Blog : House Renovation

Pavi Homestay: A House Renovated as Homestay Boasts Originality and Timeless Charm

Pavi Homestay: A House Renovated as Homestay Boasts Originality and Timeless Charm

/ Ha Giang, Vietnam /

/ Story: Kangsadan K. / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Trieu Chien /

Amid the ever-changing trends setting the stage for the future, there are people who feel a yearning to live a simpler, more traditional lifestyle. Their emotional attachment to family roots and cultural origins is set down in permanent forms. Here, the story of a Hmong family’s journey is manifested in a house that has since been renovated as a homestay in Ha Giang, a province in Vietnam’s Northeast renowned for its unspoiled countryside.

An aerial view of the old cluster house renovated as a homestay in relation to traditional-style homes in the neighborhood.

Beautifully restored to its former glory, Pavi Homestay offers 380 square meters of usable space ensconced in a region famous for its richness in long-standing traditions. In this remote corner of Vietnam bordering on China, misty blue mountains can be seen from miles around. It’s easy to get why every aspect of Hmong culture is jealous preserved, residential architecture included.

A side elevation view of Pavi Homestay silhouetted against the mountain peaks and wooded hillsides of Meo Vac, a rural district of Ha Giang Province.

As tourism grows, demands for accommodation increase. And that’s where the architectural firm Trung Tran Studio based in Son La is brought into play. It’s tasked with renovating this old house as a homestay and, at the same time, maintaining every distinctive feature in its original state. Before you know it, the old cluster house unique to Hmong culture transforms to take on a new role as homestay destinations.

A diagram shows the ground floor of the old cluster house before renovation. / Courtesy of Trung Tran Studio
A drawing of the ground floor after renovation shows the positioning of rooms for guest accommodations in relation to a system of roofed corridors and support facilities, including a small restaurant and bar. / Courtesy of Trung Tran Studio
A diagram shows the second floor of the main house before renovation. / Courtesy of Trung Tran Studio
A drawing of the second floor of the homestay project shows details of space utilization in the main house, the side house and semi-outdoor rooms after renovation. / Courtesy of Trung Tran Studio

Pavi Homestay is located in Meo Vac, a rural district of Ha Giang Province. Beautifully handcrafted, the buildings and the land merge into the mountain valley environment where time goes by slowly. It consists of three parts; the main house, the side house, and a system of roofed corridors for walking along.

The old house nestles warmly in an area known for considerable diversity in cultures and lifestyles. Together they convey a great deal about the ethnic communities living in the region, which also includes Dong Van and the Dong Van Stone Plateau.

The newly renovated main house is a two-story building offering eight rooms for guest accommodation. Here, the details make all the difference in design. Each room boasts the quality of being individual in an interesting way. Each one of them gives a sense of being a small stand-alone home, although they are all in one place.

Unlike the main house, the side house is designed as a family lodging. It’s easy to get why age differences in consumer behavior are factored in the house plan. This is evidenced by the way a row of three rooms are separated for privacy, each one of them fully equipped with modern conveniences.

As to be expected, the bedroom for mom and dad is located downstairs, connected to the rooms for kids by a flight of stairs. The children’s rooms are decorated with curved designs giving off good vibes, plus they create a sense of space, privacy and deep relaxation.

A glimpse into the side house made for family accommodations. The parents’ bedroom is on the ground floor connected to kids’ rooms by a flight of stairs.

Step outside, and you come to a system of roofed corridors providing access to all the rooms and support facilities, including a small restaurant and bar. Overall, the outdoor ambience is peaceful with a wonderful panorama of the mountain peaks and wooded hillsides that have made Ha Giang Province a sought-after destination for travelers.

An atrium hemmed in by a system of roofed corridors offers plenty of ample space for an al fresco luncheon and dinner, or a rendezvous with nature.

Inside and outside, Pavi Homestay is different from what is usual in that its physical appearance is pleasingly old-fashioned plus the quality of being local. For strength and durability, the original heavy timber framing, posts and beams remain very much intact. They were put together by traditional methods of construction.

