Airstream Bathrooms | Roundup

We’ve come a long way since our first Airstream bathroom.

We built out Louise on a shoestring budget, saving every last penny. We quite literally were scrounging in the couch cushions for coins, and every single yard sale we had while downsizing was poured back into the build. Kate worked three jobs, and Ellen continued teaching and commuting. There were weeks where we figured out how to eat as a family of three on $25.00 (thanks to small town grocers and the local farmer’s market), just so we could pinch our pennies and contribute to salvaging our old girl.

In the time since, we’ve learned a thing or two about building bathrooms in moving vehicles, and we’ve gotten to play around with some pretty cool materials. Here’s a fun roundup of all the bathrooms we’ve built thus far, and we want YOU to submit your bathrooms for a chance to be featured right here on the blog!

Louise | 1957 Airstream Overlander | 27’ | 2014

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We built Louise’s bathroom sans sink. The shower was never used, because we couldn’t afford a water heater, and we sold Louise before we put one in. However, it was a beauty. We clad the walls in cedar planks and sealed them, and the floor was made up of a cedar wrapped lip and leftover black hexagon tile from the bathroom renovation we did in our old house.

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The toilet was crafted from a diverter kit (diverter and hose), 5-gallon bucket for solids, Ice Mountain jug for honey (aka pee), and a walnut toilet seat that we bought off Amazon. We crafted a solid surface with plywood that had two sections beneath it - one for the cat’s litter box (complete with a little cat door), and one for the toilet components (aka, jug and bucket). Each compartment lifted from the top, and served as a surface for TP (and a plant, because why not?), along with a place for our toilet seat.

I wouldn’t recommend this commode setup for transit, but it would work fine for a stationary tiny home.


June | 1977 Airstream Overlander | 27’ | 2016

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In order to save valuable space elsewhere (like the kitchen and bedroom), we opted to do a 3’ x 4’ wet bath onboard June. Kate’s dad still calls this one an engineering feat, as we were able to fit a shower w/ bench, composting toilet, sink, counter space, plumbing and the water heater (with access door) all within this space. The only thing the wet bath really doesn’t offer is dry storage space, but all tiny mobile spaces require us to make sacrifices that we don’t have to in traditional brick and mortar homes.

 Nature’s Head Composting Toilet fitting snugly in the bathroom. Water heater access door to the right.

Nature’s Head Composting Toilet fitting snugly in the bathroom. Water heater access door to the right.

 Cozy view from the bedroom into the shower. Always loved this particular spot when we lived in this Airstream.

Cozy view from the bedroom into the shower. Always loved this particular spot when we lived in this Airstream.

 Tile:  All Modern . Sink:  Amazon . Faucet:  Delta.

Tile: All Modern. Sink: Amazon. Faucet: Delta.


Luna | 1976 Airstream Sovereign | 31’ | 2017

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We’ve used a variation of this design three times, both in Luna and Isla (next up) and our current client project that is in progress. This bathroom design is straightforward: there’s a separate shower with bench seat over the wheel well, a sink and vanity with storage underneath, a composting toilet, and a tiny, but manageable amount of space to stand and towel off or stand at the sink to get ready for the day.

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The exception with this bathroom compared to others with similar layouts we’ve designed is this plexiglass window that peers into the rear bedroom. This shower is one of the most replicated that we’ve seen - and with good reason! The window makes the shower/bathroom feel much larger than it’s footprint. The bathroom here is 3’ x 5’.

 The tile was sourced from  All Modern .

The tile was sourced from All Modern.

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The clients had barn wood that was sentimental to them, and they brought it to us in hopes we could create surfaces with it. While much of it wasn’t usable and was too rotten, we were able to salvage a lot of it and create some incredibly beautiful and rustic countertops for the whole space.

 Nature’s Head Composting Toilets are our preferred toilets for our renovations. Composting is not only better for the environment, but enable you to go off grid for longer. Click to  buy .

Nature’s Head Composting Toilets are our preferred toilets for our renovations. Composting is not only better for the environment, but enable you to go off grid for longer. Click to buy.


