ISSUE 21  |  On the Waterfront

Lake Luxe: The Bespoke Scandi Houseboat, Australia Edition

May 28, 2015 11:00 AM

BY Margot Guralnick

Anna Pipkorn and Jane Kilpatrick’s Melbourne interior design firm set sail with a surprise commission: They were asked to create a minimalist-luxe interior for a custom houseboat built for three generations of a family to gather on Lake Eildon, Victoria, Australia’s answer to Lake Powell. 

Discovered when a neighbor took interest in Kilpatrick’s own home renovations–”I think she was attracted to the textured natural materials and clean lines in our house”–the design duo, both 36, were entirely new to nautical work. But they had been colleagues for years in two prominent Melbourne interiors firms and felt ready to chart their own course. Working for a father and his adult daughters who have been vacationing on Lake Eildon all their lives, Pipkorn and Kilpatrick were in on the creation of the 45-foot boat from its inception at Anchorage Houseboats in Eildon: “We were given the size of the fiberglass shell, and that was about it. Soon we were sitting around a table, talking navigation systems and state rooms.” Applying a Scandi palette to the interiors, they created a serenely glamorous setup that gives new meaning to shipshape. And there’s no chance of ever losing your bearings: Every room has a clear view of the water.

Photography by Christine Francis via Pipkorn & Kilpatrick.

Above: Climb aboard; the railings inside and out are marine-grade stainless steel. Designed for large gatherings, the boat has two levels plus a roof deck, and is divided into public and private zones. Shown here, the library lounge off the entry with a painting by Greg Wood, part of a collection of contemporary Australian art that appears throughout. The wall paneling is Victoria ash. “When possible, we sourced local, sustainable materials that are reflective of the surrounding landscape,” says Kilpatrick. 

Above: The designers created a sense of expansiveness courtesy of all the windows, and also by “convincing the builder to raise ceiling heights beyond the usual and to eliminate claustrophobia-inducing bulkheads by burying the services between the ceiling joists.” 

The sofa is the Hollywood Lounge from Angelucci 20th Century of Victoria, Australia.

Above: “The ground floor was designed as a free flow of lounge, dining room, kitchen, and helm,” Kilpatrick says. The kitchen is one of two (there’s also a galley upstairs) and in each, all of the details are built-in, trash bin and hidden microwave included, so that, as the designers say, “everything has its place, and every inch is utilized without it being obvious.” 

The counter is silver travertine–”We had weight restrictions and had to be very careful with the stone,” says Kilpatrick, explaining that they counter-balanced the kitchen bulk with a big sofa on the other side.

Above: The design deftly straddles the line between formal and inviting. 

Above: Top of the lake dining. Muuto’s Adaptable Table in oak with a soap finish is surrounded by Hans Wegner PP58 Chairs with leather seats. The hammered copper light is Original BTC’s Stanley Pendant.

Above: The dining area is open to the main lounge.

Above: Integrated closets, drawers, and bedside tables make the sleeping quarters feel generous. There are four bedrooms total: the master suite, shown here, on the ground level and three upstairs. The painting is by Pipkorn.

Above: The kids’ room has built-in white bunks. The boat’s linens are the Citi line from Abode of Australia. 

Above: Even the bathrooms, one upstairs, one down, have wide-open views. The designers detailed them with one-way glass in the shower, and all of the windows have motorized roller blinds concealed behind the pelmets that wrap around the entire perimeter of the boat.

Above: The bathroom vanities are solid Australian stringybark, a eucalyptus, with blackened steel legs. The cube basin is from Australian bath company Caroma and has a Brodware City Stik wall-mounted tap. The basket supplies a place for vacationers to stow their travel kits.

Above: Penelope Durston cushions and an Original BTC Hector Clip Lamp in a dream bedroom. 

Above: The bedroom hallway is open and bright thanks to a skylight, a space-changing detail that Pipkorn and Kilpatrick convinced the builders to insert: “It was a huge push to get it over the line, and thank god we did. We toured a lot of houseboats as preparation, and so many were dark and very pokey.” 

Above: World’s best Butterfly Chair with a view? The chair’s outdoor Stainless Steel Frame came from Angelucci 20th Century, and Kilpatrick supplied the leather seat, a vacation find in Sri Lanka.

Above: “The boat was built in a shed in Eildon and then transported to the lake on a large semi-truck, a very nerve-wracking day,” says Kilpatrick. “On the outside, it has the boat builder’s signature look.”

Above: The floor plans detail the ample lounge areas and masterful division between public and private rooms. The interior is 110 square meters (approximately 1,184 square feet). See more of the designers’ work at Pipkorn & Kilpatrick.

We have a weakness for houseboats. Here are two more of our favorites: A Mother and Daughter Afloat in Paris and The Modern Urban Houseboat, a vacation rental in Berlin.