When Styles Collide – Converting a Yacht Interior to Match Your Design Style Copy

You know what your design style is. But the yacht you’ve just purchased is far from it. What do you do when your yacht’s interior does not reflect your design style?

Sure, it’s easy to say, let’s gut the whole boat to achieve your design style. With an unlimited budget it’s certainly an easy solution. However, most design projects come with a sensible budget that requires a bit of repurposing and creative thinking to achieve your design style. In these cases, working with a versatile interior designer is a must.



Aboard the 112′ Westport Hannah, we painted the yacht’s original orange-toned cherrywood in white and gray paints – some satin pearlescent and some high-gloss metallic. Other areas were re-veneered using gray-toned woods. We based the design on a very clean palette of neutral colors with moody deep blues and soft cerulean blues paired with different shades of whites and grays. This, coupled with an exceptional new lighting package specified by the owner, brightened the interior significantly for a truly contemporary result.

Rule No. 1 Main Salon

At the same time, there may be an interior element, such as woodwork, that has been well maintained and would be very expensive to completely replace. In the case of the refit aboard the 130′ Westport Rule No. 1, we decided that the yacht’s original Sapele wood was in great condition and, although darker than the owners would like, we would lighten up the interior in other ways.


We first changed the wall material throughout to a white material with a very light texture. We then brought in light-toned wood and various materials and furniture that matched the California Casual design style and replaced the heavy furniture with all new furniture, artwork and accessories for a sophisticated vibe that is still casual.


What happens if your design style is more traditional than modern? Or, if the yacht’s originally contemporary interior is now itself dated? One of our more exciting projects was the refit of the 142′ Christensen, Lady Bee. Built in 1995, this yacht boasted a very contemporary interior for its time, with high-gloss ebony, large jeweled hardware and angular edges. To minimize the Sci-Fi-esque feel and give the yacht a more luxurious, traditional style that suited our client, we changed the high-gloss ebony to a satin finish, switched the metal for maple inlays on the cabinetry and doors for more of a traditional look and changed the hardware throughout.

In the staterooms, we rerouted the A/C vents and redesigned the drop soffits above the beds to remove the angular look, removed the extra mirrors in the bathrooms and replaced the Roman shades throughout with drapery. The result was a truly sumptuous yacht that suited our clients’ request for traditional luxury.


Then there are those yachts that display someone else’s personal design touches that most certainly do not fit your design style. What is one client’s haven of comfort can be another client’s salon of horrors. These projects can actually be great fun, because they are full of little quirks and unique discoveries that keep both designer and client challenged throughout the process.

My clients purchased the 144′ Heesen Yacht Castlefinn sight unseen, which is not unusual in a hot boat market. The yacht was in fabulous condition and was a pedigreed build, so it was well valued. The interior was well maintained and in good shape. It did, however, have a very strong Western motif implemented throughout, which was not to our clients’ tastes. So, when Castlefinn arrived at Bradford Marine, we set about eliminating or toning down the cow-hide vibe and quirky accessories in the main areas.

In every yacht refit, we usually either re-upholster or swap out the furniture. Aboard this yacht, however, very high end orange-toned Italian leatherwork had been incorporated into certain areas such as the chair backs and legs, forward bulkhead and cabinet details. We didn’t want to change the furniture completely due to lead times and costs involved. Nor did we want to reupholster these leather frames, so we decided to work with them and brought a bit of the orange tone in with  complementary materials and colors

We also faced a bit of a challenge with items such as the custom drum shades over the dining table that were installed to be somewhat permanent, but we were able to source a custom shade manufacturer who could make new drum shades for us.

Of course, if a yacht features the previous owners’ signature logo or initials – such as in the custom entry foyer carpet – it’s best to swap that out for something more true to your personal design style!

Remember, when your yacht does not reflect your design style, there is not necessarily the need to completely gut the interior and start over. If you’re constrained by time or budget, working with a talented and experienced yacht designer will be a fun and exciting project as you think creatively about what to keep, what not to keep, what to change and where to innovate.

Read more about properly executing your design style in my blog post, Striking a Balance Between Design and Desire.

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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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