It’s a fine day in Khao Yai and after a few hours’ drive we find the family holiday home of Akarat Vanarat, the founder of high-end furniture and accessories provider Motif Group, bathed in sunshine.
Constructed at the foot of a hill, the property boasts a lush hillside backdrop. Through a pair of rustic red gates a curved driveway leads up to the house, which has a chic modern exterior. The property encompasses three rai of land so there is plenty of space for a beautifully landscaped garden full of flowerbeds of colourful blossoms, pine trees and various types of fruit trees.
In line with modern architecture, the predominantly grey exterior of the residence features flat roofs and clean lines. A touch of exterior stone siding here and there adds an accent to the home. The residence itself connects three buildings, a left wing, right wing and the main dwelling. An open garage is located under the section on the right. Outside the main entrance of the home, a patio perfect for barbecue sessions looks out onto the front garden.
The two-storey house took almost two years to build. With the help of one of Akarat’s friends, it took another six months to complete the interior design. The front entrance opens into a small foyer where there are stairs and an elevator to the second floor. Upstairs is another small foyer, at the centre of which stands a round marble table adorned with beautiful flowers to welcome guests. A large sliding glass door opens up to what is without doubt the focal point of the residence, an exquisitely decorated open-plan area that combines living room and dining room. High ceilings complemented with recessed lights contribute to the luxurious feel of the space.
A mountainous location deserves a home with a view and as one would expect, large floor-to-ceiling windows not only allow in plenty of natural light but also offer abundant panoramas of the pastoral surrounding and distant mountains. The wooden extension of the roof creates an interesting shadow play on the gleaming wooden floors when the sun shines.
The open floor plan was a deliberate move by Akarat, or Oak, in order to create a space conducive to socialising between those eating, watching television or merely relaxing on the couch. For the same reason, a large sliding glass door separates the adjacent white kitchen. “My mother likes to cook,” says the Thailand Tatler 2018 Generation T lister. “This way, she can still feel included.” On the left side of the common area is a large, wall-mounted flat-screen TV. In front of it, a seven-and-a-half metre sofa set boasts Jim Thompson fabric and adjustable back cushions. Not surprisingly, this is one of Oak’s favourite spots.
A line of beautiful buffet tables serves as a subtle partition between the living room and the dining area, where a huge dining table stands under three Artemis chandeliers. “My mum wanted a round table at first,” says Oak. “But we settled for this custom-made piece. It’s actually three tables locked together to accommodate up to 26 people.”
When it came to furniture and décor for the house, Oak put his experience and keen eye for composition to good use. The amalgamation of eye-catching furniture pieces, colour and texture truly creates a space in which to feel comfortable. Although much of the furniture is from Motif, many pieces were purchased from antique shops. “I wanted the place to be contemporary eclectic,” says Oak. “It is a mix and match of everything—different time periods, the old and the new, different styles, cultures, textures and more. Honestly, it was no easy task,” he explains.
Filled with intriguing ornaments and colour combinations, one will find many conversational items here, all of which hint at Oak’s work mind-set and lifestyle. “I think it reflects the way I work and the way Motif works,” he smiles. “There’s a lot of humour in our selection of furniture at Motif but it’s even more playful here, where everything is mixed and matched in a very diverse way.”
An antique Chinese painting desk and wooden chest, a funky blue lamp from Tom Dixon, a Bear Brick from the Andy Warhol collection, blue and white flower vases of unusual shapes from Moooi, a classic European globe…these are only a few of the ornaments and decorative items to be found. While a large horse lamp by Moooi stands boldly in one corner of the room, an antique Chinese chest stands on the other end of the room. A keen traveller, there are also items from Oak’s travels—a Persian rug from a trip to Iran for example.
Not everything here is expensive or from well-known brands. Oak also enjoys art created by local students and he has one such piece on a wall next to the dining table. “Things don’t have to be expensive to be great in terms of design or look,” he says. “Besides, this way, I get to support young, aspiring local artists.” Interior decorating is also a continual process for the homeowner. “There’s always room for change, so in the future I might add different furniture or move things around.”
The home has six bedrooms in total. “One of them will be turned into a master bedroom for my grandmother,” the owner says. “We plan to have a small pantry and living room in it so she can have her own private quarters.” The remaining rooms, Oak explains, all resemble one another. “This is a holiday home. We get to spend very little time here so I purposely featured the same furniture and decorative items in the bedrooms.” These are split between the home’s two separate wings, which stand on either side of the main building. “The separation is deliberate,” he laughs. “The more senior members of the family can stay on one side and the younger members stay on the other side. This way the younger generation can make lots of noise without disturbing the older generation.”
Over the years, Khao Yai has become an increasingly popular destination for Bangkok socialites looking to purchase land in the provinces. “We spent New Year’s eve here with the family,” he says. “It was about 14 degrees Celsius in the evening, which was excellent.” Although he enjoys the clean air and the tranquillity the property offers, he admits to being more of a city lad who likes a dynamic urban lifestyle. “Truth be told, I love being in Bangkok, which is why my visits here are infrequent. However, my mother visits often. I suspect it’s mostly to tend to the house, because there are still little things to be finished,” he explains.
Regardless of how often he plans to visit Khao Yai, Oak has successfully created a chic living space that perfectly blends the contemporary and antique, a homely residence that his family can enjoy whenever a break from the city is needed.
(More luxurious homes: Five Star Comforts Of Songwut Pattanasilaporn and Minthita Wongsawut's Home)