Sailing 101: Affordable DIY Designs and Projects for Boat Interior

Ahoy Sailors, we discussed the importance of changing your boat's oils and filters last week. This week we are getting creative so that we can spruce up your boat’s interior for an affordable price. Next week we will be getting festive as we break down how to decorate your boat for the holidays and what should be on your decorating checklist.

As personal styles and trends change, you might want to spruce up your boat’s interior— or maybe the time has played its role, and it’s necessary. Here are some tips to give your boat’s interior an affordable makeover.

Start by Deep Cleaning

A deep clean is the cheapest way to brighten your interior radically. Dirty boat upholstery, mildewed cabin liners, and salt-encrusted hatches make a boat feel old and dirty. Deep cleaning is a great start that will drastically improve the boat cabin’s appearance and give you a better idea of where your focus should be on your boat’s interior. You can also:

  • Professionally launder your upholstery
  • Wipe down the cabin liners with vinegar to prevent mildew and mold
  • Wash hatches to increase natural light
  • Clean under all the cabin soles and the edges of any rotting boards
  • Wash the walls and treat any wood with the proper wax, oil, or varnish
  • Scrub out the bilge to prevent any stale smells.


Install Interior Boat Lights

Living on a sailboat can be like living in a basement because of the lack of natural lighting. LED strip lights are a great and affordable way to brighten your cabin. LED strip lights look nice under cupboards or overhangs, and the light strip will be hidden, adding an elegant ambiance. They also make great courtesy lights. Tuck the strips on either side of walkways or at the base of any bench seating to help your guests navigate in the dark. Your boat will look classy, like a theater. Lastly, hide LED lights between panels or around hatches. LED strip lights don’t look good mounted in the middle of the wall. It looks much tidier if you tuck them around a natural border like a panel or hatch.


Fresh Bedding and Accents

Your boat’s interior will look great with decorative accents. This could be either a mason jar filled with fairy lights and seashells or firm and tidy throw pillows and blankets. Also, purchase nice bedding to make the cabin look fresh and clean. Bathrooms look nice with wall-mounted soap dispensers and hand towels that add a splash of color. Whatever your personal style is, you can implement it into your accent pieces.


Glam Up the Galley

Clean up your galley by replacing rusted or dull faucets with shiny new ones. Add colorful dish towels to add some life and make the change to non-breakable dishes and glassware. There is no reason your galley can’t look as cute as your home’s kitchen. Next, create extra space on your countertops by adding a chopping board stove cover. Then you can bring in other fun pieces like spice racks or a kitchen utensil holder.


Interior Upholstery Alternatives

Reupholstering a boat is a costly part of a sailboat interior revamp, but it makes a huge difference. Suppose you want to spend less than the thousands of dollars it costs to hire someone to do it; there are a few tricks to avoid a complete upholstery overhaul.

– If your upholstery is in poor condition, you may want to sew elasticated cushion coverlets that go over the top side of the cushion—it’s also an excellent way to protect new upholstery from boat projects that bring dirt, grease, and sweat stains.

– Packed-out seat cushions can be fixed by inserting a layer of high-density foam and batting it on top of the existing foam.


Accent Rugs Cover Worn Out Cabin Soles

Depending on the state of your cabin sole, it may be possible to refinish it, but it’s a big job, and results are not guaranteed. A sensible solution is to cover worn cabin soles with boat-friendly rugs, preventing further wear and tear. In addition, add slip-proof matting underneath to ensure your rugs are secure.


Bring Your Walls to Life

Securely fasten art, photos, and souvenirs to your walls. In addition, mirrors are great for creating the illusion of space. Privacy curtains are also an excellent way to add a splash of color and are easy to make yourself if you choose.


Whiten Your Interior

Nautical colors are traditionally bright white with a solid contrasting navy blue. However, painting panels a light color can brighten and modernize a boat cabin and set off teak trim.

A fresh coat of paint is an excellent way to make your interior look fresh and new.


Tasteful Storage Bins

Boats are notoriously short on storage space, but a few decorative baskets and storage containers can improve the space’s look while giving you more room to tuck things away.


Personalized and Functional Window Coverings

The interior of a boat is usually function-first – you can’t go sailing if you have trinkets and souvenirs cluttering your surfaces. However, window coverings are a great way to personalize your space and comprise your color scheme. Choose a material that gives you privacy and keeps out the sun but be creative and reflect your style. If you have a sewing machine and know how to use it, a small amount of research will give you some great examples.

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed about revamping your sailboat interior or aren’t confident in your creative DIY skills, you can still consider hiring professional help. Plenty of interior designers would welcome the challenge of working on a boat but look for someone with experience designing small spaces.

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