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Having taken a hiatus from renovations and construction, I’ve recently dipped my toe in the waters again. If you can handle the day to day frustrations it can be a very satisfying experience if you enjoy the design aspects as well as having something tangible to show for your time.

I’m also fortunate enough to have seen hundreds of other renovation jobs here that my critical eye can’t help but analyze and take away the pros and cons of. Having said this, pretty much every job has someone’s personal stamp on it as we all have our own needs and wants from a renovation.

Rather than regurgitate obvious tips, I thought I’d cover some stuff that we’ve come across that may not seem so obvious during the planning stages. Hopefully, the following can give you a bit of guidance and save you some of the headache (and a few baht in the process).

Kitchens

• Design wide walkways – paths throughout a kitchen should be at least 3 feet wide and add another foot for paths within the cooking zone
• Find the right height for the microwave – a foot above the countertop is the very highest you should put a microwave. On the countertop is preferable.
• Kitchen island – determine its function. If you both cook and eat on the island, plan enough space, or a separate tier, so the cooking area is safely separated from the dining space
• Make it kid-friendly – if you have kids, have a designated area specifically for them for snacks, etc. that is far away from knives, cleaning products, etc.
• Break up cabinetry blocks – avoid boring rows of upper cabinets by adding details such as glass doors or display shelving
• Use light colours in a small kitchen – dark colours shrink small spaces even more. Use softer shades to give the appearance of more space

Bathrooms

• Plan for shower storage – recessed inlets add a nice decorative touch and break up the monotony of wall tiling. Hanging shelf units can also be nice but there’s not always somewhere to hang them.
• Accent tiling – same as above, mosaic and glass tiling break up the monotony of wall tiling and add a lot of character for a very little additional cost (though your tile guy may scoff a bit).
• Get creative and smart with the lighting – bathrooms generally have pretty boring lighting. Fluorescents have always been the standard but are actually quite horrible. Put in an option for soft lighting for a nice relaxing shower, though be sure to have nice bright lights above your mirror.
• Have a nice focal point – like any room, there should be one thing you’ve splurged on that draws attention. A nice antique counter unit or an expensive mirror can really make your bathroom look great.

Bedrooms

• Pick a style – bedrooms are often the most neglected, design-wise, though you probably spend more hours in this room than any other in the house! Do you want something romantic, modern, cottage? Think of a nice theme and start running from there.
• Lighting – again, give yourself lots of options. You’ll want bright lights in the changing or makeup area of the room, but be sure to have something warm and romantic. Also, be sure to put lights and electric sockets on both sides of the bed
• Organize – clothes are an obvious space consumer, but also it’s good to have wraparound ceiling shelves for book and high cabinets for suitcases, etc. Don’t forget all the space under your bed which is also a great utilization of space if you’re in a smaller house or condo
• Ditch the TV cabinet – the need for a TV cabinet has become less and less since the advent of wall-mounted TVs and with many people now streaming from their computer, thereby negating the need for DVD players, etc. Unless you really need it, get rid of it as it’s a big space killer

Living Room

• This really is the focal point of your house when guests are over, so if you’re going to make a statement, this is the place to do it.
• Splurge on light fixtures and electric/switch plate covers – this sounds a bit strange, but sometimes it really makes a difference. Get some cool light switch and electrical socket plate covers. They’re all still pretty cheap and can really make your place look sharp. Same with light fixtures – get some pretty sharp ones for the living area – even a dozen of them will make the room look great.
• Crown moulding and baseboards? More stylish, modern houses are moving away from these at the moment. Personally, I’m not a fan of crown moulding, though if you have kids, tile or wooden baseboards are definitely good to have.
• Install ceiling/wall speakers – even if you aren’t going to put in a home theatre system yourself, the next buyer may want to, so run the wire while you easily can.
• Blinds vs Curtains – I’m amazed at how few people use blinds here in Thailand. They’re so much lighter and more modern, and typically cheaper as well. Curtains with blackouts may be better for bedrooms, but consider blinds in the rest of the house/condo.

Well, that’s it for this issue. I’m sure I’ll come back to this again in the coming months with some more tips, but the above should at least give you some things to consider if you’re taking on a project.

By Stu Sutton

Stu Sutton is managing director of Jomtien Property and has worked exclusively in the Pattaya/Jomtien real estate market for 16 years.

Please feel free to contact him with any queries, compliments or good jokes at

086 108 6575, [email protected]

or visit Jomtien Property’s website at www.jomtien-property.com