Blog : renovation

Uthai Heritage Hotel: From Old Schoolhouse to Boutique Hotel off the Beaten Path

Uthai Heritage Hotel: From Old Schoolhouse to Boutique Hotel off the Beaten Path

/ Uthai Thani, Thailand /

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

/ Photographs: Courtesy of Supergreen Studio /

Like going back in time, a new boutique hotel has opened in beautiful small town Uthai Thani, one of the last few unspoiled places in the countryside. Named “Uthai Heritage”, it’s an off-the-beaten-track place of accommodation nestled in a peaceful neighborhood untouched by urban development.

Uthai Heritage Hotel

Formerly the home of “Uthai Withayalai School”, the property was tastefully renovated as a boutique hotel in a class of its own. It was meant to be an alternative travel destination for those wishing to escape the popular tourist traps. An amazing hidden place people often miss, Uthai Thani lies to the north of Kanchanaburi and west of Nakhon Sawan, a major city 250 km north of Bangkok.

Uthai Heritage Hotel

By way of introduction, the school was fully operational from 1957 until 1995. The difficulties that ensued from a decline in economic activity and environmental neglect resulted in it gradually falling into disrepair. But the owner was determined to keep the two-story buildings on the property in working order by checking and repairing regularly.

The owner felt a sentimental attachment to the wooden schoolhouse. After everything has changed, he thought it wise to give it a complete makeover, transforming it into a boutique hotel. In a way, it contributed significantly to the preservation of the historic identity of his neighborhood and, at the same time, attracted new tourists to the area by providing affordable hotel accommodations.

It was a metamorphosis of purpose that saw most of the classrooms transform into hotel rooms while others were remade as reception halls and venues for social activity, including a café and nearby cozy swimming pool.

Uthai Heritage Hotel

Uthai Heritage Hotel

Architecturally speaking, the renovation project was thoughtfully devised to ensure the old wooden structure remained intact. At the same time, a solid framework of steel was added for long-term strength and durability performance.

Uthai Heritage Hotel

To showcase the small town’s history and cultural identity, old building parts were kept in perfect conditions, including door and window shutters as well as the old school flagpole and the signboard at the front. At the same time, they were meticulous about making the strengthening structure and materials fit right in with the original wooden buildings.

Uthai Heritage Hotel

Uthai Heritage Hotel

The overall effect is impressive. For increased privacy and soundproof qualities in the rooms, the walls are built of brickwork and plastered to form a neat, smooth surface. The new boutique hotel boasts the simplicity of a U-shaped floor plan with lush green lawns at the center hemmed in by native plants and well-designed corridors and connecting spaces.

Time has left its imprint. A friendly message on the stairway wall calls to the mind fond memories of old school days.

Uthai Heritage Hotel

Because heritage matters, the old flagstaff remains where it has always been as storytelling artifact. Where necessary, new units of construction are added to the existing building plan to support and facilitate new business operations. They include new hotel rooms and hallways providing access to places on the premises.

Uthai Heritage Hotel

Uthai Heritage Hotel

Uthai Heritage Hotel
Parts of the original framework are preserved for their power of historic and cultural storytelling.

It’s a comfortable place, allowing people to feel relaxed and at home. Air conditioning is there, although it’s used very little by guests who prefer reconnections with nature and the sound effect produced by rain and leaves rustling in the breeze. If a journey in time is your cup of tea, you’ve come to the right place.

Uthai Heritage Hotel
Like a journey through time, the U-shaped schoolhouse transforms in to an attractive boutique hotel with lush green lawns hemmed in by native plants.

Uthai Heritage Hotel


Architect: Supergreen Studio


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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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Sekeping Kong Heng: A Boutique Hotel Treasures the Charm of Ipoh

Sekeping Kong Heng: A Boutique Hotel Treasures the Charm of Ipoh

/ Ipoh,  Malaysia /

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

/ Photographs: Sitthisak Namkham /

In the old town of Ipoh, a stylish boutique hotel named Sekeping Kong Heng not only blends into its historical surroundings, but also contributes to restoring all its former glory.

boutique hotel

boutique hotel

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The history of Ipoh dates back to 1880 when Hakka immigrants arrived for work in tin mines and made a permanent home here. As mining industries continued on the decline, the once exuberant town was losing its luster.

A pleasant twist of fate, the waning days of Ipoh attracted the attention of many designers, who banded together to keep the old-world charm from disappearing. Giving it their best shot, they succeeded in bringing Ipoh back in the limelight.

Among the projects aimed at restoring glory to Ipoh was Sekeping Kong Heng, a small boutique hotel designed by Ng Sek San, an internationally renowned Ipoh-born architect.

The charming small hotel is tucked away on the upper floors of a three-story Colonial-era shop-house complex in the old town. The first floor is reserved for a famous local coffee shop known for a variety of Chinese-style coffees and Ipoh’s favorite dishes.

Its food menu includes the noodle dish called Hokkien Mee, satay, and spring rolls. Its existence guarantees that hotel guests will never run short of delicious foods and beverages.

