Marine fabricators emphasize durability, health and safety when designing kid-friendly boat interiors.
Designing boat interiors with families in mind requires special attention. Marine fabricators first must understand how customers intend to use their boat before making suggestions on fabric choice, lodging and storage solutions that will meet all of their needs for having children onboard.
Fabric selection often is the first stop in the interior design process, with decisions driven by durability, ease of cleaning and maintenance, and budget. As Krisha Plauché, principal designer of Onboard Interiors LLC in Marblehead, Mass., points out, “a boat filled with children will include spills, crumbs, crayons and milk.”
Slipcovers offer a basic approach to protecting interiors, whether these removable options be in the form of an entry-level marine vinyl or machine-washable solution-dyed acrylic in heavy awning weight canvas with overlocked seams on the inside and heavy zippers.
Boaters also have access to fabrics with stain resistance or special finishes, such as Teflon and Nanotex, which allow users to wipe spills clean. Luxury options include Ultraleather, leather and hair on hide.
Because space is always at a premium, designers find creative ways to store everything from towels to toys. Bags made from exterior-rated fabrics can hold a variety of items while protecting them from weather when not in use. Meanwhile, specially fabricated duffel bags with padding inside can look like they’re part of the furniture.
Safety represents another important consideration when designing kid-friendly interiors. Mike Bennett, owner of Bennett Custom Canvas Inc. in Etobicoke, Ontario, has built lee cloths to keep kids from rolling around in the swells and getting knocked out of their bunks.
In fact, children’s well-being should drive design discussions. That means educating boat owners on the health of the foam used inside the cushions and mattresses, as anything with black spores could breed mold and mildew.
Plauché, a licensed captain, put these principles into place when designing her own boat for active use by her children, ages 5 and 1. The Tiara 31 features custom-made fitted sheets, blankets, bedspreads and shams for the V-berth and salon, as well as a privacy panel to separate the sleeping areas and block light.
In the salon bunk where her daughters both play and sleep, Plauché created an ultrasuede bedspread quilted in a wave pattern because she wanted a soft, durable option.
Liz Diaz, owner of North Beach Marine Canvas in San Francisco, says there’s always room for flair if her customers want it. Diaz sewed together individual stripes of purple, orange and blue wool, with the purple more predominant in the girl’s cabin and orange for the boy’s space.
For many boat owners, pets are an important part of the family who, like kids, require safe, comfortable interiors. Marine fabricators have fielded a number of special requests for customers’ four-legged companions. These include reinforced mesh screens to keep cats from escaping, life vests custom-made to dogs’ exact measurements and luxurious beds made with memory foam.
Holly O’Dell is a freelance writer and editor based in Pine City, Minn.