Blog : renovation

A Renovated Shophouse with a Hidden Gem, Simply Delightful

A Renovated Shophouse with a Hidden Gem, Simply Delightful

/ Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam /

/ Story: Phattaraphon / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Quang Tran /

This small shophouse in Ho Chi Minh City has been renovated to answer the specific needs of a family of four and their pet cats. From time to time, Grandma comes by to watch the little children and stay overnight. As may be expected of the narrow-front dwelling ubiquitous across Vietnam’s urban landscapes, the house plan is much longer than it is wide, plus there is a problem.

renovated shophouse Vietnam
A view from the street, perforated metal panels painted a cool-toned white provide privacy protection.

Facing the northwest direction, the front façade gets full afternoon sun causing heat gain inside the already tiny home lacking fresh air and ventilation. It’s amazing how a well-thought-out makeover changes everything, resulting in a bright and airy living space.

renovated shophouse Vietnam

The perforated metal fence gate works in tandem with the principal face of the building creating a transition between indoor and outdoor living spaces.
renovated shophouse Vietnam
Arranged on a long and narrow plan, the sitting room up front is separated from living spaces at the rear by a small green oasis lit by a rooftop skylight.

The homeowners sought the advice of professionals, THIA Architecture of Ho Chi Minh City, to improve the situation. After thorough site inspections, a team of designers came up with a plan to renovate the front of the house in two parts.

First, at ground level the old opaque fence gate was removed and replaced by a new one made entirely of perforated steel sheets. Little holes in the steel panels let fresh outdoor air pass through and circulate inside, meanwhile providing diffused light and improving home privacy.

Then, on top of the fence gate a framework of metal bars is put in, anchored securely to the concrete wall up front. Designed as a support for climbing plants, it rises as high as the roof eave, creating in a double layer façade that’s beautiful and capable of keeping the heat out. At least that’s the future plan.

[Left] A trio of drawings illustrates space utilization on the first and second floors as well as the rooftop skylight. / [Right] A street map shows the house location in relation to others in the neighborhood. / Courtesy of THIA Architecture
[Left] A side elevation view in cross section shows the relationship between natural and built-up environments. / [Right] A concept of decorative patterns on the house façade seen from the street. / Courtesy of THIA Architecture

renovated shophouse Vietnam
An open floor plan creates a smooth flow from the sitting room to dining room and a small green space lit by a rooftop skylight.
A sunlit small courtyard, for lack of a better word, brightens the room at the center of the house plan.
Sitting nook design ideas under a gable roof provide a gimmick intended to evoke memories of Vietnam’s rustic countryside.
Grandma’s bedroom tucked away at the rear is a calm personal living space well-lit by natural daylight.

Walk through the metal fence gate, and you discover a small terrace bringing in natural light and fresh air into the family living room with a kitchen and dining room nearby.

Grandma’s bedroom is tucked away at the rear of the house plan, separated from the sitting room up front by a small interior green space illuminated by a rooftop skylight. By design, it’s an added feature that solves the problem of stale air and stuffy room once and for all.

renovated shophouse Vietnam

Its small size notwithstanding, the interior green space exudes the simplicity and charm considered typical of the Vietnamese countryside. It looks neat and is well cared for. Plus, weather-beaten wood and vintage earthen roof tiles provide a gimmick intended to attract attention.

From here, a set of stairs lead to the second floor holding the principal bedroom up front, separated from two bedrooms for kids by the void of space above the tiny center courtyard.

renovated shophouse Vietnam
The stairway and its surrounding walls are illuminated by a skylight built into the rooftop.
renovated shophouse Vietnam
Split level layout ideas paired with a mezzanine add intrigue and interest to interior design.

renovated shophouse Vietnam
The bedroom wall facing the void of space above the yard opens to admit light and fresh air.

renovated shophouse Vietnam

renovated shophouse Vietnam
A custom made window in just the right size opens to connect with the inner courtyard, a clever hack to avoid stale air and stuffy summers.

renovated shophouse Vietnam

In closing, it’s the story of a little house made comfortable, bright and airy by well-thought-out design. The center courtyard, for lack of a better word, provides a communal space shared by all members of the family, the result of a renovation done right that makes a small home a happy home.

renovated shophouse Vietnam
A set of stairs gives access to children’s bedrooms at the rear, separated from the principal bedroom up front by the void of space above the sunlit small courtyard.

Architect: THIA Architecture

Lead designer: Arc Huynh Xuan Thi

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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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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


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.


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


boutique hotel



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

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A Bangkok Townhouse Embraces the Charm and Style of the Past

A Bangkok Townhouse Embraces the Charm and Style of the Past

/ 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.


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.


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.


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.





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.




“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.


Owner/Designer: Napaporn Pothirach

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A Rooftop House with a Wonderful Panorama of Old Bangkok

A Rooftop House with a Wonderful Panorama of Old Bangkok

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

/ Story: Tawan / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul /

In the midst of stunning skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of city life, there exist serene temples and communities in the old part of town. This is where Jason M. Friedman has chosen to build his rooftop house.

Rooftop House
Spacious glass walls open to take in the view of old Bangkok. The neighborhood boasts a comfortable lifestyle that Friedman has always wanted, and for good reason.

