Skip to main content

Home visit: living on a houseboat

If you rethink how and where you live, possibilities might open up to a home in the heart of the city. Step aboard a houseboat moored on the banks of the Thames.

Towels hanging on a line on a boat on the river.
Towels hanging on a line on a boat on the river.
A portrait of Gareth.

Life on a boat

Six years ago, Gareth answered his friend Joe’s call to go to Rotterdam, pick up a boat and make it their home. “I was in a shared house at the time,” says Gareth. “Now I don’t think I’d live in a house again. Boat life is unique. I wake up to the flowing Thames rather than concrete, yet I can cycle to the centre of town in 10 minutes. And I love the sense of community!”

I’d feel disappointed if I had a perfectly functioning flat. With the boat, you get both sides. There’s a bit of roughness – things always need fixing – but it’s also pretty. And a fun party space!

Gareth

We’ve got a nice balance between feeling homey and it still being boat-like – none of us wants it to be super sharp and modern in here. When something’s needed we make it, find it, or buy something that fits in with an old wooden boat.

Gareth

My desk is actually an IKEA futon that I’ve chopped up. I needed a table to fit this awkward corner – when you don’t have much money, whatever you have you make into what you need.

Gareth

Cooking in a small space

The kitchen on the boat is small and storage space is tight. The boatmates limit crockery and utensils to what fits in one base unit and a couple of shelves. Hooks are put to good use – creating extra storage space on shelves and behind doors. “We’re all into our food and we all cook,” says Gareth. “Sometimes we cook and eat together as a family – the key is organisation.”

Making space to recharge

Each of the bedrooms on the boat is unconventional in shape. Making use of the nooks and crannies built into the boat and finding a mix of boxed and open storage makes the spaces work for everyone. “People think that with six of us being on the boat we must be living on top of each other, but we find space. Your bedroom becomes a place to feel cosy and find some privacy,” says Gareth.

A floorplan of Gareth’s houseboat home.

Boat tour

“A few people have been in and out of here,” says Gareth. “Right now we’re three couples.” Below decks, the Dutch barge is now a home with three bedrooms and an open-plan central dining, living and kitchen space. The boat has mod-cons: “Dishwasher, oven, washing machine but the internet is terrible! Boat life can be a juggling act, things break and need fixing. It’s made me more practical – I like that.”

We love to see our customers get creative with our products. Go for it! But please note that altering or modifying IKEA products so they can no longer be re-sold or used for their original purpose, means the IKEA commercial guarantees and your right to return the products will be lost.

Made by
Interior stylist: Emily Henson
Photographer: Benjamin Edwards