. The house was in poor condition and had to be a completely renovated. A lot had to be demolished, from the floors to walls to ceilings that had fallen into decay. Only the beams, poles and gable roof trusses that were part of the original load bearing structure were preserved.
Out with the old, in with the new
“I went out and looked at several houses. In the end, I was really pleased that I chose this one. The old house sat on nice square shape land 100 square wah in extent that was characteristic of housing estates in the past. I had a team of building engineers do a structural integrity assessment to determine it was good to buy. The house’s interior was old and in disrepair. So we left the renovation project in the good hands of architect Sitthichai Chompooh of the Perspective design studio. We specifically chose to have him do it after having seen his work in ‘The Renovation’, a BaanLaeSuan TV program. It happened to be the style that I liked,” said Prem.
At first, the architect was a bit concerned since the old house was built on a slope below the street level. In spite of that, he was attracted by the gable roof that was the popular appeal in the old days. This made it possible to create an open concept floor plan that seamlessly merged with a lush green side garden. The result was a complete transformation that offered 287 square meters of living spaces.
Sharing his experience, Sitthichai said: “The ground floor was further elevated by 30 centimeters to prevent groundwater flooding. Then, the old false ceiling suspended from the structure above was removed to create more headroom. Next, everything that had been added to the existing construction was demolished to make room for a new open floor plan. This included taking out the old floors, walls and extensions that were damaged over a long period of time.”
Higher floor, more windows, and continuous flow
The renovation project started with further elevating the ground floor to put it higher than street level. Then, the entire floor plan was reorganized and the exterior redesigned. This results in bigger windows that allow for natural daylighting and the interconnectedness between spaces.
The highlight of his design is a spacious interior that brings indoor and outdoor rooms together to form a larger whole. Plus, the atmosphere is relaxing, thanks to side garden ideas that bring the benefits of natural light into the interior. All of this is achieved without making changes to the original framework of the house. Where appropriate, unnecessary details are reduced and important units of construction added to enhance structural integrity. In the meantime, green spaces are integrated in the design for indoor thermal comfort, while simple clean lines create a warm and inviting place to unwind after a long day at work.
Taking everything into account, it’s an amazing house makeover, one that transforms an old-fashioned fixer-upper into a modern minimalist home that reflects the personality of the people living in it.
A cool and restful home close to nature
Slightly off-white walls go best with wood accents. The gray tinge is a winner with soft, weathered wood trim. It’s a contemporary calming color scheme just right for an open floor plan that extends from the living room to dining room to pantry. That way a feeling of continuous flow is created, and it makes perfect sense to float a sofa in the middle of a large room. From the inside, the living room is enclosed by glass window walls that look out over a lush green side garden, a visual of the design that makes the homeowner couple very happy.
Sharing her experience, Wasinee said: “We spend the most time here in this area, unlike at the condo where the kitchen was isolated from the rest of the interior. The floor plan layout contains a variety of functions separated from one another by furniture rather than being enclosed by walls. It’s an open concept design that promotes social interactions. Prem sits here at his desk. I can see the kid playing at the sofa while preparing a meal in the kitchen nearby. It’s a flexible layout that’s easy to update. For the time being, the more space, the better. The child is growing up fast, and more furniture will be added in future.”
The renovation project benefits from large openings in the wall that let natural light stream into the interior living spaces. In the meantime, privacy is very important and needs to be protected. This explains why only the side of the house facing the solid wall of an adjacent townhouse is open for daylighting and connecting seamlessly with a side garden. Commenting on the renovation plan, the architect said:
“We put in a sundeck patio that’s easily accessible from the dining room. It serves multiple purposes. Where appropriate, vertical fin facades are erected to shield the house from the sun while allowing natural ventilation and daylighting. The upright structure also doubles as outdoor privacy wall.”
Taken as a whole, the ground floor is very well thought out. To prevent the living room from smelling like food, an enclosed kitchen is built at the rear of the house that’s devoted to Thai cooking. The back of the house also has a bedroom kept out of sight in one of the quietest locations. The second floor has three bedrooms, the largest of which affords a garden view from above.
In a few words, the renovation project brings new ideas and energy to an old house after it was vacant for many years. Done right, the old-fashioned gable roof house completely transforms into an awesome minimalist home oozing with charm. Simple, clean lines give the house its character as well as beauty. Above all, it’s a piece of architecture that connects past, present, and future.