Isla | 1973 Airstream Excella | 31’ | 2017

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In terms of stunning Airstream bathrooms, Isla’s takes the cake. Hell, it kinda looks like cake: white wedding cake with whipped white frosting and gold ribbons. I think Isla’s bathroom shows how diverse our design work can be - Ellen and I are much more natural and earthy when it comes to our own spaces, but our client’s taste was far more polished, feminine, and even a tiny bit glamorous.

This bathroom design has the same floor plan as Luna’s, though reversed. The shower is on a wall shared with the kitchen, while the toilet/vanity shares a wall with the bathroom.

 Fun view through the mirror, which is a great way to photograph these tiny spaces.

Fun view through the mirror, which is a great way to photograph these tiny spaces.

 All the bathroom fixtures are from Delta, and are available right here on our  resources page .

All the bathroom fixtures are from Delta, and are available right here on our resources page.

We love installing hand held showers on a sliding bar like this one for an Airstream shower. We have one in our Airstream home, and we love it. You can slide the bar down and have a seat on the bench without having to hold the shower head, OR you can use the hand held to rinse the bottom of the shower pan out or bathe your pups in warm water. It’s really versatile and we highly recommend it. We have been using these sliding bars with hand held shower heads since we built out this bathroom: they make so much sense!

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We installed the shower mixer just to the right of the entry point of the shower. This allowed us to install a pocket door in this bathroom, because there wasn’t any plumbing impeding the installation, and the clients loved that they wouldn’t have to get their arm doused with cold water when reaching in to turn on the shower.

 Sneaking a peek into the bathroom, which closes off with a slimline pocket door, from the spacious bedroom. The shower tile is from Lowe’s.

Sneaking a peek into the bathroom, which closes off with a slimline pocket door, from the spacious bedroom. The shower tile is from Lowe’s.

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Bird’s eye view. It’s not much floor space, but it’s enough to step out of the shower and then into the bedroom, where there is a generous amount of floor space in front of the double his-and-hers wardrobe, a place to rest your toes when using the commode, or to stand and get ready while looking out the window at the beautiful landscape.

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The sink dimensions were custom designed by us, and the sink and countertops in the bath and kitchen are Corian Solid Surface and were fabricated by a local Corian dealer. We have since used solid surface in other projects and fabricate them ourselves to save time and money.

This sink’s dimensions are perfect for a tiny onboard bathroom, and looks spatially correct.

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Arizona (aka Carlos) | 1974 Airstream Sovereign | 31’ | 2018

This bathroom was super tough to get photos of, and thus, we don’t have a lot! However, here it is. The bathroom in this project was divided into two sections: a powder room of sorts with a sink, toilet, and vanity, and on the other side of the hallway, a shower. The shower was not done at the time we had to leave and head to our next project, as we decided to hire a subcontractor for the work. He bailed and left us hanging (which is a big reason we don’t work with subcontractors) at the final hour. Hopefully one day we’ll be able to share some photos of the finished product with you all.

 Solid surface countertop by Hanex, fabricated in-house.

Solid surface countertop by Hanex, fabricated in-house.

 Sneaking around the corner and getting a snap of the toilet and our signature custom pocket doors, this time done in popular and stained a rich, warm tone.

Sneaking around the corner and getting a snap of the toilet and our signature custom pocket doors, this time done in popular and stained a rich, warm tone.


Hope you guys enjoyed our first roundup! We have two more projects we’re currently working on: our Airstream home and a client renovation, and we’ll be very excited to share these two very different spaces (and their onboard bathrooms) when they are finished this fall and winter.

Don’t forget to submit your own Airstream bathrooms for a community roundup post! We ask that images be submitted via Dropbox to hello@themoderncaravan.com unedited and high-res for consideration!

The Isla Project

Where do I even begin?

It's Monday morning, and we're sitting in Arizona. Out the window of our Airstream is our extended awning, a field of wheat that will eventually become Italian pasta (go figure!), and a beautiful mountain range. The dirt here is red and soft, which we decided was great, as our trailer wheels leveled themselves out and we didn't even have to pull out the leveling blocks. The scenery isn't as idyllic as one would hope, but we are tucked away from where we'll be working, and that's a definite bonus. 

