Case study: houseboat kitchen

Harvey Jones explains how it created a kitchen within the confines of a former 1920s working barge for clients that love to entertain.

Flo, an ex-working transporter barge dating back to the 1920s, has a steel hull and is hand-riveted. She spent most of her life working in Plymouth. The majority of the boat was an open cargo hold, but when converted into a live-aboard, the hold was covered over. The inherited kitchen had slatted wooden doors and the layout was a classic U-shape with the sink on the left, freestanding cooker in the middle and storage and surface to the right.

The cupboards had no shelves let alone a drawer, the cooker door was held closed with a brick and the hot water came from a wall-mounted electric unit – and there was no water pressure. It was a big project. 

The durability of the Harvey Jones cabinetry was what sold it, closely followed by the fact it was hand-painted, because this meant it can be given a completely new look with just a lick of paint. 

The chosen style was a classic shaker – a style you don’t see so often in boats. The colours we looked at were all shades of blues and greens – a love for nature and no windows along the main walls was another good reason for this colour palette. 

Settling on a deep rich shade from the Dulux Heritage range, Mallard Green, this was complemented with brushed brass ironmongery – a sympathetic nod to the typical metal found in boats. This allowed for other gold/brass accents, the inside of the lightshades and accessories dotted around. 

The client also wanted more drawers than cupboards, as they found them to be much more practical to organise crockery, pots, pans and utensils. They even planned to have their spices sit in the top drawer to the right of the range cooker. 

We explored several different layout options, but because they loved to entertain, we settled on a 5.6m long L-shape with a large dining table that the homeowners had inherited. It seated eight people with storage underneath. 

The range cooker was the main focal point with a stunning piece of Blanco Perfecto quartzite as the splashback – giving the kitchen some texture without overwhelming the space. The couple were keen to include a microwave, but off the countertop. And a steam oven was a must-have. 

Knowing that usable work surfaces would be at a premium, a Quooker Fusion tap was installed to take the place of a kettle. There is also plentiful storage on the opposite side of the room. A 1.2m-wide larder, with 600mm cupboards either side for Tupperware, storage jars and the other for coats.  

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Making maximum use of the available height, a dresser cupboard for all the glassware and crockery was used. We opted for a glazed front to break things up and lighten a darker corner. As the lounge has an engineered oak floor, we decided on a 20mm thick grey quartz worktops. The light colour helped the cabinetry colour pop and lightened the overall look. However, to work some wood into the design, we organised bespoke red sapele shelves to be made with blackened flat steel bar bracings at either end. 

Quooker tap helped save worktop space

Installer’s comments

There were a few areas that, although they now look great, had their challenges. We would have liked to move the sink out of the corner, but the pipework from the bathroom above came down beyond the kitchen in the bedroom behind and the sink outlet had to run into it. The height of the space was another challenge.  

The bulkhead you can see above the main run of the kitchen is actually the gangway on the deck above, which meant that any furniture along the walls had to sit under a height of 1.7m.

The installer, who was working alone, found it hard bringing all of the cabinetry and appliances into the kitchen, as the front door is upstairs. Once all the units and appliances were in the space, it didn’t leave much room to work in – partly because the clients were living there and he had to work between a bedroom, a temporary kitchen set-up and a lounge full of the entire contents of the kitchen. The other thing was the level. The level line would sit differently when the tide was out and the boat was sat in the mud.

About Harvey Jones

Harvey Jones has been making bespoke kitchens from its Cam–bridgeshire workshop for more than 40 years, and in that time has designed and crafted more than 15,000 handmade kitchens. It now has 32 showrooms across the UK, and plans to open more. All kitchens are designed and made to order, unique to the needs of their owners.

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