When Dieuwke Vos, a law student, and her husband Gerrit, a chef, were looking for a new home in Groningen, the Netherlands, they came across a rental ad for a houseboat. A strong connection with water and boats runs in the family — Dieuwke’s grandfather was a captain and both Dieuwke and Gerrit spent their childhoods sailing with their parents. The idea of living on the water immediately felt like the perfect choice, and the couple quickly decided to jump on the rare opportunity. Five years in, they couldn’t be happier with their spur-of-the-moment decision.
Dieuwke and Gerrit’s houseboat is 485 square feet and comprises of three rooms. They have made it work for their needs by opting for creative storage solutions and smaller-scale furniture. When the couple moved in, they realized that none of their existing furniture worked in the smaller spaces. To create a functional home, they sold their big pieces and started from scratch. Despite the lack of space and low ceilings, Dieuwke and Gerrit have been determined to create a home that feels bigger than its square footage. They have used each space to its full potential by creating various multifunctional areas; the kitchen bar serves as a dining table and extra counter space, while the secretary desk in the study can be closed to allow for more room when needed. The couple has also added different storage solutions wherever possible. Various shelves, hooks and crates have been hung on the walls to free up valuable floor space.
As Dieuwke is still studying, it was important to decorate the home on a budget, using thrifted pieces. Although finding each item takes more time, it also means that everything found on the houseboat has a story. Dieuwke is a devoted decorator, and often changes things up around the house. At the moment, the houseboat feels like an eclectic mix of different styles — mid-century, Scandinavian and industrial all play a part in this eclectic home. The common thread is the creative use of color. Colorblock walls and painted furniture create a fun atmosphere where the small size of each room is easily forgotten. Lately, the couple has also embraced the jungalow feel by adding lots of plants around the house. “They just make your home feel so much more alive,” Dieuwke explains.
For Dieuwke and Gerrit, the best thing about living on a houseboat is naturally the water. Usually, their own sailboat is moored right next to the house, a true luxury for these avid sailors. Having the possibility to sail away for the weekend or just take the boat into town for a drink is priceless. Another bonus is having plenty of outside space — the deck and the big garden are ideal spots for entertaining and watching the boats sail by. “In the winter our home is cozy and small, in the summer it’s twice the size because we mostly live outdoors,” Dieuwke explains. Choosing to live on the river has been one of the best decisions that Dieuwke and Gerrit have made. Surrounded by water and nature, the couple feels like they’re on a constant holiday — have a peek into this creatively decorated river home and you’ll see why! —Sofia
Image above: In the hallway of their houseboat, Dieuwke and Gerrit wanted to create a dark and bohemian feel. Due to lack of space, the couple chose to hang various hooks on the wall instead of using a coat rack. The bench doubles as shoe storage.