Sausalito-based architect David Spurgeon specializes in handcrafted design, and his resume sits bobbing on the water at the end of Liberty Dock. Spurgeon built the houseboat he lives in by hand from 2002 to 2005, and it's one of the most impressive homes in the community of unique and eccentric floating homes just a few miles north of San Francisco. The energy-efficient, two-story houseboat is designed to adapt to whatever the weather brings. On a warm day, the house opens up to the outdoors, but in the cooler winter months it can be buttoned up tight to keep cold air out.
The history of Sausalito’s houseboat community dates back to the late 19th century, when wealthy San Franciscans would keep floating holiday homes in Marin County. But after the devastating 1906 earthquake, some of the homes became permanent residences. The community gained a reputation as an eccentric bohemian enclave characterized by loud music and public nudity in the 1960s, and since then it has evolved into an eclectic mix of floating structures—some of them valued at more than $1 million.
The Liberty Dock houseboat was included in the slate of homes featured in this year’s Marin Living: Home Tours, which was hosted by AIA San Francisco and the Center for Architecture + Design. The houseboat is located at the end of a long dock, which is completely covered in flowering plants and potted succulents. Spurgeon built the entire two-story houseboat by hand, beginning construction about a decade ago. “I wanted to see what it would take for one person to build it,” he told visitors. The result is very impressive.
Although anyone can visit the houseboat community and walk the docks, the Home Tours provide a unique glimpse inside one of the more unique structures on the harbor. The front door opens into a large, modern kitchen with barstool seating and contemporary appliances. An open floorplan on the upper floor flows into the living room and out onto the rear deck, which looks out on Richardson Bay. Spurgeon used glue-laminated wood framing and corrugated metal siding to build the structure of the boat. Inside, he used recycled wood trim to create some beautiful warm accents.
The master bedroom is located on the lower level, along with a smaller guest bedroom, and a full bathroom with a shower. For a bath, Spurgeon must head outside to the lower-level deck, where he installed a large metal tub. The passive solar structure enjoys plenty of natural light, and a clerestory on the second floor filters natural light into the lower level. Spurgeon installed a hydronic radiant heating system beneath the bamboo floors to heat the home in the winter.
All photos by Mark Andrew Boyer for Inhabitat. To view more photos of David Spurgeon’s houseboat, visit Inhabitat’s Flickr page.