This Couple Merrily Floats Along in Seattle

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By Diana Budds / Published by Dwell
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A prefabricated floating home drops anchor in the Pacific Northwest.

Living the life aquatic certainly has its appeal. "Being on the water, low and surrounded by it, you feel like you belong to another world," says architect Eric Cobb, who was hired to design an 1,800-square-foot floating home for a Seattle couple. The pair, a lawyer and an artist, decided to downsize after their children left for college. They wanted a space that would accommodate guests, that had room for kayaks and paddleboards, and that included an outdoor lounging area. 

“Space, light, and detail are governing factors in our work and this project was another opportunity to explore this paradigm,” says Jacek Mrugala, the project architect.

The house was prefabricated at a shipyard in Port Townsend, Washington, and traveled by tugboat to its final destination, Seattle’s Lake Union. 

The exterior of a floating house in Seattle is clad with fiber cement panels from James Hardie painted in three slightly different hues: Fiery Opal, Navajo Red, and Rich Chestnut by Benjamin Moore.

Cobb and the project architect, Jacek Mrugala, opted for an urbane sensibility. They clad the structure in finishes that could handle the rigor of a waterfront locale, such as fiber cement panels from James Hardie and ipe wood to shield the outdoor storage areas. "No overt maritime themes, no boatlike finishes—rather, smart urban design, using durable materials suitable for the location," Cobb says. 

Floor-to-ceiling windows in the main living space overlook Lake Union.