Interior decorator Pauline and nationally known architect Somrit Soonthornrungsi have spent their lives in this mid-city house. Once it had a flooding problem downstairs; that plus termites and general deterioration meant it was continually under repair. At first they thought to build a completely new house, but out of nostalgia and time constraints decided to do a major renovation instead.
“Our daughter grew up here and was upset that we were going to demolish it, so I thought, ‘why not combine old and new?’ The result was a balanced, harmonious creation with a courtyard for breezes to pass through,” said Somrit.
As we look in from the front door the original house is on the right, across an open courtyard with planted walkway, and the second-floor verandah connects to the new house on the left. The old house is of wood and masonry, with mortar stripped to show the traditional brick. Downstairs is Somrit’s small workshop and a bike storage space, with the floor raised higher to avoid flooding from street level. The new section of the house is connected, but quite different because of its steel-frame construction. On the ground floor there is the company office.
The second floor is Pauline and Somrit’s main living area, connecting to the old house through the courtyard. There is a living room on the right before the large indoor kitchen, which retains its original makha wood flooring but was repainted black to match the black synthetic wood of the exterior, for an informal, natural feeling to complement the green view of plants and trees outside the glass walls.
Their daughter’s room, set up like a New York loft apartment, is on the third floor. At two points a mezzanine stairway connects the central porch to the rear verandah, from which you can clearly see the 2 floors of the old house. They all lived in the house during construction of a new, steel-framed gabled roof over the old one, which was finally torn out when construction was finished, leaving the kitchen ceiling to follow the new roof angles.
“The roof is a special black version of Shera’s “U-Slate” line. I’ve loved black since childhood, said Pauline. “When I was a kid I wanted to paint my bedroom black, but my parents wouldn’t let me!” The chic interior design work has black everywhere. The large kitchen is in tribute to both her mother-side relatives and her father, who love to cook. Besides the big kitchen pantry counter being a great place to socialize, it’s also good for informal dining.
Pauline selected furniture and décor in a “mix and match” style controlled by color, some items primarily functional and others reflecting personal style, combining old and new, cheap and expensive.
“It’s comfortable because this really reflects our way of life: the house isn’t built for show,” said Pauline’s father, “and we don’t want to be climbing up and down a lot of stairs in the day. Since coming here we’ve confined business matters to downstairs, and it’s a comfortable walk up to the second floor. The longer we’re here, the more we like it. Looking back, the old house seems stuffy, not a lot of open windows. Our lives changed after the switch.
“At first we thought the courtyard would be too small, but in the end, it worked out great!”
Once light and wind directions were figured in, design principles were applied to open the structure up, and the house clearly became more than brick, cement, wood, and steel, a happy combination of old and new narratives.
Somrit added “It’s impressive. Once the rooms were finished, furniture in, lights and water on, our home came to life anew. It’s a great comfort.”
Before moving into this 3-storey Chaeng Watthana townhouse, Architect and university instructor Bhradon Kukiatnun really put his heart into the design and décor to bring about a conversation among people, animals, and things, partly intentional, part by impulse. Here are imperfections that are either blemishes or beauty marks, depending on our viewpoint.
Bhradon’s business is booming, but designing his own house raised a tremendous number of new questions, not the least of which was how the new living space would accommodate his eleven cats!
“Three years ago I bought this place new, and it took 2 years to fix up. First problem: organize storage space to hold the tremendous amount of personal stuff needed in my life while still keeping the house orderly. Then, I didn’t want a typical town house atmosphere, but neither should it be jarringly different. Part of the answer is this new façade, using a type of latticework found elsewhere in the project that fits my personal lifestyle.
“There’s more than meets the eye in that front view: a lot of the functions are hidden,” explained Bhradon, as most town houses add a roofed-over carport in front. “To really express myself I had to go back and look at fundamentals with flexibility and an open mind. The space in front is limited. Would I rather have a carport there, or a garden? OK, garden: so I designed a garden where I could park the car! Quite different from having a carport decorated with plants.”
The design called for no structural alterations, but space was apportioned differently. The ground floor holds the living room, dining area, and pantry; second floor, a small bedroom and a workroom; third floor, the master bedroom. “Inside you might mistake a door for a wall, or vice versa: my overall concept was to focus on highlighting specific points, making them fit in by hiding some elements. In the living room, the TV wall is highlighted by hiding its functionality in a wall; the use of covering elements gives the feeling of being in a cave.”
