BANGKOK / Here’s a warm wood house that’s an embodiment of superb craftsmanship in the indoors and cool refreshing greenery outdoors. Precisely, it’s simple design with the deliberate use of texture and clean lines that gives it a sense of youthful exuberance — a minimalist home that blends perfectly with nature.
Khagee Ketjumpol, the homeowner, said he bought this house about ten years ago having been attracted to an orange jasmine tree (Murraya paniculata) gracing the front yard. After that he decided to restore it to a good state of repair that was more up to date in style. It was a home makeover project designed for better living conditions of everyone in the family. A professional builder with more than 30 years of experience, Khagee knew exactly what he wanted to do and how. The result was a complete renovation that struck the right balance between comfort and a distinctive appearance.
The remodeled house plan offers three stories of living spaces with an abundance of natural light canopied by overhanging trees. The homeowner couple live on the top floor that’s decorated penthouse style, while their daughter occupies the second. The ground floor consists of common areas designed to encourage social interaction and spaces for a range of activities including home to three pet dogs. Outside, a Siamese rosewood tree (Dalbergia cochinchinensis) standing three stories tall adds a peaceful detail to the front yard.
To establish the ideal room temperature for comfortable living, tall-growing trees are preserved and integrated into the house plan and landscape design. Where appropriate, parts of the ground floor are left unfilled and overhead windows created to allow the upper branching of trees to thrive. The result is a spacious, well lit, and well ventilated home built around shade trees that provide sun protection all year long.
As Khagee puts it, “I like plants for they offer shelter from direct sunlight, increase oxygen, and filter dust that poses a serious threat to environmental quality, plus they help keep the house cool. In line with the minimalist style, open floor plans create a living space that’s pleasant to look at and easy to keep clean.”
The family’s love of nature and everything about wood is clearly seen in home interior design. Much of it is made of reclaimed timber that once served a different function. Here, Khagee was able to recycle used items from his collection to fit new needs as floor panels, wall coverings, even ceiling planks. Where possible, steel framing and glass panels are also used.
“I like the touch of wood. Throughout my career as builder, I have collected many used building materials and reclaimed wood. Much of it that went into renovating this home was more than 30 years old and imported from Laos. To me, house building is an investment, much like buying land or gold. This way, we’ve come to appreciate the value of wood. It’s the natural vibes of wood that bring positive energy into our home,” said Khagee.
A few pieces of house furniture are used on an as-needed basis true to the idea of minimalism. For a spacious interior, even large pieces like the bed and the sofa are made of steel framing that gives them a lightweight look. Because of this, they appear to hover just above the floor. The light and airy atmosphere is further enhanced by recessed lighting, a nice little collab between the homeowner and a team of architects from the Unknown Surface Studio.
After many years of building houses for other people, the time is ripe for Khagee Ketjumpol to make one for himself and family. Not only is it a dream come true, but it’s also a beautiful wooden home ensconced by nature. It’s no surprise that he aptly calls it “Little Paradise”, a home made for the happiness of his loved ones.
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.
This very cool-looking cubic house design really stands out in this more than thirty-year-old subdivision. Quiet, simple lines, authentic surfaces. Minimal decoration, just the few furniture pieces necessary.
“Since Mom is in the house more than anyone else, things are designed mainly for her walking around, in and out of the kitchen, dining room, and bedroom – which is on the ground floor for her convenience. Maintenance is easy: no cracks and crevices, simpler for an older person to work with,” Suphot Saengkeut, her youngest son, tells us.
To make the concept a reality, the Saengkeut family demolished and completely did away with the old house to build something entirely new on the 300-square-meter property. They made the kitchen spacious and, Thai-style, open to natural light and air flow, with primarily tile surfaces. In the front are storage cabinets with easy-to-clean surfaces of frosted glass, and vertically set boxes for electrical and water systems, accessible from the outside for maintenance and repair.
“Here, form follows function: whatever use the space lends itself to, that’s how it’s used,” says Somphon, the middle son. The architect adds, “Starting from the car park area out front and lining up the ground floor rooms with the upstairs bedrooms, the necessary simplicity of the form became obvious, with no functional need to change. The rectangular shape opens out towards the entrance, for people to better enjoy the natural world outside.”
The house faces east, with a latticework metal fence and a carport, keeping the sun from reaching into the indoor living space. The kitchen is separated off by an opaque wall. The dining room opens out with a glass wall set in a metal lattice frame, and outside is a fence of synthetic wood that blocks the sun and adds privacy. To the north is an open courtyard in the center of the house with tree jasmine, a place to relax or exercise, and a spiral stair which leads up to the bedroom of Somphop, the oldest son, without going back into the house.
Somphon installed solar slab panels with a gap between them and the concrete roof for good ventilation, also helped by air channels with metal caps releasing hot air from within. The panels shade the roof, which also has foam heat insulation beneath it.
