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Thursday, 6 February 2014

London Interiors: House Boat Living

Living in central London is fast becoming impossible on most people’s budgets, that is unless you live on a houseboat. Boat owners, illustrator, Sophie Jamieson and her boyfriend Kendall Gilmore, who works for the Department of Health live a 10 minute stroll from Baker Street station, on a peaceful stretch of canal, edged with a small houseboat community.

But what is the reality of living in a space that measures a mere 57’ x 7’? Where on earth would the average person store their life’s hoardings? We all dream of minimal living, but in this tight space wouldn’t most people get cabin fever?

Sophie and Kendall have expelled all musty, dingy houseboat connotations and created a homely but not cluttered vibe. Yes, there are lots of bits and bobs around but they are artfully placed, providing an insight into the people who live here.

It helps being one half illustrator and having a good eye. “When we moved in, the art and books went up first and the rest just followed” says Sophie. Stacks of books, from cookery to Harry Potter become shelves for teapots and jars.

Long and narrow, the boat is divided into 3 spaces: the sitting room and kitchen, the bathroom and a bedroom tucked away at the starboard.

It’s small, but in their case perfectly formed. In the kitchen, the red surfaces are lined with Kendall’s latest foodie experiment of pickling kimchi in jars. The kitchen surfaces are kept clear by nailing copper pots from Spitalfields market to the ceiling and suspending plants in handmade holders Sophie made by knotting twine, giving an outdoorsy feel. Herbs, picked from their little garden on the mooring, seasonal squash and pumpkins are hung on a crafted rope and leather shelf contraption.

The inside is white with popping postbox red cabinets, the end of one painted in handy blackboard paint. Monotone always works well with block colours and their tiled black and white floor is no exception.

“You’ve got to be clever when you live somewhere this small” says Sophie. The boat is peppered with evidence of Sophie’s frugal crafty skills. Wooden wine crates Sophie picked up from the local wine shop and painted white act as bookshelves and another crate, upturned hides essential items and is fashioned into a comfy seat with a hand sewn cushion. The portholes and windows are part obscured with little patterned curtains, more evidence of Sophie’s sewing ways.

Lighting? The amber glow of a wood fire stove keeps things warm and cosy, with olive wood collected from the local gardening centre. “We are deciding whether or not to burn it because it looks so nice all piled up” says Kendall. A string of festoon light bulbs from Lights4u.com keep the boat on-trend and they just won some long hanging naked bulbs on eBay – “don’t ask us how they are going to work” says Kendall. If what they have done so far to their meticulously decorated boat is anything to go by, they will find a way and it will be perfect.

See Sophie's llustrations here

Photos Sarah Fox

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