A room decorated with lots of wood makes the interior feel warm and welcoming.

The building exteriors have the appearance of rammed earth walls, roofed over with unglazed, brownish colored tiles like everything else in this part of Vietnam. Such is the elegance and standard practice since times past. Together they work in tandem to make Pavi Homestay attractive in its own special way, in the meantime providing a window into ethnic Hmong culture from past to present.

The rough texture of rammed earth walls boasts the beauty of vernacular homes unique to Hmong culture.
Arched doorway openings go hand in hand with open-concept floor plans, making a modest room feel spacious.

Archway forming passages between rooms create a harmonious fusion with the natural environment.
As the evening unfolds, the atrium is aglow under the lights in contrast to the dark gray of earthen roof tiles that form the upper covering of Pavi Homestay.

In a few words, Pavi Homestay is the story of rich and subtle meanings, a travel destination embraced by nature and time-honored human tradition unique to Vietnam’s Northeastern Region.

An aerial view shows a part of the verdant countryside that’s home to a Hmong community where Pavi Homestay is located.

Architect: Trung Tran Studio

Lead Architects: Tran Mạnh Trung


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W39 House: A Hillside Home Renovation That Brings the Outdoors in

W39 House: A Hillside Home Renovation That Brings the Outdoors in

/ Ampang Jaya, Malaysia /

/ Story: Sarayut Sreetip-ard / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul /

Built on a slope, this three-story home renovation project sits beautifully ensconced by a vast expanse of lush vegetation. The front façade opens to the east to take in panoramic views of the rolling hills as the sun rises over the horizon. The back of the house facing the hillside holds a quiet, secluded area for living rooms and bedrooms.

Originally purchased as part of a development project back in 1980, it has gone through several improvements to maintain a good state of repair. After the children had grown up and moved out to start a family of their own, the home was last renovated from 2015 to 2018.

Among other things, the upper floors were tailored to meet the needs of aging Mom and Dad while rooms downstairs are reserved for accommodations for visiting children.

Drawings of floor plans for all three levels. / Courtesy of Zlg Design
A cross-section drawing shows the side elevation of the home renovation project built on the hillside. / Courtesy of Zlg Design

Back in the day when the kids were young, the interior of the house was divided into smaller rooms. Things have changed and hence all the room dividers were torn down to create a larger, more light and airy interior that’s compatible with the Tropical climate.

The result is a complete home renovation that brings elements of the outdoors into the home. They include rays of sunshine that stream in through openings in brick walls and skylights, plus fresh air and the smell of flowers in the room.

Home Renovation
The first-floor bedroom overlooks the front yard that’s set apart from the entrance to the main living spaces on the second floor.
Home Renovation
The bedroom is tucked away at the farthest end while skylights illuminate a nearby utility area.
W39 House Home Renovation
The bedroom wall is fitted with plantation shutters designed for good ventilation. It opens to connect with the entrance hall and center court.

The first floor contains a studio apartment complete with bedroom, bathroom, laundry space and a front yard landscape. The second floor holds sitting room with a kitchen island and dining space that opens to the terrace overlooking the backyard.

W39 House Home Renovation

W39 House Home Renovation
All second-floor room dividers have since been removed to create an open-concept living space that connects with a green hillside landscape in the backyard.

W39 House Home Renovation

To ensure safety, the backyard is made secure by retaining wall systems that protect against flooding and erosion as well as create usable land for plants to thrive, a setting that conjures up images of being in the great outdoors.

W39 House Home Renovation

W39 House Home Renovation
A semi-outdoor kitchen is hemmed in by retaining walls built into the mountainside.
W39 House Home Renovation
The room in the front of the house affords beautiful views of the mountain landscape. The façade is glazed in metal framing with window hinges recycled from the old house.
W39 House Home Renovation
Skylights in the rooftop illuminate the center court. They serve as engine that drives natural air circulation vertically and horizontally.

