3 Boat Cabin Design Ideas

If sprucing up the cabin in your boat is on your spring to-do list this year, this is the post for you. If you’re going to re-do your boat interior, it’s important to start with a game plan of which fabrics you’re going to use and the feel you want for your home aboard. Today we’ve rounded up three different cabin “looks” to help get your ideas flowing.

Before we get into the designs, we should take a moment to talk about fabric fiber choices. In a boat cabin you want the cushions to be comfortable but also to not allow mold and mildew to grow. To do this, avoid cotton fabrics and opt for acrylic, olefin or vinyl instead. You’ll also want to use a durable fabric for settee cushions and berths, but accents of occasional use outdoor fabrics are a fun way to bring in different colors and patterns. All of the recommendations we make in this post are fabrics that are appropriate for use in a boat cabin.

Classic Nautical

3 Boat Cabin Design Ideas

A perennial favorite, the classic nautical color scheme and patterns are still the first choice of many boaters for their cabins. This includes traditional colors like true red, navy, royal blue and white. This looks remains a classic for a reason, these colors look great alongside a traditional teak and holly interior. Our look imagines using a traditional navy blue as a base color with added pops of a red fabric with a knot motif. The fabric with sailboats and burgees is also a playful nod to the sailing life.

Light & Neutral

3 Boat Cabin Design Ideas

Boat cabins don’t always get a lot of natural light and with the abundance of wood finishes, they can sometimes feel dark. A great way to brighten up your saloon is to use a light-colored upholstery fabric on your settee cushions and other fabric finishes. A soft neutral like this Light Oyster Ultraleather® (#1 in the image) makes a great base for cushions. Then, other colors can be brought in with throw pillows and other accessories. If solid beige isn’t your looks, think outside the box! Neutrals don’t have to be solids; patterns in soft colors will also brighten your cabin. Also, gray is a great neutral with a modern feel.

Tropical & Bright

3 Boat Cabin Design Ideas

Another way to brighten up your cabin and infuse it with personality is to incorporate vibrant colors. Bring the colors of the Caribbean to your cabin with bright, tropical tones like in this popular Sunbrella® fabric. Balance out your punchy colors with either a darker coordinate color like this dark navy or a light neutral like a beige as accent colors for curtains or pillows.

You can find more fabrics for your cabin in these looks and many more at Sailrite.com.

Which design idea is your favorite? Do you have any of these themes in your boat? Share your opinions and ideas in the comments.

  1. Sam said:

    I absolutely love your site and your videos! Your range of fabric and hardware is staggering and you’re so generous with the how-to information that you share. I

  2. Nancy said:

    I agree with Sam above. I especially love your customer service.

  3. I put sheer curtains in my cabin in a sunny day sky blue color. That way when I look out, it is always a beautiful day! Everything else harmonizes with the curtains.

    • Nikki said:

      That sounds lovely, Melody! We’d love to see a photo.

  4. Donna Hamill said:

    Used the Waverly Sailboats as the focal theme on our enclosed porch on the coast of Maine for pur sailing grandchildren!

  5. Lynn Buchanan said:

    Ditto what Sam said. With my portable Sailrite sewing machine I can make enough money repairing sails in AZ., to afford snow birding at beautiful Lake Pleasant. I once had a picture of me at my 30 ft. RV dinette table repairing and re-stitching a Catalina 30 mainsail. I bought my LZ1 machine at a boat show at Jack London Square over 20 years ago from the founder of Sailrite. With regular cleaning and oiling I have only had one problem with my machine. Trying to pass too much fabric with sharp pieces on it, like zippers etc. has caused some chipping of paint in the throat area. When I look at the chips it brings a smile to my face thinking of how many miles of thread has passed through that throat. Keep up the great customer service!

    • Nikki said:

      Lynn, thank you so much for sharing your story!

  6. Cathy said:

    Love this article as I am contemplating moving from repairing sails and replacing windows in my enclosure to inside sewing projects. I would like to see more fabric combinations that don’t use fabrics with lines or obvious linear patterns as they are difficult to keep straight while sewing AND when in use. On our boat, the seam edges of cushions tend to migrate downwards. I don’t want to have to struggle with them on a regular basis to get them back up where they belong.

    I am looking for a fabric for the upholstery that is NOT plain. Plain is not your friend. It shows every mark. I want some pattern to hide the marks that happen when you liveaboard. Finally, I don’t want any fabrics with a nautical theme. It’s redundant when you live on a boat. After all… it’s a boat! :-) Hope you can post more combinations!

    • Nikki said:

      Hi Cathy,
      I’m glad you liked this post! We may do more designs like this in the future since this post has been well received. In the meantime, to help you find interior fabrics that suit your taste, take a look around our Marine Upholstery Fabric category: http://www.sailrite.com/Fabrics/Marine-Fabric/Marine-Upholstery-Fabric. Every fabric in that category we recommend for use in your boat cabin.

  7. Boat Windows said:

    Hello, you have a great finesse in writing the blogs. Keep on writing more on these lines. Enjoyed reading this, great insights. Thanks!

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