How About Living on the Water…..Literally!

How About Living on the Water…..Literally!

No, really. Folks use the expression, “I live on or by the water”, to mean next to a lake, river or oceanside home, but when I say on the water, this really is on the water. An article written  by Sarah Amelar in last Sunday’s NY Times, chronicled Sarah and Kimo Bertram’s pursuit of a home in the San Francisco area, still a hotbed for real-estate, and how their new and unusual digs came about. What makes this so interesting, is that this is a lovely 2,100 sq.ft. home, and that it was built for about $400,000. We are talking San Franciso here, where average building costs are $275-$300 per sq. ft. for average construction, so even with architectural fees and fees associated with mooring, it still seems pretty reasonable for such a unique home. This is a light filled home, built in a boatyard over a six month period. The house sits on a stabilizing barge, and was first rolled down a boat ramp where thankfully it floated before being towed during a three hour trip to its final mooring in Mission Creek, a rapidly growing part of the Bay Area. In a quick nod to the community they are now a part of, the neighbors all turned out to “catch a line and dock it safely.”

The house was constructed by Bart Elmer and the architect was Robert Nebolon. The design consists of a saw toothed roof structure on top of a metal sided house, strongly influenced by the look of an industrial loft. The couple, both who grew up around water, are soon expecting a baby, and love living on amid seals and seabirds.


The happy couple. Love the whale weathervane! I have one myself that is set into one of my gardens, a southern garden no less, although in my defense, I live near the James River and on a reservoir. Heh, no whales here, but a girl can dream can’t she?

The swan shaped dinghy is owned by a neighbor but is enjoyed by all the neighbors.

The adjustable pendants are from The French House, cost about $250. Carrara marble covers the counters, the floors are Australian cypress finished with tung oil, quite suitable for a marine environment. Cabinets are custom.

The dining table and chairs are all custom and were made in Bali while the couple were on Honeymoon. The pendant light fixture is from Restoration Hardware.

The sawtooth shaped roof allows for the large, custom windows to let in tons of light and very wide city and water views. All the windows are operable.

Directly off the living area is a deck and additional living and entertainment space.

The once sparsely populated former industrial zone area has grown considerable in a short span of time.

A second deck area extends out from the land side.

The steel stairs bright orange color gives a nod to the color of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The high bed results from the custom use of Ikea Akurum kitchen cabinets to increase available storage space.

The same Australian cypress floors combined with all seconds or overstock ceramic tiles have created a bathroom of modern sensibility in a totally custom look bathroom.
Notice the ground level window in the shower stall, which reflects the light off the water, creating interesting shadows and patterns on the walls.

The living areas are on top with bedrooms below. A good photo of the saw tooth roof  and the windows that allows for such wonderful light to flood the interiors.

Photos by Matthew Millman for the NY Times

Putra Salahin Furniture from Bali

The French House   pendant lights in kitchen

Bonelli (San Francisco) custom shower enclosure and house windows

Golden Gate paint color for staircase formula by Sherwin Williams. This link provides an interesting history about how and why the color was chosen for the iconic bridge where I definitely left my heart on visits there.

All exterior siding and paints were selected to withstand the harsh marine environment.

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