Marine News from the Great Lakes

How To Make Your Boat Feel Like Home

Published: Friday, October 5, 2018
By: Laura Gills, Owner of Freshwater Gills

Is your boat your favorite summer destination place? Perhaps your boat is your “true” home? There is something special about being on the water, but finding that right boat for you can be a project. And even when you do, most likely she’s going to need some work to make her yours.

One of the big advantages of boating on the Great Lakes is the freshwater, meaning that it is not entirely uncommon for an older boat to still be in great condition. The problem is usually on the inside! Dated interiors, failing floor and wall finishes, uncomfortable beds and furnishings that have seen their days long passed are all typical issues.

Freshwater Gills is an interior design company interested in transforming the interior of your boat or yacht into your favorite place on the water. Sometimes this can mean a complete interior overhaul. I have been a professional interior designer for over 30 years in both the residential and commercial sectors, and, quite frankly, boats are often more challenging.

At the end of the day, a boat is still a vehicle that was not initially created with remodeling in mind. The structure, finishes, and interior elements are typically so integrated that to address one element means taking apart a few more. I often tell people that ‘working on a boat is like working in a china cabinet; a small space filled with surfaces and items that are not easily fixed.’ Another challenge to interior design on a boat is logistics; just getting to the boat, sometimes repeatedly, without putting a damper on precious boating time! For all these reasons, most interior projects need to be done during the ‘off season.’

Late summer/autumn is the time for project review and scheduling. At Freshwater Gills, projects are incorporated into a “package” because, due to the aforementioned challenges, we generally don’t address single issues. For example, we won’t do “just the carpet”. True interior design is about transforming spaces and, generally speaking, one element alone isn’t enough to do that. Interior elements could include flooring, wall finishes, window treatments, soft furnishings, or other finishing touches.

Larger projects can address more integrated items such as cabinets, countertops, and lighting - and sometimes would be done in collaboration with your favorite marine facility for a more complete refit approach.

Some smaller packages could be a combination of a few elements. A very common, small project is new stateroom bedding. Often, the stateroom makeover starts with a new mattress. Having a comfortable bed is key to consider your boat a ‘dream destination’. We are the Handcraft Mattress dealer for the north coast of Ohio and up into Lake Saint Clair. Since a new mattress is so important, we make the exception here of just selling the mattress without being part of a package.

Each ensemble or package is designed specifically for you. The first steps are very similar to any interior design project: visit the space, listen to the owner’s functional and aesthetic concerns, and discuss budget and longevity.

So, when you are ready for the next step toward making your boat your favorite destination, give us a call at (440) 255-3688. For more info, check out or follow us on Facebook today.

This article first appeared in the Fall Issue (Sept/Oct) 2018 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.

tags: Accessories, Decorative

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