The third floor is accessible via a spiral staircase. It’s a quiet, secluded living space with sitting room, home office and bedroom set apart by divider curtains for easy updates. Open to the outdoors, it conveys a great deal about the inextricable connection between humans and nature.

A spiral staircase connects to third floor. It’s enclosed in perforated walls built of light mass brick that’s inexpensive, plus there’s no need for cement plastering. During the daytime, rays of sunshine streaming inside add interesting dimension to the room.
W39 House Home Renovation
The third-floor corridor runs the entire length of the weather-beaten cement wall. Framed art pieces line the interior wall reminiscent of a small gallery.

In terms of value it’s a good home renovation that stands the test of time thanks in part to quality materials that perform well despite the weather. Meantime, bare concrete surfaces and brick masonry walls blend perfectly into their surroundings.

The front façade has since been adapted to go well with metal window and door casings. For good looks, they are fitted with vintage hinges recycled from old homes.

There’s a part of the wall that’s made using light mass bricks without cement plastering. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to find locally. Where appropriate, openings are made in the brick walls to let fresh air and natural light stream into the home creating abstract reflections on the wall. It’s a way to keep the interior cool and comfortable without air conditioning.

W39 House Home Renovation
Drapery hanging in loose folds divides the third floor into different rooms. At every level, the bathroom is set against the exterior wall to create ample living spaces inside.

W39 House Home Renovation

The bathroom is enclosed in perforated brickwork for good ventilation. Nearby solid sliding doors and walls add privacy protection while the gap at the top lets air pass through.

The natural surroundings play a crucial role in making a home renovation full of life and energy. This place is no exception. It’s a happy home built on a good understanding of the environment and the humble nature of human and non-human elements in nature.

So it’s good to let nature take its course for a change. Let lichens grow. Leave those little mud stains on the wall alone. Let climbers thrive on the trellis and the wall. They are there for good reason.

The same applies to those unkempt ground covering weeds here and there. There is beauty in imperfections too, especially those semi-outdoor decks made of wood planks. They may be worn by exposure to the air.

Unpleasant, perhaps? But they serve the purpose as place to enjoy a good cup of tea, have a conversation, even prepare food and wash dishes, or just sit back and relax in the early morning quiet. That’s the secret to living a memorable life.

W39 House Home Renovation
A relaxing nook on Floor 3 sits directly above the semi-outdoor kitchen on Floor 2. It opens to a vertical garden that fills up the retaining wall built into the hillside.

Owner: Susanne Zeidler, Huat Lim

Architect: Zlg Design (zlgdesign.wordpress.com) by Susanne Zeidler, Huat Lim


This house appears in the Special Bilingual Edition (English and Thai) of Baan Lae Suan and Living Asean, titled “Tropical Suburban and Country Homes”. It focuses on designs for cozy living in harmony with nature.

We have handpicked ten houses for this special edition that serve as the perfect example of design innovations in sync with the natural world. Front and center, it’s about the pursuit of ways to live more sustainably and create a better future for all. Looking for inspiration? Perhaps a glimpse into nature-inspired “Tropical Suburban and Country Homes” is a good place to start.

Delve into the new book today. It’s hitting Thailand shelves now. For more details, visit https://www.naiin.com/product/detail/592504

For bulk ordering, contact livingasean.bkk@gmail.com


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Bao Long Office: An Old Shophouse Beautifully Renovated

Bao Long Office: An Old Shophouse Beautifully Renovated

/ Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam /

/ Story: Monosoda, Kor Lordkam / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Quang Dam /

Major renovations have given a drafty old shophouse a new lease on life. Thanks to great remodeling ideas, the tired-looking two-unit shophouse on Su Van Hanh Street, Ho Chi Minh City, transformed into a beautiful place that struck the right balance between a business and a private residence. Designed by the architecture firm H.a + NQN, the completely refurbished premises are home to a private enterprise named Bao Long Office.