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We wrapped up work on Isla around lunchtime Friday, and hurried to take last minute showers, dump clean laundry onto the bed, and pack up the truck with our tools before hitting the road. The goodbye was quick, and we were ready to go, but it was hard to say goodbye to Chris and Paige. They became like family in a way, living on their property and spending so much time with them. Paige and I would sneak in lunches at cute places in Austin when we went in to get supplies, we all prepared dinners together, rang in the New Year with fireworks and champagne, and got to know one another on a deeper level. They saw how we live and breathe our work, and how challenging it can be for us at times, and offered comfort and childcare and community. 

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Isla, in and of itself, was an extremely trying project in many ways. Our initial goal was to do the renovation in four months, which seemed doable. Our first client project was wrapped within three months while we both still worked: Ellen was teaching elementary art full-time and I was doing freelance design and photography. However, the difference was that the chassis, subfloor, and tanks were already new and complete, done by another company before our clients brought us the project. 

If you read our last post, you know that we made the rookie mistake of overextending ourselves. Our projects need to be spaced out, and we need to allot more time so we can have a life outside of renovation. Working on Isla allowed us to come to this realization fully, and like all projects we do, there is a learning curve. So much of what is seen on social media is not an accurate representation of the work. Yes, we work fast...but we also don't have a life outside of work in our current time frame. Yes...it looks seamless and easy when it's all complete, but what you can't see is the effort, the frustration, the bruises, blood, and tears. 

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Isla was the toughest project we've ever taken on. The time frame would have likely worked out better if the Airstream itself hadn't been in such rough shape. The exterior skin was pitted, for starters, but we also had to undertake a full restoration on five vista view windows and three flat fixed windows, which took two and a half weeks we hadn't anticipated or calculated for. We outsourced a few things this time around (for the first time ever!), like countertops and custom cushions, and the countertops were installed two weeks late, which pushed us back even further. We dealt with bad weather (ice! snow! eight degrees!), illness, and general overwhelm. The day we were supposed to finish the project, Ellen was in Wisconsin for a family funeral. We gave up our Christmas plans and powered through the days working instead, thinking we’d get caught up. Our momentum took a beating time and again, and our patience and strength was tested - hard. 

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In those final days, however, as we oiled cabinetry and grouted tile, cleaned the interior, installed those blush velvet cushions on the sectional, styled, and photographed the space…the months of work and stress and pain didn’t melt away, but they, like always…began to make sense. The walnut cabinetry and trim, the gorgeous tile from Fireclay, the countertops…all the elements that make Isla a beautiful home, began to shine. Our strengths as designer and builder, when working together, make magic that we can feel and see. Standing in the finished space, I took the time to   be still with each and every aspect that we worked so hard to craft and dream up. I knew, without a doubt, that the space I designed was completely unique and that it fit our clients perfectly.

Though they named their Airstream 'Isla', we affectionately referred to it as the ‘Paige Project’. Paige was so involved, helpful, and supportive throughout the entire process: she wanted to be a part of the build. She happily wielded a polisher, paintbrush, and drill…and was always ready to run to Lowe’s or order supplies. She’d slip beers into our hands after long days, and as we hit the final stretch, insisted we take a night off and rest before the crazy, providing a fancy night for Adelaide at their house, complete with homemade pizza, cookie baking, art projects, and a movie. 

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More than anything, we felt taken care of by Paige. She genuinely cared for our well-being, and wanted us to feel at home. Having met her, to know her, is a true gift and we will carry her with us always. To have built her home…her beautiful home…was just as much a gift to us. 

Regarding the design, this particular project was so incredibly seamless…each tone, texture, and fixture compliments each and every other. From the gorgeous tiles generously provided by Fireclay Tile, champagne brass faucets and shower hardware, white star shower tile,  herringbone floors from Kaindl, the custom walnut cabinetry/trim/wardrobe crafted in house, Corian countertops with integrated custom sinks that look like marble but are simply solid surface, the butterscotch sconces from Schoolhouse, and last but not least, the blush velvet cushions crafted by Paige’s talented, kind, and fun sister, Claire…it’s nearly impossible to pick just one element. They each work together to create an incredible space that we are so proud of.

