The 12 Most Essential Narrowboat Storage Solutions

Narrowboats are renowned for their picturesque looks and quintessentially British appearance, but that's from the outside! On the inside, they're not exactly renowned for having much space. Unless you're lucky enough to own a widebeam narrowboat, it's time to get creative with your storage solutions.

Fortunately, we've done all the hard work for you. Below is a list of our favourite narrowboat storage hacks to keep your boat as spacious as possible.

Whether you're living on your narrowboat full-time or enjoying a short-term holiday, you can use these ideas to utilise every inch of room.


1. Hang it up

Narrowboats have a lot less floor space to work with, so space savers like hooks can be invaluable. Fitting hooks to your walls and ceiling will allow you to store heavier items like pots and pans while freeing up some vital room in your cupboards and drawers.

As well as pots and pans, you could try hanging kitchen utensils or mugs, too. It's a great way to add a little height to your space, and you can create your own style.

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Hooks are one of the best storage space savers on your narrowboat, and theyre pretty cheap to install. All you need to do is fix a bar to your wall or ceiling, hang some hooks from it, and you're good to go.

If you don't want your pots and pans on display, it's worth investing in some compact pans with removable handles so they can neatly stack inside one another. If you can find some with collapsing lid handles, too, then you're onto a winner.


2. Use up dead space

It doesn't matter whether you're living in a house or on a narrowboat there'll almost always be some dead space you can make use of. For example, utilising the space inside your kitchen cabinet doors to hold spice racks is a little thing that can make a really big difference.

You should also be making the most of your wall space. Maximising this space can free up considerable floor and storage space that you can use for other things. This can go way beyond putting up a shelf or two.

Using wall pockets, for example, is a great way to tidy up your space. You could even get creative and make your own if you have a sewing machine!


3. DIY shoe racks

Using that dead space on your walls is an interesting and easy way to store your shoes.

All you need to do is attach some form of a pole to the wall of your narrowboat, and your shoes will slot in neatly. A towel rail will do the trick, as you need something that sits a little further out. Check out this post for some DIY inspiration:


4. Expand your shelving

Most narrowboats are likely to have at least a couple of shelves on their walls. Still, they often don't have more than two at a time, and you want to use this vital wall space in every way you can.

The wall space above your head is probably one of the least used parts of your narrowboat, so why not put some high shelves up? Fixing shelves to the top of your wall around the whole room can help you make space for decor and personal items without compromising the essentials.

You could get some picture frames up there, or even some hanging plants (which are on-trend right now), to make the place your own.

Another way to make good use of shelves is to install a floor-to-ceiling shelving unit or two. You could use it to store kitchenware like glasses, plates, and bowls or use it for condiments, spices, and books. Or all of the above!

You could also use expandable shelves on top of surfaces to add a few more levels and increase space as and when you need it.


5. Boxes and bags

Storage boxes are a godsend on your narrowboat, and they can transform a cluttered corner into a neat and tidy area. They're great for keeping your space organised, and they can be a fun way to store bathroom belongings like towels, toiletries, and toilet roll.

You could also opt for a storage basket, maybe for your laundry or blankets. The best thing about using boxes and baskets is that you can choose what you love. They allow you to put your stamp on the inside of your narrowboat whilst still keeping that all-important small space organised.

Vacuum storage bags are also key space-savers for your narrowboat. Depending on what you're using them for, boxes and baskets might take up a little more space than they need to.

This is where storage bags come in handy. They can be squashed and squeezed, and they're particularly useful for storing things you don't need all the time. This could include bed linens, towels, or even your summer or winter clothes during the year.


6. Under the bed

Having a big bed on a narrowboat doesn't need to feel like a waste of space you just need to choose the right one. Or you could even take on the task of revamping the bed you already have, like @lifeonthelucky13 has:

If you can, choose a bed with storage underneath. This will prevent your bedroom from becoming too cluttered. Alternatively, you could opt for a higher bed with space underneath, which is a great way to put all your storage boxes to use. Try using some storage boxes with wheels underneath your bed this is the perfect space in which to store bulkier items like bedding and towels.

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If your bed is quite low down to the floor, it's worth trying to raise it as much as you can. This way, youll ensure you're taking advantage of every inch of space on your narrowboat.


