Before & After: The Salon


When we bought Chancelot, we told everyone that she had good bones but needed a major cosmetic makeover. The previous owner had spent money on the systems and equipment that mattered, but really didn’t care about how she looked. Luckily Jason and I are both really good at seeing potential. It has been a very slow process, but we’re finally starting to see some improvement.

The salon of our Vagabond 42 when we bought her, before any cosmetic upgrades.
This is the salon when we bought it. You can see the fabric on the left.

In redoing the interior, one of the main things we wanted to accomplish was to modernize the decor while maintaining the classic look. We also wanted to brighten up the space and make it feel welcoming. The first order of business was to recover the salon cushions. The old fabric was khaki and brown striped and I am honestly afraid of how much dirt and nastiness it actually hid. Jason and I went to our favorite cheap (but quality) fabric store in Brooklyn and found this plain gray fabric for a steal at $2 a yard. It wasn’t exactly what we wanted, but it was neutral enough and would get us out of the brown color scheme we currently had going on. At $2 a yard we could afford to redo the fabric in a couple years when we were sick of it and had a better idea of what we really wanted. At $2 a yard, we took what was left of the bolt. That fabric store is pretty hit or miss, but when you find something that works, you snap it up!

We were lucky that the foam from the original cushions was in decent enough shape that we could reuse it. All I did was add a layer of batting around each one to give it a bit more shape and fluff. I used 3M Foam Fast 74 to glue the batting to the foam. The glue is pretty potent so its best to use in a well ventilated space.

I whipped out the trusty old Sailrite LSZ-1 and got to work on the nine cushions I had to recover. It took me a while to get in the groove (cut fabric for cushion one after work on Monday night, sew on Tuesday. Repeat for the next 2 weeks), but once I figured out my measurements and exactly how much extra I needed to add to account for the batting I became a machine. I used the bull nose method for the back cushions (one continuous piece of fabric is used for the front, top and back panels) and the traditional method for the seating cushions. We opted not to put in piping and I added in tabs on the sides so that the back panels can be snapped in place so they don’t go flying when we’re healing.

Newly covered salon cushion aboard SV Chancelot modernize the interior.modernize the interior
Brightly colored picture frames and pillows help brighten the interior. The wood is beautiful but can make the boat feel a lot darker.

Once I finished the cushions I went full force into nesting mode. Finding the perfect fabric for throw pillows was my sole focus, marred only by my search for rugs and the best way to hang pictures in a boat. I went crazy on Pinterest and got a little too excited when my sister got me a pack of Museum Putty for Christmas. But, this boat will be our home for the foreseeable future so I want to love every second I spend in it.

The color scheme we chose is pretty much the same color scheme as our blog (it looks so much different in digital form vs decor form!). Navy and teal with pops of pink. I really wanted to brighten up the space. We love the wood in the interior, but it can be very dark. Everything I brought into the boat needed to brighten it up. Frames are white instead of black, and pillows are cheery.

Pillows and rugs add color to a dark wood interior of the Vagabond 42 sailboat.
Anchor pillow from Target, square teal pillow courtesy of my hands, rectangle teal and white striped pillow from West Elm, navy patterned pillow from Target, blanket found in the trunk of a ZipCar and the rug is from Target.
LED candles add a safe flicker to our boat.
LED tealight candles add the flickering effect of a candle, but you don’t have to worry about anything falling over in a rough anchorage. The candle holder is a piece of lava I picked up in Greece when I studied there in college. It took about 30 Dremel bits to carve out the hole.
A conch shell we caught in the Bahamas and a custom watercolor of Chance, our 34' Seafarer, by my talented friend Alison
A conch we caught in the Bahamas and a custom watercolor of Chance, our 34′ Seafarer, by my talented friend Alison

To add my decorative touches I spray painted some cheap picture frames that we already had to match the new color scheme. We picked up some plexiglass to switch out the glass that the frames came with. Before I hung the frames I consulted the gals of Women Who Sail on the best way to keep them put. As with any project I got about 20 different solutions. I settled on two different types of Velcro and tried them out on different frames throughout the boat. I went with the industrial strength Velcro and command strips. So far I can’t tell any difference, but I imagine the real test will be once we head to more humid locals.

Any knick-knacks (like my awesome stacking dolls my sister brought me back from Russia) are kept on trays and held in place with Velcro or museum putty. We don’t move around a lot at the dock, but it keeps preparation minimal when we want to head out for a sail. To further sail-proof the space I placed small picture frames in front of books to keep them from flying all over the place when we’re healing – works perfectly! Cords and small electronics are kept neatly stored in fabric bins. All these upgrades make me smile. I love our little tiny home.

Throw pillows make the interior of our Vagabond 42 sailboat cozy and inviting

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  1. Love that style of cushion. Very clean and comfortable looking. Would you mind sharing the brand of fabric? We love your blog!!

  2. Oh, that looks fantastic! The new fabric makes your salon really pop. We can’t wait to do our salon cushions too. I don’t think we will do our own, but we will definitely give the pillows and throws a try.