We’ve heard it told a thousand times by now. The younger generation won’t ever be able to afford to buy a home because of rising house prices. That was the case for young Tash Littleford and her boyfriend Lee Stone, who found themselves priced out of the housing market. So they decided to take matters into their own hands.
Rather than throwing their money down the drain by renting for the rest of their lives, they decided to buy a rundown houseboat that most people would have just overlooked. In the end, they transformed it both inside and out and designed it to be their ultimate dream home. But there was a surprise waiting for Tash right at the end of their houseboat project.
British Couple Just Wanted To Buy a Home Together
Tash Littleford and her boyfriend Lee Stone both knew they wanted to settle down somewhere, but they couldn’t afford any house the way the property market currently is. They’re from the UK and were living in Solihull, Birmingham at the time. They absolutely loved it there, but simply couldn’t afford to buy in such a nice area.
They were spending over $1,000 a month on rent and it felt like they were just pouring all their money down the drain. With Tash being 31 years of age and Lee being 38, they didn’t want to waste any more time and money not having a place of their own to settle down in. But in finding a solution, they needed to think outside the box.
They Loved This Rural Town But House Prices Were Too High
“One day we were walking the dogs down the Stratford canal and Lee jokingly suggested we live on a boat. This spurred me on to actually look into how people go about buying boats,” Tash recalled. The only problem was neither of them knew much about it: “We were completely clueless; in fact, I had only been on a narrowboat on two occasions in my life for day hires.”
Solihull is bursting with nature and has many gorgeous lakes. Tash and Lee were both open to the idea of living on a boat, but they would be taking a huge risk. Nonetheless, they found it was within their budget, and it allowed them to live in the little town of their dreams. All they needed now was one they could actually afford to buy.
For Less Than $30,000 They Bought a Rundown Boat That Could Dock In Their Dream Location
Tash and Lee ended up finding a rundown narrowboat, just 54 feet long and six feet wide, on sale for a little less than $30,000. They decided to dive into the deep and get it, with Lee taking charge of the renovation work and Tash taking control over the interior design.
They worked together to create a plan and a sketch of just how they were going to tackle this project and shared it with their friends and family on Instagram. They wrote: “The next adventure awaits…” and they certainly had their work cut out for them. “Aesthetically the boat was in very poor condition – a bad paint job all over, rust and very old, tatty interior.”
This Cruiser Style Houseboat Needed a Lot of Work Done To It
But it wasn’t all bad. “The structure was actually good, the hull [metal] was really thick, which shows there had been no corrosion,” they later revealed. “This particular boat stood out to us because it’s a cruiser style, meaning it has more outdoor space and it was within budget and as the interior was quite basic, it looked easy enough to rip out.”
They didn’t know how long the process would take them, but they were keen to get started and would use all the free time they had. Eventually, they posted this photo on social media: “Progress. We’ve been working every weekend for 2 months… can’t wait for it to finally be done.”
They Were Tackling All the Plumbing Themselves
It wasn’t until their 11th week of working on the houseboat that they could start fitting in all the plumbing. First, they installed a generous sink in what would be their kitchen space. The following week they brought in a shower unit – a small corner shower was all they’d need in their cozy home.
“Renovation weekend 12: The shower’s in,” they let their followers know. A toilet was another big task, but they’d have to wait another week to try and get that sorted out. “We can’t go to the loo… Or even sit down anywhere… But we can now tell the time,” they wrote on Instagram, as even though they hadn’t brought a toilet, they had just bought a new clock! Tash couldn’t help but start her decorating early…
Finally, They Bring a Toilet on the Boat!
In their third month, they finally brought a toilet on board! As you can see from the photo, they were also busy working on the interior structure of the boat. They wanted to have a divider between the main living room/kitchen space, and the place they would sleep.
And squeezed before their bedroom would be their shower and toilet. It was a tight fit, and not a lot of legroom, but they would get all the space they need in nature. This boat was meant to cater to their needs and be a comfortable place the rest their heads at night. Even so, it was taking a lot of work.
The Layout Was Going To Be Simple Be But Effective
As we can see from this photo, they had made a lot of progress in building the interior walls. Right at the back, they would have their cozy bedroom nook, located next to the door that leads to the front of the boat. There’s nothing like rolling out of bed in the morning and walking straight onto the deck for some fresh air.
Wedged between the two new wall dividers would be their shower and toilet set up and after that the living room space with a couch. They even planned on making space for their dog Arlo’s bed, which would go right next to the sitting area. With the right interior design choices, they were hoping it wouldn’t be too cramped.
Now They Have a Door They Can Also Have a Little Space From Each Other
A little while later, and they had all the walls up. Not only that, but Lee was busy fixing a door between the living spaced and the toilet/shower area. Tash posted this photo to their joint Instagram and wrote “Proud of his door!” before joking “Finally, I can shut him down his end.”
But Tash had made an interior design choice. She painted the main spaces a sage green color, which complemented their natural environment perfectly. Along with a bunch of cedar and teak wood touches, the houseboat would feel super homey for their little family of three.
Their Pet Pooch Would Be Coming Aboard and He Needs To Get Used To It
Tash and Lee weren’t just building their dream home for themselves alone. They had the most adorable Spaniel called Arlo who would need the houseboat to meet his demands too. But first thing’s first – Arlo would need to get used to being on a boat and not freaking out when the engine’s running.
