Ketsara Kitisook's Suburban Residence Is Softly Spartan
This month we head to the outer wilds of Phutthamonthon to visit the suburban home of Ketsara Kitisook, or Gift, founder of architecture and interior design company Space Lab. When we meet on the sunny lawn in front of the house I suggest that for an architect an own-build project such as this must have been something of an indulgence. Gift agrees and compares designing the property to having an experimental canvas on which she was free to explore new ideas and different ways of using materials—all without client-related constraints. From top to bottom and inside and out the residence has the 36-year-old’s fingerprint on it, although she graciously concedes that boyfriend Tanet SaeAu, co-owner of Space Lab, helped a great deal with the designs.
The first thing one notices is that the two-storey house boasts an unpainted facade of grey concrete. This isn’t often seen in Thailand and was purposely done to give the home an interesting industrial-chic flair. “I deliberately left the surface bare to highlight the natural quality of the material,” says Gift. Up close you can see the swirling patterns and textures of the concrete and yet it is smooth and cool to the touch. “It is also practical,” she points out. “It is durable, easy to maintain and guaranteed to last.” As is often the case with contemporary architecture, there is a certain simplicity to the home’s form and layout, almost a monastic quality, with a synergy of clean lines and basic shapes.
A glass-walled box-like structure to the right of the house also catches our attention and turns out to be a stand-alone kitchen. While a nod to the old Thai outdoor kitchens, this is very much a modern pantry, reflecting almost the utilitarianism of a small commercial kitchen. Gleaming stainless-steel worktops, sink and oven-hood combine with light-coloured stone floor and wall tiles to create a sleek look. “This is a great spot for entertaining friends. When they come over we can hold barbecue sessions out here,” the owner explains.
We enter the house through large carved wooden doors, which provide an interesting traditional counterbalance to the building’s industrial vibe—again they are reminiscent of old temple doors. Inside, it becomes apparent that the unfinished concrete surfaces predominate throughout the home. Clean and easy on the eye, this has to be one of the most clutter-free interiors we have featured. Not to say uninviting though. The spartan furnishings only help focus attention on a large button-tufted square ottoman from DM home, which has pride of place in the centre of the foyer and simply begs to be sprawled on. Bringing texture and warmth to the space, the wall on the right side of the foyer boasts classic wood-carved panels, some of which hide cabinets and also cleverly conceal a door to a large storage room.
More luxury homes: Inside Designer Bill Bensley's Magical Bangkok Home
Looking into the residence, the dining area is visible but can be partitioned with modish meshed-wire glass room dividers that are attached at the top and can turn through 360 degrees while sliding left or right. “Quite apart from their aesthetic appeal the dividers are very practical,” says Gift. “I love the fact that they offer easy access, floor-space efficiency and add to the spacious feel of the room.” Behind the partition a large wood dining table by Saiyart Collection, renowned for hand-carved furniture of exquisite quality, takes centre stage. “I make it a point to not take work home these days but when needed, this is where I like to get things done,” the lady laughs.
The dominant feature in this part of the house are the two-storey windows, which make an impressive architectural statement while flooding the interiors with natural light. Glass doors give on to a natty little wooden terrace with two chairs with rocking legs by a small coffee table. It looks an inviting spot for a coffee break.
Back inside we visit the bedroom Gift designed for her parents, Phairin & Chavalit—this is a family home and her brother Kanok also has a bedroom upstairs. Located behind the dining area, her parents’ room is also tastefully minimal but look closely and you will notice subtle, practical design tweaks. It has an unusually large hinged door that can either close off the bedroom on its own or close off both bedroom and the adjacent bathroom for greater privacy. “It was really important for us to make good use of the little space that we have as efficiently as possible,” explains Gift. “This door allows us to turn it into a guest bathroom when required.”
The bathroom itself is elegantly clad in grey marble and features a backlit mirror over the sink, which adds ambient lighting. Of note is the shower, discreetly mounted in the ceiling and open to both the room and the garden outside through yet another floor-to-ceiling external window. A wall of abundant foliage growing just outside protects one’s modesty.
We reach the second floor and Gift’s bedroom sanctuary. “It’s where I spend most of my time when I’m here,” she says. Once again the architect has opted for a remarkably minimal interior but one that works really well. Uncluttered spaces signal an uncluttered mind and the room certainly exudes a quiet sense of calm. At its centre on a white rug is a deep single mattress covered with a white linen comforter and plump pillows to match the gauzy curtains. “The whole effect makes the room seem incredibly light,” smiles the homeowner. “It’s such a lovely space to relax and drift off in. I deliberately asked for the double height slanted ceiling, which immediately changed the volume of the room,” she adds. “I like it this way for now and I can easily change styles in the future.”
The entire left wall of her bedroom features a built-in closet with free-flow sliding doors. “I used to have a walk-in closet in our old house but I figured not having one this time round will help me to avoid hoarding things,” Gift laughs. And because women often have a lot of possessions—perfume bottles and make-up—a small hidden closet the same width as the wall is tucked behind a body mirror next to the bedroom door, reflecting once again her cunning use of space. Her en suite bathroom, accessed through frosted glass double doors with beautifully carved wooden frames, is adorned in beige marble with an enticing freestanding bathtub and walk-in shower. “Tanet drew the designs for the door and we got a talented carpenter to bring it to life,” she says. “It’s my way of adding texture and a classic touch. Minimal for me doesn’t mean not paying attention to detail and appreciating beauty such as wooden carving.”
By combining neutral and monochromatic shades throughout the house and highlighting clean lines and open and blank spaces, Gift has successfully created a home that, for all its simplicity, is uniquely appealing. “I guess the expression less is more really applies here,” she smiles. “It’s a luxury for me to be able to have a say in every aspect of a home and I enjoyed tailoring it to everyone’s needs in terms of function and comfort. Looking ahead, turning the storage room into a gym is an option but we still need a consensus on that. For now, we are all very happy here.”
See also: Tatler Home Tour: The View From Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz's New Bangkok Condo