Narrowboat Space Saving Ideas

So, the clue is in the name… “narrow” boat. Anything with a name like that should say to you that you are going to have to give storage some thought. There’s actually a surprising amount of narrowboat space saving ideas to be had however. In this article We’ve compiled a list of tips and some general guidance.

Top Tips for Narrowboat Space Saving ideas

1. Take a seat

Chairs have to be the hardest thing to store. Ever. Ok you can tuck them under your table… but then you are still robbing yourself of some valuable storage space. Folding chairs can be easily stowed against a wall or bulkhead when they are not being used. And the best bit is that when the weather is warm, you’ll be able to take them outside to sit on the bank.

2. High bed/ false ceilings

You sleep in a bed, and little else. Think about the amount of room the bed takes up just sitting there. There’s certainly plenty of room underneath. By elevating your bed by a foot or so and being careful with which direction you have it facing you might very well be able to free up a fair bit of storage space.

3. Full of hot air? Not likely…

Vacuum bags are amazing, and you don’t even need a vacuum cleaner to condense your soft goods. They work by removing all of the air out of fabrics, bedding and clothing. You’ll be utterly amazed at how much you can fit inside once they are fully compressed. Once the air has been sucked out, these bags form a really compact and rather rigid ‘package’ that can be stowed almost anywhere… Like under the bed!

Vacuum Storage Bags 6 Bags - 2 Jumbo + 2 Extra Large + 2 Medium Reusable Storage Bags with Travel Hand Pump for Duvets, Bedding, Pillows, Clothes, Quilts, Sweater, Comforters, Dresses, Suitcases
  • 6 pack in 3 different sizes. The Compression Sealer Bags owns 3 sizes: 2 Jumbo (100 x 70cm), 2 XL Extra Large (80 x 60cm), 2 Medium (70 x 50cm). Jumbo size for duvets and throws, medium size for snug holiday suitcase, and large size for storing your clothes for opposite seasons. It is good for storage, traveling and moving.
  • Store your Off-season clothes and bed linings. The vacuum storage bags sets help you save 80% and bring more storage place for your suitcase, wardrobes, closets, garages, basements, lofts and suitcases. Do not need spend much time on cleaning your closet, a great helper for your traveling and moving in daily life.
  • Airtight bags do not leak. The vacuum storage bags is with Double-Zip Seal and the Triple-Seal Turbo Valve to get out of the air and the air back in. It can save 80% for you, a good companion of your moving and traveling.
  • Anti-microbial materials. Vacuum storage bags are 35% thicker than others’ plastic material, it is anti-microbial materials to prevent mold, mildew and bacteria from attacking your duvets, clothes. You can put your clothes or qulits without worry.
  • Travel Hand Pump Included & 100% money back. The hand pump is good for traveling, store your item maximum and go immediately. It is also compatible with any vacuum cleaner, air pump and manual air pump. 100% money back and in time customers’ service.

4. Digitise

Piles of papers? Files? Magazines? These can soon add up, and as you’ll already undoubtedly know, every quare foot of space counts onboard a canal boat. A better solution is a tablet or laptop computer. You can download and store any written information (or even films and music) digitally. Just make sure you have a backup!

5. Wine Boxes

Do you know why they put round pizzas in square boxes? Its because storing flat shapes is actually a much more efficient use of space… And if it works for pizzas, it will work for wine. Now if you are like us you won’t need an excuse to buy a bottle or two extra, so get something that is much easier to store.

6. A Bowl in One?

If you need several of the same item but all in different sizes then you could possibly think that this is going to take up a lot of room. In particular bowls. Bowls can be used for almost anything, you can mix ingredients or use them as ways to serve things such as salads, or even your morning cereal! If you get a really ergonomic bowl set that fits together seamlessly then you are getting quite a few bowls without costing yourself valuable cupboard space.

7. Get a handle on things… or off

Pans can be super annoying. If it wasn’t for those handles, they’d stack together rather neatly. But you can’t get pans without a handle….

Au contraire…

It is now entirely possible to get a pan set with removable handles. The pans stack nice and neatly within each other saving loads of space and the handles can live wherever you can fit them. The additional bonus of a pan set with detachable handles for boats, is that they are really easy to wash up, especially in smaller sinks.