At first, Friedman had planned on buying a condominium within the prime business district. But then he discovered a vacant penthouse unit on the seventh floor. He gave it a serious thought, and the rest was history.

“I was fortunate to have discovered this place. The home with a 360-degree surround view is nestled in the heart of old-town Bangkok. So I changed my mind and immediately got down to the business of remaking it into a residential home,” Friedman recalled.


An al fresco sitting area provides outdoor comforts and a 360-degree view of Old Bangkok. A sky garden filled with thriving houseplants adds green urban space to the top of the building – frugal ideas to reconnect with nature.
An al fresco sitting area provides outdoor comforts and a 360-degree view of Old Bangkok. A sky garden filled with thriving houseplants adds green urban space to the top of the building – frugal ideas to reconnect with nature.
Rooftop House
A living room speaks to the rustic industrial style rich in outstanding features. They include naked brick walls, exposed systems of electrical conduits, and a full complement of light fixtures illuminating the space with sofas in a cool-toned white.

Utilizing the vantage point to the maximum benefit, he positioned all the rooms in a way that afforded a beautiful view of the city. Plus, they are conveniently connected to one another.

He put in large wall openings to bring the great outdoors into the home, creating a passive cooling system for everything from the reception area to dining room, to kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and the balcony.


Rooftop House
The dining table crafted of teakwood displays beautiful wood grain textures in goldish brown finishes. The room comes alive with flowers and a chandelier in vivid colors.

Inside, some of the most eye-catching elements include the exposed brick walls that add rustic Industrial charm to the guest reception area and dining room. Furniture crafted mostly of intricate woodwork dominates the interior living spaces.

Decorating materials, most of which obtained through years of extensive travels, convey a lot about his love for Oriental art and culture. They are placed on display silhouetted against the brownish orange hues of surrounding brickwork, while plenty of natural light shines through the generously sized glass wall.

Rooftop House
There’s a corridor leading to the quiet, more secluded bedroom at the rear. It runs straight past the kitchen that’s the highlight of this penthouse. In the meantime, black-and-white floor tiles set the kitchen apart from nearby functional spaces, a clever way to separate the interiors into different rooms with using solid dividers.

The kitchen is custom-built since Friedman is particularly fond of home cooking. He usually buys fresh produce and does his own grocery shopping. The room comes well equipped and spacious enough to meet his specs. It’s like putting an entire hotel kitchen in a home setting, so to speak.

For the most part the floors are tiled in black and white, arranged in the chess design pattern to blend harmoniously with nearby exposed brick walls. The bottom line is they are easy to keep clean.

The kitchen is spacious and custom-built to the specs created by Friedman, an avid home chef.
The kitchen is spacious and custom-built to the specs created by Friedman, an avid home chef.

The bedroom boasts clean line design that’s easy on the eyes with furniture speaking to a passion for Oriental style. Awake or asleep, panoramic views of old Bangkok are always there, thanks to large windows glazed with clear glass on all sides.

The food preparation area features a spacious kitchen island table and a backsplash tiled in white for easy cleaning.
The food preparation area features a spacious kitchen island table and a backsplash tiled in white for easy cleaning.

While the city continues to grow and face new challenges that come with an expanding economy, one must not forget that Bangkok is where old neighborhoods coexist with new skyscrapers.

There is rustic charm to the beautiful culture and lifestyle that cannot be found anywhere else. This Western gentleman is fortunate to have found happiness in his rooftop home, and is loving every minute of it!

This stylishly chic bathtub is custom-made. The rim comes wrapped in genuine leather for firm grips and safety precautions.
Decorating materials are taken from sentimental collections that Friedman has kept for many years. Imperfections, scratches, and dents tell stories of their journey through time. The same applies to pictures mounted on the wall and the antique hanging lamps.
This stylishly chic bathtub is custom-made. The rim comes wrapped in genuine leather for firm grips and safety precautions.
This stylishly chic bathtub is custom-made. The rim comes wrapped in genuine leather for firm grips and safety precautions.

Sharing his slice of paradise, Friedman said: “Living the best of life is not necessarily about being in a well-appointed home, rich in elaborate design and expensive décor. To me, a happy home is one in which you feel relaxed. It is nice to wake up fully rested and enjoy tranquil sounds of Old Bangkok, its lifestyle, and a culture that is so unique.”

Twin antique bathroom mirrors come in wood frames adorned with Chinese calligraphy. Its traditional look complements the natural finishes on the wooden dressing table.
Twin antique bathroom mirrors come in wood frames adorned with Chinese calligraphy. Its traditional look complements the natural finishes on the wooden dressing table.

Owner/Decorator: Jason M. Friedman

Visit the original Thai version…

Rustic Industrial ผสมผสานในสไตล์ไทยและตะวันออก

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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

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 (

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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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

The second floor holds a dining room. The floorboard and walls are covered in reclaimed wood from the homeowner’s collection.
An L-shaped kitchen counter creates an easy flow workspace. Cabinet doors in light shades of beige make the room look clean and bright.
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.

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

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.

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

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.
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. (

Visit the original Thai article…

Chiang Mai City วิถีชน (ใน) เมือง

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