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Project of the Week

The Mildura Houseboat by Fabrikate

Read time 4 minutes

  • Design House: Fabrikate
  • Project Name: Mildura Houseboat
  • Location: Murray River, Victoria, Australia
  • Area: 46m²

When Emily Rogers and Kate Harry of Australian design studio, Fabrikate, came across an old dilapidated houseboat they couldn't resist the romantic notion to bring it back to life.

Drawing on traditional European styles, alongside, inspiration from the boat's beautiful natural surroundings, they created a small, simple and sensitive 'off-shore' home for their clients.

Take a quick tour of the project below.

The houseboat looked to the sophisticated design of European houseboats and the colours and textures of the Murray River for inspiration.
The houseboat looked to the sophisticated design of European houseboats and the colours and textures of the Murray River for inspiration.

One of the hardest parts of delivering the project was the limited space the design studio had to work with. Emily Rogers, who helped lead this project, describes how "the internal floor plan was only 46m²", and that meant "spatial planning became critical in a successful design outcome".

The design studio spent time carefully considering the footprint, working out how they could use all available space to its full potential. By doing so, they managed to include "two queen bedrooms with tall storage. A kitchen that includes an integrated fridge, pantry, cooktop and oven along with dining space for up to 8. What's more living space and reading nooks, a bathroom with shower and separate toilet and vanity unit. With an allowance for the captains driving area also."

Functionality was key and storage opportunity had to be capitalised on as well as views.

To maximise all the space they had, the studio also worked hard to conceal storage. By integrating storage areas into the design, they also ensured that their aesthetic was not lost, and the space was not made to feel cumbersome.

Built-in and vertical storage maximises space and function.
Built-in and vertical storage maximises space and function.

When developing the design aesthetic of the space, Fabrikate looked no further than their natural surroundings. The studio is known for their strengths in bringing the neighbouring context of a space into a physical interior, and here was no exception.

Eucalyptus green tones run throughout the boat, replicating the river’s surface, sky and vegetation. Tan leather and sandy wooden accents are then added to complement the wooded and sandy textures which wrap around the Murray.

The boat also features 360-degrees of windows for natural light, openness and panoramic views.
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The boat also features 360-degrees of windows for natural light, openness and panoramic views.
Mother Nature is brilliant at forming the perfect palette, we just borrowed a few ideas & drew inspiration from the river banks directly.

In addition to this, the houseboat features an abundance of bright white surfaces. These elevate the chosen colour palette and brighten the space even further. In total, the tones used throughout the interiors allow the boat to sit perfectly 'calmly within its environment' and "impart a sense of peace as soon as you step onboard."

The palette is light in colour and nature, with materials designed to flex and move.
The palette is light in colour and nature, with materials designed to flex and move.

The materiality selections used in the project were not just chosen for aesthetic purposes. Fabrikate decisions to use a combination of wood, leather and other natural textures, were informed by the need to choose materials robust enough to withstand a family and the elements (including river water!)

The bathrooms continue the fresh, bright design of the houseboat.
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The bathrooms continue the fresh, bright design of the houseboat.

Well-considered, compact and beautifully bright; all-in-all, Fabrikate's Mildura Houseboat is a leading example of how to design for life on the water. It really is a dreamboat.

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