This Converted Dutch Barge Is One of the Most Stunning Floating Homes Ever

published Oct 7, 2020

This Converted Dutch Barge Is One of the Most Stunning Floating Homes Ever

published Oct 7, 2020
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Name: Christina, Rohan, our 2-year-old daughter Elara, and our gorgeous pup, Aluki
Location: West London, UK
Size: 1800 square feet (internal)
Years lived in: 7 months, owned

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Christina, her partner Rohan, and their daughter, Elara, have a pretty unique house… even in the world of houseboats. Rather than a small boat that’s been transformed into a floating home, they converted a Dutch barge! “We purchased the vessel as a commercial vessel in Belgium and sailed it back to the UK to convert it from a container ship to a three-bedroom floating home,” explains Christina.

While all house boats come with enviable water views, this family’s floating home takes it a step further: “The most unique feature of our home is our super-size portholes that look directly onto the water so you really experience being IN the river!” she describes. “It’s incredible to be immersed in so much nature and yet living in London. We still lose our minds every time a swan swims up to the window!”

For the couple, it was the design flexibility that most appealed to them about converted a barge. “We loved the fact we could design every aspect of our home from scratch, building up from what was basically a steel shell,” says Christina. The experience has been so rewarding, in fact, that the couple has turned it into a career. “Isla Yachts was founded out of a passion for boats and an unwillingness to sacrifice the comfort or style we’d expect in a modern home,” reads the website. “We don’t believe a boating home needs to necessarily mean a traditional home.”

Traditional it is not. There are no seashells, sailboats, or other nautical themes cluttering up the decor. Filled with daring colors, energetic patterns, and more, it makes sense that Christina is a co-host of @colourfiedhomes on Instagram. (Apartment Therapy toured another co-host earlier this year: Anna Jacobs, The Colour Doctor.)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Bit Scandi, bit nomad

Inspiration: We pored over Dutch houseboats (who of course do it so well!) that approach a houseboat with the same style you would a conventional home. For us it was always a balancing act finding a style that was “youthful” but yet “sophisticated” and of course, “on a budget”!

Favorite Element: It’s got to be the giant portholes! We always thought they would give us great light but never imagined the joy of herons, swans, seals, etc. coming up to the windows. Coming home each day and just watching the water is such a tonic!

Biggest Challenge: The shell of our home is steel so of course it expands and contracts, which is a nightmare, building-wise. All the materials used have had to be flexible and allow for movement so we’ve had to do a lot of problem-solving along the way. Also you can forget trying to build ANYTHING on a boat using a spirit level, it’s useless!  

Proudest DIY: It’s got to be our toddler slide on the stairs. Our daughter LOVES a slide but we hate plastic, so we built this using a second-hand bunk bed slide. She’s still addicted to it a month later.

Biggest Indulgence: All that glass… especially the skylight, which is walk-on glass and 3 meters and took TWELVE builders with a crane to fit it onto the roof. That was an expensive day.

Best Advice: I’d say to take risks and push to do something different. We were constantly told we couldn’t do certain things because it was a boat and we just needed a bit of creative thinking to work out how to do something new.

What’s your best home secret? Just to consider storage in anything you buy/build! We have hidden storage everywhere possible, and still have baskets stashed around the house so we can quickly chuck away all those toddler toys.



  • Living Room – Farrow &. Ball “De Nimes”
  • Main Bedroom – Farrow & Ball “Sulking Room Pink”
  • Elara Bedroom – Little Greene “Ashes of Roses”
  • Kitchen – Farrow & Ball “Pink Ground”
  • Master Ensuite – Farrow & Ball “Inchyra Blue”
  • Elara Ensuite – Farrow & Ball “Vardo”






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