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Modern Houseboat Living via [msn/realestate]

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Life on a modern houseboat

By Abigail Peterson

A day in the life of a houseboat

Not everyone needs to spend a couple of weeks earning their sea legs
to feel at home. But that’s what happened to Matt and Jennifer Harvey
in January 2009, when they moved into a 1,000-square-foot modern prefab
houseboat on California’s Richardson Bay with their children, Jack and
Grace.

The transition wasn’t without trade-offs — including a major
downsizing of belongings — but when the sun is shining and the tide is
high, the family can’t imagine living anywhere else. “We open all the
windows and doors,” Matt Harvey says, “the breezes come in, and it’s
instantly summer.”



A  day in the life of a houseboat (© Thomas J. Story)

© Thomas J. Story

7 a.m. – Wildlife watch

Matt and Jack Harvey enjoy aquariumlike views from the living room
window.

“Jack always says he’s looking for sharks and jellyfish out his
window, and it’s true, he really is — it’s not make-believe. Sometimes
we even wake up at night to the heavy breathing of seals surfacing
outside our bedroom window.” – Jennifer Harvey

7  a.m. - Wildlife watch (© Thomas J. Story)

© Thomas J. Story

7:30 a.m. – Tide check

The Harveys live by the tide charts, their plans dictated by the
bay’s water level throughout the day.

“Out here, it’s like we’re in touch with a different measure of
time. It’s beautiful at high tide, when you’re floating and the water
is all around you, but then we appreciate the low tide too: The mud
summons the herons and sandpipers out to look for food.” – Matt Harvey

7:30 a.m. - Tide check (© Thomas J. Story)

© Thomas J. Story

10:15 a.m. – Morning walk

Jennifer and Grace Harvey check for mail at the head of their dock,
the neighborhood hub.

“We’re definitely a community. In the city, you might know who lives
next door, but your neighbor two or three doors down? Sometimes this
much closeness can feel awkward, but it’s better — and healthier — than
the isolating urban alternative.”– Jennifer Harvey

10:15 a.m. - Morning walk (© Thomas J. Story)

© Thomas J. Story

Noon – In to lunch

A superefficient kitchen means meals run smoothly.

“Ultimately, a tight kitchen is a huge advantage. I’m not running
back and forth all the time from the fridge to the counter to the
stove. I set up just what I need, and things go right in the dishwasher
when I’m done. It just seems natural to me now, that this is the way I
cook.” – Jennifer Harvey

Noon - In to lunch (© Thomas J. Story)

© Thomas J. Story

3:40 p.m. – Land errands

Everything from the outside world must be carried in or, more often,
wheeled in via repurposed shopping carts from the marina parking lot.

“We live green by necessity. It’s a long dock, so it’s ‘pack it in,
pack it out.'” – Matt Harvey

3:40 p.m. - Land errands (© Thomas J. Story)

© Thomas J. Story

5:10 p.m. – Friend by kayak

Jack Harvey thinks it’s totally normal that his best friend arrives
by boat for a get-together.

“Jack doesn’t even need to put on his shoes to go over to his
buddy’s house — he just needs his life jacket.” – Matt Harvey

5:10 p.m. - Friend by kayak (© Thomas J. Story)

© Thomas J. Story

7:30 p.m. – Evening paddle

Matt and Jennifer Harvey enjoy after-dinner escapes on the water
near dusk, one of their favorite times of day.

“When dinner is finished and the kids are in bed, one of us will
grab the kayak and take a quick paddle around the neighborhood. It’s
peaceful, but it’s not exactly quiet. There are constant squeaks and
creaks and knocking from the boats and the gangways. That was something
we had to get used to when we first moved here.” – Matt Harvey

7:30 p.m. - Evening padde (© Thomas J. Story)

© Thomas J. Story

8:35 p.m. – Impromptu soiree

With friends close by, impromptu gatherings are the rule.

“When the weather’s warm, we do a lot of, ‘Hey, we’re opening a
bottle of wine on the roof deck. Want to come over?’ We’ll sit and talk
and enjoy the night sky. Because we’re so far from the streets, there
are no lights above and you can really see the stars.” – Matt Harvey

8:35 p.m. - Impromptu soiree (© Thomas J. Story)

© Thomas J. Story

Making 1,000 square feet work for a family of four

  • Be strict about capacity. Reach a point of equilibrium with your
    stuff and stick with it. “Our kids know when they get a new thing, they
    have to say goodbye to something else,” Matt Harvey says.
  • Embrace imperfection. “I’m a cluttery person,” Jennifer Harvey
    says. “It’s when I stop pretending to be perfect and figure out a
    solution that the house works best.”
  • Store it where you use it. In the kitchen, oven mitts and spatulas
    are to the right of the stove, and the blender and mixer reside on the
    countertop where Jennifer Harvey bakes.
  • There’s always room for memories. “My grandmother’s waffle iron
    lives permanently on our stovetop,” Jennifer Harvey says. “I love it,
    so I make space for it, and we use it every day.”

Making 1,000 square feet work for a family of four (© Sunset)

© Sunset

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