Walking into Dr Nattapong Jirurawong’s house, you immediately understand why he chooses to divide his time between his upscale Bangkok apartment and this private, ultra-modern retreat. Situated only an hour from Bangkok and a mere 15 minutes from his office in central Chonburi, the beach retreat of Dr Nhum, as he is also known, is a modern yet natural home with breathtaking views of the ocean. The house has two floors with three bedrooms, and all boast clear views of the ocean with his master bedroom having an almost panoramic view of the beach and stars above.
Walking into the house, you will initially be met with a view straight to the outdoor pool and the beach. With a house as grand as this, one seemingly ripped from your favourite romantic movie, it comes as no surprise to learn that his dream home was built with a little help. “There was an architect to help but the concept is mine,” he says. The house itself is more long than it is wide, but still remains spacious with lush gardens surrounding the two storey home. Alongside the three bedrooms, the house features two living rooms, one on each floor, with the second floor living room having the grandest view of the sea due to the clear floor-to-ceiling windows and a high vantage point. With a home as elegant as this, it comes as a surprise to learn that it took just over a year to design and another two years to build.
Dr Nhum, when asked how the house came about, takes us on a short trip back in time, and explains that before this home there stood an old Thai wooden house. With modern-style homes and buildings the flavor of the day, these rickety old pieces of our history are disappearing fast, but the materials and design of his dream home do at least pay tribute to them. “We used the wood from the old Thai-style house as the main material for all the floors and panelling for this one,” he explains. There is an additional Thai element with the use of sila rocks for the walls. These enhance the warmth of the house and also further reference the location’s past heritage in a more subtle manner, while corresponding to his minimalist colour scheme. Wooden louvres, meanwhile, allow the inhabitants to see the ocean from every room and also keep out the sun. “I want a flexible mood throughout my house where anyone can face whatever direction they wish,” he remarks proudly of his designs. When asked about the interior and what he was looking to have, he says that “the interior is spacious and somewhat reminiscent of a cave.” But what he is most proud of inside his home is his extensive art collection. It features some true masterpieces that have taken him plenty of time and effort to come by, such as a large Alex Face painting of the rabbit character known as Mardi that steals the show in the upstairs living room, and on top of this, the last oil painting by the late legend of the Thai art scene, Thawan Dachanee, with its striking red colour providing a fresh contrast against the sila walls.
Dr Nhum also makes it clear that the location is convenient because “it’s close to main roads and motorways.” Also the house is next door to a popular beachside seafood restaurant. When asked about the noise, his comments of his neighbours are positive. “Being next to a restaurant is very convenient because you can order catering in when you have guests, thus making things easier; on top of that, the noise is not too loud.” Looking around the house, the items on display all testify to his character and he is able to relate each story to anyone who asks. “I chose everything piece by piece and they all mean something to me. Sometimes they are from my travels and most of them have a unique story behind them.” Standing out is a large collection of snow globes he has accumulated on his travels as well as some animal rugs from Africa and Finland.
Being a busy director and dermatologist at both Nipon Clinic and Dr Tattof means that Dr Nhum can’t spend all his time kicking back at his self-styled beach retreat. “I stay here Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” he says, “and when I’m here I tend to host lots of parties because the terrace and pool design fits a party atmosphere.” He adds that Mondays to Wednesdays he stays at the Sukhothai Residence condominium in Bangkok’s Sathorn area, close by his other clinic on Silom road.
When it comes to which room he loves most, Dr Nhum pauses for a while. While every room has its charm and a unique story, he eventually singles one out. “I love my whole house but I love the dining area the most especially the outdoor seating because of the wind flow.” This opinion is also shared by most visitors. “My friends and family love the outdoor terrace too because of how nice it is when a breeze flows through; they always prefer to unwind outside, where they can soak up the amazing cool ocean air.”