During our conversation Ando, Bhradon’s first adopted cat snuggled up as if to join the group. “I learned a lot from raising cats,” he said, “they don’t think like people. Sometimes our human knowledge drowns out our instincts. But a cat! It wants to sit, lie wherever, just does what it wants. This allows single things to have more than one function: TV cabinet or sitting place? Or, for us, a storage spot. Think outside the box.”
We urban-dwellers all long for nature. Bhradon answered this with a garden area in the rear of the house: “I think gardens nourish the psyche, so I put a little green in the house, along with a small guppy pond, and it’s a perfect spirit-refresher.
“I like the ‘wabi-sabi’ way of design; the beauty of imperfection, of real life. Real life involves rust; it involves injuries. Can’t eliminate these, right? Recently my cat Kuma died, and I miss her every day. But through the sorrow of loss we see the beauty of living. Being natural is to be incomplete, and we have to live with the things that happen.” As Bhradon’s speaking voice gradually softened, an unspoken conversation brought into focus the future of the house, the man, and the cats, and whatever might lie ahead for them.
“My mother was born here, but we moved before I was two. After building it up from 2 storeys to 2½ storeys, my aunt continued to use it as an office. However, that business ended many years ago, and it has been only two years since we began making plans for renovation and conversion to fulfill our long-time dream of a guest house and a café.”
This area’s former prosperity is apparent in traces of European colonial-style architecture and bustling alleys that now welcome international tourists and backpackers to the charm of its storied history. Mou and architect Pok (Wachirasak Maneewatanaperk) from sea.monkey.coconut share views on the value of preserving history through architecture.
“Renovating this great old building, I didn’t want to change a lot. But I discovered it had already changed. An upper floor had been added, and it had been expanded out back as far as it could go. The entire second-storey wooden floor had been covered with another material. In line with building preservation guidelines, Mou and I decided to make clear distinctions between old and new. We kept intact the front wall and brick walls all around, chiseling off interior mortar to show weight-bearing structures, including wood wall beams fitted into brick arches, and we kept the charming mortared patterns of the original roof.”
For warming the heart, the morning sunshine is no match for fragrant fresh-brewed coffee topped with milk foam and a gold-skinned croissant just out of chef Lolo’s oven, amid a modern-vintage atmosphere with a touch of French and British, Thai and Chinese styles integrated seamlessly into an elegant whole. The lower floor is chic travelers’ café, a wooden stairway stretching up to guest rooms above. Visitors might wonder about the functionality of the steel poles they see set at intervals throughout. AS Pok explained,
“This area is a walled-in rectangle, and without changing outer walls and structure at all we’ve created a new house within the frame of the old one, sinking micro pilings into the root foundation and installing all new support pillars. It was important to keep the new structure separate. Concrete flooring was poured on the ground level and separated by a foam at the joints where it meets the original walls. These “expansion joints” keep outer and inner structures from being attached, so if the floor subsides, it won’t pull a wall down with it. On the second level, we’d intended to keep the original wood flooring, but found irreparable termite damage, so we had to replace it. Behind the house we changed to steel and drywall construction to install walls and latticework. Building here was difficult because of the limited space. Fronting on a narrow street made delivery difficult. There was nowhere to stack & store materials, so all work had to begin inside. When the inside was done, we brought in the materials stored outside and switched to working on the front. There was a lot of planning involved to make it possible for the craftsmen to be able to work at all.”
Row houses lasting more than a hundred years naturally tell stories with marks from sun and wind, just as with marks left on our lives by travel. Leaving to study and live in England for more than twenty years Mou could never have expected the winds would slowly blow her back to her origins with a new feeling, one born of love and dreams.
The word “Chez” is French, meaning “at,” or “at the home of,” hence the name: Mou has opened her home to welcome friends at “Chez Mou,” where stories are told by marks on bricks and sweet smiles. Here is a place full of feeling of release from travel, and full of a bittersweet, gentle fragrance.
Starting life as a married couple, lovebirds Sitthidej Chirapanda and Nicha Pongstaporn took on the challenge of renovating Sitthidej’s sister’s old bedroom. After dividing a second-floor usable space of 70 square meters into living room and bedroom, they added in the 20-square-meter octagonal loft to create an art gallery.
