Sailboat Interior Decorating: Ideas and How to Start


For those who love the boating lifestyle, there are inspiring new ideas for sailboat interior decorating. You no longer have to stick with the traditional navy blue and white, anchor and knotted rope, nautical design scheme. New materials and custom accessories can help you add your own personal touch to your sailboat cabin.

Sailboat Interior Decorating Basics

There are some common guidelines to follow when planning on how you want to decorate the interior of your sailboat. These considerations are the main differences between home decorating and boat decorating.

Use Waterproof or Water Resistant Materials

Everything from upholstery to electronics to flooring needs to be suitable for marine use. All areas of a boat can be subjected to over spray from water. Salt water is especially corrosive and can cause damage to materials and equipment. Starting with the proper kind of materials and equipment that can withstand constant exposure to water and dampness will save you time and money.

Avoid Fragile or Breakable Items

Another important factor to remember when planning your sailboat decorating scheme is that everything will be in motion. During a storm, this motion could get very intense. You will have to keep this in mind when choosing things like tableware. Your grandmother's expensive china would not be a good choice for your sailboat tableware. Avoid framing pictures and photos with glass. Use Plexiglass or a polycarbonate covering. Velcro hangers like the ones commonly used in RVs work well to hang lightweight wall decor.

How To Get Inspired

If you're not sure where to start, there are resources available that can help give you tips and ideas for specialized sailboat interior decorating. Sources for decorating ideas include:

  • Boating trade shows
  • Online forums for boating lifestyles
  • Trade magazines on sailing or boats
  • Books on decorating boat interiors
  • Marina Stores

Decorating Ideas

One of the first things you will need to decide is how much of a change you want to make to your sailboat's interior. This will depend a lot on your budget. Just like any home decorating project, figuring out your budget and how much you can comfortably afford to spend will help you decide how and where to start your sailboat make-over.


New upholstery for all seating and bedding cushions can make a dramatic difference to the boat's interior. If your budget allows, you can extend this to the seating on the exterior as well. Just make sure the fabric you choose is suitable for marine use and that it is mold and mildew resistant. Sunbrella has a line of marine suitable fabrics in many custom colors and textures.


Another big change idea is new flooring. Marine vinyl flooring is a good choice because it is designed to be extremely durable and weatherproof, as well as being able to withstand excessive water, oils and mildew. If you prefer carpet, a quality marine carpet will also look nice and is available in different colors. To install either marine vinyl or marine carpet, you will need to buy boat carpet and vinyl adhesive.

Window Treatments

New window coverings can make a vast improvement in your sailboat's interior. There are several options to choose from including mini blinds, drapes or curtains, blackout curtains and motorized shades. You can also choose from custom colors and materials to get the exact look and feel you want.


Adding accessories to your sailboat interior decorating scheme will help you bring it all together and accessories will help you add your own personal touch.

Decorative pillows in contrasting colors will make your new or old upholstery stand out. A decorative throw in the same material as the pillows helps add more texture and comes in handy for an afternoon nap indoors.

Marine LED marker lights are a great way to add extra light where you need it in areas such as stairways and access ways. You can get them in different colors and the LED bulbs are long lasting while also being energy efficient. The wiring is double insulated and the lights are waterproof and weather resistant.

Personalized accessories are a really fun way to add flair to your boat's decor. Unbreakable glasses, pitchers and other drink-ware made from Lexan ( a polycarbonate plastic) can be engraved with your sailboat's name and design. Another great accessory you can get embroidered with your boat's name is a nylon backed fleece blanket. The nylon backing protects against wind and moisture. The blanket comes with an attached elastic strap for easy rolling and storage. These personalized accessories and more can be found online at

Although you have to make allowances for the environment your sailboat has to withstand, there are plenty of options to keep your boat looking chic!

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Sailboat Interior Decorating: Ideas and How to Start