Situated on Sukhumvit 31, Kiarti Thanee City Mansion, or more specifically one of the penthouses perched on the 22nd floor, is the luxurious residence of Joy Sopitpongstorn, a three-floor unit where she lives with her husband Torchok Balankura and their two children. Entering the penthouse, we step into an elegant foyer with a black and white marbled floor, refined wall mouldings and intricate wallpaper featuring birds amidst flowering branches. The space evokes the opulent feel of the colonial era. While sleek and ultramodern apartments are very much in trend these days, Joy prefers quite the opposite.
Our welcoming host, who is particularly fond of that époque, explains that it took nearly two years to complete the design and interior decoration. Her friend interior designer June Sarasas carried out the work with assistance from architect Poranant Senisrisant. But even with the help of interior designers, much of the input came from Joy. As a result, the home is a reflection of her character, taste and preferences. “My husband is very easy-going with such things,” she says. “So, most of the ideas came from me and as you can see, I am quite a fan of the colonial interior design style. I just wouldn’t feel the same level of comfort in a very modern home. Actually I think it would feel quite awkward for me.”
A chequered window on the left wall of the foyer offers a view into a small study room. Ahead there is an open-floor plan with a living room area on the right and a dining space on the left. The living room is elegantly designed with a beautiful light that hangs at the centre of a coved ceiling. Off-white walls adorned with subtle patterns allow for specific pieces—such as the bright red L-shaped couch at the centre—to stand out and as a backdrop for bold paintings of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej to make a statement.
A beautifully decorated Christmas tree stands boldly in one corner. “We make sure to have Christmas decorations up every year,” says Joy. To the right, a faux fireplace features a set of family photographs on its mantelpiece. As a Catholic, Joy has not only placed a cross, small religious statues and sculptures here, but also throughout the penthouse. Candles and an abundance of small shiny objects she has accumulated on her travels further contribute to the festive decorations. These have been placed on a captivating large table by Lotus Arts de Vivre, a masterpiece made out of a giant block of wood decorated with a sterling silver dragon. It is one of the few impulse pieces bought for the apartment. “I just had to get it,” says Joy. “It is one of my favourite pieces of furniture here. Otherwise, most of what you see was custom-made.”
(More opulent homes: The Marcars' Occident and Orient Home)
On the left of the living room area we come across a large dining table. Next to it, a small built-in shelf has been turned into a commemorative place of respect to the beloved late king, where the family can come and light a candle whenever they want. “It’s our way of honouring him and somehow feel that he is still around,” Joy explains. To the right of the dining table, another commanding painting of the late king can be found. In fact, a constant theme that carries throughout the house is images of the late monarch created by some of Thailand’s most renowned artists. These are displayed alongside other collectible paintings. “I love collecting art,” says Joy with a smile. “Though I have to restrain myself because the more paintings I acquire, the more wall space I will need.”
The master bedroom and the children’s bedroom are also located on this floor. Her daughter and son share a bedroom that has been designed to cater to a child’s creative world. The space is fun and lively and filled with toys. “Each room in the house has its own character and design,” Joy says. “I like to add a touch of wood work and patterns everywhere.” Indeed, against a wall in the master bed room, white-coloured wood designs against a navy blue wallpaper bring more character to the room. Navy blue and white (Joy’s favourites) are the dominant colours. Sofa benches against the wall feature these colours and to the left is a sophisticated walk-in closet featuring a glass-topped white centre island with a built-in bench. “I know it’s just a closet but it’s one of my peaceful spots. I’ve even napped here before,” she says with a laugh. Here Joy has also put a small office desk and computer so that she can work in peace. Accessible through this room is a small balcony overlooking the city, with a relaxing water feature where she likes to sit after a long day.
Moving to the second floor, we walk up a dark wooden staircase complemented with more family pictures, large paintings and a hanging majestic chandelier. It’s a striking contrast to the floor below. Some might think that combining different patterns on multiple surfaces can look messy or it can create a kind of optical illusion of spaciousness. Whichever was Joy’s intention, this living area definitely exudes a fun and lively ambience. “I can’t live without patterns,” she says. “And I like to mix and match them with daring colours.” Geometrically intricate patterns in various hues can be found on almost all of the surfaces here, from the walls to the couches. Here there is also a white grand piano and three harps. “I play the harp and the piano and so does my son,” Joy explains, adding, “When we receive guests, I prefer to do it up here where we can entertain with music or hang out on the balcony.”
Like many of Bangkok’s skyscrapers, Joy’s home offers a splendid panoramic view of the city. Beyond large floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors is a two-level balcony, again with a blue and white theme. The columns are adorned with bright blue pointed rooftops. Having a house as opposed to a condominium has its perks—for instance a garden—but Joy makes up for that with artificial grass and balcony railing planters. Balconies with a great view are common but not many boast a split-level terrace equipped with a jacuzzi and a gazebo. “As I am more of an outdoor person, this is definitely one of my favourite spots,” says Joy. “I love to sit out here and take in the sunsets and sunrises from the gazebo.”
Although she isn’t opposed to the idea of living in a house with a garden, the conveniences of a condominium is simply more suitable for Joy’s current lifestyle. “I travel quite often,” she says. “It is much easier to maintain and to keep secure when we travel.” For now she and her family are more than content in living in their unique sanctuary. “Actually, we also own the penthouse next door and the unit below this one,” says Joy. “In the future I plan to move downstairs and give this penthouse and the one next door to my two children.”