Tash and Lee slowly got him used to the boat, and even took little trips along the canal, gradually spending more time on the water. They wrote on Instagram: “Such a lovely couple of days cruising! Arlo’s finally starting to feel more comfortable with the running engine. Anyone else’s boat dogs not huge fans?”
There’s Nothing Like Calling Your Parents In For Some Free Labor
It was mainly Tash and Lee tending to the boat renovation. But from time to time they’d have a helping hand from family members who were generous enough to give them their time, and who wanted to see their project finished! Here, Lee and his dad tend to the exterior of the boat.
Tash wrote on Instagram: “Like father, like son!” and we can definitely see the resemblance. After all, Lee had to have gotten his DIY enthusiasm from somebody. Either way, thanks to the help from people like their parents, they were able to get things done quicker.
There’s Rust on the Roof But They Can’t Fix That Just Yet
Even though they had help from time to time, they kept encountering problems. Tash wrote: “Yes our roof is rusty, that’s this summer’s job,” after posting this cute photo of ducks on the roof of their boat. They were going to have to spread out some boat work for when the weather was better.
And since they’re living in northern England, it rains a fair amount. It was totally not possible to tend to their rusty roof during the winter, and trying to do it in the spring and summer months would be extra tough. Nonetheless, they had plenty of other jobs to be getting on with anyway!
This Boat Had a Deck That Held a Lot of Potential
One of the big deciding factors for Tash and Lee in choosing to buy this boat was to do with the outdoor space it came with. After all, it was a cruiser-style boat so its outdoor space was a big selling factor for them. It gave them space to breathe some fresh air or even just retreat to for a little bit of alone time.
They wanted to make a cute little balcony area for them to chill in, as well as provide Arlo with close access to an “outdoor” space. Here, we can see the deck still needs a lot of work done to it, but that wasn’t going to stop the boys from having some fun!
Come Sunshine and Rain, They Put In the Work
Whatever the weather, Tash and Lee would tend to their beloved houseboat. “We worked on the boat for five months through autumn and winter – which definitely slowed us down – we only had weekends to work on the renovation due to work,” they later explained.
They continued: “We always worked on the boat together, however, most of the initial work was lead by Lee – I had no idea how to build a studded wall or a door.” Tash knew her time to take control was yet to come, and just tried to be as useful as she could until that point. “So I basically did as I was told for the first stages of the renovation.”
Not Much Has Changed in 24 Years
Tash didn’t have the experience needed to take on the initial renovations, but she had been on a boat in her childhood and absolutely loved it. That’s what made her think this houseboat home they were creating could be the right choice for the adventurous and outdoorsy couple.
She posted this photo on Instagram, and captioned it: “Not much has changed in 24 years! Swipe for my first time on a narrowboat for my nan’s 70th birthday. Who would have thought I’d end up living on one!” Who knows – maybe if her grandmother hadn’t had a party on a boat that year, Tash wouldn’t have had the confidence to live in one.
Lee Has a Question for Tash That He’s Been Dying To Ask…
As they were nearing the date when they could move in full time to their houseboat, Lee had something on his mind. they had been dating for a while, but something felt like it was missing… he whisked her away for a relaxing weekend break and finally popped the question he had been dying to ask!
Tear-eyed, they took this photo at the location when Lee asked Tash to marry him. Of course, she said yes, and they went on Instagram to share the news. “Back home to the boat after a special week away,” they told their followers. We’re just glad the stresses of renovating a boat didn’t have a negative effect on them!
A Decision Was Made for Their Outdoor Space
As spring was approaching, they knew what they wanted to do with their little outdoor space. They decided to lay down some astroturf for dear Arlo, and soon enough it proved to be the right decision. Arlo loved the grassy texture, even if it wasn’t the real deal.
After all, there was plenty of real nature all around them – some artificial grass just made their lives 10 times easier. Tash and Lee wrote on Instagram: “Back home with our boy who’s loving the bit of artificial grass we’ve put down on the deck!” Their houseboat was turning into the perfect little home for Arlo.
Pinterest Played a Big Part In Helping Tash Get Inspired
In the fifth month, it was time for Tash to take control of the interior design. All the building work had been completed, and now they needed a cohesive design that was both comfortable and practical. “The interior design was down to me,” Tash explained.
“Thankfully Lee was happy to just let me run with it. I spent a lot of time on Pinterest,” she revealed. And what she came up with was a mix of different styles. There was a cottage-vibe to their interior, but also a sleek and minimalist look which suited a small plate perfectly.
There Are Scandinavian Touches All Over Around the Houseboat
For their kitchen, Tash was inspired by the Scandinavian design she had come across online. They had fitted a stove and a breakfast bar into their kitchen space, and it didn’t feel too cramped whatsoever. This is surprising, considering the actual size of the boat.
“I have had people say to me ‘Oh it’s bigger than I thought it would be’ which I take as a compliment as it’s only 54ft long, ” Tash later revealed. She continued: “We didn’t want our boat to feel claustrophobic. Even though the space is small, I wanted it to feel quite open.”
Slow Decorating Leads To Wiser Design Choices
This before and after just goes to show that some well-thought-out furniture choices won’t necessarily close a space up. By adding the breakfast bar, they created a sleek surface to eat from, work, from, and anything else. And it definitely looks better with the extra tabletop space than without it.
This houseboat actually helped Tash and Lee realize that they don’t need an awful lot of “things” to live a happy and content life. “My biggest concern when buying a boat was space, [I thought] ‘where would my clothes go?’ but you soon come to realize how little you actually need,” Tash explained.