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boutique hotel

boutique hotel

boutique hotel

To check-in, know that the entrance to the hotel lobby is located on a small alleyway. Sekeping Kong Heng offers three types of accommodation — standard rooms, a family room and glass boxes.

With its location, hotel guests can expect the authentic Ipoh experience. They wake up each morning to the heavenly smell of coffee being brewed fresh in the shop below. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. The same applies here. Come breakfast time, expect to eat with locals and like locals do. Time well spent is time spent exploring this and other alleyways a stone’s throw away.

The boutique hotel’s time-honored appeal blends seamlessly with Ipoh’s old-world ambience. It’s obvious the Ipoh-born architect has intended to keep this part of town like it has always been.

In the process, the hotel’s existing structure is left intact. A loft-style twist adds contemporary feel to the hotel’s interior, while patches of greenery adorn the exterior walls keeping the building cool.

The open-concept design provides easy access connecting the café to retail shops and a flea market nearby. The architect’s thorough understanding of Ipoh’s lifestyle is manifested in the way the boutique hotel is neatly restored. Sekeping Kong Heng now contributes in its small way to breathing new life into the old city.

boutique hotel

boutique hotel

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boutique hotel

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Architect: Ng Sek San of Seksan Design Landscape Architecture and Planning


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A Bangkok Townhouse Oozes Vintage Charm

A Bangkok Townhouse Oozes Vintage Charm

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

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

/ Photographs: Ritthirong Chanthongsuk, Soopakorn Srisakul /

This Bangkok urban house has the appearance of an old townhouse, exuding both class and relaxation. However, looks can be deceiving! Despite its vintage charm and poise, this townhouse was built not long ago and embodies a contemporary vibe that seamlessly blends the old with the new.

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

The kitchen-cum-workspace is the most elegantly furnished area of the house.
The kitchen-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. Some of the original windows deemed to be too small were replaced with bigger ones.

The homeowner even found an ingenious way to add an attic for her kids. The result was a light and airy dwelling place, quite an aberration from a typical townhouse.

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Inside, the wooden parts, such as window frames, doors, antique decor and crafts bespoke the homeowner’s passion for woodwork. She designed all the built-in furniture, including wooden cupboards with intricate carvings, and bought other furnishings and ornaments herself.

Napaporn admitted she didn’t have a plan when she bought them. 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 concept of space management and the art of applying cultural identity to design. These things make the 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 poise has proved one thing. The homeowner managed to put her newfound knowledge to practice. And it showed in the intelligent use of space and the way she decorated with crafts.

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Owner/Designer: Napaporn Pothirach


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An Open Concept Urban Home with a Minimalist Flair in Kuala Lumpur

An Open Concept Urban Home with a Minimalist Flair in Kuala Lumpur

/ Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia /

/ Story: Ekkarach Laksanasamrith / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul /

With the creative use of design elements, this Minimalist house in Kuala Lumpur feels bright, airy and comfortable, albeit having only a small number of windows. The open concept urban home with a stylish flair was designed and built by Tony Heneberry of 2’s Company, formerly JTJ Design, under the concept of a great place to live in.

Minimalist urban home
Growing trees add some freshness and makes the house more of a great place to live in.

As simple as that, here’s the story of a metamorphosis of purpose, in which a duo of unexciting shophouses transformed into an incredibly warm and roomy living space in the heart of town. After he had bought the two units attached to each other, Heneberry gave them a complete makeover, tearing down the dividing walls and combining them into one coherent whole with increased usable spaces inside.

Minimalist urban home
Green foliage adds joy to cooking, making it feel like living out in nature.

The result is a 7-meter-wide façade looking much better than when Henebery found it. He removed the existing solid walls between them and assigned new functions to the interior spaces. The living room with dining area on the second floor is spacious, with a lot of open areas in accordance with the “open plan” concept.

Minimalist urban home
Trees chosen for the center courtyard have medium-sized leaves to keep the house airy and not too dense.
Minimalist urban home
Using an “open plan” design means the interior is all connected, which avoids a cluttered look.
The new set of stairs illuminated by a rooftop skylight is one of the spots everyone likes the most.
The new set of stairs illuminated by a rooftop skylight is one of the spots everyone likes the most.

For practical reasons, the old staircases were torn down and replaced by new ones built in a better, more convenient location. The new sets of stairs crafted of steel sit in a hallway next to the center courtyard, leading the way to the second floor.

The courtyard is filled with trees, as a main relaxation area of the house, where a glimpse of outdoor experience is brought inside in harmony. The trees also create visual continuity by naturally drawing the eyes towards the interior.

The stair to the third floor is set in another location. It sits against the outer wall, to preserve the space inside, which is an area for work and rest.

[Above] The wooden roof truss painted all white makes the overhead space look taller and more spacious. / [Below] The new metal staircase is aesthetically pleasing, thanks to the absence of solid risers between the treads. For good ventilation, expanded metal grating is used instead.
[Above] The wooden roof truss painted all white makes the overhead space look taller and more spacious. / [Below] The new metal staircase is aesthetically pleasing, thanks to the absence of solid risers between the treads. For good ventilation, expanded metal grating is used instead.
Minimalist urban home
Natural light turns second-floor living and work spaces into a well-lighted place, plus high ceilings add an airy feel to it. The disadvantage that comes with having only a few windows is nicely compensated for by the creative use of design elements, rooftop skylights among them.

