Kelly Houseboat

Location: Seattle, WA
Size: 1,830 Square Feet
Status: Design Phase
Project Team: Aimée O’Carroll ARB, Jon Gentry AIA, Yuchen Qiu

Project Narrative

The owners of the site had a unique opportunity to rehabilitate one of Seattle’s oldest houseboat floats and build a new structure on top to serve as their home for many years to come. As seasoned houseboat dwellers the owners knew that they wanted an efficient floor plan which maximized natural light and connection to the surrounding water- with plenty of heart and soul. Square footage was not the primary concern on this project - instead designing a floating home that nods to the historic style of utilitarian boat houses, harkens back to the feel of a Canadian cabin, and which prioritizes the kitchen as the heart of the home was the main design criteria. The beauty of the houseboat is that during the summer months, the lake is your home. In winter the priority is to create a cozy space that draws you in rather than being left feeling exposed to the water beyond. This delicate dynamic of inversion and opening up to the exterior was an important starting point for the project.

By accommodating traditional design elements, this project embraces the traditional typology and materials of floating structures to provide a sense of familiarity for the inhabitants while also being able to create interesting design opportunities. The dutch gable roof form creates a traditional profile to the structure, allowing for a master bedroom housed in the loft space beneath. The dormer window on the east side introduces morning light into the bedroom and views to the morning skyline. Clerestory windows below the roof allow dynamic light in from all directions. Each room has the opportunity for both sky and water views whilst retaining privacy from neighboring homes.

At the interior a wood burning fireplace forms the focal point at the corner of the kitchen and living room. A traditional galley style kitchen invites casual living and encourages family members and guests to gather in the heart of the home. The main living/dining room opens up to the water and outdoor floating decks, increasing your living space in the summer months. During winter months the home becomes a warm inviting refuge on the lake.