When we started shopping for our new home, we knew we couldn’t afford exactly what we wanted. We also had a lower comfort level for spending than what we technically could afford. So we needed a “fixer-upper.” We were looking for an older boat partially because of cost but also because we just liked the look of older boats over the flashy new type. We liked the wood inside versus an all white interior. We knew we needed good engines. We knew we needed, basically, a “like new” below decks area. We could handle basic household electric, plumbing, construction, and design. By we, I of course mean Rick. He handled all that stuff. The exception being design–we both contribute on that front. I also “hold,” “let go,” and “fetch tools” when asked and have been doing a lot of grunt work like waxing the exterior and stripping/varnishing the handrails. So I certainly do my share of work, just not the “sexy” stuff.
Which leads me to the topic of this post: our dining area. Each time we saw a boat, I immediately made mental notes on what needed to be changed so we could truly know the overall cost of that boat. I should have written them down because I “lost” quite a few of those mental notes. Actually, I didn’t lose them, I just put them somewhere “safe.” I have no idea where that might be. Anyway, virtually every boat we saw had nasty carpet. Why would you have carpet on a boat? Those sailors I’ve talked flooring with agree that carpet is stupid but almost always done. The carpet is always covering the hatches and stapled with a billion and five staples, which makes no sense either. Apparently boat carpet layers, if that’s what you call them, get paid by the staple. I’m guessing the one that did our boat was able to retire at the ripe old age of 25. His six-year-old retired at the same time.
The other things I noticed in most boats were mirrors everywhere and a dining area much like a camper. A permanently fixed Formica table with a built in bench covered in a hideous patterned material. Durable? Yes. Functional? Perhaps. Stylish? Nope. Not even a little bit. Take a look.
In the PB days (pre-boat), I was full of ideas. But I knew Rick could only do so much at one time and we couldn’t afford to hire anyone. So I had to choose wisely. The carpet stank, so that had to go immediately. Besides, I didn’t relish dying in my bed because I had to escape through the carpeted-over hatches above me. The salon and aft deck carpet were replaced with a beautiful wood floor that took an exceptional amount of time. (Framing a dozen hatches takes time.) They turned out gorgeous. All that time, we lived with the dining area. Even though I’d never seen any, I was convinced the seats were infested with bugs. I never saw any, but I think it was a fair assessment simply based on its ugliness. So in my mind, the seats, in particular, had to go ASAP. In those early days, Rick would sit at the table on the bench during dinner and I would pull up a fold-able camping chair. I couldn’t stand the thought of sitting on that bench.
I decided a breakfast bar would be a good choice to replace the dinette. You get storage underneath and with a couple bar stools, you get a place to eat. Having taken off the mirror, Rick wanted to build shelves to give us more storage. I was also determined to use a live-edge chunk of wood for the bar top.
Because the floor had to go under the dinette, the benches came out quickly. We kept the table for awhile. It was, after all, utilitarian, but I was not saddened when it, too, was removed. The massive mirror on the wall above the dining area went at that time as well. (It was glued down. Breaking it was inevitable. Perhaps this is where our bad luck started. But, truly, I’m not superstitious any more than I believe bugs were going to crawl up my ass if I sat on those dinette seats. Really.) We bought unfinished cabinets, placed with a fairly easy install. Keep in mind, though, that nothing is level or square, so “fairly easy” is relative. Next, we found affordable bar stools after an extensive search. Why are bar stools so crazy expensive? Most were priced for boat carpet layers’ wallets, not retired teachers.
Because we had a limited budget, I scoured the internet for weeks to find the perfect live-edge hunk of wood. They were pricey. If the wood was reasonable, the shipping wasn’t. Eventually, I settled on an eight foot chuck of black walnut. Shipping from Florida to Oklahoma was free. I maxed my budget, but it was worth it.
I was WAY too excited anticipating the arrival of that wood. When the truck holding it pulled up, it was like Christmas morning! Unfortunately, it took months before we were able to actually complete the build. While in Ft. Meyers to get some below decks work done by a pro, we targeted the breakfast bar for completion. Rick sanded the slab and coated it in polyurethane. We had many discussions on whether to paint or stain the shelving unit and cabinets. Once we determined paint, we struggled with black, brown, or cream. We eventually settled on cream so the slab would pop more. It was the star of the piece and I didn’t want it lost in the overall picture. We added pull handles to tie things together. Even though there are a few additional things to complete, I had to share. I am completely over the moon with the results!
Here are a few close ups as well.