Bao Long Office

As is often the case with shophouses in Vietnam, each of the two units has a frontage of 3 meters. It’s in the shape of an elongated rectangle with a whopping 20-meter length sandwiched between adjacent units.

To create ample, well-ventilated interior space, the wall separating the two units was torn down and replaced with a newer, more modern version.

Bao Long Office’s plan was redesigned to accommodate new business concepts as well as residential and lifestyle needs. To protect the building’s structural integrity, the internal framework remained intact.

The same applied to the ground floor that housed a business selling stainless steel products. For a neat appearance, the entire front façade was glazed in, giving it charms and good looks that set it apart from others in the neighborhood. By night the face of the building is aglow under the lights.

Bao Long Office
Second-floor workspace and private living quarters are clearly separated from each other.

Bao Long Office

Decorated with healthy green foliage, the second-floor balcony provides a relaxed outdoor room and protects the home from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Located in a commercial zone, the store at ground level is understandably busy and the crowded street bustling with activity.

Climb a flight of stairs to the second floor, and you come to an impressive office space. The area on this level of Bao Long Office is divided into two parts. There’s a warm and welcoming workspace at the office on one side that’s clearly separated from private living quarters on the other.

Both parts are conveniently accessible via the balcony connected to the front façade. The second-floor outdoor platform is decorated with an oasis of calm that’s very pleasant to look at.

Ground Floor Plan Courtesy of H.a
First Floor Plan Courtesy of H.a
Second Floor Plan Courtesy of H.a

 

Bao Long Office
Double-height ceiling design offers open and pleasing tranquility to a long and narrow living room.

Bao Long Office

Section Drawing Courtesy of H.a

The office consists of a workroom and meeting room with simple interior décor. The walls are painted white symbolizing a new beginning and the floors covered in terrazzo.

There’s a custom work table with drafting stools that runs parallel to the wall and stretches the entire length of the room.

The atmosphere is strikingly different from the calming space of nearby private living quarters. To create a homely atmosphere, the living room has a small beverage bar with pantries customized to the homeowner’s hosting style.

At the farthest end lies a peaceful sitting area decorated with deep colors that match the dark surfaces of terrazzo floors, concrete walls, and rustic walnut furniture.

Softened by the dim light, it’s a relaxation technique to create warmth and reduce stress in the home.

Bao Long Office
The homeowner’s sitting room on the third floor is quiet and secluded.

At the same time, a section of the upper floor was taken out to make room for an entrance hall with double-height ceiling design. Not far away, a set of stairs was installed to connect to the homeowner’s secluded living quarters on the top floor.

The private residential zone comes complete with a bedroom with en suite bath, sitting room, and dressing room.

Bao Long Office

A staircase painted orange creates an unexpected playful contrast with the calmness of a small interior space.

Painted a shade of orange color, the steel staircase leads from the ground level, where the retail store is located, all the way to the private residential zone on the top floor of Bao Long Office. Its playful design is intended to express pleasure and joy in everyday life.

You got that right! It’s part of a home improvement project designed to make life more fun. It serves the primary purpose of getting house occupants from one floor to the next, and it’s done in a unique, stylish way.


Architect: H.a (www.facebook.com/workshopha) + NQN. (www.facebook.com/nqn.architects)


The article is an excerpt from “Home Office / Home Studio,” a book that compiles ideas on integrating “home” with “workspace” to create a comfortable and suitable environment for small companies, startups, and creative individuals.

You can find it at leading bookstores throughout Thailand or order it through various online channels.

INBOX: m.me/roomfan
NAIIN: https://www.naiin.com/product/detail/582920
SHOPEE: https://shp.ee/uirj9q5
LAZADA: https://s.lazada.co.th/s.9V0vz


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A Minimalist Home in Bangkok Oozing with Charm

A Minimalist Home in Bangkok Oozing with Charm

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

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

/ Photographs: Rithirong Chanthongsuk /

A renovation done right turns this 40-year-old house into a 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 into the façade.

