A Canadian Couple Revitalize a 1970s Airstream Using Salvaged Materials

A Canadian Couple Revitalize a 1970s Airstream Using Salvaged Materials

By Laura Mauk
Hanson Land & Sea use local, reclaimed materials to transform a vintage Airstream into a family escape.

When Ryan Hanson, of Hanson Land & Sea—a design-build company in the Sunshine Coast region of British Columbia, Canada, and his wife Catherine Macleod discovered a 1970s Airstream in disrepair on a renovation job site, they knew immediately it would become one of their next projects. "We’ve both always appreciated the timeless look of Airstreams," Ryan says. "We found this one, in all its 1970s glory, on a property we were renovating together."

Designer and builder Ryan Hanson and his wife Catherine Macleod turned a 1970s Airstream into a tiny getaway for their family.

When Ryan and Catherine first took ownership of the Airstream, they hoped to do a light renovation. "We wanted to keep it vintage, but once we started working it was clear everything needed to come out," Ryan says.

It took little discussion before the couple, who live in the town of Roberts Creek, decided to procure the Airstream and renovate it for their own use. "It has been a really fun project," Ryan says. "Originally, we were going to use it as a guest space—a potential bed and breakfast on our land—but we’ve fallen in love with it ourselves."

The couple now uses the Airstream, which is a stone’s throw from their home, for camping out with their children. Soon, they plan to move it to a recreation property they own and use it as a getaway. "It will be a sweet spot to escape to," Ryan says. "We have an extra mattress that pulls out from under the daybed, so our family of four can sleep there."

The interior of the Airstream was reimagined using reclaimed materials. The flooring is made of old-growth Douglas fir, and the ceiling features yellow cedar sawmill offcuts. Ryan crafted the built-in sofa using more cedar sawmill offcuts, while Catherine sewed the drapery and the upholstery, using fabric she collected from various thrift shops and IKEA.

The coffee table in the living area is an old trunk Ryan and Catherine found in a shed on their property.

When Ryan and Catherine first took ownership of the Airstream, they hoped to do a light renovation. "We wanted to keep it vintage, but once we started working it was clear everything needed to come out," Ryan says. "There was water damage, mold, and it leaked."

The couple gutted the Airstream, stripping it down to the frame, and designed a new floor plan for the interior. Ryan completed the structural, electrical, and plumbing work and applied spray foam insulation. "I spent weekends with Cath’s brother laying new flooring, applying stucco, and hand-plastering the entire curvy interior," he says. Ryan also constructed new cabinetry and counters for the kitchen and a vanity for the bathroom. "Cath painted, tiled the bathroom, made all of the upholstery, and sewed the curtains," he says. "She brings the cozy."

The couple outfitted the kitchen with stainless steel counters and cabinetry and shelving made from Douglas fir sawmill offcuts.

Homemade drapes and a built-in king-size bed make for a cozy sleeping area.

The kitchen cabinetry, shelving, and flooring throughout the Airstream are crafted from salvaged old-growth Douglas fir. The ceiling is clad with yellow cedar sawmill offcuts, while the kitchen counters and a partial wall that divides the kitchen and the bedroom are made from yellow and red cedar sawmill offcuts. The bathroom features a maple slab for the vanity and hexagonal mosaic tile on the floors and shower walls.

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A partial wall made from cedar sawmill offcuts separates the kitchen from the bedroom area.

"We found the bathroom taps in an old shed on our property, and the sink is a copper bowl that Cath scored on eBay," Ryan says. "The majority of the materials were either salvaged from jobs, offcuts from the sawmill, or purchased used or on sale," says Ryan, who crafted the built-in sofa and bedside table from sawmill offcuts and salvaged brackets. 

In the bathroom, hexagonal mosaic tile covers the floor and the shower walls. The vanity is made from a maple slab, and the sink and the fixtures are copper.

The live-edge maple vanity and the copper fixtures (which Ryan and Catherine found in an old shed on their property) lend warmth and texture to the bathroom.

"We strive to use local and native materials with minimal finishing, letting the materials speak for themselves," Ryan adds. "We like to maintain clean lines and create a timeless look, using older building techniques and leaving tool marks on materials."

"Cath and I’ve worked on a bunch of renovation projects," Ryan says. "We have fun and enjoy working together—it’s our shared hobby."

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