When working with the inherent limitations of a house on water—and there are many—thoughtfully designed interiors that help maintain buoyancy, waterproofing measures, and innovative construction methods are a must. In the cases below, the results are beautiful, modern homes that offer a taste of the aquatic lifestyle.
Bobbing amid midcentury houses on stilts in a secluded part of Copenhagen Harbor, Lisbeth Juul and Laust Nørgaard’s compact floating home cuts a dramatically modern profile. The 860-square-foot home, which the residents designed and built themselves, is the culmination of 25 joy-filled years on houseboats, and three less comfortable ones on land.
The homeowners personally sourced logs from Western Washington that would provide a buoyant foundation. Since the home would have a limited footprint, Atelier Drome had to make space efficiency a top priority.
For this houseboat's renovation, led by Kate Harry of the Adelaide–based interiors firm Fabrikate, function was critical. Harry started with careful spatial planning of the 46 square meters, or 495 square feet, which included the captain's driving area.
Designed and created by its owners in 2005, this modern houseboat features tantalizing amenities, including a central heating system, a contemporary kitchen and bathroom, and a wood-burning stove in the living room.
A C-Frame catamaran currently docked in Prague’s Holesovice neighborhood, Port X is a modular living concept. Prague’s Atelier SAD collaborated with a company that develops sailing boats to fabricate its curved exterior. While images of the fully wired home on the water make for great photo ops, Port X is a home built for both land and sea.
When architect Julius Taminiau decided to move his family of four from a small flat in central Amsterdam into a two-story houseboat of his own making, he knew he would have to get creative on a relatively tight budget. Following the mindset of "less is more," Julius drew inspiration from Japanese culture and architecture to build a minimalist floating house with well-proportioned rooms and a spacious feel.
Recently converted for domestic use, the historic Humber Keel cargo boat now contains two bedrooms, two baths, open living space, and terrace views. The open plan at the center provides spacious living and dining quarters with a modern galley kitchen.
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"It’s actually a very clever approach to the site," says Daniel Hunter, who as architect of record designed the interior and worked in tandem with Christof Glaus of Stücheli Architekten to facilitate the design review, neighborhood approvals, and compatibility with local codes. "It gives them what most people residing here don’t have—a large living area above-deck, with ample outside space and plenty of privacy."
Floating House by Lloyd Architects is the summer headquarters for a Cincinnati couple despite its modest 1,250 square feet of indoor space. Downstairs are a boat slip, storage, and sauna; upstairs there are two bedrooms (the kids have bunkbeds), an office, and a galley area, with dramatic views from parallel windows.
Architect Michelle Lanker and her husband Bill Bloxom designed their floating house around one fundamental concept: What if new structures could improve and enrich the environment? With sustainability driving every decision, the couple collaborated with a team to build a truly sustainable, beautiful home that extends the shoreline habitat instead of taking away from it.
"By creating high ceilings with large windows, the feeling is all about space and light," says architect Robert Nebolon, principal of Berkeley firm Robert Nebolon Architects. The 2,100-square-foot floating house was built on land in six months before settling into its final location in Mission Creek.
Ninebark Design Build and Dyna Contracting salvaged as many components as they could from the original structure, including the turn-of-the-century cedar floats that buoy the home from below—one of the 60-foot-long logs was milled and turned into interior finishes. On the exterior, they opted for salvaged Cor-Ten steel and cedar, both of which will age well in the notoriously rainy northwestern climate.
When avid outdoorsman Richard Daigneault set out to create the ultimate, compact houseboat, his masterful woodworking skills and eco-friendly ethos produced a floating home so coveted that he launched a company to meet demand for his amphibious dwelling—with a starting price of $79,000 CAD (approximately $61,000 USD).
Developed by his Quebec–based company daigno, the handsomely crafted Le Koroc boathouse spans 26 feet in length and 8.5 feet in width with a 110-square-foot cabin that opens up to a spacious outdoor patio.
Measuring approximately 646 square feet with minimalist interiors designed by Chris Laugsch, this home features floor-to-ceiling windows and is furnished with sleek, custom-made pieces that don’t distract from the property's views. The layout features an open kitchen, a large living area with a retractable double bed and sofa, a shower room, separate toilet, and a main bedroom that overlooks the water. A fireplace keeps the space warm in the winter, while air conditioning keeps it cool during the hot summer nights.
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