There’s more to interior design and decorating than selecting cushions. As tastes, technology and materials change, interior experts are worth their weight in gold and can save you lots of anguish and money in the long run.
Sarah Egan, founder and director of Boat Style, has been designing and managing refits, revamps and new builds on land and sea for over 20 years.
In her opinion, “a good yacht interior designer should lead a client to good choices”.
The most cost-effective method is to engage the interior designer at the initial planning stage to work with the architect and builder throughout the entire process. The result is a more seamless, practical space that ticks all the boxes of the original brief and exceeds an owner’s expectations.
“Working with clients from the outset avoids costly mistakes and can greatly reduce maintenance costs,” says Sarah.
For example, a wall lined in animal skin might seem like the epitome of luxury but spare a thought for the conditions of a sea environment and what would be required for the crew to care for it.
“It’s doubly important if your yacht is in charter and has to stand up to constant client usage,” Sarah advises.
As Sarah explains: “All decisions about surfaces, fabrics and fittings must be weighed up against how an owner will use the space and the environmental factors such as climate, light exposure and moisture. Because I work with manufacturers and brands all over the world, I have access to the latest, high-tech materials and décor products that are specifically designed for yachts.”
Boat Style’s design service is tailored to the client’s individual needs. “We aim to eliminate the time and rigmarole of sourcing, designing, manufacturing and installing.”
Her method is precise and rigorous, with budget and lifestyle parameters in mind. “I take a holistic approach to each space. How will it look, how will it be used by the end user, how will it be maintained? Private use yacht or charter, relaxation or formal entertainment, crew hours required to maintain it?
Sarah believes boats are a sanctuary, and for an owner, the journey begins from the moment they set foot onboard. “It’s my role to interpret the owner or architect’s vision to bring a sense of harmony, comfort and function to each space. I spend time with the crew whose job it is to look after the vessel, not only when the owner is onboard, but when they are ashore.”
The praise from those who’ve worked with her, clients and builders, is testament to Sarah’s flair and foresight. They are unanimous on her commitment to thoroughly understanding a brief, and scouring the world to source products to fulfil it.
On a recent refit project, Sarah worked closely with owner, Michelle to update her Sunseeker Manhattan 64, Fox Sea Lady.
“I wanted a very luxurious interior that could withstand the kind of usage we put it through!” says Michelle, an avid angler who says “boating and fishing are my main hobby, my escape from an intense business life”.
“We use the boat for relaxation, so we don’t want heaps of upkeep. We have two teenagers and their entourage of friends, we love entertaining and we wanted to create a casual, laid-back style that was still able to convey luxury and quality.”
Sarah spent four weeks with Michelle going over every facet of the brief and viewing samples. “It was a big project,” says Michelle. ”There was a stateroom, guest suite and twin rooms, as well as the saloon and two on-deck entertainment areas and I wanted a fine dining area as well.”
The furnishings and fabrics had to be “hardy and heavy duty” says Michelle. “I like to fish offshore, so ornaments have to be beautiful and well secured to handle the swell!”
Sarah surprised Michelle with a palette and products that delivered the sophisticated, classic theme, in a style that wouldn’t date.
“She chose beautiful fabrics, gorgeous ornaments. I’m not into florals, but Sarah convinced me to incorporate some palm trees motifs with solid colours and it all worked superbly. Also, everything had to be UV and teen-proof!”
Ultra-light-weight composites that are durable and comparable to luxury home furnishings and fittings are at the core of modern yacht interior design.
“High performance, versatile textiles such as Sunbrella fabrics are at the forefront,” asserts Sarah. “This generation of UV-resistant fabrics can be used inside and out, and boast a range of beautiful textures and unrivalled durability. I offer the largest range of high performance fabrics and products in the Pacific region.”
Simon Gatliff, Marketing & Sales Manager for Glen Raven International (Sunbrella), has worked with Sarah for six years and says her real gift is combining an artistic sense with “forensic depth of product knowledge”.
“The incredible thing about Sarah is she goes to great lengths to find out what the client wants, she has the artistic side covered and then goes in to extraordinary lengths to source products.”
Gatliff continues: “Sunbrella is a very versatile product. It is 100 percent solution-dyed acrylic, which gives it superior performance characteristics in the marine environment. Sarah sources things from Sunbrella that I don’t even know about – like Sunbrella rugs – that will perform in a marine environment, but give the owners the same aesthetic as in their luxury home.”
An experienced yachtie from an avid sailing family, Sarah is committed to the ethos of enduring quality. “Great design is forever is the philosophy I live by. For me, it goes beyond a job, it’s my calling. Each project is my referral for the next and I take pride in that.”
And while the nautical themes of the past are no longer de rigeur, Sarah believes it’s important to create a palette that draws from the yacht’s natural surroundings – the ocean.
“While the trend is to create sophisticated, New York-style interiors, my preference is to infuse ocean themes, colours, textures and patinas to a client’s brief. Layering similar shades of colour can bring a sense of calm to a space. I vary textures on walls, floors, fittings and soft furnishings to give depth and interest to the design.
“I am a believer in using accent colours that can be found in nature, such as aqua, sapphire blue and sea green tones and the oranges and ochre of the sunsets you only see on the water. The effect of light must always be considered. Onboard, sun and reflection can turn a beautiful colour into a sickly shade.
“This is where your designer comes in, to help you get it right, first time, every time!”