Jindabha Devakula na Ayudhya's Home Is Compact And Bijou
Tucked away between the facades of old buildings on Phetchaburi Road is the unprepossessing entrance to the narrow Soi Baan Thanon Phetchaburi. This is where Jindabha Devakula na Ayudhya, or Jinnie, makes her home. “The land has been in my family for four generations,” she says. “We actually own the three rai on either side of the soi from its mouth down. The buildings out front have been renting from us for 60 years now.”
The family’s residence sits on one rai and comprises a period house in front of a modest and more modern four-storey building. “The old house belongs to my grandmother, Thanpuying Phensri Vajarodaya. I live on the third and fourth floors of the building behind it. My parents, Gen ML Tosnawa-Amorn Devakula and Ratanabha Devakula na Ayudhya occupy the first two floors,” Jinnie explains as she leads the way to an elevator, effectively beginning our tour of the home.
The elevator opens at the fourth floor into a foyer partitioned with floor-to-ceiling glass. Beyond is the living space and beyond that an expansive outdoor dining area featuring a long one-of-a-kind stone table sourced through Villa Vinotto. From here there are views across the tops of coconut and other fruit trees below—which were planted by her grandmother—and in the near distance a motley mixture of old and new buildings, highlighting the gradual gentrification taking place in the area. “This is an old neighbourhood and there isn’t much space for development, so you have to try and make use of every square foot,” Jinnie points out.
In the 30 years that she has lived at the property there have been three renovations. “The first took place when I was quite small and the second when I was a late adolescent. That time I got to decorate my own room. My parents picked purple and blue for the walls! I don’t know why,” she laughs. This time it was Jinnie’s turn to pick the décor style for the top two floors. “I used to live on the third floor and the fourth floor functioned as a leisure area or music room. When we came to the latest renovation, which began almost two years ago and really only finished earlier this year, I chose a colonial contemporary style. I suppose I was inspired by certain hotels and resorts I’ve stayed at. I’m always taking pictures of room features and fittings and designs on wallpaper and carpets when I travel.”
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And travel normally looms large in the 30-year-old’s life. As the founder and owner of Mr Fruity, a growing frozen and fresh fruit export business, frequent flying is part of her job. “When I come across a design element or material or décor feature that is interesting or new to me I take a picture of it and show it to Jill. He then tells me what it is and how it is made,” she says with a smile. Here she is referring to interior designer Narongchai Jerapanidchakul, founder of Villa Vinotto and better known as Jill.
It was to Jill that Jinnie turned for the latest interior work on the residence. “He is sometimes called a ‘living stylist’ in the business. He knows me well and seemed to grasp what I had in mind from the beginning. The property, like many in the neighbourhood, is small and so we needed to be clever with the space. Jill worked very hard at this using a hidden-in-plain-sight concept and managed to disguise cupboards and storage units throughout the home behind discrete panels in seemingly solid walls.”
Jinnie laughs as this stirs a memory. “Once the major restructuring work was done and all I had were empty rooms, one morning Jill banished me and told me not come back until evening. Then with the help of 10 of his people, within the span of a day they furnished the place from top to bottom—everything from carpets to curtains and pictures. You can imagine my surprise when I got back and saw the transformation. It was just what I had envisioned and removed a big headache for me because pieces I’d previously bought myself turned out not to match the space. Jill, with his vast experience, took command and really went to work.”
Back to our tour. As with the foyer area, the living room is sparsely furnished and features more of Jill’s cleverly hidden nooks and crannies. “I have a lot of stuff and don’t like a messy room, hence the need for storage space everywhere,” Jinnie explains. A large, marbled work table sits behind a grand sofa and on it books are neatly stacked and a magazine lies open with a Leica camera next to it. It all hints at Jinnie’s fastidious nature, which she confirms when she says, “One of the reasons I enjoy staying in top hotels is that the rooms are all clean, the hygiene is good and everything has a place and can be found easily. I like such orderliness, even to the point where I have arranged things just where and how I want them here at home and then taken pictures to show the maids so they know what is what and where each one goes.”
Jinnie chuckles, “I am all about detail, which is why Jill was such a good fit for the renovation because he too is a stickler for detail. You can see it in the niched ceiling, the types and allocation of patterns, even in the fabric of the sofa, which had to match the curtains of course.” Behind the work table is a plain wall but then Jinnie opens a hidden door to reveal a kitchen and a tiny restroom decorated with imported wallpaper and an antique sink. The kitchen is compact, as if designed for a small condominium unit, but still boasts all the necessary amenities, including cooking range and oven, sink and fridge. “It’s a tight fit in here but I have everything I need,” she continues. “I don’t cook big meals up here though, just light snacks and easy Western dishes like pasta. Anything that might give a strong aroma or requires long preparation gets cooked in the bigger communal kitchen downstairs.”
An entire internal wall of the kitchen sports a mirror, which again helps to create the illusion of space and helps to brighten the room. Next to the kitchen is a doorway that opens onto a narrow flight of stairs that lead down to the third floor where the master bedroom, walk-in closet and en-suite bathroom are located. “Here we opted for a mix and match of things. Some of the furniture is imported through Villa Vinotto and other pieces are local. I actually like this stairway. It can only be used by one person at a time and so it gives the bedroom the feel of a cosy warren that is cut off from the rest of the world,” Jinnie giggles. “This is my private area and guests and friends normally stay upstairs.”
In the bedroom itself a queen-size bed covered in Indian brushed cotton has pride of place. The other thing that stands out immediately is just how cool and quiet the space is. Jinnie explains, “Whenever I have stayed at the Four Seasons in Shanghai I have been struck by how well I slept. I couldn’t work out why at first but then it dawned on me that the air-conditioning was absolutely silent. You may not notice it normally but having even a light constant hum going on in the background is subconsciously distracting—it is why I don’t sleep well on planes. So when it came to having the air-conditioning done I insisted on a similar silent venting system.” The result? Restful sleep to rival even the top caravanserai.
Off the bedroom is a spacious walk-in closet with marbled flooring and colonial-style panelling, where her wardrobe is neatly arranged. Deeper into the closet is a dressing table close to which is the entrance to the master bathroom. Opposite the dresser is a grand mirror with a hidden latch—this time inspired by a fixture that Jinnie spotted in a Tom Ford dressing room—behind which is yet more clever storage space.
The master bathroom too has several features designed to give five-star comfort, not least the stone floor. Jinnie flips a switch saying, “I chose the stones myself. They are warmed by an underfloor heating system which I ordered from overseas.” She smiles at this, “Because the bedroom gets so cold, the feeling of stepping on to a warm floor is just the best!” Here too are stereo speakers and towel warmers. “I suppose this is the inner sanctum, the holy of holies in the house and my nod to personal comfort. But then the entire home is just the way I like it, which is a very good thing because I don’t want to have to renovate again for at least another decade,” she laughs.
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