Faces of the Coast: Krisha Plauché of Onboard Interiors

Marblehead native Krisha Plauché, like many in the boat business, is having a busy spring. Whether she is attending boat shows, meeting clients at yacht yards from Maine to Rhode Island, putting the finishing touches on marine upholstery, or choosing new fabrics and ideas for her growing business – spring is crunch time in the marine business.

Boat Background, Boat Business
A lifelong sailor, Plauché is not only a certified boat captain but she is also a trained marine interior designer who is the owner of Onboard Interiors of Marblehead – an award-winning, full-service interior design firm specializing in custom marine interiors for power and sailboats, both private and commercial.

With a unique eye for color and design, Plauché is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after marine interior designers in the industry. Perhaps less known than home interior design, marine interior design is a key part of the yachting and boating business. While many of her customers want a nice, comfortable interior for their family boat, Plauché also works within the superyacht and expedition yacht industry, where many of her customers use their boats to entertain business clients, for high-end charters, or simply as a reflection of their own unique tastes and style.

Not only is Plauché an award-winning marine interior designer, but her eye for fashion and color has landed her observations in a number of trade magazines, including the go-to magazine for marine interior design.

“I do get to comment on fashion-forward elements as well as history in marine fabric trends, and many marine fabric trends follow unique trends in the design industry,” she says. “Right now, that trend is batik-style fabric. It’s a beautiful and ancient artistic fabric.” In the marine industry, unusual and exotic trends like this make their way sparingly into Onboard designs. “Instead of upholstering large pieces on a vessel with batik, I might see using this fabric in accent pillows.”

From Cruising Boats to Mega Yachts
Over the years, Plauché has logged many miles between some of the most prestigious marine yacht yards from Rhode Island to Maine, creating some spectacular yacht interiors. Her hard work has not gone unrecognized, as she recently received the Award for Excellence in the Interior Marine Upholstery Category at the 2013 Marine Fabricators Association yearly meeting.

“Each project comes with its own unique set of personalities and each vessel is always different,” Plauché says. “We may work with a couple who want to outfit their own vessel for cruising comfort, or we will be doing design work onboard yachts that are 200 feet long.”

Marine interior design can sometimes be akin to working inside the proverbial ship in a bottle. Because of the shape of most vessels, every piece is a narrow fit where space is at a premium. Onboard Interiors emphasizes a personal touch, and all work is custom-made to fit specific dimensions. “I love that each project is different because it always presents challenges,” Plauché says. “To custom-design everything and fabricate everything to specific dimensions, there are no shortcuts. Everything is cut and sewn to exact measurements.”

Family Tradition, Local Heritage
The designer’s family owned and operated a yacht interiors firm out of Connecticut and in 2002 she opened up the Marblehead office. She gradually moved from a marketing career to design and attended the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology to hone her skills. When she married in 2004, Plauché relocated to Florida and opened Onboard Interiors there. Now, back in Marblehead, Plauché has been growing the business ever since.

“I love being back in Marblehead, where the yachting industry holds such an important place in the town’s history,” she said. “It’s a perfect location for marine-related businesses with quality custom work in the small boatyards and among builders located here.” One of the trickiest parts of her job is the sheer size of some of the projects Plauché takes on. In the marine industry, mega-yachts can have many cabins and areas for accommodating passengers. Each cabin, stateroom, galley, or salon must have a distinct style.

“My most unique design project to date involved working onboard Velsheda, a very rare breed of sailboat,” Plauché said. “Built in 1933, Velsheda is 128 feet long and is one of six J-Class yachts that were originally designed for America’s Cup racing – and she has an impressive racing history.” (Many locals might remember the other beautifully restored J-Class yachts Shamrock and Endeavour that raced off Marblehead in the early 1990s.

“When Velsheda came to the United States for the first time last summer, we were hired to work on the main salon, as well as the master and crew quarters. The fabrics were beautiful and very unique. One of the largest pieces – a gorgeous, hand-carved, 80-inch sofa – was particularly challenging,” she explains. “In order for it to be re-upholstered, the sofa had to be hoisted out of the main salon overhead skylight and carried by eight crew into our truck, which was a hair-raising experience.”

In juggling both family and a professional life, Plauché is following a Marblehead tradition of doing quality workmanship and craft right here in a town where the marine industry plays a key role.

Reputation Matters
“Quality work and friendly personal service are just a few reasons Sailboats Northeast highly recommends our clients use Onboard Interiors for their boats,” says Paul Chasse, owner of Sailboats Northeast. “We feel our clients deserve the very best, so when they ask us about re-designing the interior of their boats, we are confident that Onboard Interiors will exceed our clients expectations.”

Although she works by appointment only, Krisha Plauche will be exhibiting at the upcoming Marblehead Maritime festival this August and at other New England boat shows.

For more information, click here to visit Onboard Interiors’ website.

— By Laurie Fullerton