The home belonging to Phil and Amy Munds brings new meaning to the phrase waterfront property.
There is no yard to keep up, few neighbors, and no traffic. That's because five years ago, the Mundses sold their Towson home and moved onto a boat docked in a Canton marina. While it might not be considered much space by the typical American family, the 46-foot Silverton aft-cabin motor yacht has three sleeping areas, or berths, and two bathrooms (heads, that is) and is a cozy home for Phil, principal French horn player in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, his wife Amy, a teacher, their children, Hannah, 14, and Ian, 9, a seafaring cat named Emmett, and one goldfish. However, raising a family on a boat takes a toll on its interior.
Seeing a novel marketing opportunity in helping the Canton castaways, the orchestra's front office enlisted the services, gratis, of Baltimore Symphony Associates Decorators' Show House interior designer Laura Kimball of LCK Interiors. And by investing serious sweat equity of their own, the Mundses got their floating décor ship-shape.
Choosing to raise a family in 46 feet of space may not be for everyone, but Amy was reared in a nautical family herself, and she and Phil had already renovated a sailboat together. After their children were born, the family got more involved in boating. "We found that we were resenting having to leave the boat to go home and mow grass," Amy recalls. They started chatting with other people who'd made the leap to water-based living. "The turning point for me was when Phil came home from work one day and said, 'I'm tired of working just to buy stuff.'"
There's little room for extraneous "stuff" on a boat, so, over the years, the family has jettisoned three-quarters of their belongings. They now have a small storage unit on land for essentials like winter clothes and a few special pieces of furniture.
"The first thing we learned was to minimize," Amy adds. "We don't have a gazillion shoes." Her son Ian adds, "We don't have a gazillion toys either." But the Mundses' kids do have a Wii and Kindles and two outdoor decks to play on in the sea air. Hannah can fill the living room—"salon" in boat terminology—with friends for sleepovers. So do the kids ever resent their parents' decision to move them onboard? "Whenever we ask the kids if we should think about buying a house on land, they say 'Are you crazy?'" says Phil.
The Mundses lived on a houseboat for nine months before purchasing their current motor yacht, "Spiorad," which is Gallic for "spirit" and also the name of the CD Phil recorded with pianist Bryan Rowe.
While the family may have been comfortable living a stripped-down and relaxed life on the water, Spiorad wasn't much to look at inside. Built in 1989, its design aesthetic could best be described as Miami Vice chic, but with a 22-year-old patina of wear. And there was beige everywhere.
As soon as she was piped aboard, interior designer Kimball, who was fresh off the most recent Decorators' Show House, came up with a plan.
"Their needs were obvious—clearly, new carpet and certainly more storage," Kimball notes. "The challenge is the tightness of the space. You can't throw lighting wherever you want. And it's not like you can build on an addition."
"Laura has been wonderful, we couldn't have done this without her," says Phil. "She had an immediate eye for the space and particularly for wasted space." Kimball immediately spotted some things that could be pitched overboard, namely an underused icemaker and a washer-dryer taking up space in the dining room.
"We weighed the value of storage versus amenities like the icemaker and the washer," Kimball explains. "When you consider that most of the kitchen cabinets are only four inches deep, you can see that storage is a huge problem."
With those things gone, more space opened for storage. Kimball designed built-ins that hold baskets (safe and secure when Spiorad is underway) to go where the washer-dryer was previously. The woodwork on the built-ins and throughout the boat is painted brown and given a semi-gloss finish. "I wanted a nice, high-end yacht feel, where you have lots of rich woodwork," says Kimball, "but I also wanted it to be warm and family-friendly." That also meant, bon voyage beige.
"When you buy a boat, it's generally all one color or variations of one color," Kimball continues. "When you're making a boat into a home, one thing you want to do is add color, make it lively."
Much of Kimball's color plan was inspired by a print Phil gave to Amy of a Mediterranean waterfront village that had shades of terra cotta, teal, and green. In keeping with the Mediterranean feel, Kimball replaced an old railing dividing the dining area and the main salon with one of wrought iron. That Old-World sensibility carries into the galley (that's the kitchen to you landlubbers), where Kimball installed a backsplash that resembles pressed tin but is made of a plastic durable enough for water-based living. And the dining room banquets went from white to blue.
A floral duvet the Mundses owned inspired the master bedroom design. "The catch with staterooms on yachts is the beds aren't well defined and there's very little space," Kimball says. "To frame the bed and give it purpose, we defined it with a coral upholstered headboard." Wall sconces with a wrought-iron finish flank the new bed.
Kimball donated her time and some materials to the project and secured donations from vendors for items like carpeting and vinyl. But much of the labor was done by the Mundses themselves, who got their hands dirty ripping out old carpet and painting walls. Their "neighbors" pitched in, too, like fellow live-aboard and contractor Mike Sikora, who donated wood for shelving.
When the crew of the Spiorad first moved onboard, the family agreed to experiment with boat living for five years. Having sailed past that marker, they now have no interest in moving back ashore, especially now that Spiorad has a whole new look.
"It's an amazing feeling to take your house out on the water," says Amy. "Our best memories are of anchoring and jumping off the top of the boat into the water. Your house becomes an adventure."