Couple transform run-down narrowboat into their dream home for £25,000

First-time buyers who couldn’t afford ‘expensive’ house prices but didn’t want to waste money on rent spend £25,000 buying and decorating a 54ft narrowboat

  • Tash Littleford, 31, and fiancé Lee Stone, 38, bought a narrowboat for £22,000 instead of buying a home
  • Tash, from Solihull, Birmingham, had only been on a narrowboat twice before they decided to move into one
  • The couple spent every weekend for five months renovating the run-down 54ft long, 6ft wide narrowboat 
  • They splashed out approximately £3,000 transforming the run-down narrowboat into their dream home
  • The couple are saving almost £5,000 on rent each year, including all mooring costs and their boat license

A couple spent £25,000 buying and transforming a run-down narrowboat into their dream home after being put off by expensive house prices and sky-high rent. 

Tash Littleford, 31, and fiancé Lee Stone, 38, wanted to continue to live in Solihull, Birmingham, but discovered they couldn’t afford a house and didn’t want to waste some £800 a month on rent. 

Instead the couple took the plunge and bought a 54ft long, 6ft wide narrowboat for £22,000, and spent £3,000 renovating it over five months. Lee took charge of the renovation while Tash oversaw the interior design. 

They estimate they spend £400 on marina costs, insurance and a boat license each month, roughly half of what their monthly outgoings would be renting a traditional flat.   

BEFORE: The couple bought a 54ft long, 6ft wide narrowboat for £22,000 instead of buying a house, and then spent around £3,000 on renovation. They needed to gut the interior (pictured) and start from scratch

AFTER: The couple added a modern interior, complete with a plush sofa, wall-mounted television and pastel colour scheme 


The couple, who live on the boat (left and right) full-time with their Sprocker Spaniel Arlo (right), said their family and friends have been mostly supportive of their lifestyle change

Tash and Lee (both pictured), bravely decided to renovate a narrowboat in October 2018, despite Tash having only ever been on one twice before


Tash explained that she didn’t want their boat to feel ‘claustrophobic’ as her biggest concern during the renovations (left and right) was the space 

Tash explained: ‘In 2018, we were saving for and looking into buying a house. Lee and I are both very “outdoorsy” and wanted to live in the rural outskirts of Solihull – but property in Solihull is expensive.

‘One day we were walking the dogs down the Stratford canal and Lee jokingly suggested we live on a boat. This spurred me on to actually look into how people go about buying boats.’

Tash admitted that she was ‘completely clueless’ when starting the project, saying she had no idea how mooring worked or how much the boat would even cost them.

But after doing research, Tash realised that buying a narrowboat was an affordable option for them and there were nearby marinas available for permanent moorings.

She continued: ‘I had no idea how much they cost, how moorings worked, rules and regulations of the canal.

The couple spent four days steering their boat down the rivers Severn and Avon to Lapworth Marina, where they are now based (pictured), and began renovating straight away


Their home (left, during renovation), which was completed in March 2018, now contains a stylish Scandi-inspired kitchen, complete with a stove and breakfast bar (right)

The newly renovated bathroom boasts a cassette toilet while the cozy bedroom has a plush double bed (pictured with Arlo sleeping)


The stunning kitchen was designed with a modern yet rustic feel, coming complete with a hob to ensure that the couple can make the narrowboat their full-time home

‘We were completely clueless; in fact, I had only been on a narrowboat on two occasions in my life for day hires.’

She added: ‘I discovered Whilton Marina in Daventry, where we visited on about four occasions to view various boats within our budget.’

Tash figured out that renting a two-bed apartment in Solihull would cost them around £800 a month, not including bills, whereas marina costs, insurance and a boat license totalled around £400 per month. 

Speaking about finding their boat, Tash explained: ‘On one visit, we found the perfect boat, went away to think about it as this was a huge decision for us and unfortunately it was sold within the next couple of days.

‘We got our boat for £22,000, soon after visiting Whilton Marina on four occasions and viewing various boats within our budget.

‘Aesthetically the boat was in very poor condition – a bad paint job all over, rust and very old, tatty interior.

‘However the structure was actually good, the hull (metal) was really thick, which shows there had been no corrosion.

‘This particular boat stood out to us because it’s a cruiser style, meaning it has more outdoor space and it was within budget and as the interior was quite basic, it looked easy enough to rip out.’

The couple spent four days steering their boat down the rivers Severn and Avon to Lapworth Marina, where they are now based, and began renovating straight away.

They spent ‘approximately £3,000’ overall on the transformation and worked on the boat every weekend for five months. 


The renovation (left, before renovation) lounge features a luxurious fireplace, cozy two-seater sofa and TV (right), while the bathroom boasts a cassette toilet and the bedroom has a plush double bed

The couple spent every weekend for five months renovating the run-down 54ft long, 6ft wide narrowboat (pictured out on the river in the snow)


The couple spent £3,000 on the transformation (left), featuring modern facilities, including a sink (above), fully equipped kitchen and bathroom

AFTER: The couple spent £22,000 on their narrowboat and decided to turn it into a dream home as it was in ‘poor condition’ (pictured, Arlo in the cozy boat)

Tash continued: ‘We worked on the boat for five months through autumn and winter – which definitely slowed us down – we only had weekends to work on the renovation due to work. 

‘We always worked on the boat together, however most of the initial work was lead by Lee – I had no idea how to build a studded wall or a door.

