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4/21/18 by Wanda Hope Carter  

I have been busy working on the details of a long list of ongoing, seemingly endless, boat make overs going on and the many, many, MANY, setbacks.

If you want something done on a boat, you do it yourself, or pay three times the going hourly rates for labor, hope someone who doesn't start drinking at noon decides to show up on the date scheduled, keep your fingers crossed that they actually know what they are doing, and most importantly be prepared for the unexpected to be a given. It's a vicious cycle. 

For the end product, I know it will take time to put the finishing touches in the visual spaces, but I am no where near as close to that as I expected to be by now. The process with it's clutter, mess, things torn out or half done, and living with thirty plus year old interior furnishings is really starting to get to me. AKA It's driving me NUTS! Which arguably, wasn't that far of a drive after all I've been through over the past year. 

The way I decorate when I am not starting from scratch, which is in many ways much easier and something I've done for myself a few times in my life already, is to choose the items I know I want around me from my existing possessions and build on them for colors and themes. I brought a few paintings and pieces of decor with me when I moved on board, with the rest of them still being buried in boxes in storage. Three paintings of marshes and typical Florida waterway scenery framed in a variety of gold tone frames are the main items I'm keeping as prominent. 

In a boat due to space, everything becomes in one way or the other prominent, and even though I love breaking decorating rules, and I already am, there are certain parameters I still  need to mostly adhere to in my own way such as:

1. There should be a limit of three main decorating colors, and two of them are typically white and an off white or beige neutral tone. I picked beige as the main color because two of the other items I brought on board are Scandinavian design ergonomic leather sling chairs in beige. These are small and low to the ground  possessing a minimal visual footprint. They also happen to be the most comfortable chairs I've ever owned and from comments I've heard they rank the same for most who sit in them. Also, while white is the most traditional predominant color used throughout boat decor for wall treatments and seating, it's very hard to keep clean and we are after all live-aboards, not weekend leisure cruisers. 

There is an off white, what used to be commonly referred to as almond, already in use in the heads and on counters so my second color is that by neccessity. Usually the third color is blue or green to reflect the environment boating takes one through, and a blend of both is acceptable as long as the colors are coordinated in hue. Other than three colors, with so much wood in this old boat brown can not be dismissed as an element to work around which in itself actually produces an extra tone.  

Other less common but somewhat expected combinations found on boats include grays and their complimentary colors mixed with white or navy.

2. A boat's design elements have to be functional in ways a house or apartment will never need. There are rocking and sliding concerns making any amount of actual decor besides structural selections attached to the boat mostly impractical and requiring thoughtful secure placement for those that are going to be used.

3. The size limitations of boats, except for the largest of yachts, means keeping the number of items to a minimal in order to allow as much space and room for maneuverability as possible. 

4. Working with very small spaces like hallways and cabins, where many are visible to and from each other, requires coordination in concept and color palette throughout for the best effect. Fabrics, window and wall paper patterns should generally be minimalist and scaled for the area size to make the space feel larger. 

5. Simplicity and lack of clutter also lends to the illusion of space and most importantly, makes for a much easier to care for environment in the long run. 

DESIGN CHALLENGE: Follow these rules as much as possible and still make it different enough to reflect ME, aka the design rule breaker who can turn out unexpected but practical and  tasteful results. Since my days of working as a designer in construction and remodeling helped develop the know how, I treat interior design as an artist would treat a canvass to spread style and beauty in a surrounding that creates a meaningful emotional response .  

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. Even though I am tired, not at all in the mood for this after the past year and after living in a home it took me seventeen years to perfect, I realize no one is going to come do this for me. However, this can't go on for long because truly I need rest, calm, peace and at least a clean, neat, non torn apart environment to exist and work in. The biggest challenge of all will be just getting this partial makeover done as fast as possible! 

My most recent decorating adventure revolves around wallpaper. Because the paper is a prominent feature in an environment of mostly beautiful Sapele wood walls, and due to the difficulty of finding the right product, I started the design process with this selection. The tie in from what will stay here and what will come is the wall paper where carpet, wood flooring, window treatments, bedding and other decor items will follow.  

