A bespoke houseboat fit for a family on the Regent’s Canal in Camden
- Credit: Peter Cook/View
Picture living on a houseboat and it’s likely that images of scruffy bohemia will spring to mind, complete with painted floral borders and chipped enamel mugs.
Sleek interiors, picture windows and stainless steel and teak-effect sun-decks may not. Boutique bathrooms almost certainly won’t.
Living on the Water, a Camden company providing bespoke barge building services, is set to change that with their space-creating shell design and contemporary aesthetic.
Founder Pete Young and his partner, headhunter Carol Slater came to boat life almost by accident.
“We were trying to save some money so we let our flat and rented a boat off a friend. That was eleven years ago and we haven’t been back to land since,” he says.
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When Slater became pregnant with their daughter Amber, now five, the couple decided it was time to reconsider their living situation, even considering a move back to dry land.
In the end they decided to put the knowledge they had accumulated over eight years on the water to good use and Young, a former property developer who had been redesigning and refitting complete boats for some time, started to design and build a boat where the whole family could live in comfort for some years to come.
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“We finished this boat two years ago and before that my daughter had to sleep in the kitchen. There really wasn’t space for the three of us. We were going to need to build a bigger boat.
“My biggest concern was space. Most narrow boats end up a bit like corridors but having a side entrance means you can use the space better at the ends of the boat.
“Because this boat doesn’t drive, we can use the front and the back, which gives us about 15 extra feet of space.”
Young also gave the boat straight sides, meaning that the roof is much bigger than usual and creating a useable roof terrace.
“We’ve got a narrow towpath next to the boat so if you want to have people round and not all just sit in a row, this is a great solution. It’s more of a normal environment to socialise on the deck.”
Slater, who works in recruitment, also insisted on the boutique bathroom so that she could get ready for office work in suitable surroundings.
And while Young and Slater sleep on a pull-out sofa in the open-plan living space, an arrangement which seems fairly typical of the make-do, space saving life on the water, their daughter now has her own bedroom, which functions as a permanent private space, a far cry from the kitchen.
“We could have just about fitted another bedroom in here but we chose the open-plan layout in the end because we wanted a feeling of space,” says Young.
“Our bed was quite tricky to design because it’s made out of an L-shaped sofa, which is quite unusual, but it works really well and only takes about a minute to set it up.”
While Young says that the living arrangements on board are “totally adequate” for the foreseeable future, another of the projects he is working on is a pied-a-terre for a family of five.
This has a separate “den” for the children, with sofa that converts into three separate beds or a full double and dining space for up to five people and has rustic finishes in contrast to Young’s spare, modern space.
“There are so many options for people who want to build their own home on the water,” says Young. “There’s a real opportunity to get it exactly how you want with a bit of imagination. We love it.”
Prices for building a boat from scratch start at £120,000.