In your ideal boat what would be the perfect saloon? Free-standing furniture or an L-shaped seat that becomes an extra berth? Would you site the solid fuel stove in the middle of the boat or at the bow end? I love looking at narrowboat interiors and thought I'd blog about saloons this week!

This picture shows the beautiful saloon on my last boat, (bought and sold with Boatshed Grand Union.) It didn't look that shiny after our family of four had lived aboard! It was obvious that the stove had once been at the bow, but had later been relocated to mid-ship.

Having the stove in the middle of the boat is sometimes preferred, because then the heat radiates out from the centre of the boat, rather than attempting to heat a long boat from one end. You may also choose to put the stove on the port side because canal boats ‘drive’ on the right, and you’re less likely to knock the flue off on the side of a bridge hole.

In some liveaboard boats a Rayburn provides the saloon heating, and also heats the hot water and radiators. If your boat is for summer holidays and fairer weather the location of the stove may not concern you.

Free-standing furniture allows a little versatility: You can rearrange the chairs, or even replace items of furniture without ripping out any carpentry. Then of course you could go for a combination, such as a free-standing sofa in the living area, but with a fixed Pullman dinette. However, an L-shaped dinette may open up the space more. A dinette can be really useful for children's activities and office work, as well as dining. I love it if a dinette doubles as a berth. In fact I love anything that doubles as more than one thing on a boat – multi use saves space.

Bookshelves may be important to you, and a TV can be wall mounted or given a built-in cabinet.

Corinne Thomsett, a former hotel boat operator, says, “I hated the fixed bench down one wall in our narrowboat Taurus. I saw a brilliant design once for a fixed bench and table set, but one of the benches swivelled.”

Our boat of the moment is a 42 foot narrowboat lying in Limehouse Basin, London. The saloon seating converts to a double berth. The Webasto central heating and stove combine tomake it very comfortable for residential use.

This 65ft narrowboat cruiser offers a free-standing sofa in the saloon and a stove at the bow end. Currently lying in Kings Langley it is well set up as a constantly cruising liveaboard, with plenty of space, ample storage and two separate cabins.

In contrast this Viking 26cruiser in central London makes the most of a small space, with built-in seating, that doubles as a bed, and a separate dinette. It is cosy in winter, with gas heating and an electric heater in the stern cabin – and is currently being used as a liveaboard.

Now is the time of year when solid fuels stoves are glowing in anticipation of winter. What is on your “must have” list for your ideal saloon? If you're looking for a boat for sale contact us for a friendly chat about what you require.


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