8. Scale the Mount…

One of the biggest and most inflexible things on a narrowboat is the TV. We have a couple of ideas where you can save space when it comes to the old gogglebox.

The first might be a bit extreme, but the simple life is half the fun of living onboard a narrowboat. We may suggest doing away with it entirely!


Well you won’t be without your favourite programmes. Remember when we talked about digitising? Provided you have a tablet or computer, you should be able to watch your favourite flicks with a hand-held device.

Ok so it may seem a bit extreme to throw out the television. Fortunately, we’ve move on quite a bit from the days of having a ‘box’. Flat screen televisions are pretty much standard nowadays. If you purchase a decent wall mount then you should be able to place your tv on the side of your cabin.

VonHaus 32-55 Inch TV Wall Bracket – Ultra Slim, Flat to Wall Mount for VESA Compatible Screens, 35kg Weight Capacity
  • MULTI VESA: 200x200, 300x300, 400x200, 400x400
  • SCREEN SIZE: 32 - 55 inch
  • SPECIFICATION: 77lbs weight capacity, low 19.5mm profile
  • EASY INSTALL: Quick and easy to install, includes full instructions and fitting hardware
  • 25 YEAR WARRANTY: Manufacturer 25 Year Warranty Included

9. Not Just Any Old Bag

The snag with using rigid storage solutions is that when they are not in use or not completely full it is space wasted. They still occupy the same volume whilst literally doing nothing apart from getting in the way.

So, what’s the solution?

If you could have a set of bags or boxes that would fold down flat when they weren’t in use that could only be a good thing?

Canvas storage bags and boxes represent the ideal solution. Its actually easy to get organised and once you find your groove, you’ll know in which ‘segment’ of a box or bag all of your items are.

Lifewit Clothes Storage Bag 90L Large Capacity Organizer with Reinforced Handle Thick Fabric for Comforters, Blankets, Bedding, Foldable with Sturdy Zipper, Clear Window, 3 Pack, Grey
  • Large Size: Each bag size is 50 x 36 x 50 cm / 19.7 x 14.2 x 19.7 in, with capacity of 90L. It is suitable to store comforters, blankets, clothes, pillows, toys.
  • Reinforced Handle: The handles are sewn with two layers of thick fabric for double load-bearing capacity. Reinforced seams are also implemented for added strength.
  • Premium Material: The organizer is made from high-quality, odorless, three-ply composite non-woven fabric which promotes ventilation and protects your stored things. Please note that they are just fabric bags, with no metal support inside, which is super easy to fold away into drawer or cabinet to save space.
  • Sturdy Zipper: Equipped with #5 stainless steel zippers which are hard to break down, and can be used for a long time. And two-way zippers allow you to slide them easily along the closure, regardless of how full the bag is.
  • Clear Window: This smart container has a clear see through window that helps you identify the stored contents quickly without needless searching and digging.
Amazon Basics Fabric Storage Bin - Large Cube, Dusty Blue
  • Canvas storage bin for laundry, toys, shoes, and more
  • 50% cotton and 50% polyester construction
  • Durable polypropylene-coated interior offers durability and stain-resistance
  • Steel wire rim helps keep the bin’s structure in tact and upright
  • Dual carrying handles for easy transportation

10. A String Best?

You need to raise your game if you are going to find storage solutions on a canal boat. We mean this quite literally. We’ve borrowed an idea which is very popular amongst the maritime community. For flexible and space staving storage, think about nets and hammocks.

They are really easy to mount almost anywhere, with a decent hook set and a bit of imagination you can stow anything from socks and spare canvas bags, to oranges and onions.  They are really inexpensive. Basically, the more hammocks and slings you can get set up, the more room you’ll have on the floor.

Yueser Car Boot Storage Nets, 4 Pack Car Boot Mesh Bag Cark Trunk Storage Net Car Storage Pockets Closure Car Rear Back Seat Organizer Pockets (4 Sizes)
  • ❤【High Quality】This car storage organiser net is made of good strong polyester materials,They're fairly lightweight but really stretchy so they'll hold a good amount of things in them.
  • ❤【Multiple Sizes】Four different sizes of storage bags can be used for different products.The car net can be easily attached with straps. The strap is super tight and can still be removed without any damage.
  • ❤【Save Space】Help you store and organize the goods in the boot, there is more space for luggage and when not in use, you can put it in a plastic bag, no extra space is needed.
  • ❤【Multi-Functional】 Our trunk organiser are ideal for cars, vans, trucks.Good for storing bottles, sports equipment, food, essentials etc.

