See sleek, modern houseboat on Seattle Floating Homes Tour

September 2010 News Jackson Holtz -
A mosaic of light dances across the bedroom ceiling in Jessica and Kevin Vanderzanden's new houseboat.

The shimmering reflections off Lake Union are a constant reminder that their home floats gently above the water.

"It's fantastic having the water just inches away," Jessica Vanderzanden said.

Like many details in the sparkling 1,600-square-foot modern home, the light show was a pleasant surprise the couple only discovered after moving in last April, she said.

They also weren't expecting the view of Gas Works Park from the dining room, or just how well a contemporary home with right angles built of rusted steel, stained wood and floor-to-ceiling windows would blend in at the dock it shares with shingled cottages and traditional houseboats.

Inside "everything is light and bright," Kevin Vanderzanden said.

The Vanderzanden houseboat is among the dozen that will open its doors to visitors on Sept. 12 during this year's Seattle Floating Homes Tour, a benefit for the Seattle Floating Homes Association.

If "Sleepless in Seattle" had been filmed today instead of in the early 1990s, the Vanderzandens' home would have been seen two docks away from Tom Hanks' floating bachelor pad. In fact, the producers might have selected their home instead to film the houseboat-bound love story. It's very cool.

Everything in the Vanderzandens' home is clean, simple and modern. The walls are painted white, the floor is concrete, the countertops are a high-tech composite of white resin, the cabinets are handsome teak. The lighting on the entire second floor -- a one-room living, dining, entertainment center and kitchen -- is controlled by a single programmable light switch.

Portland architect Mark VanerZanden, Kevin's brother, designed the home to be functional and sleek.

"Everything is garaged," Jessica Vanderzanden said. "Everything is stowed." 

There's no clutter. The counters are bare, even in the bathroom. All the stuff has a home inside cabinets where space is efficiently doled out.

"One of the things this house demands is minimalism," she said.

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