Before renovation: The old house looks a bit tired and out of date.
Before renovation: The old house looks a bit tired and out of date.
After renovation: The beautifully remodeled façade after a complete transformation. The house’s original structure is preserved while cool, clean lines give it a distinctive character.
After renovation: The beautifully remodeled façade after a complete transformation. The house’s original structure is preserved while cool, clean lines give it a distinctive character.

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 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.

The open concept floor plan excludes interior walls and doors, which gives it the feeling of larger, more comfortable space. Off-white walls paired with wood accents add warmth to the living room and create dimension.
The open concept floor plan excludes interior walls and doors, which gives it the feeling of larger, more comfortable space. Off-white walls paired with wood accents add warmth to the living room and create dimension.

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.”

The focal point of the house is the interior that interconnects with the outdoor environment. The side yard offers a relaxing space and brightens up the living room with the glow of natural light.
The focal point of the house is the interior that interconnects with the outdoor environment. The side yard offers a relaxing space and brightens up the living room with the glow of natural light.
 There are plenty of good reasons for floating a sofa in the middle of the room. It makes for a perfectly welcoming multi-use space.
There are plenty of good reasons for floating a sofa in the middle of the room. It makes for a perfectly welcoming multi-use space.
A counter for preparing food and drinks runs parallel to a pantry dedicated to storage. The open floor plan makes it easy to connect with nearby dining room and living room.
A counter for preparing food and drinks runs parallel to a pantry dedicated to storage. The open floor plan makes it easy to connect with nearby dining room and living room.
Combined bathroom and dressing room design
Combined bathroom and dressing room design
Light colored wood proves a perfect complement to white walls with a gray tinge. Wet and dry areas in the bathroom are clearly separated to make cleaning so much easier.
Light colored wood proves a perfect complement to white walls with a gray tinge. Wet and dry areas in the bathroom are clearly separated to make cleaning so much easier.
Off-white walls make the bedroom feel more spacious, while light fine wood floors are perfect for every room.
Off-white walls make the bedroom feel more spacious, while light fine wood floors are perfect for every room.

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.

Properly situated, large windows provide adequate natural illumination while connecting indoor and outdoor living spaces.
Properly situated, large windows provide adequate natural illumination while connecting indoor and outdoor living spaces.
Positioned to catch the sun, a projecting platform creates a canopy for the ground floor and a balcony for the second. It also provides privacy and physical protection.
Vertical solar shading integrated in the façade protects the bedroom from harmful UV rays. The blades are made of lightweight materials, covered with plaster, and painted off-white to enhance the house’s distinctive character.
A vertical wooden fin façade gives the wall a clean and modern look while providing a layer of heat insulation. It’s painted off-white to create color harmony with the solid load bearing wall behind it.
A vertical wooden fin façade gives the wall a clean and modern look while providing a layer of heat insulation. It’s painted off-white to create color harmony with the solid load bearing wall behind it.
Vertical solar shading integrated in the façade protects the bedroom from harmful UV rays. The blades are made of lightweight materials, covered with plaster, and painted off-white to enhance the house’s distinctive character.

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 on 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.”

A concrete beam spanning an opening part of the house finds a new purpose as outdoor bench encouraging social interactions.
A concrete beam spanning an opening part of the house finds a new purpose as outdoor bench encouraging social interactions.
A sundeck patio adjoining the dining room affords a private and protected outdoor living area in the garden.
A sundeck patio adjoining the dining room affords a private and protected outdoor living area in the garden. 

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 daylight. The upright structure also doubles as outdoor privacy wall.”

Family time creates happy memories that will last a lifetime.
Family time creates happy memories that will last a lifetime.

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.

 


Owner: Prem and Wasinee Chatmanop

Architect: Perspective by Sitthichai Chompooh (www.perspacetive.com)


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A Naturally Peaceful Single Story Home

Three-Storey Townhouse That Makes Space for Nature

Three-Storey Townhouse That Makes Space for Nature

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

/ Story: Sarayut Sreetip-ard / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Sitthisak Namkham / Styling: Jeedwonder /

Before moving into this three-storey 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, partly by impulse. Here are imperfections that are either blemishes or beauty marks, depending on our viewpoint.

townhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnun

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 of a three-storey townhouse would accommodate his eleven cats!