‘So I basically did as I was told for the first stages of the renovation.

‘The interior design however was down to me, thankfully Lee was happy to just let me run with it. I spent a lot of time on Pinterest.’

Their home, which was completed in March 2018, now contains a stylish Scandi-inspired kitchen, complete with a stove and breakfast bar.

The lounge features a luxurious fireplace, cozy two-seater sofa and TV, while the bathroom boasts a cassette toilet and the bedroom has a plush double bed.

There is also an outdoor relaxation space on the deck where the couple can enjoy the views, with Tash explaining that she didn’t want their boat to feel ‘claustrophobic’ as her biggest concern was the space. 

She continued: ‘We didn’t want our boat to feel claustrophobic. Even though the space is small, I wanted it to feel quite open.

‘My biggest concern when buying a boat was space,[I thought] “where would my clothes go?” but you soon come to realise how little you actually need.

‘I have had people say to me “Oh it’s bigger than I thought it would be” which I take as a compliment as it’s only 54ft long.’

The couple, who live on the boat full-time with their Sprocker Spaniel Arlo, said their family and friends have been mostly supportive of their lifestyle change, but some have voiced their concerns.


The couple’s hard-work (left) definitely paid off, as their luxurious kitchen (right) even has space for a social breakfast bar, while the wooden and pastel colour scheme perfectly suits the rustic boat

Tash quipped that she did what she was told during the first stages of renovation, whereas the interior design, including the space-saving storage boxes and seats (above) being her true love in the process


The couple said their most memorable trip on the boat was when they travelled from Daventry to Lapworth, saying it was an ‘adventure’ as they weren’t sure what they were doing (pictured before and after transformation)

The couple normally enjoy travelling on the boat, and during lockdown, the couple have continued to work as normal, as the boat is luckily connected to WiFi (above, Lee on the boat)


Tash’s fiance Lee was in charge of the lead work on the boat, which took place across winter (left), while Tash took charge of the interior design, including the pastel green colour scheme (right)

The smitten couple, who enjoy spending time outdoors, enjoy taking the narrowboat on trips down the river with their dog Arlo (pictured with Tash)

Tash explained: ‘My mum is super supportive and loved the idea from the start.

‘Most of our friends thought it was interesting and amusing, they would say it was a ‘very us’ thing to do.

‘However, some people would look at me like I was mad. The most common question is “I bet it’s freezing?”

‘When the log burner is lit, it’s so hot you have all the windows open in the middle of winter!

‘We have a couple of small oil heaters on here too, being such a small space, it heats up quickly.’

During lockdown, the couple have continued to work as normal, as the boat is luckily connected to WiFi. 

Before the pandemic, they regularly visited different areas along the river, taking their pooch with them.

Tash said: ‘The most memorable is probably when we first bought the boat and needed to get it from Daventry to Lapworth, we were quite nervous but it was such an adventure.

‘I think we stopped at every pub we passed.

‘We’re not allowed to travel at the moment due to lockdown but our first trip as soon as we’re allowed will be a day out with the family to a local pub in Knowle.’

But Tash admitted that some aspects of boat life can be challenging as they have to carry head torches for when they come home in the dark, and also have to face a muddy path to reach the boat.

The outdoorsy couple are faced with stunning views (above) from the narrowboat, and the venture proved to be a success despite Tash only being on a narrowboat twice before


Despite Tash admitting the boat life has come with challenges, including wearing head torches at night, the spacious boat has transformed into the couple’s dream home, complete with a breakfast bar (left) and outdoor relaxation space (right)

Tash admitted that some aspects of boat life can be challenging as they have to carry head torches for when they come home in the dark (above, the narrowboat in the snow)


There is also an outdoor relaxation space on the deck where the couple can enjoy the views, with Tash explaining that she didn’t want their boat to feel ‘claustrophobic’ as her biggest concern was the space

Tash and Lee (pictured) started an Instagram page in August 2018 to showcase their renovation and people are always left gobsmacked by the stunning transformation


Tash (pictured with Lee) said that people are always concerned that the narrowboat must be freezing, but she reassured them that they have a log burner and oil heaters to keep cozy

Tash (pictured) admitted that she was ‘completely clueless’ when starting the project, saying she had no idea how mooring worked or how much the boat would even cost them

She continued: ‘The path that we use when we get off the boat is muddy most of the year so I’m regularly changing my shoes when I get in my car.

‘We also carry head torches everywhere we go, especially in the winter when you have to leave for work and come back in the dark but I’d say we are both more relaxed about life now, neither of us let work pressure get to us as much as we used to.’

But Tash insisted that decided to live on a narrowboat has made her feel ‘kind of free’ and has showed her other living options, rather than have to live in a specific area on a ‘certain wage’.

She added: ‘I think once you realise there are other options in life than the norm and you don’t have to be earning a certain wage or living in a certain area [or] sized house to be genuinely happy, then you feel kind of free.

‘I’ve found that the people who can’t understand it or regularly say “oh I couldn’t do it” are the first that want to come and see the boat and go out cruising.’

The couple started an Instagram page in August 2018 to showcase their renovation and people are always left completely gobsmacked by the stunning transformation.

One person gushed: ‘Your boat is beautiful.’

While another penned: ‘It’s my dream to live in a space like this, you’ve made it look amazing.’ 

And a third commented: ‘Amazing! We’ve always been inspired by your boat right from when we started searching for boats.’

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