Retro-Style Houseboat

A 1975 houseboat goes retro with midcentury-modern furnishings.

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November 24, 2014

Retro on a Budget

Do-it-yourself expert Tracy Metro and her husband, Marty, bought a 1975 40-foot houseboat. Even though on a tight budget, Tracy wanted to create a playful, retro-style space to entertain guests in. With the use of bold color and her favorite flea market finds, she was able to do just that.

Mini Bar

The steering wheel area serves as the bar. Flanking the five-seater lounge, it keeps everything within arm's reach for guests in need of a refill.

Seating for Five

A lounge area sits at the front entrance of the boat. A custom banquette allows Tracy to interact with guests as she prepares food. The L-shaped seating accommodates up to five people.

Long-Lasting Acrylic

The lounge banquette's turquoise Sunbrella fabric is made of acrylic, which resists mold, mildew and spills.

Pet-Friendly Fabric

Tracy's 12-year-old Italian greyhound, Sasee, feels right at home on the houseboat. In addition to having her own dog bed, she is welcome on the furniture since it is upholstered in indoor/outdoor Sunbrella canvas.

Secret Entrance

With space at a premium, making use of every inch is key. To access the bottom-floor bedroom, the banquette seating folds up and hinges to the wall, revealing a small staircase that Tracy painted orange.

Retro Owl Wall Decor

A pair of owls — picked up from a flea market for 25 cents — greets her as she walks upstairs each morning.

Hollywood Regency-Style Headboard

The focal point of the bedroom is the custom, orange built-in headboard. The crochet bedspread is a gift from a friend.

Bright White Walls

With only 36 inches of height, the bedroom area is practically a crawlspace. The glossy bright white walls make the room seem brighter and bigger.

Room for a TV

The TV is mounted to the bedroom wall, so it doesn't take up valuable floor space. Two peacock art pieces flank the TV to make it less of a focal point. A door made from metal sheeting provides an entryway from the bedroom to the living room.

Updated Sofas

The original fiberglass sofas were updated with nautical paint and reupholstered in brown indoor/outdoor Sunbrella fabric accented with white piping detail. A clear Lucite table with storage underneath gives the illusion of a bigger space. Miniature aluminum blinds allow for a view of the water, but provide privacy at night.

Reliable Cork Flooring

In addition to being durable and soft, the cork flooring used throughout the boat adds a nice organic punch. Cork is a rapidly renewable resource, something many LEED-certified design professionals recommend.

Light-Filled Bathroom

Located at the bottom of the steps that connect the kitchen to the living room, the bathroom is packed with light and is simple and modern in style.

Mixing Old With New

Although the bathroom is only 5 1/2-feet wide by 4-feet deep, Tracy made the most of the space. She mixed old with new by keeping a vintage glass wall sconce with gold zodiac detail and decorating with '70s decor found at flea markets. To modernize the space, she brought in a modern sink, vanity and faucet.

Cheerful Kitchen

The light-filled kitchen is open, airy and packed with energy due to the orange Silestone countertops, glossy white cabinetry and frosted-glass door fronts. The rear is open to the living room, which is accessed by steps covered in the same cork flooring material used throughout the boat.

Durable and Stylish Countertops

The tangerine-toned custom countertops are made of Silestone, a synthetic solid surface that is durable and easy to care for. Walnut contact paper adds to the retro style.

Small Cooktop

A small concealable cooktop was integrated directly into the countertops, creating more useable counter space.

Vintage Dessert Tray

Tracy serves dessert on a bold vintage tray that only cost her 25 cents at the flea market. A nautical anchor graphic at the center keeps with the rest of the retro-style decor of the houseboat.

Easy-to-Reach Drinkware

Upper cabinets that sit above the sink make retro drinkware easy to reach.

Two Tiers of Fun

The bottom tier of the midcentury-modern boat is designated for outdoor dinner parties, while the top tier is strictly for lounging and sunbathing.

Retro Wording

The words "Retro Metro" across the front of the boat give it a true retro-style vibe.

Rooftop Deck Grill

The first tier of the rooftop deck is a full-fledged dining area, complete with a stainless steel grill perfect for grilling food for guests.

360-Degree View

The view of the Alamitos Bay in California can be seen from almost every room in the houseboat.

Custom Chairs

Tracy gave '70s outdoor furniture, found on for $35, an update with new strapping and powder coating to restore it to its original condition. She alternated the colors on the banding to give each chair its own unique look.

Recessed Lighting

Standard can lights are 8 inches deep, which don't work in tight areas. In order to add overhead lighting, Tracy used stainless steel cabinet puck lights that she recessed into the fiberglass ceiling.

Colorful Table Setting

The napkins and plastic flatware, both found on a budget, stick with the signature retro-style colors of orange, brown and white for a cohesive look.

Chilled Drinks

A wine cooler is integrated into the base cabinets of the kitchen to keep beverages easily accessible and chilled.

Room for S'mores

After a long, fun day entertaining guests, Tracy and her husband end the night on the bow enjoying spirits, games and s'mores. Watch Tracy show her favorite areas of the boat>>

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