The houseboat remodel
25 Images

The floating remodel: Budget solutions, small-space ideas buoy houseboat makeover

Misty Tosh waves from the stern of her remodeled home, a houseboat she calls Flo. As a veteran producer who has worked on “The Amazing Race,” “Oprah’s Big Give” and the upcoming “The Customer Is Always Right” for Winfrey’s OWN network, Tosh knew how to research materials and push to get the look she wanted -- at a price she could afford. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Tosh’s dog, Minka, points the way toward the houseboat’s entrance. “It was a giant hunk of slapped-together junk -- dark and dank, chopped up into tiny rooms with ladders between the floors,” Tosh said of the home she bought two years ago. “People thought I was nuts, but I saw the potential.”  (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Tosh kicks back in the first-floor living room with cinematographer Kuba Zelazek. The couple’s furniture splurges were the Crate & Barrel sofa and Restoration Hardware wing chairs.  (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Detail of the ventless alcohol-burning fireplace, where a platform provides a place to sit and to display decorative accents, as well as creates a natural spot for storage bins below. Tosh trimmed the gap between the fireplace and walls with marine sisal. “When in doubt,” she said, “wrap it in rope.”  (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
The reverse view: The free-flowing main living area, which shifts from lounging space to dining area to kitchen. Tosh worked closely with Refinding Design, an Eagle Rock firm led by Steven Matz, for the top-to-bottom makeover. Note the wood hatch in the center of the floor.  (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
A hatch door from a World War II supply ship lifts up to reveal bottles suspended above tempered glass: a wine rack that comes with a view of passing fish. Though she declined to reveal how much the project cost, Tosh said industrial finishes and salvaged materials helped to keep expenses manageable. The flooring, for example, is made from shipping-pallet pine that has been whitewashed with Behr porch paint. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
The space is tight but still able to accommodate a full-sized dining table as well as a breakfast counter. Note the storage under the stairs.  (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
A barn door opens to reveal a unit with pullout drawers with rope handles that not only echo one of the home’s design motifs but also are functional: The flexible material can lie flat, requiring less room behind the door. Above the drawers...  (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
... decorative shelving incorporates more rope as a knotted, nautical-flavored ledge.  (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
The breakfast counter is simply a wood slab that sits on a thrifty but attractive base made of plumbing pipes. Swiveling iron stools were scored at the Long Beach flea market for $200 and then upholstered in outdoor fabric.  (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
The U-shaped kitchen has reclaimed wood cabinets, soapstone counters and a farm sink custom crafted by Tom Shadley of Shadley’s Soapstone in Covina. Drawer pulls shaped like whale tails are from Rejuvenation. Upper cabinets were ruled out so that windows could let in more natural light. One solution to limited counter space: Above the cookbook stand hangs a magnetic spice rack with glass jars purchased from Gneiss Spice on Etsy.  (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
A hinged bulletin board made of scrap steel and wood can drop down, transforming into a table to fold clothes or set up a buffet.  (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Stairs lead to the second level, which contains the master bedroom, bathroom and guest area. Rope appears again, crisscrossed around nautical cleats to form the banister railing. A bookshelf is cleverly incorporated into the banister too, providing footprint-free storage. In the distance, Tosh sits on another bookshelf, this one with a drop-leaf top that could transform the console into a desk.  (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
The lamp in the foreground is made from the metal ring of a wine barrel. Tosh scoured Etsy and found Wine Country Craftsman sconces and Atelier 688 light fixtures made from hefty marine rope. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
The second-floor bedroom. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
An ice hook deployed as a towel and robe rack in the bathroom. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
The bathroom also has a floor-to-ceiling storage rack that slides like a pocket door into the wall behind the shower -- maximum storage with a minimal footprint.  (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Floating stairs -- cantilevered steel clad in wood -- lead from the guest lounging area to the top deck.  (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Zelazek walks up to the top deck, passing the banister with more built-in shelves and a pop-up tabletop -- another spot to set down a glass or display photos without space-gobbling table legs.  (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
On the top deck, Minka sniffs around a fold-down table that Tosh and Zelazek use as a work surface or as a buffet for entertaining. The table top is a $400 Urban Home buy. They “lopped off the legs” and put angled supports that are hinged in the center so the table folds flat against the wall. The leg-free design makes it easier for both to pull up chairs.  (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Cocktail hour at the top deck bar. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Minka claims her bone on the top deck’s artificial turf -- $175 for a 5-by-10-foot section at Anawalt Lumber. The furniture is from Teak Warehouse in Redondo Beach. Tosh also used wire baskets inverted as side tables and ottomans inverted as planters -- budget buys from HomeGoods and Target. Out of view here: A sunshade made from a painter’s drop cloth and secured to posts made with welded steel chain that looks like nautical sculpture. “There were certain things we knew we could go janky on and they would still look good,” Tosh said. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Sunset reflects in the houseboat’s windows.  (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Tosh, a scuba enthusiast, sits on a fold-down platform that allows easy entrances and exits from the water. It’s made of scrap steel. She said nothing, not even twice-weekly pumping of the sewage holding tank, can dim her enthusiasm for the boat she calls home. “We wanted to come home to something like a vacation spa, where we can hide away all our gear and feel like we’re on vacation,” she said. “And when the windows are open and the wind and sun plow through here, we can say: What the heck kind of holy paradise is this?” (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Flo is nestled in the marina. More profiles: California home design galleries (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)