Dreamboats: Reality and The Romance of Houseboats

Everyone would like to live close to the water? Looking up from a good book to watch a pelican dive right outside your window is a almost universal fantasy.

And then there are the men and women who take matters one step farther and reside on the water. Houseboats, or floating houses, because they are called when they are not boat-shaped, attract a unique, artsy, daring type. But they attract individuals with webbing between their feet. To live on a houseboat is to love the water.

I lived on a houseboat in Sausalito, California, for 10 or more years, and while it was mostly the romantic dream we all think of, houseboat living has some drawbacks too. You’re hull to hull together with your neighbors; most houseboat docks are like pretty, upscale mobile home parks on the water, and it’s close quarters. Berth rentals are expensive, a lot more expensive than condominium dues. You do not have any dirt; while it is possible to backyard on decks and balconies, everything is restricted to containers. The houses rock; if you get seasick, this can be a large problem.

But none of this matters when you are sitting on your own roof deck, sipping a glass of wine and watching the pelicans dive while the sun sets.

Listed below are a few beauties to stir your own houseboat fantasies.

Dan Nelson

For reasons of stability, houseboats are usually quite boxy. They also generally have lots and lots of windows — all the best to appreciate those perspectives.

Vandeventer + Carlander Architects

The roof deck is just another signature of houseboats. This contemporary beauty in Seattle advantages from being in the city but feels like a retreat.

At a houseboat, you can be up close and personal with all the neighbors on the dock but removed from the pace of this city.

Lauren Mikus

Decks, docks, porches, balconies and roof decks are all plentiful. Because houseboats tend to be modest, outside living is an significant part this way of life.

A floating home on a canal in Malmo, Sweden. It’s right in the heart of the town, with views from the Baltic.

Art by Anitta

A tugboat. Now that this is a houseboat: tiny, boaty and no frills.

Art by Anitta

Inside this small vessel, all the rooms are characterized by furniture, steps and ingenious dividers like this bead curtain, which allows light through but provides a sense of separation.

Outdoor living is all decks and docks.

Dan Nelson, Designs Northwest Architects

Because floating houses are normally smaller than their landlubbing counterparts, open, bright spaces function best. This spacious staircase allows light and air to move. And have a look at these high “portholes.” They let in the light without even offering neighbors a view indoors.

Adrienne Chinn Design

Open layouts and a lot of windows. Without all of the windows looking out in the water, there’s barely a reason to live on a houseboat.

Vandeventer + Carlander Architects

An area with a view. If you stay on a houseboat, you need to get use to lookie loos kayaking by to get a glance.

Adrienne Chinn Design

As on an actual boat, space and storage are at a premium. While floating houses using a cement hull possess an integrated cellar, any and all smart storage solutions, like the countless drawers built into both sides of this island, are most welcome.

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