4 ways to maximise your yacht's interior spaces

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Soft colours and wide windows

_Trident_ uses softer colours and wide windows to make spaces seem more expansive

Spaciousness at sea is much like spaciousness on land: it’'s a feeling, an experience, not measurable in square footage. When we’'re feeling cramped, space is a good thing. When we'’re feeling isolated and disconnected, a football field of interior space can feel vacuous. At that point, we seek out a small, intimate space that makes us feel more at home.

The challenge for designers of superyachts is to make what feels too small feel bigger and vice versa without resorting to drastic measures. Huge open plan living spaces with cavernous ceiling heights are common on land, but despite some yacht designers finding ways to extend ceiling height, the fact remains that the standard measure of motor yacht overheads is less than eight feet.

However, there are many ways to extend space and make superyacht interiors feel bigger, despite the comparatively low ceilings.

The Donald Starkey designed interior on Trident, a 65 metre Feadship, features softer colours and wide windows to make spaces seem more expansive, as strong colours and a lack of natural light can make places appear small.

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The right mix of muted and strong colours

_Marie's_ interior uses muted colours, but stronger colours are used to deliver more impact in some areas

"In the end, it’'s all a matter of comfort,"’ says Manhattan-based architect David Easton, who, in partnership with Hoek Design, is responsible for the interior of  Marie’, a 54.8 metre  Vitters sailing yacht launched in 2010.

‘"The key to making a small space large is not only a sense of scale, it’'s giving that scale a sense of excitement,"’ explained Easton. ‘"Soften the upholstery fabrics so they blend in with the surrounding walls. I prefer neutrals. They'’re less jarring to the eye.’ Too many jarring contrasts and interruptions make a small space cramped."

But a few strategic breaches on Marie do catch the eye, contributing to the excitement.

"‘Colourful paintings and pillows provide the accents,’" explains Easton. ‘"Mirrors on side panels bring the outside in, expanding the space. Think of the furniture pieces as sculpture. When they’'re resting directly on the floor they will feel heavy. You can get them to ‘float’ by putting them on legs. Let air surround them. A blue-tinted ceiling enhances the ‘float’ upwards. Eighteen inches is the usual seating height. Scaling furniture back to 17 inches high makes a big difference, though not noticeable.

_‘"Marie’'_s anigre wood walls are a light, warm colour blending in with the floating of the ceiling and even the floors," continues Easton. "However, none of the colours are an exact match. We also pushed the deck open at one point to alleviate the ceilings being low at all points. In the salon you can look up into that heightened space. And downstairs it looks double height.’"

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Scaled down furniture

_Ninkasi_ uses scaled-down furniture and glossy finishes to help make her rooms seem bigger than they are

"Most furniture is oversized these days,’" says Newport-based designer Candace Langan. ‘"On Ninkasi, the owner’'s wife and I ordered custom pieces scaled back to standard size and that worked.’"

The 42 metre Ninkasi was launched in 2010 as Calliope by Holland Jachtbouw and features design by Langan'’s late husband, the celebrated naval architect Bill Langan.

Langan, like Easton, used lighter colours combined with light carpets and lots of natural light. And just as mirrors expand the apparent size of the room, reflecting the outside in, she used high-gloss reflective finishes to add light. In concert with those mirror-like effects, Ninkasi has nested twin spiral staircases that serve as light wells through all three decks.

Photo courtesy of Nicolas Claris

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Glass instead of walls

_Attessa IV_ uses mirrors, glass walls and a spiral staircase to create the illusion of space within the yacht

Interior designer Glade Johnson, based in Bellevue, Washington, had the perfect solution for low ceilings on board the largest yacht ever launched or re-launched in North America.

"‘We got rid of the walls as much as we could,’" said Johnson of the 100 metre  Attessa IV, which uses glass in lieu of walls.

‘"But this takes a lot of planning with the shipyard," added Johnson. "Not only to use glass, but to make the glass itself disappear. Not every yard likes doing this. But they need to create a channel to hold the glass built right into the superstructure. It’ is installed before the floor is installed. Once the glass is secure at the bottom of the bulwark, the floor plane seems to pass right through to the outside.

‘"With granite or some similar material on the deck as well as bordering the interior space, that wall-free, expansive feeling is multiplied once more," explained Johnson. "The only thing left to consider is the safety issue of people walking into glass, which can be solved by etching.

‘"If you stand at the entry point on the boat deck, you can see through the glass wall across the foyer past the central staircase, through the opposite glass wall to the exterior handrail. Beyond that there’'s the horizon,’" said Johnson. ‘"If you were to look down at the boat plan, you would see that the glass enclosing the foyer staircase actually curves inward. This alone added two-and-a-half feet of deck space to the terraces. But at the same time, the glass had the effect of making the interior volume feel larger."

"Glass walls are just one way to extend space," added Johnson. "For example, mirrors running all the way to the ceiling cause that ceiling to feel like it’s continuing ad infinitum. Frame the same mirror and it stops. Mirrors from ceiling all the way to the floor have the effect of expanding the entire room into the next."

Attessa IV was originally built by Hayashikane in 1999 but underwent a masterful rebuild and was re-launched by the Washington Yachting Group in Vancouver in 2010.

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