Beautiful Narrow Boat Interior Styles
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Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 4:13pm

Narrow Boat Interior Design Ideas

Not all narrow boats look the same there are different styles like traditional, semi traditional, cruisers and wide beams for a start. A lot of attention goes into how the exterior of the narrow boat looks by using bright primary colours, sign writing, roof gardens, colourful fenders, ropes and accessories. All this personalises the exterior of the boat making it your own, but it doesn’t stop there what about the interior?

When I first started writing this blog I thought all narrow boats looked like this:

Old Dated Narrow Boat Interior

I had the idea that they were all dark, cramped, and old fashioned. How wrong was I! I think it’s really amazing what some creative boat owners have achieved inside their boats in what is a relatively small space.

I love the idea of using strong bold primary colours on the exterior and then to lighten and create a bright,, clean and fresh look inside use more pastel tones and natural wood.

I think the interiors that work the best are the ones that have good mixture of home goods so that everything is not matching. This then creates a stylish personalised look rather than something straight off the production line which has no character.

Looks You Can Create Inside Your Narrow boat

Take a look at some of the design ideas we have put together for you.


By using soft pastel colours like; pinks, blues, greens, creams, yellows and white throughout the boats interior on walls, ceilings and furniture this give the base of the design style and starts to create the overall look. You can use a mixture of these colours together as they all complement each other or choose just a few to build your colour theme on.

Country Style narrowBoat Interior

Using your chosen colour theme add a mixture of plain, patterned, stripes and floral materials in your soft furnishings i.e. upholstering, cushions, blankets, throws, curtains, towels, tea towels etc. this will help create that country cottage feel to the inside of your boat. The use of rugs and pretty soft furnishings all adds to the look.

It is even possible to have a Aga in your kitchen which not only looks great but, also offers heating if it has a back boiler and cooking all year round. You can’t get more country than an Aga!

Multi fuel stoves also go well in this setting, try placing a wicker basket for the chopped wood beside the stove for easy use.

The overall look is pretty, cosy and comfortable. Be careful not to over clutter the cabin this style can soon look messy, busy and cluttered if you’re not careful.


This style works really well for narrow boats as it offers a simple, soft and uncluttered look. Try using paints that have soft tones or use white on your paint work, also use rich dark wood for flooring or work surfaces this adds depth to the look.

The contemporary look is for people who like to be bang up on trend, it reflects the here and now so often a popular choice for young people.

Contemporary furniture can be described as current, modern, new and fashionable. Materials that are often used for contemporary furniture are aluminium, iron and some special types of polymer materials.
The use of blinds at the windows rather than frilly/pretty curtains will be in keeping with this look.


Yep modern it’s actually a different look to contemporary. When I was putting this article together I thought the two were the same, but according to professional interior designers the two are not the same at all.

Modern refers to be “mid-century modern” Modern design refers to a period of time; it is a design style that was created in the 1920′s – 1950′s. It is recognizable by its clean, unadorned interiors. Use of natural materials such as wood, leather, teak and linen are prominent. The use of moulded plywood and plastic is very popular in modern furniture, as well as polished metal.

modern Interior

Colours are used in moderation and floors tend to be rug free preferring to show off bare floor boards. If rugs are used they tend to be made from wool and neutral in colour.

Today we tend to refer to this look as retro.


This style perhaps keeps the outside and the inside of the boat in total keeping with each other. The use of ‘Roses and Castles’ artwork is a hallmark of the traditional style narrow boat, and is executed in brilliant colours on the outside of the boats as well as the interiors and on utensils.

Traditional Style Narrowboat

The use of brass and copper will also add to the look and feel of this design as will lace! This look is as far away from the contemporary look as you can get, with the contemporary style being very current and the traditional style stepping back in time. These two looks as you can imagine do not work together!

Let us know what style you think best suits today's narrow boat?

images found on Pinterest

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Elly | Tue May 20, 2014 at 8:11am
Contemporary all the way! :-) I have just bought a boat with 'dated' wooden panelling on the inside. I have been trying to find out if painting the interior affects the boats value (as so many seem to retain wooden insides) .. this article has been inspiring, thanks!!
Anne | Sat Jul 25, 2015 at 8:07pm
I love the contemporary looks but would keep the Boatman's cabin traditional. I think getting rid of the t&g wood is a good idea.
mary middleton | Thu Nov 19, 2015 at 10:28pm
we intend to take our boat interior back to a traditional look. It will take a while but as shes not been changed and has all the lovely wood we have a head start. Charlotte M came from Venetian marina, what an amazing bunch of people the staff are. They all give good old style customer service, hard to find these days.
Venetian Marina | Tue Nov 24, 2015 at 3:55pm
Hello Mary, thank you for your very kind comments about our staff at Venetian Marina! Hope you get your woodwork finished soon and enjoy the end result of your hard work very soon!
Claire | Sun Jan 17, 2016 at 8:34pm
I've been asked to paint some decorative panels on to mdf for door panels on a narrow boat. Which type of paint would you recommend?
Venetian Marina | Wed May 25, 2016 at 4:00pm
Hello Claire, if the door panels are exterior, you'll need to use something suitable for using on mdf externally, otherwise if inside any paint suitable for mdf.
Andy Dickinson | Tue Dec 13, 2016 at 3:42pm
Hi there, I am trying to continue a restoration of my late father's Dutch barge (oare wei) I am trying to find someone to do a design of the fit out as well as someone to undertake the work but I seem to be drawing a blank. Do you know anyone that does interior design for Dutch barges. I would appreciate any advice you may be able to offer. Thanks Andy
Derek barkas | Tue Sep 4, 2018 at 6:24pm
I’m looking into a lifestyle change and a narrow boat is big on my preferred list. Glad to see that there are others who are happy to redesign and brighten up what can be for some a gloomy interior! As a professional inter designer I have this as my vision. I will be making a blog / vlog on the process when I finally purchase this year . :)
Tracey Worthington | Sun Sep 23, 2018 at 8:06pm
Hi Looking at painting the interior of our narrow boat, just wondering what the best paint to use? Thanks
Sue | Tue Jun 15, 2021 at 3:21pm
I am in the process of buying a narrow boat and was looking for one with a wooden ‘boaty’ interior. After viewing several dismal badly painted efforts, found a lovely boat still with the original fit out by Venetian Marine!

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