Suphot leaves us with some final thoughts: “The house is really well set up for individual privacy. The living room is used the least, but a lot of mornings, evenings, and holidays we hang out together in the dining room. And if I’m upstairs working, there’s an open wall, and I can keep an eye on Mom downstairs. It’s a good feeling to know she’s safe, and we’re right there for her.”
HO CHI MINH CITY / This house, named ‘Stacking Green’ is located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This residential building has an interesting form and exterior that we felt drawn to see with our own eyes.
This building received the 2012 World Architecture Festival Award in Singapore. The award was presented to outstanding designers and architectural works around the globe. “Stacking Green’s” citation for architectural excellence in the residential building category was not surprising at all, as its ways of dealing with complex problems in a simple way yielded a truly interesting outcome.
It’s a townhouse with four stories -4 meters wide and 20 meters deep, for a total of 250 square meters of usable space. This was designed especially for the three who would live there. One of these was an old person, hence the bedroom was placed on the lowest floor so no stairs would have to be climbed. The second floor consists of the dining room, kitchen, and living room. On the third floor is the master bedroom with the open floor plan bathroom. The guest bedroom is located on the fourth floor.
Houses in Vietnam are often compactly built in townhouse form to use as little property space as possible, often resulting in cramped residences and unattractive-looking building fronts. Here, the architects have incorporated privacy into the design, so as not to allow anyone to look in from outside and provide the owner peace and contentment. This also helps reduce pollution from the street.
Additionally, both in front and back of the house feature rows of horizontal planter boxes which screen the view inwards and create attractive façades. The house also features open ports which run up and down through all the floors. This allows for hot air from below to rise and vent out the top of the building, and by the same token for cooler air to blow down inside and keep the heat down even at high noon.
There are spaces between the boxes to allow the plants to grow. Inside the house, there are hardly any walls separating the rooms, except for bathrooms. This is done for efficient ventilation throughout the house, at the same time giving the house an open, uncluttered feel. Those open spaces between planter boxes were determined by the types of vegetation planted. The full height of a plant was used to fix the spacing between planters on each floor.
In this way when plants reached their full height and became the outer surface of the building they would serve to filter the sunlight, while the breezes could still flow through. The architects picked trees or plants with fine and delicate foliage so as not to block the wind, and for ease of use they installed pipes for an automatic watering system.
Tom Dannecker (Architect) and Sawinee Buranasilapin (Designer) of Thingsmatter join force to create a functional home for a family.
The main building was divided into two parallel units with a roomy space in between. The first unit includes a workroom, a food preparation area, a dining area and a living room. On the second floor is a master bedroom, a child bedroom and a playroom.
The second unit was especially designed for the mother. On the first floor is a service area, a kitchen, a laundry room and a maid workroom. The second floor is reserved for relaxation. Located here are a bedroom and two spare guest rooms. Both units are connected through a walkway (and a stairway to the second floor). Attached with the walkway is a high louver panel, which is also a door to a garden.
The swing door can be opened to its full width at 90 degree angles, giving full scenic garden view. Even though the louvers are fixed, their large sizes and varying degrees combined make an effective ventilation system. These panels are made from white fiber cement, which is durable and goes well with the house’s rectangular design. Wired screen is attached behind the panel, to keep the mosquito out of worries.
Since the house is located in an old village, the neighborhood is not of a great view. Polycarbonate sheets are applied to solve the problem. So, other houses roof look somewhat like a blurred color shape.
Strength and durable are strongly stressed here. Apart from reinforced concrete structure, stairs and walkways are coated with green epoxy for long-lasting use. Exmet (Expanded metal) meshes are installed on the wall around the house. Also, instead of using a laminated board for a kitchen cabinet, fiber cement board is used. It’s is not only an inexpensive choice, but also gives a simple and unpretentious look.
Located in suburb area, this minimalist house has plenty of ample space for a family. The owner reaches out to A21 Studio group of architects to design the place.
/// Vietnam ///
Architect: A21 Studio /// Photo: Soopakorn Srisakul
The house incorporated many natural features. The ground floor interior appears open, airy and uncluttered, using glass to divide the room area. A green oasis in the center court can be seen in full view from anywhere. The cozy innermost section is a private area designed to accommodate visiting acquaintances.
Double-space design boasts a sense of virtual unity within the first and the second floor. A kids homework room and a sitting room on the second floor can be either connected or separated as needed. On the third floor is where a home gym and a bathtub are located and nicely furnished for a good rest after a long day.
The highlights of the clean-cut interior are gloss finish concrete floors, glass room dividers, and solid walls painted polite colors. Streamlined furniture makes for comfortable living in Minimalist style.
