Debbie Blott is the founder of The Decorcafe.
t: 07796 952116
Ann Jackman is an interior designer, living in on this wonderful house boat in Surbiton. She is a member of The DecorCafe Network and has developed an enviable reputation for helping her clients to express themselves in their homes. She always encourages people to do exactly what they want, rather than be dictated by fashion or friends and so of course I was very eager to see what she had done for herself.
Ann is a creative spirit who likes to feel free rather than tied down and so it makes absolute sense that she lives on a boat, but it wasn’t actually a part of her long term plan. A number of factors just happened to collide and led to her making this, the happiest of moves.
In 2011 Ann was juggling her successful corporate coaching career whilst building her interior design business and struggling under a cloud of depression that refused to lift and knew that something had to change.
She took the decision to do two things: Firstly, to get a dog and secondly to get rid of her mortgage, giving her the security she needed to enable her to focus on her embryonic but rapidly expanding interior design career. Luck was on her side. Almost as soon as she put her house on the market she got an offer to buy, at the asking price, together with all the furniture and furnishings. Then a friend introduced her to someone who sold boats…
Ann designed the boat herself. The hull is standard, shipped down from Liverpool to London, but the configuration of the space is very much her own. Most boats have the living area at the back, where you come in, with the bedroom at the front and a small kitchen, but Ann knew that she didn’t want this plan.
She had seen a boat built by an architect just a little further down the Thames with the living space in the widest area at the front and liked the ease with which you can walk onto the deck in the sunshine or under the stars for drinks.
Ann wanted a larger kitchen and designed an open plan area big enough to house a dishwasher, washer/dryer and a carefully constructed dining bar to use as a home office or for a cozy dinner party from time to time.
Every detail is carefully considered to make the most of the storage, look great and function perfectly. A cupboard tucked in the corner houses the technology required to provide high speed internet and stream her music. Shelves run throughout.
The stove is not only beautiful but practical, keeping the boat snug in the winter and reasonably clean with coal fuel that doesn’t clog the chimney. In the Summer it is easy to keep cool with windows, doors and a ceiling hatch that open wide.
Recently renovated, the scheme is much less colourful than Ann had before. She has kept the palette relatively simple and clean with natural oak flooring, Fired Earth Bone White sprayed walls and Burford Grey Howdens kitchen. Her signature texture and pattern bring it alive.
The chair is the only piece of furniture that came from her previous home, with everything else designed to make the most of the space on the boat. Working with a joiner, who lives on a boat moored up-stream, she had her bed and all the storage built bespoke to fit everything.
Being naturally tidy is an asset on a boat and Ann enjoys the discipline of creating displays of her favourite pieces and books rather than having piles of clutter scattered about.
So whilst not in the plan, living on a boat very much suits Ann. A fun and physical way of life it keeps her fit and healthy. It won’t be her forever home but for now it is perfect.
If you would like to see more pictures please take a look in our Facebook DecorCafe Creative Home Hub.
For more examples of Ann’s interior design work please take a look at her website or contact Ann on 07710 329041
Decor Buddy: If you are interested in finding out more about our Decor Buddy service please contact us.