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Case Study

Chinampa

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Case Study

Chinampa

Chinampa is an incredibly stylish and bright widebeam canal boat that’s currently available to buy. The boat’s creative owners work in fashion and landscaping and they used their eye for detail and love of nature to painstakingly renovate this spacious 58-foot floating home. It’s the perfect mix of cosy and considered and the design-driven will love the characterful interiors. Highlights include hardwood worktops from Retrouvius and antique brass taps, a luxurious rolltop bath (a real rarity in houseboats), a large skylight and beautiful custom-made fitted furniture that maximises the use of space. We took some time to chat to the couple who poured so much time and effort into creating this outstanding home to find out how they approached the project and what they love the most about life on London’s canals.

How long have you lived on a canal boat and what made you choose to do it in the first place?

It’s been six years now. After living in London for the best part of ten years and constantly having to move and find a new home every year or so, we wanted a place of our own. The slower pace of life on the water really appealed to us, it balances out the intensity of living in London.

 

What was the design process for creating this beautiful home and how did the practicalities of the boat affect your decisions?

It was a great opportunity to curate a comfortable home that was as open and as light-filled as possible. We had always considered other boats to be dark and often a little restricted in terms of the flow of space, so our intentions were to overcome this and create a spacious and bright living area. An oversized hallway and skylight were incorporated – this works well aesthetically but also meant we could house our vast collection of houseplants in a spot that’s bathed in sunlight. Living on a boat means you learn to become more conscientious of using energy and water; a positive change that we are committed to continuing in the future.

After the differing experiences of cruising and having a residential mooring, which did you prefer?

Initially, we cruised for just under four years and we loved the fluidity of moving around different boroughs whilst remaining in our home. I find that in London, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and stay in the same area when there’s a whole city to explore. Living on the boat meant we were able to make the most of living here. When we had a baby, friends of ours offered us their residential mooring for a month and circumstance allowed us to stay there for a further two years. Having that semi-permanent base definitely worked in our favour once our son started nursery nearby. However, we soon missed the freedom that cruising gives you. We love the space and seclusion of the River Lea and on a practical level; not having to pay council tax is a bonus!

 

If you were to build a new home on dry land, what have you learned from Chinampa that you would apply to a building?

We were pleasantly surprised by what can be achieved in a relatively small space when it’s planned cleverly. Also, the importance of feeling connected to nature and seeing your immediate outside environment as an extension of your home.

 

In what way has living on a boat changed you as people, if at all?

We’re both probably more grounded for having had this experience. In London, it’s important to appreciate the complex demographics of the city. People are constantly moving around you and to co-exist with them in a less conventional way feels empowering.

What is it like raising children on a houseboat?

It’s been a really positive experience. Friends and family were nervous initially but it never phased us! River – our first son – hasn’t had to adapt from any other lifestyle because it’s all he’s ever known. He’s spoilt by the amount of nature on our doorstep and that means he has grown up to be both confident and adventurous. We’ve never had stairs to contend with and always being in close proximity to one another has given him the added sensation of trust and security.

What will you miss the most about Chinampa?

Just being on the water. It slows down your perception of time. Also, the way that light from the canal reflects back into your home, casting beautiful shadows and movement that change throughout the day.

 

If Chinampa had a care label, what would it say?

This was our first experience living on a boat and we loved it. It’s an affordable way to buy in London without having to sacrifice on location. You can feel connected with nature and experience the serenity of being on the water whilst also having the freedom to travel around and make the most of living in the heart of the city. It’s a wonderful and unique lifestyle.

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