The Boat House

Sitting right on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin, The Boat House, a Canberra classic, was sympathetically updated without losing any of its charm. By Frank Leggett

“The impetus for the renovation of The Boat House was to give the building a more contemporary look,” says Aaron Copeland, co-founder of design firm Capezio Copeland.

Its original colour palette of heritage greens and neutrals were replaced with a dark charcoal, and the fire stack was covered with a weathered steel finish.

“We also rebuilt all the external pagodas and installed a new enlarged entry door to provide more impact,” says Copeland. “We extended decking around the building and created new doors for access. The primary decking overlooks the water of Lake Burley Griffin and is wrapped around the main private dining areas.”

Upon refurbishing the deck, Copeland added stairs down to a lawn where many wedding functions are held. The deck has always been a readily identifiable element of The Boat House and owner James Souter wanted to maintain that. The update simply freshened the existing form with a contemporary aesthetic.

New roofing materials were added to the main building along with sunshade protection for external functions. Inside, the air conditioning was refurbished and all new lighting was added. “We improved the connection with the outdoors and the outlook over the lake,” says Copeland. “We simplified the space giving clear visual sight lines and provided discreet lighting—recessed downlights. Lattice ceiling structures were added to conceal services.”

The audiovisual technology was upgraded for weddings and corporate functions. In fact, it was important for the entire venue to have a flexibility in order to cater for a large lavish wedding or an intimate dinner for two.

“The furniture can be used in a number of different ways and also provides division in the rooms,” says Copeland. “We refurbished some of the key pieces of furniture and added new pieces. A mix of table sizes allows for a flexible floorplan.”

The kitchen was given a full commercial clean and areas were re-tiled, re-grouted and re-painted. The bar area was reconfigured with new flooring and joinery added to the space. The bathrooms were all updated with new fixtures, fittings, tiling and lights.

The Boat House is a landmark building in Canberra. Copeland’s renovation has maintained the heritage and history of the building yet also introduced a real freshness. 

“We didn’t want to detract from the reputation of The Boat House,” says Copeland. “We wanted to enhance it and celebrate its unique position in Canberra. The location is amazing and everything the venue provides is very special.” 


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