Beautifully Renovated Houseboat on the River Seine – total renovation of a barge creates a light, open-plan river home that channels a loft-like vibe.
The new owners of this barge knew architect Yann Colouarn and asked him to perform a complete makeover before they moved in. We took everything apart, broke it down to its bare structure and even played around with the hull of the barge, explains Yann. Only part of the volume was used at the time, but we wanted to open it all up, he adds. The interior was totally transformed to bring in a ‘contemporary loft spirit. My wish was to stay simple, focusing on sustainability, insulation and regulation compliance, but especially to create large open spaces and bridge the interior-exterior divide, he adds.
Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here a family with two children
Location Draveil on the river Seine, south of Paris
Size 1,400 square feet
Architect Yann Coulouarn
That’s interesting It started off as a commercial barge, ‘most likely in the 30s,’ says Yann, and was only rethought as a housing project in the 70s
This house boat is roughly 100 feet long and 16 feet wide. It has a large living area with an open kitchen, three bedrooms and a bathroom. The hull was repainted and all of the mandatory maintenance was carried out. ‘All live-in barges need to be serviced at least once every ten years,’ says Yann. A barge expands, stretches and retracts depending on the temperature. These constraints need to be considered from the beginning, you have to work around them and cater for expansion joints.
One enters the barge (and its main living area) by descending a beautiful wooden staircase. All of the built-in furniture comes from Ikea. The architect wanted to install continuity and coherence between the kitchen and stairway.
Once inside the barge, all of the rooms are on the same level. The owners already had most of the furniture. They already had some beautiful pieces,’ says Yann. The armchairs and sofas from Michel Ducaroy are all white and are a comfortable and elegant seating space in the centre of the living area. The windows were replaced for better insulation, and offer great sky views, whereas the portholes give views over the river and its banks.
The kitchen, dining and living area has a contemporary loft spirit. The oak floor creates an illusion of grandeur, with boards stretching from stern to bow, says Yann.
The ceiling is very high in the middle of the boat, and is still almost 7 feet high at each end. ‘Because we lowered the floor of the living area, there was a need for more light,’ says Yann. We had to create new openings, so we created extra portholes at a lower level, he explains.
This U-shaped kitchen, which is next to the staircase and looks out towards the living area, needed to have space for storage, different appliances, and a pump. The architect also expanded the worktops.
The master bedroom is located in the bow of the boat at the end of the barge. The existing steel door was renovated, and is the main feature of the room, giving it character. It is the entrance to a dressing area, and links the contemporary interior to its traditional boating spirit.
We also created a bedroom for each of the little girls, each one with its own porthole,’ says the architect. Both of them are well designed and perfectly adapted for children
by Christine Sanchez Gaspard