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'We took everything apart': Boat becomes a charming home after a major makeover

When the new owners of this barge finally took over the ship, they performed a complete makeover before they moved in.
/ Source: Houzz

Ahoy, matey!

When the new owners of this barge finally took over the ship, they called on architect Yann Coulouarn to perform a complete makeover before they moved in. And he did so beautifully.

“We took everything apart, broke it down to its bare structure and even played around with the hull of the barge,” Coulouarn says. “Only part of the volume was used at the time, but we wanted to open it all up,” he adds.

The interior was transformed to bring in a “contemporary loft spirit.” “My wish was to stay simple, focusing on sustainability, insulation and regulation compliance, but especially to create large, open spaces and bridge the interior-exterior divide,” he says.


This houseboat, roughly 100-feet long and 16-feet wide, has a large living area with an open kitchen, three bedrooms and a bathroom. The hull was repainted and all of the mandatory maintenance carried out.

“All live-in barges need to be serviced at least once every 10 years,” architect Yann Coulouarn says. “A barge expands, stretches and retracts depending on the temperature. These constraints need to be considered from the beginning.”


All the rooms are on the same level. The ceiling is high in the middle of the boat, and still almost 7-feet high at each end.

“Because we lowered the floor of the living area, there was a need for more light,” Coulouarn says. “We had to create new openings, so we created extra portholes at a lower level.”


One enters the barge, and its main living area, via a beautiful wooden staircase. The kitchen, dining and living areas have a contemporary loft feel. “The oak floor creates an illusion of grandeur, with boards stretching from stern to bow,” the architect says.

The U-shaped kitchen, which is next to the staircase and looks out toward the living area, needed to have space for storage, appliances and a pump.


The owners already had most of the furniture. The white armchairs and sofas from Michel Ducaroy form a comfortable and elegant seating space in the living area. The rectangular windows were replaced for better insulation and offer great sky views, whereas the portholes look out onto the river and its banks.


All of the built-in furniture is from IKEA. The architect wanted to establish continuity and coherence between the kitchen and stairway.


The master bedroom is in the bow. The existing steel door was renovated and serves as the main feature of the room. Behind it is a dressing area.


“We also created a bedroom for each of the little girls, each one with its own porthole,” Coulouarn says. We'd move in!