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Boat Interior Restoration: How to Create a Dazzling Boat Interior?

If you’re thinking about Buying a Project Boat, then no doubt you will have started daydreaming about the beautiful interior you will be able to create for your boat. To transform a space from something mediocre and unloved into a beautiful, serene place where you can relax and enjoy your time on the sea is a true joy.

So where do you start when it comes to planning a full interior restoration?

Get Inspired

You might have a clear image of the colour scheme and décor you want in your new interior, but for those that need some inspirations take the time to plan what you want to do before you get started. There is an abundance of information and images out there and you could peruse some boat and sailing magazines, get hold of some books about decorating boat interiors or, most accessibly, look through images online on sites such as Pinterest or boating websites and see what jumps out at you. You could also visit local boat shows and see some boat interiors in real life. Once you have a clear picture of which design style speaks to you, keep a file and then make a plan about which items you will need to source.

Remember, the outside of boats tends to look very similar, but the interior is where you will be able to let your personality and style show, so don’t be afraid to be creative – this is where you will be spending a lot of your precious leisure time and you should love it.

Boat Interior Decorating Basics

While it might be tempting to treat your boat interior in the same way as you would your home, it’s vital to remember that practicality needs to remain the number one priority. Filling an interior space with trinkets and accessories might look appealing, but they will be nothing short of annoying the moment you get under way, and they start falling all over the place.

When sourcing your materials for your brand-new interior, there is a fine line that you need to follow. On the one hand, accessories intended specifically for boats can be eye-wateringly expensive and non- nautical products can be an excellent budget alternative. Storage boxes, galley items and accessories bought from high street shops can all be a way to save money. On the other hand, everything from upholstery to electronics, curtains and flooring needs to be suitable for marine use, and you will need to source and buy marine grade products. Even a boat’s interior will be subjected to water spray, and salt water is particularly corrosive and destructive to materials and equipment. While it might be tempting to buy cheaper, non-marine grade products it will be false economy when you need to replace them in a few years.

The last key rule to consider when decorating the interior of your boat is not buy breakable or fragile items for obvious reasons. It’s easy to forget, while bobbing gently in the marina, how much movement occurs on a boat on the open water, and anything that can fall over most likely will at some point. Avoid glass where possible so consider replacing picture frame glass with plastic, and having plastic drinking cups.


Boat Interior Restoration

With all this in mind it’s now time to take a look at what you can change which will have the biggest impact on your new restoration project;

  • Update your boat furnishings:

Nothing makes more of an impact on your boat’s interior than the soft furnishings. The seat covers, biminis and cushions will add a real bolt of colour, whether you opt for bold shades or more subtle hues. You could consider a leather interior too, or patterned fabrics. Think long and hard before committing to a colour because it will be the biggest statement you make. Many new boats will leave the shipyard with neutral tones to suit all tastes. It’s your boat though, so don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through – add bright splashes of colour for a fun and vibrant vibe, or choose a sleek black and grey colour scheme for a luxurious feel. Keep in mind the size of the space you’re restoring and don’t overcrowd small interiors with busy patterns or dark colours.

  • Be Creative with your Yacht’s Storage:

Storage space on most boats is at a premium, and you will need to design your interior carefully to make the most of every square inch. Clutter all over the place will make your boat feel smaller and more crowded, so aim for a minimalist style with everything you need neatly stowed away. It is not only a more pleasant environment but is practical for when you’re cruising too. Putting pull drawers in the steps adds a lot of useful small item storage, while the space under any berths is a valuable storage area too for items such as towels, bedding and clothes. You might even want to consider raising the beds to make the most of an otherwise wasted space. Invest in pretty storage boxes which fit with your colour scheme and integrate them into the overall design.

  • Revamp the Flooring:

Another big change you can make in your new interior is the flooring, and you’ll be amazed at the outcome. Marine vinyl flooring is a popular choice thanks to its durability and waterproofness, and it is also easy to clean. Marine vinyl comes in a dazzling array of colours and styles, so get creative and pull it into your overall design image. Again, avoid anything too busy or highly patterned in a small space or it can be overwhelming. If you prefer something softer underfoot (this is especially popular in colder climates) then marine grade carpets are up to the job and are available in a myriad of colours.

  • Don’t Forget about Window Coverings:

We’ve looked at soft furnishings, which would include curtains, but you have a whole host of options to choose from when it comes to window coverings. Blinds in various shades or wood tones can be an elegant addition to an interior, or you could opt for blackout curtains in the cabins for a better night’s sleep. If budget allows then motorized shades can be activated at the flick of a button and can be customised to your décor style.

  • Make it Yours:

Whether you’re planning to live on your boat, sail around the world, or spend weekends cruising inland waterways then you want the interior space to feel like home. Family photos, wall paintings or bedding can be brought from home to give a cosy and familiar feel. Accessories will help bring the whole design together and it’s where you can add your personal touch. Choose some decorative pillows to complement your upholstery (either matching or in contrasting colours) for evenings snuggled on the sofa, add some throw blankets – perhaps engraved with your boat’s name for added pizzazz – and don’t forget about lighting. Stark white lights are functional but not very atmospheric. Coloured LED lights (long-lasting and efficient) can be used to mark stairways or access ways, while softer lighting in the form of wall uplights or lamps in the cabins and saloon create a sophisticated and calming vibe.

Taking on an unloved boat and restoring it to its former glory can be enormously satisfying and give you a huge sense of achievement. Rightboat.com lists hundreds of boats for sale all around the world to fit all budgets. So whether you want a true fixer upper, or are simply looking to revamp the interior of a boat to make it your own, then start your search here on rightboat.com. We’re always on hand to offer guidance and advice so your boat-buying journey is smooth sailing.



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Written By: Samantha Wilson

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.

Get in touch:Linkedin

More from: Samantha Wilson

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