Expat Apartment Tour in Bangkok

Today, we’d like to invite you on a little (virtual) tour of our Bangkok apartment. Welcome!

Front Foyer
This is where we take our shoes off; Thais never wear their shoes inside an apartment or home. (I mean never!) It’s also interesting that the concept of a house tour is a completely foreign one in Thailand. (It’s okay, though, because we are Canadian and have embraced the house tour.)

Art in the foyer
Our foyer also doubles a a little art gallery. In our house in Mexico, we had a gallery wall to which we added new works “poco a poco” (little by little); it gave us such pleasure to mix our own photos with art we had purchased and received as gifts. Last spring, when we were still in Barcelona, I ordered a number of beautiful photographs through Etsy; I picked up the photo-treasures while we were home in Canada during the summer and then had them framed in Bangkok.
In the photograph below, you can see:
2010 calendar by Camilla Engman
Keep Calm and Carry On poster by Victoria at sfgirlbybay
Photographs and art by Elle MossAmber Alexander, Alicia Bock and Irene Nam.
There’s more room on that wall… we’ll continue adding art as we collect it.

Christmas in the foyer
Although we’ve never had a Christmas tree in any of our dwellings overseas, I always display a few lovely Christmas decorations as they fill me with holiday cheer. The Thai nativity scene, below, is from a miraculous ceramic store/heaven called Mengrai Kilns in Chiang Mai.

The living room
As I explained in this post, much of our furniture came with the apartment. Although DP and I are not necessarily drawn to salmon-pink, silk-covered furniture, this set of sofa and four chairs has grown on us over these past six months. It is definitely a choice in keeping with the Thai aesthetic and the colour lightens up the room as the floors are quite dark. The pillows are from the Jim Thompson store at Central World. The print above the sofa is by Jitti Jumnianwai who is one of our favourite artists at the Chatuchak Market in Bangkok. Jitti’s work features cheerful-looking robots. We like the juxtaposition of the over-the-top floral motif of the sofa and throw pillows with the quirkiness of Jitti’s robots.

Soft light in the living room
We finally bought real lamps for our home. What a difference this soft light makes. We found these lamps at Central at Chitlom (a Bangkok department store) and we fell in love with the shape of the wooden base and the lamp shade. The colour of the wooden base also matches the living room furniture beautifully.

The hallway that leads to the bedrooms
The four paintings (framed in Ikea frames) were painted by an American high school student we taught in Barcelona. The gold painting, on the left, depicts all of the saints; DP found this piece in a little shop in Budapest. We purchased the Chinese medicine bench at  Paul’s Antiques. The carpet is from Afghanistan via Jimmy, the Carpet Guy.

The dining room. Oh… and the library.
Thais are wild about their built-in, wooden furniture units. This cabinet we use for our books is a perfect example. The painting, made from four panels of wood, was purchased at Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market.

Centre piece
The table provided with our apartment seats eight people comfortably.  What this huge table needed was a visually interesting centre piece… or two. These white ceramic pieces were purchased at the Chatuchak Market in Bangkok (bowl on right) and from Den Muangchuen on Block D 131-132 of the Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai (piece on left).

DP’s Office Space
In a unconventional move, we turned the unused, open space beside the dining room into my partner’s office. The large oil painting behind DP’s desk reminds me of the autumn leaves changing colours at home in Ontario. I think this every single time I see him sitting there, among the (abstract) red leaves. We bought the painting at Chatuchak Market and the teak art deco table is from Paul’s Antiques. The red chair is from Ikea in Barcelona.

The view
Our seventh-floor view of Bangkok’s downtown area is pretty breathtaking – especially at night. We feel fortunate to have such an interesting view of this south east Asian city that never sleeps.

Collection 1: Singing Bowls
This is DP’s collection of Tibetan and Thai “singing bowls”.  Ironically, he bought his very first bowl in Paris. The bowls are sitting on a huge wooden paddle originally used to spread out sticky rice.

Collection 2: Celadon Pottery
There are eight glass shelves flanking the television in the monstrous built-in unit in the living room; these shelves posed an interesting decorating challenge. I have a collection of ceramic bowls from Italy, Spain and Portugal so we placed a bowl on each shelf. The result, however, felt a bit cluttered. We lived with the bowls for a while before I realized that displaying variations on a theme was the correct impulse but if the pieces were all the same colour, the result would be way more visually pleasing. That realization led to several purchases of light green Celadon pottery from the Chatuchak Market in Bangkok and Mengrai Kilns in Chiang Mai. The story of collecting these pieces of pottery, and deciding which piece would go where, is so long and ridiculous that I won’t go into it here but we’d like to assure my university friends C., L. and J. (who witnessed part of the silliness at Christmas) that the task is finally, and beautifully, complete.

