The relentless rise of tall buildings in Bangkok has indisputably increased the number of luxury residences with breathtaking views of the city, but few can match this penthouse by international property developer Royal Pacific in the upscale Sathorn area. The home’s prime location offers not one but two different panoramas of Bangkok—bustling central downtown districts in one direction and greener suburbia stretching to the horizon in the other.
As we enter the residence we are warmly welcomed by the owners, an expatriate couple who, for the purpose of this article, wish to remain anonymous. It’s one thing to be able to afford a luxurious penthouse, quite another to be able to transform the space into a tasteful home. And this is not your typical glamorous residence adorned with impersonal ‘in-trend’ white surfaces and shiny objects everywhere, but rather a home with a distinctive rustic yet classy style. “I think a lot of residences now are so focused on looking sophisticated and contemporary that many end up resembling beautifully decorated hotel rooms,” says the wife. “I don’t really want to live in a glorified serviced apartment or hotel room.” The couple opted for a chic loft concept with exposed wooden beams and metallic pipes on the ceilings and red-bricked walls that add not only raw charm to the space but also warm textures and character.
On entering the penthouse’s foyer, one’s attention is immediately drawn to the right and something not usually found in a home: a large beautifully carved set of wooden doors from Chiang Mai, which give access to a double-level stone-clad meditation room with a giant Angkor Wat-style bas relief. “Originally, there was a second staircase here,” explains the husband. “One staircase was enough for us though, so we decided to build a Khmer-style meditation sanctuary in its place.” While some might consider it odd to find this antique-looking piece of Asian art in the midst of a contemporary home, it is a perfect reflection of the couple’s profound appreciation of Oriental culture and their fine taste in interior design.
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Throughout the property there are a number of other sculptures and objet d’art with Asian leitmotifs. “Most are copies by brilliant local artists. We don’t like the idea of having original pieces. We purchase many of them from River City and Chatuchak,” says the wife. “Having lived in Thailand for over 13 years we have learned about Thai and Asian cultures. Those influences have helped to shape how we have decorated our home.” It is an influence that goes beyond decorative items to include much of the fabric of the apartment— staircase, walls, doors and pieces of furniture—the materials for which have been locally sourced. “It’s funny because we found many architects here tend to think imported materials from overseas are better. So we had to convince them we wanted the local materials,” the lady of the house adds.
Opposite the meditation room are two spacious offices, his and hers, which are visible through large glass doors. “The starting point for us was dividing the space into different functional areas,” the husband says. “We managed to do this with the help of our architect.” Indeed, although their architect worked on floor plans and set-up, it must be said most of input came from the couple themselves and their personal taste is reflected throughout the apartment.
To separate the working and meditation areas from the home’s more private spaces, they installed a beautiful wood-framed passageway. It leads to a small gym and three bedrooms with parquet floors. While décor in the master bedroom is kept simple, floor-toceiling windows make the room seem larger than it actually is. The bathroom also boasts another uncommon feature—in line with the natural elements incorporated in the overall design of the home, the shower area has been created behind a curved rough stone wall.
Designed for their two sons, who are currently studying abroad, the décor in the other two bedrooms is masculine. In each the key colours are black, brown and navy blue. “We got this done at Chatuchak,” says the wife referring to an old cartographers map of the world that takes up the entire wall of one of the bedrooms. “You can select any picture and they will make it into wallpaper to fit your requirements.” Aiming for a retro look, the tiles in each of the boys’ en-suite bathrooms were specifically chosen for their old-school subway feel.
Continuing our tour, we head up a wide staircase to the combined open-plan kitchen-living area. “We definitely spend a lot of time relaxing here,” says the wife. And why wouldn’t they. Framed by floor-to-ceiling windows, the room gives spectacular views of the Chao Phraya River and beyond. To take advantage of the vistas, islands of sofas and comfy chairs have been placed at each end of the room with doors that open on to the apartment’s two furnished terraces, one of which is equipped with a jacuzzi.
The ceiling here is accented with funky wooden beams, bringing even more character to the space. To the right is a modern open kitchen with an island sink-and-cupboard unit that extends to a dining table where the couple enjoy hosting friends. Adjacent to the kitchen is a European-style café-bar complemented by leather-weave chairs. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a coffee in the morning and chitchat over wine at night. “For me, the bar alone is a work of art,” says the husband with a smile. Further along from the bar is another pair of wooden doors similar to the ones downstairs. They open onto a small internal balcony from which one can look down into the meditation room below.
A consistency through the apartment is the flow of matt surfaces and earthy colours and tones, the couple’s chic way of adding natural elements to their living space. “We moved in on Valentine’s Day this year,” says the wife, which is appropriate because they are obviously very much in love with their new home. Prior to that they lived in a property on the outskirts of town and although there were advantages to living in a house with a garden, with their two children attending school in Europe, this penthouse located at the heart of the city is the right fit for the couple’s current lifestyle. “I love the fact that I am within walking distance of Suan Phlu where I can go and enjoy the markets,” adds the lady.
Happily settled in, the pair have no plans to move again any time soon. For now, although they consider the apartment a work in progress with room additional pieces, they have succeeded in turning their new residence into a spectacular personalised work of art. From décor to architectural structure the penthouse is a true treat for the eyes and a true city sanctuary for its owners.