11. Bungie Jumping

An assortment of bungie chords is a good storage solution when living on board a narrowboat. You can make loops, railings and suspend loads of things. One really great idea is to have shoes pinched between them and a bulkhead, this will save you piles of floor space which can then be put to better use. When twinned with a good set of metal hooks you are literally only limited by your imagination as you’ll be able to hang everything from pans (or pan handles) to coats and items of clothing.

20 Pcs Round S Shaped Hooks Hanging Hooks Hangers in Polished Stainless Steel Metal Fits Kitchen, Bedroom and Office- Outdoor Garage Home Storage Organization
  • SIZE: Height 2.87 "Big Elbow Diameter 1.18" Small Elbow Diameter 0.78 ".
  • MATERIAL: Stainless Steel; COLOUR: Silver color PACKAGE: 20 * Hooks
  • Designed to handle heavier loads, sturdy and last for a long time
  • Easy to use and carry, not to stick and install
  • MULTI- PURPOSE: Ideal for hanging kitchenware, towels, bags, clothes, scarf, flowerpots, gardening tools, office supplies, and shop tools.

12. Go all ‘Captain Hook’

If you have gone down the route of hammocks, slings and bungees then you may very well need something to secure them to the various flat surfaces that you are going to use. Screw in hooks require no specialist tools (just a little bit of elbow grease). They will allow you to position a chord, net, or bungie absolutely anywhere.

And the best bit?

You can do your famous captain hook joke with your sleeve when you’ve finished the box of wine.

Screw Hooks, 120 Pieces Cup Hooks Nickel Plated Hooks Metal Screw-in Eye Hooks Ceiling Hook for Cabinet Shelf(Silver), 7 Sizes
  • ღ 【7 Sizes Screw Hooks】:There are 120 pieces screw in hooks ,7 sizes assorted in the package to meet your need, including 1/2 inches, 5/8 inches, 3/4 inches, 7/8 inches, 1 inch, 5/4 inches,and 3/2 inches.
  • ღ 【 Durable Material】: Hoiny cup Hooks are made of stainless steel with nickel plated on the surface to make it smooth and durable for long-time use.
  • ღ 【Wide Application】: Screw hooks are suitable for home, bar, garden and so on; you can screw it into wood or plastic board in kitchen for hanging cup, kitchenware, in closet for holding handbag and cloth and son on.
  • ღ【 Rustproof】: Hoiny screw in hooks are made of stainless steel and finished by nickel plated. They will be rust-proof and the nickel plated surface is smooth which won’t scratch your important objects.
  • ღ 【Easy to Use】: Sharp stainless steel screw end can be easily mounted into wood, non-isosceles triangle special thread, pointed and easy to screw into the wood or wall.

13. Outdoor boxing!

Don’t limit your space saving ideas for a narrowboat to only the interior of your vessel. There is quite a bit of room outside too. A roof box shouldn’t cause too many height issues and it is designed to remain waterproof on most cars on wet motorways at 70 miles per hour. So, we reckon you’ll be alright using one on your narrowboat. Whilst we wouldn’t place valuables inside, or anything you really treasure; a roof box or two may be well worth considering.

HandiWorld HandiHoldall Large 330 Litres Soft Roof Box; Foldable Weather Resistant Roof Bag with Solid Base; Navy Blue
  • The HandiHoldall 330 Litres is a premium quality soft roof box that offers extra luggage space for family road trips, weekend holidays and camping adventures; the huge internal compartment offers 330 litres of additional space, capable of containing 2 x 95L or 135L HandiDuffels inside
  • When fully loaded, the HandiHoldall 330 dimensions are 110cm x 75cm x 40cm; unlike traditional roof boxes the HandiHoldall takes up little to no storage space when not in use; simply remove the glass fibre poles and roll the bag up; it effortlessly folds down to a compact size of 58cm x 15cm x 9cm, for easy storage in the boot of your vehicle (carrying case included)
  • 4 strong fiberglass poles are inserted into the base of the HandiHoldall 330 to give it a solid flat bottom, much like a ridged top box; the HandiHoldall is designed for use with traditional roof bars or roof racks; simply loop the four integrated straps around the roof bars and then tighten
  • The HandiHoldall 330 is made from a heavy-duty, water resistant material with tapped seams; the storm flap helps to protect your belongings from the elements during travel
  • The HandiHoldall 330 is easy to install on any standard car or SUV roof rack within minutes; the zippers are lockable, ensuring that your possessions remain safe whilst you’re away from your vehicle; the HandiHoldall is also compatible with the HandiRack inflatable roof rack by HandiWorld; please note that the HandiHoldall 330 does not require the Roof Bar Fitting Kit for attaching it to roof bars

