Lake Union houseboat offers wide-open spaces and views
Thanks to a full interior remodel, a houseboat on Seattle's Lake Union has it all: size, location, great views and bright, open living spaces.
Houseboat tour opens doors
To see more, take a self-guided walking tour, "From Funky to Fabulous — 100 Years of Houseboat Living," noon-5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 12. Shuttle buses will run between Fairview Avenue East and Westlake Avenue North, and electric boats between the east and west shores of Lake Union. Some tickets are available for $25 each, and can be purchased online at Brown Paper Tickets (www.brownpapertickets.com), by phone at 1-800-838-3006, or in person at 220 Nickerson St. Proceeds from the tour benefit the Floating Homes Association, whose mission is to support the floating-home community and maintain the health of the marine environment. For questions about the tour, call 206-323-3489, or www.seattlefloatinghomes.org.
WHETHER IT'S the lapping of waves against the doorsill or kayaks slipping silently past the living-room windows, houseboats stir the soul and the imagination. On Sept. 12, you can visit a dozen houseboats on east and west Lake Union when the Seattle Floating Homes Association holds its biennial, fantasy-indulging tour.
Linda and Tom Ahlers, a couple from Corvallis, Ore., are opening the doors of their recently remodeled houseboat on Roanoke Reef. The couple spent 15 years hunting for the perfect floating home. After living in an apartment-sized houseboat on Portage Bay for a couple of years, they scored a 2,000-square-foot houseboat with a coveted end-of-dock moorage spot. The size and location were ideal, but the home's 1980s, single-guy interior was not. "The place was all dark gray inside and out; it was the same color as the sky on a gray day," says Linda.
A serious remodel was in order. The Ahlers worked with designer Eric Hogeboom of Envirotecture Construction to open up the rooms to the spectacular west-facing views.
Shifting the rooms on the main floor to a slight angle broke up the interior's boxlike regularity. The new arrangement created a quintet of triangular decks just the right size for a little bistro table and chairs.
The couple added cabinetry and built-ins, including a Murphy bed downstairs and a corner office in the living room. The old cabinetry was refinished with a warm cherry stain to match the new built-ins. The dreary gray palette is a distant memory; now every room is saturated with warm, Mediterranean colors in both paint and the artwork the couple have collected on their travels. The home now has two bedrooms, 2 ½ baths, a spacious dining room, a workshop, laundry room and expansive rooftop deck.
The rooftop deck is the perfect perch for watching sunsets and seaplanes. Colorful Adirondack chairs look ready to accommodate guests for the Fourth of July fireworks display. The heady view is grounded by pots of flowers and galvanized feed troughs filled with vegetables tended by Linda, a master gardener.
The Ahlers love not only the immediacy of the water view but also their proximity to town. "We rarely take our car out," says Tom. "We can just hop on a bus to the farmers market or downtown."
"There's never a dull moment here," says Linda. "We're always running to the windows to see what's going on outside."
The tour is distinguished by a wide variety of home styles and moorages. Highlights include a design by architect Gene Morris with an underwater room; a lodge-like floating home with solarium; a 1930s-vintage houseboat with swim-up margarita bar; an updated "shack" with movable walls and a nautical-themed antique of a houseboat dating from the 1880s.
Valerie Easton is a Seattle freelance writer. Check out her blog at www.valeaston.com. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific Northwest staff photographer.
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