As for the ventilation system, hot air is able to float up through the hallway and then flows out through window louvers and vents on the rooftop.

Another plus is, this Minimalist urban home faces south. So, by putting planter boxes on window frames, a simple vertical garden is added to filter sunlight and enhance privacy for the people living inside. The bottom line. This newly renovated home is truly a breath of fresh air.

[Left] The hallway wall surface is covered with crushed concrete recycled from the old shophouses. / [Right] Lush green vertical gardening adds a refreshing change to the front façade rising above the carport.

Architect: 2’s Company (www.facebook.com/JtjDesign)


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A Trendsetting Row House Renovation in Chiang Mai

A Trendsetting Row House Renovation in Chiang Mai

/ Chiang Mai, Thailand /

/ Story: Atta Otto / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Sungwan Phratem /

The Plankrich Co., Ltd, led by Kwanchai Suthamsao, is known for being at the forefront of trends in row house design and renovation. Only recently when the firm undertook the restoration of a row house trio in Chiang Mai, many design aficionados were expecting to see exciting new innovations and exquisite materials. As it turns out, the redesigned homes boast a beautiful mix of simplicity and vintage charm with design for practical modern living. Especially for his own end unit, Kwanchai’s main goal is to create a place of abode that best answers his urban lifestyle. The three-unit row house block is conveniently located in a central neighborhood of Chiang Mai.

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

On reasons to invest in a row house, Kwanchai said: “A single, detached home is out of the question; land has become very expensive. The only option is a row house. After a survey, I chose this three-unit shophouse block. The size is about right; the price is fair and not too high. This way I am able to give it a complete makeover.”

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For good ventilation, the old staircase was removed to make room for a new set of stairs without risers between the treads. It’s supported by an I-shaped steel beam.

Kwanchai had practically everything inside removed, including the old bulky staircase so as to make room for a new flight of stairs without risers between the treads for better ventilation. The only things remaining were pillars and beams.

The floor plans for all three units were completely redesigned. He wanted each one of them to have its own unique character, but space was limited. So, he only focused on making his end unit look different instead, at least for the time being.

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A small guest room with a shelf-like bunk is tucked away at the rear of the first floor.

To accommodate visitors from time to time, there’s a compact guest room at the far end of the first floor. Custom-designed double bunks make it suitable for sleeping two guests. In all three units the mezzanines were taken out, while the omnipresence of reclaimed timber beams and long planks making up parts of the wooden floors brings back vintage charms.

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A bulky upholstered sofa adds warm, cozy feelings to the interior. Window treatment ideas with wooden slat blinds allow natural light into the home.

The second floor is neatly planned for multiple uses. There’s a sitting room in the front section, dining space in the middle, and the kitchen and bathroom at the rear of the building. The dining area is made a bit small to make room for the stairway.

Overall, the furnishing and decoration of the interior conveys a great deal about the owner’s love for vintage collectables. Oblique-aligned wooden walls and floorboards give a warm, homey feeling.

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The second floor holds a dining room. The floorboard and walls are covered in reclaimed wood from the homeowner’s collection.
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An L-shaped kitchen counter creates an easy flow workspace. Cabinet doors in light shades of beige make the room look clean and bright.
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Microwave and convection ovens are on one side of the aisle, with the washer and dryer on the other. The door at the end opens to the dining room.

The third floor holds a bedroom in the front section that’s kept clean and uncluttered, with the wardrobe and bathroom nearby separated by a sliding door. The overall effect is impressive; the interior boasts a clean neutral shade for relaxation. There’s a minimal amount of decoration while furniture is reduced to bare essentials.

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The bedroom is kept clean and uncluttered to provide a balance for limited spaces. The walls are covered in beech boards. Large sliding doors open to the cube-shaped glass enclosure that adorns the front façade.
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The changing room-cum-walk-in closet offers wardrobes on both sides of the aisle, which connects to the bathroom at the far end.

Taken as a whole, the secret to success lies in constancy of purpose and using reclaimed wood as the material of choice. The interior living space is cozy and comfortable, thanks to large windows that allow plenty of natural daylight. The result is a bright and breezy place of abode that’s small but has everything for a vibrant city lifestyle.

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A glass wall with sliding door allows diffuse light into the sitting room at the rear of the house.

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The staircase landing [left] provides access to a neat built-in cabinet made of reclaimed wood. The staircase without risers between the treads [right] offers niches for shoe storage.
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Marks on the wall and concrete structural framing tell stories of a recent home makeover. The homeowner intentionally left them as a personal reminder. [right] A rusty sconce attached to the wall adds rustic charm to a bare concrete wall. Beneath it is a wood box storage for home improvement tools.


Owner/Architect: Kwanchai Suthamsao of Plankrich Co.,Ltd. (www.plankrich.com)


Visit the original Thai article…

Chiang Mai City วิถีชน (ใน) เมือง


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