Designed by Michelle Macarounas of , this two-storey houseboat was originally constructed from parts of a barge built in the 1800s! Once a permanent home for its owners, it now serves as a family holiday retreat and entertaining space, afloat on Sydney’s sparkling harbour.
‘This is a really unique house, and a first of its kind for us’ explains designer Michelle Macarounas. Though her firm had never tackled a floating home before (!), they had experience working on a lot of waterfront properties, so had a good understanding of marine grade products.
Nevertheless, this was a complex renovation. Michelle and her team were asked to open up the dark lower level with the kitchen and lounge, which felt heavy and had a lot of nautical references, and to redesign the upper-level master bedroom, ensuite and study. Key requirements included restoring the original features, upgrading the boat’s mechanics, hydraulics, electrical wiring and facilities; and using marine-grade components to ensure the house remained watertight!
The restored and redesigned houseboat has an open living and kitchen area and deck on the first floor, as well as a double bedroom and ensuite. The master suite is upstairs, with a large bathroom, reading area and entertaining deck.
Both interior and exterior living spaces were transformed with a soft palette and natural materials – inside, oak flooring, cream-coloured travertine tiles, contemporary joinery and custom-made furniture offer a lighter counterpart to the darker weatherboard exterior. Furnishing and styling components were carefully considered to withstand harsh conditions, such as constant exposure to moisture, salt and sun.
Light, ventilation and openness were of vital importance for maximising space, and to ensure the result felt like a ‘house,’ rather than a cramped boat. ‘With such a spectacular setting, we wanted to ensure the surroundings and view took visual priority’ Michelle explains. ‘We incorporated large glass doors that open to outdoor living spaces. These allow for plenty of natural light, and helps to draw the eye outside’.
For Michelle and her team, the joy of delivering this project to the client was ‘absolutely gold’, and a very proud moment for the studio. ‘We had achieved a great outcome for them and they were so happy!’ Michelle recalls. There were even a few tears as they opened their eyes to see the transformation!