Suwin Kraibhubes' Vintage Wonderland
Stretching across 3,200 square metres, Suwin Kraibhubes’ picturesque residence in Ramintra is an ode to childhood dreams and personal passions. On entering the private grounds, it is evident that the abode’s striking appeal is the product of an owner with eclectic tastes. We slowly take in the sight before us, mesmerised by the modern American-influenced cottage, central courtyard and swimming pool. The estate also includes a separate garage that displays most of the owner’s impressive collection of around 40 vehicles—some are undergoing maintenance or are parked at his vacation homes—the majority of which are vintage.
Suwin is the founder and CEO of Beauty Community, a burgeoning distributor of cosmetics and skincare products. The listed company now has around 350 retail shops across the country as well as outlets in Vietnam and the Philippines under the brands Beauty Buffet, Beauty Cottage and Beauty Markets. Additionally, its products are also sold at beauty shops in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Taiwan. Prior to the inception of the company, the businessman was in fact a general practice doctor with a medical degree from Chiang Mai University. “My childhood dream was to become an architect or interior designer, but back then those weren’t the paths a studious child was encouraged to take,” he laughs. “I later decided to venture into the business world instead of furthering my career in medicine, while my homes now reflect my initial aspirations.”
While the residence was designed by architect Korn Thongtour of Brownhouses and a team of interior designers from Interior Design Farm, Suwin was closely involved throughout the four-year build process. His penchant for all things vintage greatly influenced the design, hence natural materials like wood and stone are used throughout the quarters. But to accommodate the entire family, including his wife and two teenage sons, the objective was also to highlight functional aspects as well as the spatial flow. “A beautiful home to me is one that feels comfortable to live in and, most importantly, never goes out of style. With that in mind we decided to add a touch of modernity to the space to balance out the design,” he explains.
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Making our way to the left end of the property, passing a small vintage fire truck, we stop at one of the host’s favourite corners—a standalone pub. Above the entrance a huge sign spells garage. “Because that was what it used to be,” he laughs. “I sometimes have friends over and thought a dedicated entertainment space would be great for casual gatherings.” The room includes a self-service bar that overlooks an eclectic selection of Suwin’s antique finds, items ranging from a film projector to a steering wheel. The expanse altogether exhibits a rustic, masculine vibe fit for gents-only parties.
We proceed to the rear of the plot where Suwin shows us his Explorer room, a quaint glasshouse next to the main building. “This is where I display things that I’ve acquired during my travels,” he says. Taking centre stage is a long wooden table lined by Toledo desk chairs. Vintage medical illustrations, anatomical models and surgical lights provide a reminiscence of his medical years, while books, vinyl record players and even marriage certificates deck the space.
Moving into the main house, we notice Parisian Le Petit Journal newspaper pages and British print illustrations adorning the walls. The living room, a rather modern and roomy space, features subdued tones subtly accented by antique finds. Through a secluded hallway is a spa and sauna zone wherein the floor and walls are dressed in beige marble tiles. Passing a wall display of over 200 vintage cameras and then a fitness room, Suwin leads us to the common area. On the left, a handsome bar presents a tasteful balance of modern and age-old decorative pieces. Appropriately, next to it is a karaoke corner where a plush maroon sofa complements a wall of antique radios and a jukebox filled with Elvis Presley hits. On the right, a formal dining area is set against a backdrop of a grey stone wall.
Over a transparent floor that acts as a bridge across a pond of colourful kois, we are guided towards the other end of the building where Suwin fondly points out what he calls the boys’ playroom—it showcases some of his most precious cars and motorbikes. Here we also see walls dedicated to vintage sewing machines and typewriters. By this stage Suwin has been showing us how certain pieces work and we are aware that the gent’s fascination with antiques is on a profound level. “Things from back in the old days have much more intricate design than they do now. I guess that is because people used to live life at a much slower pace, so they had more time to appreciate craftsmanship,” he tells us.
Upstairs, the décor is much more muted and minimal. But colour is still a central aspect of the home’s design, utilising shades that make each expanse blend seamlessly together—making a comfortable dwelling, not a showroom. In the right wing, the library echoes an American country house with a high ceiling complete with wooden beams. The cinema room next to it features a snug interior with soundproofed walls and advanced sound and visual display systems.
The opposite wing houses the family’s bedrooms. Those of his two sons are designed according to their preferences, but both have stairs that lead to an attic where the boys can meet. Surprisingly, the master bedroom has no hints of vintage. The sleek, modern space with its floor-to-ceiling windows allows for natural light to flood in and fill the room. From here looking onto the grounds, we get a complete view of the beautiful estate and its lush greenery—it may well be a vacation home. The house illustrates a timeless, rustic quality, tastefully marrying the owner’s personal style with modern aesthetics.