How To Create a Utility Room on a Boat

In October of last year my partner and I picked up the last of the packing boxes, handed over the keys and walked away from our house which we’d lived in for 14 happy years. We did this with certainty in our minds that we were doing the right thing as time had very quickly, but inevitably moved on, my boys had moved away and were happily getting on with their own lives so it was now time to think out of the box, move away from a dangerously boring ‘rut’ we could’ve easily have settled in to and do something a little different ourselves.

We moved onto our canal boat, aptly named, ‘Head in the Clouds’.  No, it’s not beautifully finished, in fact there’s still quite a lot to fix, maintain and build, but hey… “we’ll manage to live on it while we finish doing it up right?” we had both said.

The first thing you have to have while living on a boat, especially an un-finished boat is a sense of humour!
You cannot let small things get to you, especially when it’s nearly always a building site.
When building work is underway, even on the smallest of things the whole boats living space turns into a mess very quickly, no matter how you try to have the place organised.

‘A place for everything – everything must have its place’

I really have no clue who originally said those words, but they are so true.  When living in a small space you really have to be organised, which brings me to the second thing you must have when living on a boat – a good eye for being creative with space saving.  You do have to try to use every inch of space possible.

Just to tell you about one of the many things we’ve been working on since we moved onboard;  Around six months ago I said in jest, “One thing I’ll miss when living on the boat is some kind of utility room, where the washer and other stuff live” (Washer?! I hadn’t even considered not having a washer!) I remember Jon doing his Roger Moore eyebrow raise and walking away shaking his head.  I turned back to whatever it was I was doing with a half smile on my face.  Was it an expression of, ‘Oh well, it was only an idea’… or was it a, ‘I shouldn’t have said that out loud’ moment or more of a smirk knowing that I knew Jon so well and I’d just put an idea into his head and set him a challenge‘ 😉

There was one room on the boat which we called the spare room, but in reality it was more like a ‘dumping ground‘ for, well… stuff.  It was and still is a spare room with enough space for a double bed, but with only having guests once in a while, the room was wasted space, so with my little ‘nudge‘ in Jons direction meant he got the cogs in his head working and ‘Ey ups‘, we have a Utility room! On a boat!

Yes in-deedy folks, (she say’s whilst doing a little jig) A very usable, Utility room, which is one of The most used rooms in our beloved home on water 😉

So this is how we did it…

The room is as big as a double bed, no more, no less and the plan was that it needed to be a cloakroom with some storage space, room for a washing machine and a drying room, but not forgetting it had to also be a spare room for any visitors when needed.

After totally gutting the room, we fitted two kitchen base units and left a space for the
washing machine, finished with a kitchen worktop, which would later form half of the bed base.  The whole assembly was offset from the back wall to allow a space to store a double mattress on its side.  Space for the mattress

This left sufficient space to walk in front of the cupboards and to have hanging space on the walls for coats.  So one half of the mattress was concealed behind the kitchen units and the other half is concealed behind a backboard.

To assemble the double bed, (as mentioned earlier) the kitchen units form one half of the bed base and the back board folds out, pulling out the legs underneath to form the other half of the bed base.  The mattress can then be pulled out and laid on top of the kitchen worktop and back board to create a cosy double bed at the height of the kitchen units, leaving a small amount of storage space underneath for bags etc.

Apart from being an amazing use of the smallest room on the boat, the room also has the added bonus of being on the other side of the living room where the fire is, which means it’s a great drying room for any washing and coats, although this puts a slight downside to the room, being that it can be a little on the warm side for any guests sleeping in there, great if they like a sauna 😉   We’ve also got a little ‘hop up’ to help our guests climb into bed 🙂

Well I had to test it out  🙂

From creating this great, versatile room, which we’re really pleased with, leads to issues about the actual practicalities of having a washing machine on board a boat, issues which we usually take for granted when living in a house, such as power, water supply and drainage and where the boat’s concerned, ballast, but that will nicely lead into another post in the near future.  We’ll be talking more about the making of this room because there is such a lot more to talk about, such as the plumbing, all of which are under the floorboards and links to the bathroom next door and also the drilling of a hole in the side of the boat, which, I might add, involved me climbing out the side window into an awaiting canoe…not the easiest of tasks.

Have you ever made a great useful space from a small room or have you any good storage saving ideas?  We’d love to hear from you 🙂

Rosie couldn’t resist joining in the demo 🙂


A sneak preview of me doing my acrobatics out of the side window…


Until next time 🙂


29 thoughts on “How To Create a Utility Room on a Boat

  1. Love it! So tempted to sell up and join you! Well… not, ‘join you’ … but you know what I mean. Has so much appeal. Can’t see my 6’4’’ hubby going for it though… won’t go in a tent or a caravan either. Anyway… great use of space you guys. Fab! X

  2. Ha ha, it sounds so much like our place Sam, living in a permanent building site. There’s timber and windows leaning up against walls at the moment and all manner of electrical tools, hammer, nails and other ‘stuff in our spare room space. I don’t think I’ll ever do a vacuum without sucking up sawdust but hey, it’s all progress, right. Keep smiling. 🙂

  3. Wow. Isn’t it funny when you see the cogs starting to turn and out pops the solution? The fix-it men love a challenge. Sometimes, my husband will have a problem he lets simmer for a few days then the next thing you know he’s got it solved


  4. You sound like me, planting the seeds of ideas for the other half to mull over, and solve. A great little room – love it. Your little home is a work in progress and after all, what’s life without a project. Once the projects finish, you’re left with a rut. So keep going with projects.

  5. Yes, you make me want to go and do more renovations of one sort or another … nah just joking 🙂 I remember trying us trying to get rotten boards from cupboards from behind our bed in our motorhome. Had to stop around early evening so we could get into bed 🙂 Those were the days!!

  6. Oh, I have always had a longing for a small space – a treehouse or log cabin, where each and every item you own is essential and treasured. Love this. 😘

    1. Thank you. Yes living on a boat does mean that more or less everything on there has to have a purpose 😃

  7. Hi,
    I know Sue Vincent. Thanks for liking my post about the importance of enhancing the speed of your WordPress website. A utility room on a boat?! You sound very handy! I cruise on big boats!

  8. Very impressed by the use of limited space. I’m 6 ft 3 so not sure my height would cope but often wondered about life on a barge. Although no way I have the DIY skills to do what you are doing!

    1. Yes thanks we’re really pleased with how it’s turned out & looking forward to tripping of in her soon 😊

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