7. Trap doors

Technically, this is just storage under your floorboards. But a trap door sounds much more exciting, right?

Depending on the size of your narrowboat, it may be possible to add some cubby holes to your floor. You could use the space to store things like books, shoes, or even have a built-in wine storage space! The space under your floor will stay cold all-year-round, so it's an ideal space in which to store wine bottles.

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8. Under the stairs

The stairs in your narrowboat might be more useful than you think. They're usually seen as nothing more than a necessity to get above and below deck. But, in fact, they're a hidden treasure when it comes to saving space.

You can transform your stairs into storage, utilising space that would otherwise be wasted.

There's a lot of different things you could do with your narrowboat stairs. For example, turn them into drawers. Another idea is to add shelves into your stairs, which might be perfect for storing books. You could even choose storage steps that are suited to storing bulkier items.


9. Invest in small appliances

While smaller appliances might be a little bit pricier, it's better to invest and save space in the long run.

A compact, hand-held hoover might be worth purchasing over a bulkier Henry hoover, for example. Some hoovers will even fix onto the wall, which eliminates the need to make space for them.

Similarly, small devices like a Kindle are great for saving space if you're a bookworm!

Although everyday kitchen appliances like microwaves, kettles, and toasters arent staple features of your narrowboat, it's possible to use alternatives. A small stovetop kettle will do the trick and help you save worktop space as it can be put away when out of use.

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Since you probably don't have room for loads of pots and pans either, it's worth cooking with some one-pot recipes. These kinds of meals are often only cooked on a hob, too.

It’s also a good idea to shop around before purchasing any appliances since electricity is gold dust on your canal boat. You might want to have a look at environmentally-friendly options, too.


10. Make use of your roof

If you think you've filled every spare bit of space inside your narrowboat, there's absolutely no reason to stop there. The roof will likely have plenty of space that you could be using up for storage.

Roof boxes are an ideal addition to your narrowboat, and you won't even notice they're there. You can store whatever you fancy in them, and they come in a huge range of sizes and materials. Just bear in mind that you need them to be shallow - storage is important, but so is being able to travel under bridges!

You could also opt for solar panels that are installed on top of your roof boxes. This will save you a lot of money on electricity in the long run, and it's much more environmentally friendly.


11. Use the deck in winter

If your narrowboat is moored up in the winter months, you can maximise storage space by using the deck.

Purchasing a canopy for your narrowboat is a fast and simple way to gain up to 20 square feet of extra space in winter.

While a durable and high-quality canopy costs a fair amount of money  to buy, it's a worthwhile investment. A high-quality canopy will not only keep your belongings safe, itll last for years.

The cost of a narrowboat canopy can vary - most companies offer bespoke measurements to fit perfectly. Different boats need different covers, so be sure to check what kind of canopy you need first.

It's also pretty handy to have on board should you get caught in the rain. You can still easily protect your items without rushing to drag everything inside.


12. Declutter!

This might be an obvious tip, but decluttering is a method thats often overlooked.

Keeping on top of what you need on your narrowboat will ensure that youre only storing the most essential items on-board. You might have to be a bit brutal here, but this approach will pay off in the long run.

Our advice is if you haven't used an item in the last six months to a year, chuck it overboard (not in the literal sense). One person's trash is another's treasure, so keep in mind the people you could pass things on to. You could make some extra money by selling items online or donate your unwanted items to a charity shop.  

Keeping your narrowboat free of clutter and unused items will always help to maximise space along the way.


Specialist narrowboat insurance from Ripe Boats

Now that you’ve taken our essential narrowboat storage tips on board, we have one final piece of advice – make sure you get specialist narrowboat insurance if you don’t already have it.

Ripe Boats offers specialist narrowboat insurance to cover your narrowboat against theft and damage and protect your liability if you cause damage to another boat, someone else’s property or injure another person. 

What’s more, if you’re using an inland waterway, ‘YouGov’ advises that you must have a minimum of £1 million Third Party Liability. If you don’t have the right insurance, you could be prosecuted or fined.

All of these examples show why specialist narrowboat insurance is so important. Get an online quote today and find out for yourself how Ripe Boats can protect you.

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