Redesigning Your Houseboat

An exclusive interview with Amanda Price

December 2019 Feature Emily FitzPatrick Web Exclusive

There is something extremely satisfying in watching the slow progress of an old home being renovated over the course of several months or even years. I simply can’t take my eyes off of homes undergoing the process in my neighborhood. Every part of the process is enticing, from the messiness of deconstructing what was already put in place to the redevelopment of the lot. It’s like getting to play Extreme Home Makeover or Fixer Upper without having to spend a dime.

However, the process of redesigning becomes less of an entertaining spectacle when it is your own houseboat that’s undergoing the redesign. Not to mention that it is also your own money potentially falling down the drain. Still, redesigning your houseboat doesn’t have to be a painful process. 

Amanda Price, design consultant at Bravada Yachts, sat down with Houseboat magazine to provide advice to houseboaters who are considering taking on the project of redesigning their boat. 

[HB] What are some of the trends you’re currently seeing within Bravada in the houseboating industry?

[AP] On the outside of our vessels, we’re going a lot more futuristic. While on the inside, a lot of our clients expressed wanting something with more simplistic, clean lines, so we tend to fall into the contemporary or modern area, going more toward that commercial hospitality vibe and less of a residential house vibe. 

[HB] So how do you achieve that vibe?

[AP] It just depends on our clients and what our clients want. The sky is the limit. So everything is a little bit different. Some people want something very simple. Some people want something a little more loud and different from anybody else. We’re able to experiment a lot and try out different designs with our clients. Some of our clients are a little more bold in trying out new things. 

Contemporary and modern styles can be achieved in many ways. You can be subtle or you can be bold in your design. If you want to go bold, add in that splash of color and unique design. But when you are going for the more timeless look within contemporary or modern styles, stick to neutral colors to brighten up the space. Use more modern clean-lined products like a quartz that is more solid and less busy in design. Flat Panel cabinets and stainless steel fixtures that are more simple can still give you that high-end feel. Less is definitely more when designing in a contemporary or modern style.

[HB] When you’re going about a design for a client where do you start? 

[AP] When they go ahead and purchase the boat I do a one-on-one session with a client, which is really fun because I get to look through all of the options with them and I get to work with them to find all of the design elements and style according to their needs. 

That is kind of where we start off, which leads us toward the style route they want to go in. We have to find that balance between both functionality and making it cosmetically pleasing to the style they want. So that’s really the key to it all. 

[HB] What kind of advice would you have for a houseboater who is trying to go about redesigning their houseboat on their own?

[AP] Do your research. There are a million and one companies with different products out there. Find something that fits your needs, but also your price point. That’s kind of the point of my job—to help those people find the products and line up their vision to get there. If you want to go about the redesign process completely by yourself, then you have to think about how each item looks and functions within the space, and be picky and think about how that item – especially when it comes to a houseboat – needs to handle heavy use. 

The design needs to handle dirt and water from the lake, because you’re out in the elements. It should fit the style of the room and functionality, and then you have to look at your price point. So it can take a lot of time and research if you want to do it right and be really happy with the final result. 

[HB] What would you say to someone who is sitting on the edge of wanting to do it themselves or take on a designer?

[AP] I’d say to start doing a little research right off the bat. Find out the direction you want to go. There can be a lot of things to maneuver and unless you are really confident in managing that entire project or doing it yourself, having a teammate on your side who kind of knows all of the ins and outs can save you a lot of time and money. You want everything to flow and not be so stressful. 

You don't need to use a designer for the whole project, but it may be helpful for certain parts of the redesign that are difficult to facilitate. As a designer, I was trained in utilizing space, colors, furniture and design styles. A designer can be your tool for coming up with ideas you may not have thought of. We also have contacts and relationships with vendors in the design industry. We have so many tools at our disposal that we can streamline the process to make it easier and faster. 

[HB] What are some of the products you use in your design that you would recommend to houseboaters? 

[AP] We stick to a lot of brands that are pretty well recognized like Samsung appliances. We use glass doors from Western Windows and Doors which are absolutely amazing, beautiful and big. We use Fire Magic grill components and we use Eastern Accents for custom bedding. Again, we look at the ratings and durability.

For instance, the bedding is custom, but we also make sure that it’s machine washable because you are on a boat and you only have your stacked washer and dryer closet. So space is limited. You can’t really take your bedding to a dry cleaner and bring it back. So it’s finding those high-end products that are also going to be durable and last you a long time. You need to remember that you aren’t in a place where you can easily swap things and change them out on a regular basis. 

Also, outdoor furniture is important to really consider. They are a heavily used statement piece that you want to be functional and durable. This is something you get to play around with when it comes to color and design. Using products like Sunbrella fabric and aluminum or steel structures will ensure the furniture is sturdy, durable and will last through the weather on the lake.

[HB] What other advice do you have for houseboaters who are preparing to redesign their boat?

[AP] I think the best thing you can do to give that boat a new fresh look and feel is really try to brighten it up as much as possible. A lot of the older vessels are very dark, very closed in, not as many windows as our new designs. And that can make it feel like it’s a lot older than it is. 

The more simplistic the better. A lot of people think going heavier into detail will make their vessel seem timeless and that’s simply not the case. More simplistic lines and neutral colors will give you what you’re looking for.

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