As a former student of architecture, it is impossible not to start out with this warning: no, most small-time architects cannot, in fact, afford to buy, live and work in their very own luxury houseboat in the waters of downtown Seattle – if Tom Hanks’ role for the film Sleepless in Seattle (his home shown lower-left above) misled you, it might be worth taking a more realistic look around. That said, the real floating homes of this city constitute a unique, vast and variegated water-based subculture well worth exploring.
Still, here is a remarkable range to styles, sizes, types and prices within the various houseboat communities within bodies of water around Seattle – and thousands of total floating residences that dot the water-scapes individually and in small town-like clusters. The image above is a kind of a picture-perfect extreme – a large, two-story, traditional-looking home that has elements of a southern plantation house or rural mansion. From the interior photos one would never know that this home floats.
At the other mobility extreme are truly-portable houseboats that not only float in place but can be taken out on trips or moved easily from dock to dock. Some of these are converted boats or barges while others were built from the ground (or: water) up to be real mobile homes-on-the-water. Anyone who remembers MacGuyver might recall that he was cast adrift one day by someone simply untying his house from its moorings – a trick not likely to work with this kind of houseboat.
From early floating shacks and hodge-podge house-boat co-ops to modern layouts that look like suburbs and gated floating communities, there is a vast and highly-evolved set of complex systems between the various lakes and waterways of Seattle. While none of these residences are cheap to own, some are for rent to those who want to take some time off from land living and experience the curious combination of turbulence and isolation a boat home affords. (Images via: Special Agents Realty,?Completely Coastal, Cooper Jacobs,?Bain and The Seattle Times).