“Three years ago, I bought this place new, and it took two years to fix up,” explained Bradon.

“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 townhouse 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.”

three-storey townhouse

As most townhouses add a roofed-over carport in front, Bhradon also applied his design idea to this requirement.

“There’s more than meets the eye in that front view: a lot of the functions are hidden,” said the architect.

“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.”

three-storey townhouse

three-storey townhouse

The design of this three-storey townhouse 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 element,” Bhradon explained.

“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.”

three-storey townhouse

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 blissfully.

“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.”

three-storey townhouse

three-storey townhouse

three-storey townhouse

We urban dwellers all long for nature. Bhradon answered this with a garden area in the rear of this three-storey townhouse, as he put it: “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,” he implied. “Real life involves rust; it involves injuries. Can’t eliminate these, right?”

As Bhradon’s speaking voice gradually softened, an unspoken conversation brought into focus the future of the house, the man, the cats, and whatever might lie ahead for them.

“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.”


Owner/Architect: Bhradon Kukiatnun


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Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

/ Story: Sarayut Sreetip-ard / English version: Peter Montalbano /

/ Photographs: Sitthisak Namkham / Styling: Jeedwonder /

The renovation of this hundred-plus-year-old rowhouse in Charoen Krung Soi 44 is more than a home improvement: for Mou Lumwatananont, it’s a homecoming she’d never imagined.

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

“My mother was born here, but we moved out before I was two. After building it up from 2 storeys to 2½ storeys, my aunt continued to use it as an office,” the owner began to tell the house’s story.

“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.

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

 

The architect explained, “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 outback as far as it could go. The entire second-storey wooden floor had been covered with another material.”

In line with building preservation guidelines, the architect decided to make clear distinctions between old and new.

They 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 keeping the charming mortared patterns of the original roof.

 

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

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. It is the by-product of the makeover process, as the architect told:

“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.”

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

Explaining the challenges of the construction process, the architect added, “At the back of 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 and 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.”

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

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.


Architect: Wachirasak Maneewatanaperk of sea.monkey.coconut (www.facebook.com/sea.monkey.coconut)


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Right Renovation Leads to a Pleasing Hip, Modern Brick House

Right Renovation Leads to a Pleasing Hip, Modern Brick House

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

/ Story: Foryeah!/ English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs:  Nantiya Busabong /

The houses in this area all looked the same when parents brought the owner of this newly renovated house here when he was a child; now he has renovated their home into a hip, modern brick house with 200 square meters of usable space on a property of 400 square meters.

modern brick house
The lower floor retains the old “tai thun” space below, a brick wall with angled patterns perforated for ventilation on the floor above.

“After studying abroad I lived in a condo for years, but modern urban life is too full of needless accessories, so I finally came back to this house for its serenity and privacy,” said Roj Kanjanabanyakhom, the owner and architect of his own home.

“I like peace and quiet, listening to music, watching movies, and that’s enough.”

A staircase up to the hobby room, apparently playfully designed for legs of different lengths.
The old house wall was removed in favor of tall “picture windows”
modern brick house
Leaving open space between the old house and the addition makes for good ventilation and cooling.

An architect himself, he was the designer and construction supervisor. Since the house was in an old condition, there were a lot of problems: leaks and seepage, rusty pipes, etc., even asbestos tile, now recognized as carcinogenic.

The structure of the house had to be almost completely torn down to its basic frame: pillars, beams, and a couple of walls.

Striking improvements were made to suit Roj’s lifestyle in both the new building at the front and the old house at the back. The newly built structure at the front consists of bright orange brick walls with ventilation spaces below.

A former open “tai thun” (the space beneath the stilt) area, half the ground floor, became his own bicycle maintenance shop, with the other half a carport.