14. Get inventive with your shelving

So, shelf space may be at a minimum onboard a narrowboat. Twinned with this is the slightly unusual geometry depending on how you have the interior configured. A cubed and fully customisable shelving unit might just fit the bill nicely. You could have all of the cubes in one long line or set them up pretty much any way you like to ensure that you have an optimum amount of shelf space.

GREENSTELL Cube Storage Organizer, 12 Stackable Cube Unit, DIY Plastic Book Storage, Modular Closet Organizers for Bedroom, Living Room, Office (Black)
  • Easy Installation: We have configured the rubber mallet, which is better than the ordinary wooden hammers on the market, making your installation easier. In addition to the accessories of the product itself, we also giving you three DIY assembly methods. you can combine them into different shapes to fit your space. We have attached detailed instructions to the product, we hope you can read the product description carefully before assembly.
  • DIY Storage Cubes: Made of PP plastic, the sheet is waterproof, moisture-proof and anti-dust.We have 6 cubes, 9 cubes, 12 cubes, 16 cubes, 20 cubes and 30 cubes to meet any storage needs of you.
  • Prevent Dumping and Ensure Safe Use: Anti-toppling fittings are provided to fix it on the wall for safety, loading capacity of each grid: 10 lbs. Even if you have children at home, you don't need to worry about the safety of using Storage Cubes .
  • Multiple Ways of Using: Not only can be placed anywhere in your house or office, but also can be used as a partition to provide the private space for you , You can store all sort of items as you want: books, clothes, toys, artworks, decorations and more.
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General guidance

In addition to our list it is well worth looking at some general concepts. The first is seeing an answer to ‘how much room is there in a canal boat’ In a different light.

Look at your boat in terms of ‘volume’ and not floor space.

Each flat area within can be used to store something. And we don’t just mean the floor. That includes the walls and ‘dead’ areas that you wouldn’t normally think of, such as above your bed, under your table, or on your walls.

Maximise all of your space

What do we mean by this? Well every time you create more space think about how you can further optimise the ‘new’ space that you have created. This goes hand in hand with our next tip…

Combine storage solutions to optimise all of the space you have. Want an example? Ok well we suggested using a higher bed as a great storage solution, but how are you going to use that new space? If you are inefficient with it then it again will be wasted. Let’s say you want to store clothes and bedding. Using underbed storage and a vacuum bag will give you plenty of room.

However, if you are storing socks in your vacuum bag, again that is space wasted. Why not use some square netting and a few hooks to store often used items on the wall or in the ‘dead space’ above your bed?

Go minimalist

Ok, here is the brutal truth… If in doubt, throw it out.

You aren’t going to be able to fit a ‘normal amount’ of things on board a canal boat. Living a slightly more minimalistic lifestyle is kind of what it is about.

Think about what you really need to carry, not what you want. A couple of comforts is fine, but if you are miserable because you have to move the PlayStation every time you want to chop the vegetables you have to ask yourself which is more important? Likewise, do you really need a 52-inch plasma screen and a pile of books, or will a tablet that you hold on your lap serve the same purpose for both?


It is probably one of the first questions that people will ask when they find out that you live onboard. How much room do you have in a canal boat? Or where do you fit everything on a narrowboat? If you can answer ‘you would be surprised’ with a glint in your eye and everything that you need around you, then you will have achieved your aim.

It isn’t always the most comfortable or easiest, but there is a certain zen-like joy in living with only what you need. Hopefully you’ve found our narrowboat space saving ideas to be of some value, and maybe got some of your own?





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