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Budget design, small-space solutions anchor houseboat makeover

August 22, 2013|By David A. Keeps

She also shopped wisely. French windows and a Dutch door for the front entrance came from salvage yards. Metal side tables and curtains were from Cost Plus World Market, rugs were from West Elm, and lighting and kitchen drawer-pulls shaped like whale tails were from Rejuvenation. To make the simple cabinetry more distinctive, she bought other unusual handles at Liz’s Antique Hardware and used vintage iron railroad spikes to pierce the doors of her bedroom closet. She scoured Etsy and found Wine Country Craftsman sconces and Atelier 688 light fixtures made from hefty marine rope.

“We made a lot of trips to the Long Beach flea market,” said Tosh, who scored four swiveling iron stools for $200 and had them upholstered in outdoor fabric.

“On a houseboat, everything has to be able to stand up to sun, wind and salt water,” said Tosh, who also keeps a 36-foot double-mast ketch in the marina. “Our mantra was: When in doubt, wrap it in rope,” she said, pointing out a light fixture with a coiled rope base instead of a traditional mounting plate.

“I was going for seafaring elements with a Scandinavian, French farmhouse feel,” Tosh said of the décor scheme, which has a decidedly more urban and contemporary look than the typical beach house or boat. “Like a modern-day Viking made love to a Parisian chef.”

The Coast Guard makes an annual inspection of the premises to grant live-aboard status, which mandates navigation lights, flares and life jackets. The houseboat, which Tosh has nicknamed Flo (short for floating house), has plenty of storage. It’s also energy efficient. The stove is propane, and a vent-less alcohol fireplace helps to warm the place on chilly nights.

Nothing, not even twice-weekly pumping of the plumbing holding tank, can dim Tosh’s enthusiasm for the boat she calls home.

“We travel all over doing freaky, grueling television jobs,” she said. “And we wanted to come home to something like a vacation spa, where we can hide away all our gear and feel like we’re on vacation. And when the windows are open and the wind and sun plow through here, we can say: What the heck kind of holy paradise is this?”

Corrected: An earlier version of this article misstated the length of Tosh's second boat, a ketch, as 26 feet.

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