A Boat House Kind of Life.

I was researching Boathouse design and have become even more enamored with this niche architecture. Both functional and attractive, a boathouse lives on the edge. Literally. It’s a free feeling that gives you the pleasure of hovering above water while keeping close to lake or rivers edge. A boat house is a convenient place for storing the boat and an entertaining spot close to the water. Perfect for me!

The boathouse at Camp Topridge.

I wanted to know more about the construction and design that is to be considered when planning this structure and came across some great and important design tips from Atlanta architect Kenneth Lynch (by way of an 2000 Elle Decor issue!):

  • Open or Closed. Open has only a roof to give some shelter against rain and sun and affords more desk space around the boats. A closed one, offers more protection against the elements and additional security, but it is more expensive to build.
  • Use hopper windows that open inward to afford more space on the walkways and decks.
  • Commercial roll-up garage doors is a practical way to close off when not in use.
  • Have a large side opening, like a barn door track and rollers to support a sliding door for unloading and loading of boats.
  • A powered hoist system should be used to raise the boat for storage making sure it’s tall enough to hold the hoist mechanism and allow the boat to be lifted out of the water.
  • There should be a large storage closet for life jackets, skis, fishing rods, and all the other sports gear that accumulates. In an open boathouse, this closet should be fitted with a lock.
  • For extra space at water level, Ka floating dock attached to the boathouse with a hinged walk provides easy access to the water and makes it easier to pull a boat up to the floating dock.
  • It’s advisable to add an activity area platform atop the boathouse that can be used for sunning and gathering.
  • The boathouse can be covered with a low-pitched roof and a deck added above. If desired, a gazebo or other structure with a roof can be added over part of the deck. Another approach is to place the deck with a roof directly over the boathouse.
  • The boathouse should compliments a nearby homes architecture. Scale, texture, and colors which recall the design of the house are to be considered.
  • It can be located directly on the bank or out in the water, connected to the shore with a bridge or walkway. Deciding factors often are water depth and the draft of the boats.
Balnearn Boathouse by McKenzie Strickland Associates looks like it's out of a James Bond movie.

Balnearn Boathouse by McKenzie Strickland Associates looks like it's out of a James Bond movie.

A classic boathouse with interior space above. Love the wooden boats!

A classic boathouse with interior space above. Love the wooden boats!

Closer to home, the Georgetown University has been working to build a new boathouse on the Potomac River for many years. Located near the Key Bridge, the boathouse would beautify and enhance access to the waterfront and provide new and modernized facilities for Georgetown crew.


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"A person should design the way he makes a living, around how he wishes to make a life" — Charlie Byrd

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