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Anke and I are building our next boat, and writing about it at ABargeInTheMaking.blogspot.com. Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.

Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write, and I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirl gmail daughter com

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Inner Space: Some Thoughts on Interior Design




The Church says: The body is a sin.
Science says: The body is a machine.
Advertising says: The body is a business.
The Body says: I am a fiesta!
-        Eduardo Galeano

Ergonomics is the art and science of fitting things to the human body. Tools, toys and the spaces we inhabit.
The science bit revolves around the facts of the human frame. About yeah tall; so wide; jointed here and there; bends this way, not that way.
Bunk lengths, seat and counter width, heights, depths and overhangs, lumbar curves (to backrests), headrooms – standing, seated or kneeling – all have generated more or less standard numbers, averaging human norms. Consider, however that plenty of folks don’t fit those norms, AND the norms change over time (we’re getting taller and wider!).
You can read this book  or visit this thread for more info, but the best way to get the numbers is to measure furnishings and spaces that you and yours find comfortable, then mock them up to work out the deets.
The art is harder to grasp. This is subjective, and a matter of abstracting the principles behind the kind of spaces that make you feel the way you wish to feel.
Art is complicated by compromise with other considerations. Love that rustic, raw wood look? Hard to clean. Stucco? Ditto. Porous surfaces can become mildew havens. Natural fibers go musty. Some of us prefer center cockpits dividing off a private, aft cabin… which must be heated, complicates steering arrangements and may require a dash through weather to reach head or galley. We all walk a line, balancing our tastes against the limits to how far we’d go to indulge them.
Here are some of the things I like and tend toward:
Contiguous, Open Space -- I personally like an open, expansive feel to my home environment.
Physical space allowances (legroom, elbow room, etc.) that don’t have one person violating the ‘personal space’ of the other call for long, hard thought. Seating should be amply wide, to accept however many persons sitting side-by-side. Opposed seats should be sufficiently far apart that footsie is voluntary. ‘Course, when I say should I mean do what you can.
Airspace (from the waist up) is important to me, and can offset a certain degree of physical constriction. To avoid that walls-closing-in feeling that many interiors produce, I avoid incursions and cut openings in barriers (such as bulkheads). Privacy can always be reestablished, if necessary, by curtains or other removable means.
 Windows open the interior into the wider world and pierce the close embrace of the hull. I avoid center- or daggerboard trunks, which can divide the cabin spaces longitudinally. Likewise, I prefer not to have masts pierce the cabin spaces (split, cat rigs are arranged at the cabin ends). I like big cutouts in bulkheads, creating social spaces that join galley, salon and bunk areas. I tend to avoid enclosed spaces (head, pantry, wet locker, etc.) which break up the contiguous, open areas. If such things are included, they huddle at the extreme ends.
Galley at the Heart – A well fed crew is happy, warm, energetic and good to go. When guests are aboard, who wants to choose between cooking and visiting? The Galley, I believe, is best located between Cockpit and Salon (seating area), with good lines of sight between them. Handy to the cockpit for a mug-up; part of the party below-decks. We heat and cook with wood… a large cut-out in the Galley/Salon bulkhead permits radiant heat from the stove and further opens the space.
Pleasures of the Bunk – The Bunk isn’t just a hole to crawl into and collapse. It can extend the lounging/social space, and is often the scene of extended bouts of reading. It should be well ventilated, light, comfortable and airy as any other. It’s often a hotbed of sexuality… will it accommodate your passions or cramp your style? Can it be curtained off for privacy, when necessary? Does it have adequate and handy storage for clothing and personals? Can you sit up at night and check your anchor bearings without leaving covers’ warmth? Can you tumble out on short notice when the fewmets hit the windmill?
The Head, et al – Hmm. I’m a fan of Hereschoff’s cedar bucket – practical, compact, sanitary. But I acknowledge that the intimacy involved is not for everyone, and that at least token privacy is often preferred.
Okay. Our compromise (to be tried out in a future boat) is a semi-enclosed space in one corner of the galley. A section of counter spans the space when not in use, then flips up to join a partial bulkhead to wall off the forward face. A curtain may be drawn across the longitudinal opening for full privacy. Meanwhile, the outboard wall (outboard of the flip-up counter edge) accepts deck- and raingear, doubling as a wet-locker. This maintains good counter space, view from Galley windows and doesn’t crowd the airspace when not in use.
Multiple Function – It’s often possible to design components for multiple use, whether separately or together. A counter may double as workbench. Dinettes and setees may be made down into bunks.
A trick we used in LUNA (and will repeat in the next boat) was to make the adjacent Salon seat and Bunk heights at one level. With the dinette made down, a Salon soleboard could be raised to seat height, spanning the gangway and creating a large, level, workspace.
There is a caveat… we can get too clever for our own good! Finnicky transformations, or rickety results; a single contraption for simultaneous necessities; accommodating trivial or unnecessary functions… all of these can lead to frustration and clutter. Keep it Simple, Sailor!
So here’s a look at one of our preferred layouts, incorporating these ideas:

And here's how LUNA's interior looked:
View Aft from Salon to Galley
 
View Fwd from Salon to Bunk
*****
Interiors are very personal things. Your design will, at best, accommodate the way you live – your needs, patterns, tastes and social dynamics.They seldom can be considered to be entirely finished. Like us, they evolve over time. 
But a well considered start provides a solid foundation for a happy life aboard.