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Interiorssneak peeks

In Thailand, Finding the Balance Between Kids & Clean Design

by Garrett Fleming

In 2015, Tom’s company gave him and his wife Gumi the opportunity to pick up their lives in London and embrace the bustling, bright-colored streets of Bangkok, Thailand. Without hesitation, the duo was in. With a rich expat community and apartments that come fully or semi furnished, the spot they set out for and the transition there seemed made for ease. And thankfully both have been.

After a stint in another apartment, the couple ended up snagging this stellar pad in Sukhumvit, Bangkok. The building is lovely and modern, full of light and life as nearby restaurants and shops are go-go-going all the time. “It’s so exciting!” Gumi says of their new area. She’s found this exuberant Thai vibe so infectious it’s even had a major impact on her personal style. When it came to interior decor, Gumi used to favor kitsch and mid-century design enriched with a vintage touch. Nowadays, however, her home is more pared back with parts of it decorated in finds from the street vendors that sell right outside her front door. Plants, traditional Thai sarongs and patterned pillows are just a few of the local accoutrements she’s come to love.

But nothing has had more of an impact on the look of Gumi and Tom’s apartment than their little boys Keo and Sami. They’re both under the age of five, and their toys have managed to sneak into nearly all nooks of the home’s 1,000 square feet. At first, this nagged at Gumi. Her newfound aesthetic and contemporary taste weren’t made for messiness. In hopes of finding a compromise between form and function, she and Tom installed a big toy box in the living room with low shelves the boys could reach and boxes to keep all the toys visible and easy to access. That way there’s no unnecessary digging and cluttering. They also got their children’s artwork off of the table and onto the walls, making the boys proud and the apartment’s surfaces that much tidier.

While working to combat the clutter once and for all, Gumi and Tom had a realization. Yes they could work and work to make their home camera-ready all day every day, but in the end these strewn-about playthings give their home something they could never buy in a store. Each one is a tiny reminder that they have two little ones loving them daily. And that’s worth more than any spic-and-span home. Click through to check out how this family has embraced the compromise that is messy kiddos and crisp living. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Gumi Matsumoto

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Tom often travels for work and brings back interesting finds he picks up along the way. When they initially moved to Thailand, Gumi says her style was more vintage and kitsch. With all of these treasures from Tom, though, her aesthetic has become infused with color and pattern. These prints are a great example of this new era. They're actually African fabrics she picked up at a local shop and then framed. The IKEA sofa below them came with the home, but the couple snagged the side table, candles and a few of the throw pillows from the superstore themselves. The middle cushion is from The Emporium.
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Gumi and Tom have only lived in this apartment for a year, but it already feels like much more of a home than their previous one. It came fully furnished -- as do most apartments in Bangkok -- but decor-enthusiast Gumi stored away those trappings and has instead outfitted the space in a collection of Asian goods and modern accessories.
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Gumi says making their home look attractive while being child-friendly has been a big challenge. After giving up the fight to always keep the toys under control and their nicer purchases safe, though, she's come to love how the kids influence the space. "I think it makes it fun and gives [your home] lot of character when you style it with colorful and pretty toys or decorate your wall[s] with drawings your kids did," she says. A modular shelf near the windows holds all of the boys' toys.
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A built-in cabinet and eclectic mix of prints in the living room.
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An IKEA chair in the living room is surrounded by plants bought from a little trolley that goes up and down Gumi and Tom's street. "Every time I see him I have to stop myself from buying too many plants!" Gumi says.
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The king-size bed came with the flat, and thank goodness it did. Gumi and Tom love how comfortably they can cuddle into it with their two little boys.
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The tapestry draped above the bed is actually a traditional, hand-woven Thai sarong Gumi cut up and made into a wall hanging.
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Initially, the top of the buffet in Gumi and Tom's room was occupied by a TV. Now it's filled with eclectic finds from both near and far. The cushion to the right of it is from Ginger in Chiang Mai.
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"This beautiful, traditional Northern Thai jacket is one of my favorite things in the house. It’s handmade silk from Northern Thailand with some beautiful hand-stitched details," Gumi says. It hangs on IKEA fabric stretched over canvas.
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Since most of the home is often overrun with toys and kids stuff, Gumi and Tom have purposefully kept the kitchen simple with clean lines and a modern touch. The Kevin Russ print has traveled many a sea with Gumi, from London to Bangkok.
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The 1,000-square-foot apartment's layout.
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The bathroom -- like the kitchen -- is a spot Gumi and Tom like to keep clean and tidy. Thankfully they're able to do so through a little diligence and some modern accessories from Zara and Muji.
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Simple circular stickers from a local stationery store give Keo and Sami's room a smattering of color. The space isn't huge, but luckily their beds fit nicely in two of its corners.
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Keo's corner of the room is dressed with dinosaur after dinosaur. He's a huge fan. The small print to the right by family friend Matt Sewell was inspired by the swans near Gumi and Tom's previous home. When Keo was a newborn, Gumi used to walk with him in her arms to the park and feed the pretty birds. While giving them treats one day, she realized one had given birth just like her. Since then she's always felt connected to swans.
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A bear print by Seventy Tree and Sami's own artwork decorate his side of the bedroom. The wooden rocking chair was Keo's first Christmas present ever, but nowadays it's one of Sami's favorite things.
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"What I love most about our home is the sound of our children." -- Gumi and Tom

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