With lots of water around, many people in the Netherlands live on a houseboat. This close to the water, these houses offer a different way to live. Interior designer Floor van den Broek gives us a glimpse into the unique glass houseboat she shares with her husband Vin, a barber, and their kids. She shares why living at a place like this is so special and what the design process of this dream house was like.
Has it always been a dream of yours to live on a houseboat?
We have both always loved sailing, even before we met, and used to sail on the river Eem a lot when we were younger. Because of our love for sailing, living on or by the water has always really attracted us. But it always seemed too expensive of a dream. We have looked in Amsterdam and a few villages around the river Eem, but these places were financially unachievable for us. When we found this berth, it came with a small affordable ark. This made it possible for us to maybe one day build our dream house, one step at the time.
Could you describe your house to the reader? What does it look like?
The ark is inspired by the building of Lego. It is built up out of four different materials. The concrete container, where the bedrooms are, can be found largely under water. Usually the concrete stops at about 30 centimeters above water level, after which wood is used. But because we wanted to use as little different materials as possible, we have extended the use of concrete all the way to the living floor. On top of that, a wooden frame was placed. A clear ‘line’ in the design, which is seen in the overhanging zinc roof as well. Between the wooden frame and zinc roof is a large glass block in which you can find the living room, kitchen, tv corner and study room.
So, to explain the Lego mention: to us, the design is like a grey Lego block with a brown Lego plate. On top of that is a blue Lego block, finished off with the final grey Lego plate!
What was the design process of your ark like?
We have largely designed the ark ourselves. It is a simple design, as our wish list was simple too: For the downstairs container, we wanted four bedrooms, a bathroom and a washing. This resulted in six rooms with identical windows. We wanted to keep this lay-out going on the top floor, since we are a fan of symmetry. So, we’ve shaped the upper floor based on the six windows. We wanted the kitchen to be an open, central space and wanted to have as little walls as possible. The tv room is directed towards the sunrise, so you can enjoy the morning sun on the couch. On the contrary, the living room is situated towards the evening sun. The base for the design was actually finished quite fast. Of course, we did have to finetune a lot of details and the process of getting planning permission took up a lot of our time and energy.
To make the ark as sustainable as possible, we put in an under-floor heating system all over that is heated by a heat pump. Together with 15 solar panels, this means the ark is almost completely energy neutral.
So, a lot of your design is based around the windows of the ark. What made you decide to use as much glass as you did?
We chose to use this big amount of glass because we love fully committing to one thing and doing it right, instead of doing a little bit of everything. This way, you make a statement in the design. We also really wanted to enjoy the water, the view and the surroundings as much as possible. By connecting the garden to the ark and the ark to the river Eem, everything merges together: you bring the outdoors inside and indoors outside. To us, this is how we can fully make use of our surroundings. We kind of pretend the river Eem is ours.
What makes living on a houseboat so unique?
It is the detached living close to nature. Living on the water still gives us that real holiday feeling. We live very close to the center of Amersfoort and enjoy a wide view of the surrounding nature. You are automatically more connected with nature when you live on a houseboat, especially in our glass one, as we have limited the division between indoors and outdoors to just a few centimeters. When we open all the windows there is always a nice breeze to enjoy. The only downside of our new ark is that it’s become so heavy that you almost never feel it rocking on the water!
Finally, why did you decide to style your garden with the products by Weltevree.
Weltevree products make outdoor living comfortable and cozy. They are durable and have a timeless design. At the moment we are a fan of the Waterworks, because we just recently got it. It’s a perfect addition to cooking on the Outdooroven XL.
This interview was first published in our first Weltevree magazine from January 2021. Click here to read all stories from this edition.
Want to find out more abut Floor van den Broek? Visit www.resetinterieurontwerp.nl