Architects from Fatt! Studio took on the job, and kept the original structure almost intact, but did save space by changing the floating staircase from its original design to a helical (spiral) one, adding an implicit eye-catching point of interest to the space. This required careful measurement to get the proportions right, so tall people wouldn’t hit the ceiling going up. Here, too, the meticulous, painstaking work of master craftsmen was employed in creating a finely detailed brick wall. After a first coat of plain white paint they daubed, trimmed, and polished the bricks in different spots piece by piece to create the sort of unique patterning the residents were looking for.
The architects retained the original makha wood floor, carefully abrading the wood to soften it, then surfacing it with a round of oil-based finisher. It was decided to completely remove the original living room ceiling so as to open the space up much more. A ceiling-specific demolition method was used, enabling display of the bare surface of the red wood above, which was polished, softening colors until the unique grains of each panel showed clearly.
In the octagonal gallery the original window was replaced with a one set with square panes painted white, offsetting the black-paned sliding steel door between living room and bedroom. The division of the main floor is quite noticeable, as the colors split it off into two sections: the living room is mainly white, while the bedroom is defined by darker, more austere tones, giving it a quieter, more restful mood.
Even on a day when the weather is not all that favorable, the overcast, sunless firmament shading the wall surfaces, the room we’re standing in exudes warmth of other kinds: it’s warm in color and style, and warmed by the smiles of this lovable couple who get to live on and on within this private space they themselves once called the stuff of dreams.
The townhouse is a common type of building in Thailand, especially in Bangkok. Home owner and architect Narong Othavorn grew up in one, always thinking of ways it could be better designed. Eventually he and his wife Pim Achariyasilpa decided to create their own home by renovating a 30-year-old townhouse in the Si Phraya neighborhood.
The building combines two adjacent townhouses into one. Narong kept the original wrought-metal façade, modifying the original metal entrance door with a mixed frame of wood and steel, leaving the next-door side the entrance to a fourth-floor warehouse. A picture window in the living room brings in natural light onto washed gravel walls that lead down to a small garden behind the house, inspiration for the “doublespace” mezzanine.
The doublespace ceiling isn’t only about making the lower level look good: it supports the open plan design. Glass panels in the dining nook of the mezzanine above extend a feeling of comfort to every space in the house. From the mezzanine there’s a continuous view through glass partitions out to the garden behind the house, and there’s steady circulation of air from front to back. Townhouses are apt to feel cramped, but not this one! The light is different in each area, but light is what connects everything.
“These things came from our own personal tastes. Pim likes well-lit spaces. Me, I like indirect light. So with a house for the two of us we had to get the division of space just right, using the light available in each area. The lower floor is bathed in a subdued natural light; upstairs the living room brightly lit through the front window. Moving back to the dining area and bar, the light is dimmer. Go upstairs to the bathroom and dressing areas and it’s lighter again, suiting the specific limitations and characteristics of each space.”
“Small, but spacious” is how both owners refer to this house: better than adequate, the size is really perfect. Not so small as to be cramped. Everywhere some things catch your eyes up close and others at a distance. The home offers a master class on how townhouse renovation can work with limited areas to create special, interesting spaces. Even though adjoining buildings make side windows impossible, careful arrangement of space and windows in higher levels give this house a beauty that is anything but ordinary.
Living ASEAN takes you to a house that looks small, but was remodeled to answer the needs of all family members. From the front it has a straightforward, contemporary look. Inside it has great ventilation.
Here we are in Selangor State, Malaysia, where a sign in front proclaiming “Dday Haus” informs us we’ve arrived at Mr. David Chan’s residence. The unusual name comes from the first initials of his and his sons Daniel and Delan’s first names, even though the architect responsible for the house design, though, is actually more his wife, June Lim Sue May. You could say this is a continuation of David’s old house, which he uses as a home office and is tucked away right across a tiny village street.
This town house from the 90s retains its original façade but has been redone with better materials, giving it a contemporary flavor so that it stands out from its neighbors. Though the outward appearance hasn’t changed much, the interior is another story, featuring a full complement of conveniences, everything needed for comfortable modern living.
