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Published: Friday, September 3, 2010, 11:38 a.m.

See sleek, modern houseboat on Seattle Floating Homes Tour

  • The master bathroom, separating the master bedroom from the office or guest room, is on the first level of Jessica and Kevin Vanderzanden's Seattle ho...

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    The master bathroom, separating the master bedroom from the office or guest room, is on the first level of Jessica and Kevin Vanderzanden's Seattle houseboat.

  • The master bedroom, on the lower level, gives the feeling of sleeping directly on the water.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    The master bedroom, on the lower level, gives the feeling of sleeping directly on the water.

  • The east wall of the upper-level living area was built for a colorful piece of art and the cabinets specially made for the wine cooler (far right).

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    The east wall of the upper-level living area was built for a colorful piece of art and the cabinets specially made for the wine cooler (far right).

  • The view from the dining area looks north and east toward Gas Works Park.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    The view from the dining area looks north and east toward Gas Works Park.

  • Kevin Vanderzanden brings a stick for his dog, Sandy, as they walk to the end of the dock.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Kevin Vanderzanden brings a stick for his dog, Sandy, as they walk to the end of the dock.

  • The kitchen cabinets are made of teak and the countertops are white resin.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    The kitchen cabinets are made of teak and the countertops are white resin.

  • The top level of the houseboat is a 500-square-foot deck. Looking north, you can see the houseboat from the movie "Sleepless In Seattle."

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    The top level of the houseboat is a 500-square-foot deck. Looking north, you can see the houseboat from the movie "Sleepless In Seattle."

  • Rust bumps add texture and a ripple effect to the water feature wall in the entry.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Rust bumps add texture and a ripple effect to the water feature wall in the entry.

  • The exterior of Jessica and Kevin Vanderzanden's new houseboat is made of steel and wood. The 1,600-square-foot home features modern design inside and...

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    The exterior of Jessica and Kevin Vanderzanden's new houseboat is made of steel and wood. The 1,600-square-foot home features modern design inside and out.

A mosaic of light dances across the bedroom ceiling in Jessica and Kevin Vanderzanden's new houseboat.
The shimmering reflections off Lake Union are a constant reminder that their home floats gently above the water.
"It's fantastic having the water just inches away," Jessica Vanderzanden said.
Like many details in the sparkling 1,600-square-foot modern home, the light show was a pleasant surprise the couple only discovered after moving in last April, she said.
They also weren't expecting the view of Gas Works Park from the dining room, or just how well a contemporary home with right angles built of rusted steel, stained wood and floor-to-ceiling windows would blend in at the dock it shares with shingled cottages and traditional houseboats.
Inside "everything is light and bright," Kevin Vanderzanden said.
The Vanderzanden houseboat is among the dozen that will open its doors to visitors on Sept. 12 during this year's Seattle Floating Homes Tour, a benefit for the Seattle Floating Homes Association.
If "Sleepless in Seattle" had been filmed today instead of in the early 1990s, the Vanderzandens' home would have been seen two docks away from Tom Hanks' floating bachelor pad. In fact, the producers might have selected their home instead to film the houseboat-bound love story. It's very cool.
Everything in the Vanderzandens' home is clean, simple and modern. The walls are painted white, the floor is concrete, the countertops are a high-tech composite of white resin, the cabinets are handsome teak. The lighting on the entire second floor -- a one-room living, dining, entertainment center and kitchen -- is controlled by a single programmable light switch.
Portland architect Mark VanerZanden, Kevin's brother, designed the home to be functional and sleek.
"Everything is garaged," Jessica Vanderzanden said. "Everything is stowed."
There's no clutter. The counters are bare, even in the bathroom. All the stuff has a home inside cabinets where space is efficiently doled out.
"One of the things this house demands is minimalism," she said.
The living space is on the second floor while two bedrooms and two baths occupy the first level. The third level, an open-air roof deck, commands breathtaking views of Lake Union. It's almost like visitors can reach out and grab hold of the floatplanes as they buzz away.
Space is maximized wherever possible. A narrow toilet makes the guest bath seem that much bigger.
The couple started life together in a 4,000-square-foot home, then downsized to a 1,000-square-foot apartment before moving a few years ago to the dock and cramming their things and Sandy, a 10-year-old Lab, into a floating shack with a mere 500 square feet.
Then, in April, they moved the shack away to be replaced by the new home. (It was built in Ballard and carefully floated into place.)
They're still adjusting to the size but say they love living on the water. A small tender waits outside. The little boat quickly ferries them to their 46-foot power boat moored nearby, and they even use the dinghy to get to restaurants around Lake Union.
Sorry, dinghy owners, all visitors during the tour will be required to arrive by land.
What they'll see in the Vanderzandens' home is unlike any of the other homes on the lake.
That's exactly how Jessica Vanderzanden wanted it.
"I didn't want to see anything in the house that's been done and overdone," she said.
Take the houseboat tour
The Seattle Floating Homes Association biennial Seattle Floating Homes Tour is scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 12. The self-guided walking tour includes 12 homes on the east and west sides of Lake Union in Seattle.
Free espresso drinks and restroom facilities will be provided. Tickets are $25, plus fees, and are available at www.brownpapertickets.com, by calling 800-838-3006, or at 220 Nickerson St., Fremont, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Capacity is limited and advance purchase is recommended.
Admission includes shuttle bus transportation between Fairview and Westlake avenues, and transportation by electric boat between the east and west shores of the lake.
Comfortable, slip-on shoes are strongly recommended as no shoes are allowed in the homes. There are stairs and uneven surfaces on some of the docks. No backpacks or strollers will be allowed in the homes. Tickets are required for all ages, except babies in arms.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Floating Homes Association. For more information, see www.seattlefloatinghomes.org or call 206-323-3489.
Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3447; jholtz@heraldnet.com.







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