120′ Nordhavn Aurora: Experienced Owners Inspiring Next-Level Yacht Interior Design

Most yacht interior design projects begin and end with the client. They educate us with their needs, challenge us with their expectations, and inspire us with their enthusiasm. Such was the case with the 120’ Nordhavn, Aurora, aboard which we collaborated with experienced – and adventurous – owners to execute a yacht interior design that was simple yet elegant and contemporary, with each space onboard planned for functionality.

 It takes owning a yacht or two – or, in this case, commissioning your sixth – to know exactly how you like to live aboard. When I met with the owners of the 120’ Nordhavn Aurora at the beginning of the build stage, I was immediately inspired by their enthusiasm for enjoying life aboard their yachts. They were the biggest inspiration when designing this yacht of unsurpassed quality, style and pedigree.

120′ Nordhavn Aurora Running Shot

First of all, this Nordhavn is not a typical 120’ yacht. It is a full-displacement, ABS-certified, 28’-beam yacht that is much closer in feel to a 150-footer – a serious ocean-going vessel with a luxurious interior. The new yacht offered the perfect amount of space for these owner/operators to bring on a captain and crew and embark on cruising adventures along the North Pacific Coast while entertaining their four children and numerous friends.

 The experienced owners were comfortable giving me license to oversee the space planning, yacht interior design, and luxury décor.

The owners’ passion, aside from yachting, is cooking and entertaining. Their brief was simple yet thorough: a comfortable and functional layout prioritizing cooking and entertaining that incorporated several specific requests, including a galley redesign which differed from the original proposed layout. 

Watching a client light up with enthusiasm while bringing their ideas to life is a yacht interior designer’s dream. Bringing that into reality, however, is a challenge we accept with gusto!

 When the owners told us they wanted to change the original specifications and layout of the galley to include all Miele and SubZero appliances, at first I said “no problem!” until I realized the true extent of these owners’ passion for cooking. Their dream appliance list included a full-height refrigerator, full-height refrigerator/freezer, two refrigerator drawers, two dishwashers, two sinks, two ovens, a steam oven, a microwave oven, a Salamander broiler, an electric cooktop with four burners, a BBQ grill, a teppanyaki grill, wok burner, and a trash compactor, as well as ample storage space and a table with two chairs. My initial thought after hearing their list was that these owners had “appliance fever”!

We let them know we would have to make some compromises to accommodate all of their wishes and still have adequate countertop space along with the needed upper and lower cabinets. They continued to give us their input until together we found a layout and combination of appliances and cabinetry design that best suited their needs and provided a truly exceptional and efficient galley space that would inspire any would-be chef.

120′ Nordhavn Aurora Galley

The enclosed flybridge became known as the “second galley,” as this is where we situated a full bar with under-counter refrigerator/freezer drawers, a wine cooler, trash compactor, dishwasher and electric BBQ. Incorporating the expansive windows that grace this space was a challenge for Nordhavn Yachts that they too accepted – this being their largest flagship build – (read more about designing large windows on yachts in our blog post “The Nature of Yacht Interiors”). The end result, however, was truly spectacular and gave the owners a beautiful area in which to cook and entertain while enjoying the never-ending views.

120′ Nordhavn Aurora Enclosed Fly Bridge

We were also tasked with creating the architectural detailing of the yacht interior, as well as the built-in custom furniture design and all of the contemporary styled loose custom furniture throughout. To keep the tone comfortable and sophisticated, we implemented a variety of exotic woods and carved details, including rich American cherry joinery with burl and walnut accents, a variety of unique marble and onyx, and mosaic stonework. A combination of polished chrome and satin nickel details, hardware, and light fixtures was implemented to balance the blend of modern and classic styling.

120′ Nordhavn Aurora Design Details

120′ Nordhavn Aurora Starboard Foyer Design Details

120′ Nordhavn Aurora Master Head

Another specific request of the owners was a neutral backdrop with colors to be brought in with art and accessories.

We continued the comfortable and sophisticated theme through the main deck and in the sky lounge. The sky lounge had an especially inviting informality ideal for playing cards at the leather-topped, nickel accented, walnut game table or watching a movie while lounging on the sumptuous caramel-colored leather sofa.

120′ Nordhavn Aurora Main Salon

120′ Nordhavn Aurora Sky Lounge

Because the owners are also wine and coffee enthusiasts, both the bar on the main deck and the marble-topped bar in the sky lounge were fitted with refrigerator drawers, wine coolers, ice makers and whole bean/ground coffee systems with warming drawers.

 In the lower deck staterooms we continued the attention to entertaining by incorporating refreshment areas with Nespresso machines and refrigerator drawers in each of the guest foyers.

120′ Nordhavn Aurora Main Salon

120′ Nordhavn Aurora Forward Guest Foyer

120′ Nordhavn Aurora Aft Guest Foyer

Shoji screens in the guest staterooms filter natural light from the windows and neutral fabric panels call attention to the rich cherry wainscoting. Simple yet elegant Italian linens topped by custom embroidered duvets created luxury bedding which replaced the typical quilted bedspreads that once were the standard in yacht interiors.

120′ Nordhavn Aurora Guest Stateroom

120′ Nordhavn Aurora Master Stateroom

Working with such experienced owner/operators who easily communicated their needs made the Aurora project one of my favorites – and one that was recognized by the yachting industry as a finalist in the prestigious World Superyacht Awards and The International Yacht & Aviation Awards.

Our clients appreciated the harmony and balance of the yacht interior design and functionality and encouraged us to push the envelope – particularly when it came to space planning challenges. The result is a beautiful yacht aboard which the owners accompanied the crew on the shakedown cruise, making the long Trans-Pacific journey from the Nordhavn yard in China to Vancouver, Canada, before setting off on adventures of their own.

To read about more of our yacht interior projects that have become finalist in various prestigious awards, check out the following!

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About the Author

About the Author

Destry Darr Pethtel is an award-winning interior designer based in Florida. Her designs have been featured in several luxury yacht publications such as Showboats, Boat International, Yachts International, Yachting, Luxe Magazine to name just a few! Read More About Destry >>

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