If we had to pick? We’d say the entire living area, but especially the custom sectional and those Robert Allen blush velvet cushions. The living room space is definitely different from what we’ve done in the past, and it made sense for the clients’ lifestyle. They plan to eat at the coffee table, perched at the counter on stools, or outside. They didn’t need additional sleeping space, and having a real living room and a big kitchen was the perfect fit for them.

The layout really does make it feel more like a house, with a private bedroom, complete with en suite bathroom and full wardrobe with his and hers drawers and hanging space. Pocket doors divide the bedroom/kitchen and the bathroom also has a pocket door. 

I could easily write a novel (pretty much already have), about how much we’ve learned throughout this process and how much we love this project, despite how tough it was to build…but we’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves now. We love you, Chris, Paige, pups, and Isla, and we are wishing you an amazing first year calling Isla and the road home. 

To view the complete gallery, click right here.

WEEK 5 (6, 7 + 8): 1976 Airstream Sovereign

Well. 

Here we are, nearly five weeks after our last post.

Needless to say, we're so focused on the work (out of complete necessity), that we've barely had time to do updates for you all (and we were doing so well at first!). We truly want to give out as much information as we possibly can to you all, but this season of life has been so incredibly chaotic. Not only are we still getting a business going, we're now working on an actual renovation project. Ellen is wrapping up her last year of teaching (we still have one week of school left here!), and then there's that tiny insignificant detail of moving out of our house, downsizing everything we own, and getting back on the road. 

 So many rainy, dark days - working in the rain isn't much fun and doesn't lend itself to great photos, either...this image was taken a few weeks ago. 

So many rainy, dark days - working in the rain isn't much fun and doesn't lend itself to great photos, either...this image was taken a few weeks ago. 

With just 28 days until we move out of our house and into the Airstream, we are just trying our best to keep our heads above water, finish the renovation project beautifully, say our goodbyes to friends and family, and transition smoothly (or smoothly enough) into a very new way of life. Yes, we've lived on the road before - but it was a very different experience than this (though the crazy workload is very similar). This time though, it's not our Airstream we're pushing to finish...which brings us to the real point of this post: an update on our progress in Siya and Kristen's Airstream home.

 Progress: dry fitting custom countertops and tabletop. Appliances, receiver, subwoofer, converter box installed. Time to paint and make some cabinet doors and drawers! 

Progress: dry fitting custom countertops and tabletop. Appliances, receiver, subwoofer, converter box installed. Time to paint and make some cabinet doors and drawers! 

We've made excellent progress over the last month. We previously left you all with updates regarding reinstallation of panels, paint, wiring in light fixtures, et cetera. Since then, we've done the following: 

  • Laid flooring
  • Framed out the entire Airstream: 
    • bathroom walls
    • bed
    • street side cabinetry 
    • curb side cabinetry
    • dinette
    • new wheel wells (plus insulation) 
  • Installed bathroom/kitchen dividing wall (using 1/4" ply)
  • Installed toe kick on cabinetry and secured to Airstream
  • Built fridge platform and installed undermount fridge 
  • Installed kitchen sink 
  • Built platform for oven and did dry install
  • Cut Elm planks and assembled tabletop, began planing/sanding process
  • Installed a city water inlet
  • Switched out fresh tank vent plumbing for new and properly angled 
  • Fleshed out dinette framing with 3/4" ply and cut drawer front, along with top down openings for storage access
  • Seat cushion foam cut to fit, linen upholstery cut and sewn
  • Installed subwoofer, receiver, outlet, and converter box in dinette benches
  • Built out bed, along with front laundry access
  • Installed and wired AC + DC outlets in bed frame 
  • Began ripping barn wood planks for custom countertops
  • Wiring up the AC + DC into the converter box 

And I'm sure we're missing tons of other little things, especially as this Airstream is really coming together! Though we've still a long way to go (and in all likelihood, 20 hour days ahead of us starting next weekend), we're confident that we'll get finished on time. We are getting so excited to do this big reveal for Siya and Kristen, as they are our only clients who will not be (or rather haven't been), with us for the entire duration of the renovation. Their jobs as travel bloggers take them all over the world, which is so incredible - so there is something really special about this renovation. We're doing our best to keep from oversharing so these two get a big surprise when they walk into their home for the first time! We will definitely be getting some video of their reactions, so stay tuned for that. 

Two months down, one to go.