Downstairs, the children’s homework room adjoins the parlor, with the . kitchen and dining nook behind. Second floor splits left into a family room and children’s bedrooms, and to the right is the master bedroom with a mezzanine. David tells that the other house is used for an office and receiving guests, while this one is just for family life.
“We started out thinking this would be an office, but after more research we leaned more towards what we needed in this stage of our lives.” As a result, there are now more rooms, and more opportunity for family togetherness and comfortable living.
David spent many of his earlier years living in apartments, and enjoyed it, and the house is designed to reflect that. For instance there’s a section reaching up the entire four storeys which he calls “the tower.” A staircase winds upstairs from the kitchen on the first floor to a laundry/drying room on the second, and at the very top, a private living room with a mini swimming pool for the kids.
The house is designed to meet the challenge of balancing close family connections with the need for privacy. A unique solution here is in the see-through metal gratings found here and there in walls and floor, which build a feeling of lightness into the house and give it personality.
David places high value on interior ventilation as needed for comfort: wind direction and flow were important design considerations. The air flow comes straight in through the long front balcony out to the back, then up through a service opening placed above to allow the release of hot air as the cooler breeze blowing in below keeps the house cool all day.
Home offices are trendy nowadays. Given a complete makeover, a dull shophouse can transform into a fashionable home office like this one in Vietnam. Check this out.
/// Vietnam /// Story: Block Architects /// Photography: Quang Dam /// Design: Đặng Đức Hoà of Block Architects
Clever design has transformed an unexciting shophouse in Vietnam into a home office that looked to be one of the trendiest.
“This house means everything to us because it is the fruit of constant efforts to pursue our dreams,” said the homeowners, a young married couple with an active lifestyle. They just bought the shophouse and decided to give it a makeover. The new design incorporated living spaces and a home office with factory producing handcrafted leather goods.
“For a product to be successful, say a handbag, it takes many processes involving fastidious needlework,” said the owners comparing their work to that of the architect. “Like meticulous craftsmen, the architect carefully puts together different parts to make a home, mixing old pieces with new ones, replacing unneeded features with practical ones, and relying on well thought-out plans to use every ingredient effectively, be it wood, brick, concrete, metal or even trees.”
That explains the elaborate structure that makes the new front façade. The sight is reminiscent of a giant labyrinth of fine needlework, albeit crafted of concrete and steel. Parts of the walls and flooring deemed to be unnecessary were removed to make space for new ideas. The redesigned front and rear facades showcase a multitude of steel cube shapes welded together to look like a web of fine threads being “sewn” together to fill the gap between two side walls. The welded steel rod paneling was painted white and decorated with green creepers. Despite its slender appearance, the design is strong enough for home protection, not to mention a light and airy feel it brings.
Inside, the old concrete stairway was removed to let natural light reach all the way to the lower floor. A new set of airy stairs with no risers was put in place instead. For a lightweight look, stair railings were crafted of steel rods painted white with wood treads in complementing shades. The uplifting design rendered the staircase looking as if it were hovering above the floor. In the kitchen and dining area, a long curvy counter stands in contrast to the stillness of rough red brick texture on the wall.
This old house has stood in Bangkok for almost half a century. When it was time to leave their city condo to be with granny and grandpa, the owners at first wanted to do a complete tear-down to make room for a new house. They later decided otherwise.
“The initial plan called for replacing the tired looking old house with a three-story modern home and swimming pool,” said one of the owners. “But after much thought, we decided to keep the existing structure intact and focused on renovation, reason being that everything about it had a story to tell. Handed down from generation to generation, the house was long overdue for a makeover.”
The project started by taking out the beat-up wood façade on the upper floor and putting in a fresh new wall crafted of black sheet metal with windows in complementing shades. On the ground floor, the redesigned entrance received an elegant sliding door with matching glass windows that stood tall from floor to ceiling. For a light and airy entrance hall, the owners had a big chunk of the upper floor taken out, resulting in a spacious living room with double high ceilings.
The open concept also applied to the kitchen and adjacent dining room, the owners’ favorite corners. The combined spaces boast a big dining table that also doubles as workspace and meeting room.
The redesigned interior speaks to an industrial loft style with a bit of vintage flair. Natural wood panels alternating with naked brick walls go hand in hand with pieces of rustic-style furniture. Meantime, they stand a welcome contrast to shiny floor tiles and kitchen countertops. It’s amazing how a home renovation done right can make all the difference.