My office space and spare bedroom
{I love the sliding glass doors}

Spare bedroom 2.0
This is a large room with two beds (and its own bathroom) but, unfortunately, the space is quite dark. Linens and throw pillows in both spare bedrooms are from Ikea. All of our beds are different sizes and we’ve had such funny (and frustrating) escapades finding sheets and duvet covers for all the beds.

Our bedroom
On one of our very first shopping outings in Bangkok, we went looking for a deep blue-based red for one wall of our bedroom. As it turned out, finding the just-right-red and buying the correct quantity of this paint required mad miming skills and a great deal of time and patience. The bed linens are from a fantastic store called Green Cotton located on the 2nd floor of Bangkok’s Amarin Plaza. The cheeky robot painting over the bed was done by Jitti Jumnianwai. We purchased a set of fun, turquoise lamps at Zen (one is visible below) and, while they are a departure from the clean lines we normally prefer, we like the pop of colour echoed in Jitti’s painting, the contrast against the red walls and the touch of whimsy.

Dressing Table
This is another built-in feature of the apartment. (Let’s be clear that I am unlikely to ever have a dressing table again.) Here’s the twin sister of the Balinese Dancer in the foyer; the clever girl is holding up my necklaces

The little details…
The red, wooden elephant was a gift from DP. This may well be the most beautiful (non-living) elephant I’ve ever seen!

kimmi doll
On a trip to Singapore, I discovered the adorable kimmi doll collection, a modern take on Japanese Kokeshi dolls.  This doll is named Etsumi and she represents”delight”.  For now, she is a collection of one. (The Japanese do “cute” better than anyone!)

DP is a minimalist at heart.  He has (oh-so!) patiently watched me collect and experiment and nest in apartments and houses in Mexico, Spain and Thailand. His burning question, after six months of apartment design in Bangkok, is “Are we nearly done?”

When he asks (which he does), my response is, “I feel like we’re almost there…” (And we are. Almost.)

Tell us a story about your home.  Was there a piece of furniture that you scrimped and saved to buy?  Is there a work of art you are still in love with after many years. Have your taste and priorities changed over time?  What do you love most about your current home?

9 comments

  1. @jessievThanks so much for your comment. Decorating our place in BKK has definitely been a labour of (deep) love for me. Thanks, also, for your kind words about the art!

  2. Your place looks lovely. While there's no shortage of opportunity for priase, I would be regretful if I missed the chance to comment on the Edward DeBono book beside the red elephant! If I should ever get inspired to document our own home like this (really, I ought to do this), I'll take a photo that includes our copy of this as well. (maybe we'll pose it with our own Year of the Flood!)

  3. amazing place, Monna! maybe international interior design counselor could be a side gig? your Bangkok setup looks just a tad bigger than the Barcelona one…thanks so much for sharing!! -katie

  4. what a great space monna. i am new to your blog, but can tell right away that i like it….your questions at the end of this post could have me going on forever…maybe i will answer them in a post of my own:) my favorite things in my little apartment:- turquoise walls in living room and Frida blue in bath- textiles from mexico and tapestry from india – a huge heavy armoire from mexico, purchased 10 years ago- a painted metal mask from San Miguel de Allende (i agree with you about wanting to go again and again)

  5. where do i begin? as i have been absorbing your decorating style for over 20 years now, i will inevitably have an art gallery, a wall of large blank and white prints and a scattering of pottery and wodden containers all over the place. unfortunately, we have no singing bowl :(and looking back at the last year of my life, it would have been nice to have the "stay calm" poster as well.

  6. @JeffyI'm not one bit surprised that after all these years that you and I might have the same books in our homes! (Don't you think the "Thinking Hats" should have been a pamphlet rather than a whole book?)@HeatherYou are so right… we made the place ours. It's a lovely, calm sanctuary within the rapidly beating heart of this chaotic city.@KatieStudents will always need help applying to university but I LOVE design! (And yes… the Bangkok apartment is actually three times larger than our lovely Barcelona apartment! Decadence.)@Wendy – Escape from NYThe floors are incredible! After Mexico, where we lived in an actual house, I never imagined that we would inhabit such a large space again. We'd have to rent out our spare rooms to make this apartment affordable in a large North American city like New York or Toronto.@CindyI loved your list of favouite things from your home and would love to go on a virtual tour of your space! Thanks for your comment.@LittlestI'll have to get you a "Keep Calm" poster (framed, of course) for your new home. Although it may be true that you have been absorbing my decorating style for a long time, you have your own distinct Bohemian take on design. (And I LOVE it!)

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