On the second floor is a hobby workshop, and above that a roof deck where support pillars are capped with metal plates in anticipation of future additions.

modern brick house

At the back, the 2.4-meter outside wall of the old house was demolished and replaced with tall glass windows all around for a spacious feeling.

Bedrooms on the second floor were removed to create a “double space” area, and a projector was set up behind one wall for full-size movie viewing.

modern brick house

A skylight was put in to let sunlight in all day, relieving the stuffy, damp, dark atmosphere, and polycarbonate tile was laid on floor and walls.

“There were some difficult structural and material design limitations in the old house,” said Roj.

“Parts of the old roof weren’t able to support much weight, so besides replacing the asbestos with double Roman tile we used metal purlin trusses instead of wood.

“To avoid joint problems where the new roof meets the old gabled one, we used steel-reinforced flat slab concrete, which will be able to hold the weight of future additions.

“Sometimes it’s easier and cheaper just to tear everything out,” he continued. “But I renovated because I wanted to preserve the memories here,” said Roj with a smile.

And so here’s a home filled with remembrance, ready to bring present and future memories into the mix.

modern brick house
The roof deck, designed to hold weight for future additions and a path connecting the two buildings.

Owner/Architect: Roj Kanjanabanyakhom of Atom Design (www.facebook.com/atom.design.bkk)


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/ Pattaya, Thailand /

/ Story: Ajchara Jeenkram / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul, Sungwan Phratep /

This old house that’s the pride of two generations has been given a new lease on life. Tastefully renovated, it transformed into a modern brick home that took the beauty of brick masonry to a whole new level.

brick house in pattaya

The heritage building has served as a big family’s rendezvous in Pattaya, a seaside town just two hours’ drive from Bangkok. Those times are gone now. The extended family home is now in the hands of the second generation with a smaller household. That’s reason enough to restore it as a new place of abode ideally suited to a modern lifestyle.

“First, I started out with a building inspection looking to identify parts that needed repairs and whatnot,” said architect Kasin Sornsri.

“I talked with both generations of the family, and I could feel the love they had for this house. So, I decided to go for a renovation instead of a teardown to make room for a new building.”

brick house in pattaya

brick house in pattaya

In the process, the old roof that fell into disrepair was replaced by a moderate-pitch roof with shingles. Beautiful shed roof design was chosen for its ability to provide tall ceilings, which directly benefited the interior living spaces on the upper floor.

Like the architect intended, the new feature added attractive curb appeal to the home and its lively green surroundings when viewed from the street.

brick house in pattaya

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On the first floor, an open-concept dining room is capable of entertaining up to 20 houseguests. The architect has kept the iconic archway design and brick walls on the front façade pretty much intact.

In the meantime, appropriate adaptations are made to best suit the way of living of the second generation family, while the first generation family enjoys plenty of room for privacy complete with a dining space and kitchen.

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Over all, the interior design presents the character and atmosphere resembling that of an antique store. Pieces of vintage furniture and stained glass decorations give off friendly vibes conjuring up the image of a family way of life back in the day.

To make it more inviting, custom mosaic tiles paired with window grills in complementing shades echo the beauty of a fusion of Eastern and Western design. Well put together, they breathe new life into the old brick house that has been home to a big family for two generations.

Built to last, and further improved through renovation, this brick house in Pattaya now stands ready for the future.

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brick house in pattaya

brick house in pattaya

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Architect: Kasin Sornsri of Volume Matrix Studio (www.facebook.com/volumematrixstudio)


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/ Bangkok, Thailand /

/ Story: Lalitpan Cheumthaisong /English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Ritthirong Chanthongsuk, Soopakorn Srisakul /

Some things never go out of style. Here’s a gorgeous urban home that’s clearly reminiscent of a townhouse in earlier times. Its impressive stylishness exudes both class and relaxation, but looks can be deceiving. Albeit rather old-fashioned in appearance, this townhouse in Bangkok was built not long ago; and yet it expresses the visible form, the finishing and decoration that bring vintage elegance back to life.