Initially I wasn't planning on replacing the boring but innocuous off white, plain, fake grass cloth textured paper. I didn't love it or even particularly like it, but it was there and wall paper is definitely my least favorite thing to pick out or install. However, I was forced to replace it due to having to remove the hallway paper to get a washer dryer unit in place. The washer dryer episode is a story for another day which includes removing a window to get it inside, removing a wall around the cubbyhole where the old one was cut up and taken out in pieces, and taking the new unit apart then putting it back together. Ripping off the old wall paper was a byproduct of the process. (I have pictures!)

Because the hall can be seen from other areas of the boat with matching wall paper I realized if I change it one place, I need  to change it in the other or at least order enough rolls to do it for a later project. After two weeks of exhaustive online searching looking through thousands of prints, I finally picked out what I thought was the best wall paper I could ever hope to find. I was both relieved and excited to imagine it on the walls. It had tropical vines, leaves and palm fronds in primarily tasteful subdued blues and greens on a pale beige background. PERFECT! 

This paper would match my paintings and almost anything I could dig out of storage when the time comes for finishing touches. I ordered a sample and went on with exploring matching options for flooring and window treatments. Then the sample arrived and the colors looked nothing like they did in the picture!

I know things don't always look exactly like they do online but I've never seen anything this far off before. I thought they sent the wrong sample until I found site after site displayed the image and sample number of the the same item. I couldn't accept defeat so easily and located a wall paper store in town and went to see for myself if it was really so drastically different. 

After hunting down the wall paper book in a room full of dozens of wall paper books, I found  to my utter disappointment it indeed was that different in their sample too. Every other image of pattern versions of this print looked exactly the same as it did on line, as did other patterns I saw when previously searching except for this ONE! 

Back to the drawing board! I spent several hours dragging nearly every book in the place off the shelf,and power flipping through them. Wallpaper books feel like they weigh a hundred pounds a piece. I was there until I finally got a  backache and a headache from it and I didn't find anything I liked, NOT ONE THING!

I checked out a few books where there was something vaguely appealing about one or more patterns even if I didn't like them in whole for an on board review. At the end of the first day I found a few I begrudgingly picked as possibilities and left them out for lighting checks. By the next day I got it down to one which also offered an unexpected corresponding pattern that might fix a screw up I've been looking for a solution to. (Another story for another day!) 

The problem with this wallpaper is that it is nothing at all like I went looking for and is not anywhere near the normal white and off white neutrals that are expected. It has lines of dark browns, gold, a hint of brick color and a color that might be described as dark beige with a tinge of mustard added to it. It features a large pattern of abstract palm fronds on a grass cloth like texture.  It also offers a complementary light almond background geometry pattern similar to tiles that could be used in the master head and still match the main pattern in the boat.

After the excitement of thinking I had my decision made was over, I became worried it was too dark in the night lighting and too reddish in the browns in the morning light. I went without sleep that night and next day to frantically search through the books and even back on line for an alternative. No matter what I came up with, nothing made me happy. So, I did what any frustrated artist does, I took a nap. 

When I woke up I realized I should give it another chance and perhaps I would just have to learn to live with it if not love it. The way it breaks the rules still meets a design criteria here before unmentioned. It will lend itself to match what I want to re-name the boat some day very effectively. 

Currently, the name of this boat is one I don't particularly like. It is supposed to be bad luck to change a boat name unless it is done properly by making sure nothing remains on the boat with the old name and then performing a ritual at sea that one might not should take so lightly as some do before name changing is official. One name I've been favoring for when that day comes is SEAFARI. The personal association to me is obvious and this paper in it's pattern, colors and overall theme will make a fantastic start towards creating the proper Seafari environment!

And voila! Just like that, the Seafari boat design concept was conceived, ...... unless I change my mind again, or unless they decided this is the one pattern to discontinue out of thousands, or the bolts come in an entirely different set of hues and tones. Or, I  could wake up tomorrow and realize there is no way can I live with this "hideous ugly" paper like I did yesterday morning, but I hope I don't because I am going to bed right now thinking it is perfect. 

Copyright 2018 Wanda Hope Carter all rights reserved, no publication, duplication in any form or method, copying, storage, pasting, screen shots, archiving or other use in part or whole without express written permission.

UPDATE!!!! I decided to look up the price on this paper before hitting the sheets and guess what, so far it is not listed at the manufacturer or anywhere else for that matter so I very well may not be able to buy it! Has it been discontinued? I won't know until I call the store and if it is then I seriously don't know if I have it in me to start over for the third time. I may have to come up with a different plan. (sigh, sigh and then try, try again!?)


Topics: decorating, boats, yachts
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