What's Hot in Interior Design

Not just a choice, a reflection

February 2011 Feature Shannon Stockwell

Looking for some ideas to spice up your design on your current houseboat? Or maybe you are just in the market for a new one and are looking to customize your design and tailor that special place not only to fit the needs of a new look but also your personal style and taste.

One thing that has been commonly noted among professionals in the design industry is that design elements chosen aren't just a choice, they can be a strong reflection of personal style. That is why you might find a houseboat that resembles the design of the owner's home on land.

Some go for the trendier looks, and some go for a more neutral design likely with the thought of resale in mind when decorating. You probably see a little more of the latter, although there are also those who will chose very neutral main colors and might switch out or update accents quite frequently to keep up with the trends. According to top designers, one thing that stays consistent is that changes in design are customer driven. Most manufacturers try to bring the customer's design desires to life.

One popular trend is the party top area on the upper decks that consist partly of a new bar and patio furniture.
Design seems to also sort of follow the housing industry. Consumers are seeing more vessel sinks and French country sinks that sit on top of the counter. Also popular elements are the multi-jet sprayheads in the bathroom. "We seldom see a straight nautical pattern today, and folks are paying close attention to all the little details including things like the bin pull styles, lighting and sconces." says one designer.

Another thing noted by top designers is that buyers from certain geographic regions seem to lean toward certain styles. For example, customers from Atlanta area seem to choose a more sophisticated, traditional style such as black, gold, paisley and more ornate elements. They also seem more likely to choose something such as a black granite counter top with gold flecks. Someone from the West may go more with a color scheme including copper, burnt sienna, and sand or even chocolate tones. Occasionally someone from the Tennessee area may choose a little lighter-colored wood and fabric.

Another element choice that seems to be changing some is the ceiling fans. People seem to be going for the upgrade instead of the plain, white ceiling fan. They are getting more particular with these for the salon and master stateroom areas. Granite countertops have risen in popularity as well.
Beverage centers have been on more boats going out west now, and they include elements such as a smaller, glass-front fridge similar to the coolers you would find in a store.

Other ideas such as seeing more natural tones for floors and countertops using slate, limestone-natural stone are popular as well. There is much more attention paid to the small details. Many houseboat buyers have two or three million dollar homes, and they seem to know exactly what lights, faucets, and other small details they want.

"Having an upper deck galley with a huge kitchen including a built-in range, granite counter tops and cabinets has been a big hit." says another top designer.  

More "Murphy" beds, that recess into the wall, have been installed lately, and upper end elements and design features are definitely on the rise.

Norma Lasley of Horizon Yachts has some thoughts to share about the latest trends as well. "We're in the trends of tans, browns and blacks, and have been for about a year and a half now." says Lasley. A little variation in wood tones has also been noted. Customers are choosing one color of panel and then choosing a contrasting tone for the trim. Side hall floor plans are still a popular choice for design.

She also notes that flooring used in salon areas are now more hard wood and laminate flooring choices instead of carpeting. Horizon uses Dura Ceramic in the galleys and in the baths, which is a very popular material that looks like tile. Buyers are also specifying day/night shades for window treatments and still working with pretty neutral colors, although once in a while someone gets brave and jumps into a more colorful look. For the most part the choice seems to be more neutral main colors and then more color in the accent pieces.

Here is a case in point of how houseboat owners seem to be paying more attention to detail and choosing more upscale elements. Margo Rippy, Owner of Details Commercial Group, in Jeffersonville, Ind., has recently finished work on an exquisite design for a houseboat manufactured by Thoroughbred for Pam and Mike Bernard. This couple knew what they wanted, and Margo took their ideas and turned them into reality.

You'll see an in-depth feature on this boat in a future issue of houseboat, so all the details won't be shared in this article. You'll want to stay tuned though so you can really get a feel for what was done with the boat, Mane Decision.

"When you get someone who has impeccable taste and wants the unusual with the resources to get it done, it's a lot of fun to do the design work because it opens up so many avenues to create." says Rippy. The Bernards wanted something that would not only be cutting edge but also withstand the passing trends and not turn into a dinosaur of sorts in two or three years.

This boat is custom made from top to bottom. In fact, because it's wider and longer than most it required a lot of special design down to the custom made furniture. A few interesting elements of the interior design include two fireplaces-one in the master stateroom and also the main salon. The color scheme has a lot of copper, crimson, beiges, khakis and chocolates so it has a warm tone. The master stateroom has a little cooler color scheme, with fabrics throughout the boat have sort of a glitzy sheen to them. There are plenty of smaller details such as extra tassels and trim, interesting artwork, and accessories chosen especially for this boat.

The faucets are all from Kohler, black and tan cast iron in the kitchen. In fact, the kitchen is all mocha vyra granite with a separate bar in black galaxy black with copper. Granite countertops can be found throughout. The glass doors are custom made, and crown molding was made especially for it as well. That's all that can be shared at this time about this particular boat, so be sure to watch for the extended version in an upcoming issue.

Trends come and go, and you can follow them or dance to the beat of your own drum. The great thing about the houseboating manufacturers is that whatever you decide you want for your houseboat design, they do their best to make that happen to create a beautiful home on the water your whole family can enjoy.

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