I’m Dreaming of a white kitchen – How to make the kitchen work on a Narrow Boat

The countdown is on, and whilst based on our last post you might start to worry I’m about to bang on about Christmas again, fear not dear readers! Because what I’m really here counting down towards is our wonderful (In my head at least) new kitchen. I’m not going to lie but nearly two years in I’m starting to lose track on my blog ramblings a little, so maybe I have mentioned this in passing, maybe I haven’t, but all you really need to know is I’ve been dreaming of a new kitchen for quite some time now.


If we are being entirely honest I might be being a bit of a brat here, the current Kitchen is perfectly functional, the only thing I would say about it is, it’s perfectly suited for leisure users, two weeks away using this kitchen, well I can imagine it’s rather quaint. Living with it on a more permanent basis, well it’s proving less ideal for that. It’s getting pretty regular now that I have a mini kitchen based breakdown. In fact I imagine on that irritational note James has no doubt got these breakdowns scheduled into his diary so he can ensure he is away! To give you an overview you’ll find me in a heap on the kitchen floor, mid-tantrum, all because the kitchen drawer won’t close properly.

Kitch 1

This lovely drawing was created with the help of the Ikea Kitchen creator, so it’s not 100% accurate, but believe it or not it’s rather difficult to find kitchen planner tools which work with boat life! So the fridge you see in the far left is actually a fridge, with oven and microwave above, in reality. Likewise there are shelves next to it, use the image below for a better reference. 


The kitchen we have currently is really well constructed, out of wood of some description, only problem with that is the swell factor, meaning sometimes in winter a drawer is impossible to close unless you have the arms of Jet from gladiator (I Wish). To be fair to our wonderful Fantine to our knowledge (and from extensive searching back through her history) we believe this kitchen has always been her kitchen, so that’s now 10 years of solid service provided, I think it’s allowed to be feeling a bit tired by now.


I’m going to get down into the more intricate issues I have with the kitchen now, namely layout. So let’s start with an overview of what we currently have.

Offender One – The Narnia Cupboard


I’m starting with the big guns, and in honest perhaps my biggest complaint with the current layout. We have one lovely giant cupboard, only problem, you’d need to be Cinderella with her army of tiny mouse helpers to get anything out of there. I mean look at that cupboard door, if I dare even to call it that. It’s so frustrating, every time you open it you get a glimpse of it’s dark shadowy depths, which remain sadly out of reach for my Amazon wish list of kitchen utensils. HUMPH! The only way I have managed to prevent a kitchen related break down every time I open this door is to fill the Narnia cupboard with adult drinks, I don’t need to see in there, pop a hand in and so long as whatever I’m pulling out chinks as I do so happy days!

Offender Two – The Great British Space Off

Before life aboard I was an avid baker, I love baking. My signature bake? Bourbon biscuits the size of a hand that would undoubtedly garner me a Paul Hollywood hand shake. Now I’m not trying to claim that life aboard has put a stop to baking, it hasn’t, entirely. But again workspace isn’t on my side, not to bang on about this but the Narnia Cupboard again comes into play here, the placement of the Fridge/Oven etc prevents you from using a lovely area of workspace which just isn’t accessible.

Offender Three – Why Won’t you Close

This is my main reason for kitchen break downs. I’m extremely noise sensitive, poor James has to suffer so many side eye glances at the mere sound of him chewing, so it causes me great offence that I can’t shut a drawer without it squealing at me. Occasionally I will go all Hulk on the cabinets and a door will miraculously fall off in my hands. I get it, the kitchen is old, it’s not it’s fault. But my days does it grate on me.

So oh wise one, how do you intend to resolve said issues. Well let me start with a new layout for you.


Kitch 2

Just to clarify a few things thanks to the none boat friendly Ikea layout tool, the cupboard with the hole in it will be a built in oven and hob, the unit next to it will be a built in fridge, and we also plan to build in the washing machine next to the fridge which is currently just exposed next to the kitchen (This is not shown in the plans).

First bit of feedback we are going to get … aren’t you loosing cupboard space by putting the oven and fridge stack both below the surface, but then you will study the plan in greater detail and pull the words back as you see the space we are opening up above and below, particularly in what was the problem Narnia corner.

So how do I intend to tackle all of my moaning points.

Offender One – The Narnia Cupboard

By moving the oven and fridge stack to sit below the counter we are opening up access to the left hand side of the kitchen. A rotating corner cupboard will mean we have usable cupboard space, and I may need to find a new home for the grown up party juice. We also intend to have a shallow wall cabinet above this area to again ensure we don’t loose out on any cupboard space.  Offender Two is also solved in this step as our workspace pretty much quadruples! So hello baking!

Offender Three – Why Won’t you Close

We’re super lucky having my Dad work with kitchens, which should not only help us with the cost and fitting but also with advice. We have found a pretty simple cream kitchen which is all we want, simple and clean, which I intend to jazz up (Please do your own jazz hands) with some snazzy handles.


So these are our thoughts, we’re hoping that spring next year this will all get going. We’d love to hear any feedback, thoughts or experience that anyone out there on the world wide web might have on kitchen changes on a boat. Whilst we understand our ideas may not fit with every boaters dream, and certainly make the boat feel more practical than that of leisure craft, please do remember that it needs to be liveable.

Apologies as the previous, and next few blogs, are likely to continue on the theme of home improvements, but we are now settled in, and we’re ready to fluff the feathers on the nest.

James & Kirsty

4 thoughts on “I’m Dreaming of a white kitchen – How to make the kitchen work on a Narrow Boat

  1. Sounds great. I can totally agree with the cupboard that you could not see the end of. Totally wasted. And you are right with the work surface. Cant wait to see it all done. xx


    1. Thank you! Isn’t it the most frustrating cupboard ever, and it’s such a lovely large space, such a shame to not see it used to it’s full potential. I can’t wait either, we’re hoping to start work in April next year, feels a long time away but it will soon come round I’m sure. xx


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