Just the thought of renovating a home can make some people shudder; renovating a home while living in a foreign country presents an even greater challenge. But completely renovating a home overseas when you don’t even own it?

To Australian designer Kristina Zanic and her fiance, it seemed like the obvious thing to do. Bangkok-based Zanic is passionate about design and the couple have collected an eclectic range of items on their travels throughout Asia they wished to house in good taste.

They found a four-bedroom house built in the ‘60s in what Zanic calls “tropical architecture style”. The house is typical of 60s architecture, with exposed beams and wooden-framed windows. Houses in this style are not just plentiful in Bangkok, but are found right across Asia. “It’s basically a Bauhaus modernist style, with lots of concrete and brick work. What’s good about this style is that it’s spacious: it’s not boxy,” Zanic says enthusiastically.

Zanic negotiated with the landlord for reduced rent, in return for which she would completely renovate the place. “Everyone said ‘Oh my god! You’re not going to tackle this!’ The house was in disrepair. It was awful! There were fluorescent lights, and snail trails of wiring across the ceiling… We’ve really fixed up the structure to make the lines cleaner. It’s homey now. It’s very comfortable.”

The back patio area was one spot Zanic was enthusiastic about from the start . “I wanted to create a fabulous garden area. Much of the house is glass, so when you walk into the dining and living area, you see the garden immediately.”

The narrow L-shaped area was laid with terracotta tiles, bamboo walling was installed, and pieces of ancient pottery were placed around a garden setting. “It’s really inviting. It enhances the whole house. The outdoor lighting I’ve installed means we can use the area at night as well. ”

Zanic says she finds the downstairs living area, which looks onto the garden, the most interesting. “We’ve got a lot of artwork on display, a lot of pottery. Downlights create soft lighting – a complete contrast to the pure white light that was in the house beforehand.”

Zanic came to Thailand seven years ago. Today she owns design group City Space Design (htpp://www.cityspace.net) and has recently drawn on her love of designing beautiful items for the home with an Asian influence by opening a retail shop called Asia Motifs (http://www.motifdesigns.com).

So perhaps it’s no wonder that Kristina hasn’t had time to attack the top floor of her house yet: “I’m just taking my time – seeing where my moods take me, then designing something new, buying new fabrics and redoing things.” Nor is it suprising that Zanic plans on staying put in Bangkok for as long as she can.

/ Lifestyle