June | 1977 Airstream Overlander
This was a personal project, one that we took on not knowing what it would be for us. We'd sold our first Airstream out of financial necessity, and within two months, spent our last five thousand dollars from that sale and purchased this Airstream. In many ways, we felt that we'd lost a part of ourselves when we lost our first Airstream (below), and wanted, more than anything, to get that part of ourselves back. As time progressed, we worked a little here and there on demo, but for the first six months of ownership, didn't have the funds to take next steps, so we worked slowly and within our means...a few hours here and there. To complete the project, we took out a personal loan with our bank, which we will be paying off this summer. Originally, we'd planned to park the Airstream in a friend's backyard locally, using it as a tiny house. As the year progressed, we began our business here at The Modern Caravan and began offering renovations all across the country. Now this Airstream will be used as our travelin' home and mobile office space.
Much of this Airstream was incredibly precise and detailed, and most of it custom. We often attribute the length of the renovation to two things: the condition of the trailer was pretty sorry when we purchased it and there was quite a lot of damage to rectify, and we custom built everything inside - there are no pre-purchased cabinets or countertops or doors. We even built new framing for our vista view windows. We choose to go higher end with our appliances, fixtures, and finishes to ensure comfort for long-term living, as opposed to short-term travel (which is what we did with our first Airstream). We plan to be connected to shore power the majority of the time, and we will be installing solar for when we head out to boondock on weekends off. The solar will power everything easily with the exception of our oven. Our heat sources are a tiny wood stove and the heat pump in our Dometic unit.
From a design standpoint, the goal was to create something that pushed the boundaries of the expected, which is what we set out to do with our first Airstream as well. I don't look to other Airstreams for visual inspiration (only practical/functional), and instead I carefully consider how we behave in the space. Tiny spaces are entirely unique in comparison to traditional homes I’ve designed. The practical aspects of the trailer interior are not to be ignored, and I begin by addressing the necessities first and foremost, such as the need for on-board water tanks and inlets, and constraints, such as window and door placement and wheel wells. From there, I ask myself and my family a series of questions to understand completely how the space will be used. Then, and only then, can I tackle the visual and the tactile.
We wanted a space we could call our own, a visually stunning space, but one that was down-to-earth and uniquely ours. We wanted warmth, yet neutrality, a space reminiscent of the desert and the places we'd been, with plenty of blank space to continue writing our story, collecting things along the way and letting them ebb and flow, to work themselves in and out with ease and fluidity. While certainly, there are folks who call working with neutrals playing it safe in a space, I believe the elements we choose reflect who we are and a space we are most comfortable in. We certainly didn't design this space for anyone but ourselves, and in that, we were not cautious or hesitant. We infused color in the navy blue linen cushions and bright pillows from Blockshop Textiles and Vacilando Quilting, and the richness comes from the walnut surfaces throughout the space and the varying shades of brown and sand in the flooring. As the space is so tiny, we kept the design continuous throughout the Airstream: we didn't opt for drastically different looks, hardware, fixtures, or finishes in different "rooms", for in 160 square feet, you can still see everything from any line of sight.
All in all, this project was, without a doubt, one of our greatest personal accomplishments to date, and we can’t wait to move in this June. On to the next Airstream!