The least disruption of airflow makes it possible to do without turning on air condition. That means saving on electricity and other energy-related expenses.
The ordinary creation to answer the homeowner needs is achieved here. With an environmental consciousness and a minimalist house design, the home gives residents a better living.
A beachfront home is built based on a simple exterior design, yet it is a perfect hideaway to relax in a tranquil environment.
/// Thailand ///
Story : Atla Otto /// Photos : Sungwan Phratem
Here is a simple home designed for easy coastal living. It is nestled on the peaceful western shore of Samui Island. The neighborhood is known for envy-inducing outdoor spaces and stunning sea views.
The waterfront home sits on a rectangular plot of land large enough for building a good-sized house. But the property owner is not looking for a design that is twice longer than wide. Because a rectangular floor plan may be lacking in variety, he opts for something else more interesting. The result is a neatly planned vacation home comprising three detached units. All of their front rooms are positioned to take advantage of the waterfront’s views and breezes.
The three shed-roof buildings sit facing one another and come in different sizes. Their floors are raised 50 cm above the ground. The largest unit features a semi-open design to serve multiple purposes, incorporating a seating area, dining room and pantry. Next to it stands the second building with master bedroom with ocean views. An infinity pool, lush greenery and the beach lie between the two buildings and the open sea. The third building, which is set further back, features two en suite bedrooms. It is the first to be accessible from the street. The three-unit home boasts clean line exterior design with an emphasis on relaxing hues, such as white, gray and beige. Wood accents come in natural color and finish design to never go out of style.
Open design allows an abundance of natural light and breezes to flow easily through the three buildings. Genius landscaping ideas help keep the interior spaces cool naturally, while lush foliage provides for comfortable outdoor rooms just steps away from the sparkling blue waters.
These twin houses are a kind of an in-between space that separates them physically. In a subtle way, the center court serves to perpetuate the spiritual bond between the two households. It makes for cordial relations and passion in the form of a shared space that gets used every day. It is obvious they have found the right balance.
/// Thailand ///
Story : /// Photo : /// Designer: Natasas Jeenphund and Yupayong Chaikachorntat
The owner of appealing twin house are two sisters, Chutima Bunnumkitsawat and Chutimon Siriwithayarat. Now married, They live in separate households that share the same compound. As anyone would expect, the twin residences look amazingly alike. But they are two distinctive entities. So we asked, and they answered.
“Originally They had planned on developing the property, on which we now live, to accommodate an extended family lifestyle. By chance, my husband came across one of the designs by Nat and contacted him right away before the big flood hit. We got down to the business of planning in earnest while the city was inundated in 2011,” Chutima said.
She said that the family has lived on this plot of land for three generations now, meaning those of Mom and Dad, the twin sisters themselves, and now the little ones.
Asked about design inspirations, Chutima said: “We both have kids roughly the same age. So family living spaces have got to be clearly defined. Simply put, we are two separate households now. Nonetheless, the two houses are set in the same compound. Mom and Dad can be with the kids here or there. Bottom line, our children will get to grow up together.”
Chutimon said that despite being two separate entities, the twin houses are subtly tied to each other in so many ways.
Behind the perceived sameness there exist a fair amount of differences. By permission, we take a look around only to find, as is often said, plenty of different details in the find print. First, their lifestyles subtly differ. Chutima’s home features a design with an emphasis on vertical treatments that embrace the value of the family’s intimate living spaces. Patches of greenery in the vertical garden protect the privacy of the living room and nearby patio. Lush foliage makes for comfortable interior living spaces. Now let’s move over to the other side of the center court. Chutimon’s home boasts open and light interior design featuring ample horizontal spaces. Reminiscent of the traditional Thai-style home, the family interior living spaces look out over and connect to the center court. The bedroom comes with an open, spacious balcony that is the family’s favorite hangout spot.
The awesome twin houses complex is the brainchild of designers Natasas Jeenphund and Yupayong Chaikachorntat of Poetic Space Studio. As they put it, “The two homes highlight simple, clean line design. I want them to appear as two distinctive entities. It is like two well-pruned trees thriving side by side. Meantime, it is not about being totally separated. Basically, the plan is based on a design principle that aims to keep the two families very much together.” In a nutshell, the twin houses find the right balance not only in terms of land use but also in architectural style. More importantly, they bear testimony to passion and longing to be together and cherish the relationship made in heaven.
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.
/// Thailand ///
Story : Wuthikorn Suthiapa /// Photos : Sitthisak Namkham /// Architecture : EKAR and Full Scale
“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 abode featuring smooth exteriors and eye-catching roof design is affectionately called “Baan Muan,” literally home of baby Muan.
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 were responsible for the design.
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 home 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.”
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.
“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.
“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”
The open plan design 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.
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.
“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.
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 eye-catching minimalist style.