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The beautiful two-story residence belongs to interior designer Napaporn Pothirach, who bought it from a property developer while it was still under construction. She came in only just in time to apply improvement ideas to the original design.

A dining room-cum-workspace is the most elegantly furnished area of the house.
A dining room-cum-workspace is the most elegantly furnished area of the house.

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For a well-lit interior, Napaporn replaced solid walls with an array of glass doors with transom windows. Stairway walls and ceilings on the upper floor were removed to make the room feel larger and more connected. Some of the original windows deemed to be too small were replaced with bigger ones.

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The homeowner even found a way to create an attic for her kids, turning the space directly below the pitched roof of the house into an extra room. An aberration from a typical townhouse perhaps? But for the children, it seems like a good idea, something fun, functional and happy.

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Taken as a whole, the wooden parts of the house bespeak the homeowner’s passion for woodwork. They include window casings and frames, doors, antique décor, crafts and all things made from wood. Napaporn designed all the built-in furniture, fittings and other ornaments herself.

Among others, wooden cupboards with intricate carvings stand out from the rest. Needless to say, the overall effect is impressive.

Napaporn admitted, with a smile, that she sometimes bought decorative accessories with no specific plan to put them. That’s something which came later on. What a nice fluke! They turned out to be a perfect mix and match style with a common hue.

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“I once had the opportunity of visiting the house of Geoffrey Bawa, my favorite architect,” said Napaporn when asked about her inspiration.

“I learned the concepts of space management and the art of applying cultural identity to design. They are the qualities that make a residence feel cozy, charming and timelessly livable.”

Space management as a concept may be simple, yet in practice it’s never easy. This townhouse with all the charm and character has proved one thing. The homeowner has successfully managed to put her newfound knowledge to good use. And it showed in the utilization of space and resources, and the way she intelligently designed and decorated her home with crafts.

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Owner/Designer: Napaporn Pothirach


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/ Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam /

/ Story: Samutcha Viraporn / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Quang Dam /

Home offices are trendy nowadays. Given thoughtful planning, a dull shophouse can transform into a fashionable dwelling and place of business. The results are illustrated in this home office that looks to be one of the trendiest in Ho Chi Minh City.

home office in HCMC

The new design integrates a modern living space and a home office with a factory producing handcrafted leather goods. The house’s front façade is filled up with elaborate structural rod systems reminiscent of a giant labyrinth of beautiful needlework, albeit built of brick and steel.

It’s only recently that a homeowner couple acquired this downtown retail space and later decided to give it a complete makeover. “This house means everything to us because it’s the fruit of constant efforts to pursue our dreams,” said the young couple with an active lifestyle.

home office in HCMC

 

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“For a product to be successful, say a handbag, it takes many processes involving fastidious needlework,” said the owners comparing their manufacturing job 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 strategies, and relying on well-thought-out plans to use every ingredient effectively, be it wood, brick, concrete, metal or even trees.”

 

home office in HCMC

home office in HCMC

In a way, this pretty much explains the elaborate structural rod systems that fill up the redesigned front façade. Elsewhere, parts of the walls and flooring deemed to be unnecessary were removed to make room for new ideas.

The remodeled front and rear facades showcase a multitude of steel cube frames welded together to look like a web of fine threads being “sewn” together to fill the void between two side walls.

The welded steel rod paneling is painted white and decorated with climbing plants thriving in full sun. Despite its slender appearance, the design is strong enough for home protection, at the same time creating a light and airy ambience for both indoors and outdoors.

home office in HCMC

Among other things, the old concrete stairway was removed to prevent the indoors from feeling stale and stifling. Then, a new set of airy stairs with no risers between the treads 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.

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In the kitchen and dining area, a long curvy counter stands in contrast to the stillness of rough brick texture on the wall. All in all, clever design has transformed an unexciting shophouse interior into a home office that looks to be one of the trendiest in Ho Chi Minh City.

home office in HCMC


Architect: Block Architects (www.blockarchitects.com.vn)


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