5 Organizing Tips to Steal from People Who Live on Boats

updated Jun 6, 2019
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Having a home by the water is a total life goal. Having a home on the water, well, that’s even better! Super-cool houseboats can be found docked in calm waters everywhere from Seattle to Cape Cod, and they pack an inspiring design punch. Of course, they’re not without their challenges. Because they’re typically on the smaller side, homeowners (houseboatowners?) need to max out every available inch in their kitchens to make them pretty and functional. The most well-thought-out kitchens have plenty of ideas you could steal for your own kitchen — even if it’s just in a regular house, far away from water.

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

1. Choose furniture with hidden storage.

When you live in a small space, everything you choose to bring into your home has to be able to do double duty. In this Newport, Rhode Island houseboat, the owner chose to reconfigure a vintage armoire into a bright teal kitchen sink and prep space. Its multitude of drawers keep countertop clutter to a minimum and its beautiful facade adds a dose of design to the snug space.

Go aboard: A Dreamy New England Houseboat at Apartment Therapy

(Image credit: Magnolia Market)

2. Hang shelves in front of the windows.

As you can probably imagine on a houseboat, you want to maximize your view, meaning there’s a lot of windows and not a lot of empty wall space to take advantage of for storage. The solution? Install streamlined shelving in front of your windows. When done right, it can totally work, as this houseboat renovated by Chip and Joanna Gaines proves. By selecting a sleek black metal style of shelving, the couple eliminated visual clutter and allowed as much light as possible to still filter through the wall of windows. Try this in your own kitchen renovation if you’re looking to maximize natural light and storage.

See the before and after: The Swartzs at Magnolia Market

(Image credit: Book A Houseboat)

3. Install a hanging rail.

A skinny hanging rail is a great way to utilize the backsplash in your kitchen in a way that almost doubles your available storage. Take a tip from this stylish houseboat and install one as a way to house everything from cooking utensils to small pots and dishwashing materials.

Plan a stay: Houseboat Standard at Book a Houseboat

(Image credit: Refinery29)

4. When it comes to furniture, think small. No, smaller.

If your kitchen is small, you will almost always want to get furniture that’s smaller than what you think you need. This way, you don’t overwhelm the already-tight space. In her San Francisco Bay houseboat, designer and model Kyleigh Kuhn selected a petite tulip table as her spot to dine. Paired with leather folding chairs, the charming spot takes up barely any room.

Read more: What Living on a Boat is Really Like at Refinery29

(Image credit: AirBnB)

5. Give yourself as much workspace as possible.

This Charleston houseboat boasts a quaint country kitchen reminiscent of the southern state’s signature style. Not only is it cute and tidy, but the countertops are also left almost completely empty, freeing up what little workspace there is. A corner coffee station is set up next to hanging mugs (another hanging rail!), while a magnet knife rack sits above an empty work space, ready for chopping and prepping.

Book a stay: Modern Houseboat Downtown at AirBnb

Would you ever want to live on a houseboat?