These 7 Vintage Airstreams Were Transformed Into Modern Escapes

These 7 Vintage Airstreams Were Transformed Into Modern Escapes

By Kate Reggev
Airstream trailers may have emerged in the 1930s and become iconic of the 1950s, but today, owners and designers are revamping classic Airstreams with a contemporary, modern flair.

As emblems of the midcentury automobile-oriented vacation culture, Airstream trailers combined aerodynamic aesthetics with compact, modern interiors. They were originally designed to incorporate aircraft construction methods that would lessen wind resistance and improve the strength-to-weight ratio of the trailers—namely, an aerodynamic, curved shape, polished aluminum exterior, and riveted panels. Their interiors were innovative for the time and were complete with synthetic fabrics, laminate countertops and cabinets, and creative storage solutions. 

These quintessential exterior features have been preserved and even restored in these seven contemporary renovations of vintage Airstreams.

Cover photo by Smiling Forest Photography

1978 Trade Wind a.k.a. Sophia 

Renovated by Hofmann Architecture

The late-1970s might be known for their bright colors and disco balls, but this 1978 Airstream remodeled by Hofman Architecture is the perfect picture of modern serenity. A combination of natural materials like raw wood and textured fabric with sleek white walls and cabinets make it feel spacious and calming. Wide-plank wood flooring gives it a rustic, warm touch, while custom-made cabinetry ensures that every inch is used.

A Life-Changing 1977 Airstream

Renovated by Kate Oliver and Ellen Prasse

Art teacher Ellen Prasse and her partner, artist and writer Kate Oliver, transformed their lives and this 1977 Airstream over the course of a year, bringing the trailer back to life and giving it a classic but modern redo. Small touches, like a matte black faucet and light fixture paired with stainless-steel appliances, along with a mixture of dark and light wood finishes, prevent the space from feeling too matchy-matchy and overwhelming. 

Designer and writer Lynne Knowlton revamped her 1976 Airstream with a playful edge. 

By consistently using brushed-gold hardware, tufted blue seating (which even appears to be original!), and casually-thrown fringed blankets, the space is packed with effortless personality. Light-colored wide plank wood flooring and white paint keep the space light and airy.

A custom headboard made of triangular pieces of black walnut is the clear hero of this 1954 Airstream renovation by ArtisTree, a designer of custom tree houses and small-space homes. Because sustainability was a priority in this project, the floors are made of recycled wood (treated with the Japanese burning technique, shou-sugi-ban, to darken them), and the tiles in the bathroom are created from recycled glass. 

1979 Aistream in New Mexico

Renovated by Melissa and Rusty Miller

Melissa and Rusty Miller renovated their 1979 Airstream themselves, using recycled pallets for countertops and plywood for the dining area benches. In smaller spaces, it’s easy to get overpowered by bright colors and bold prints, so the Millers kept their palette simple and neutral, selecting accent pillows in a black-and-white pattern to make a statement. Small, understated mirrors bring in more light and even make the space feel a bit larger.

A vintage Airstream, even when it's remodeled, might not suggest luxurious showers in a marble-tiled bathroom, but Dan Weber Architecture and Geremia Design delivered high-end spaces in the two dozen Airstream trailers they renovated as part of vacation site AutoCamp. Although the boutique hotel’s location on California's Russian River and the use of Airstreams reference classic camping culture, the trailers have been transformed to transport visitors to a place of comfort and opulence. Those curved windows, however, give it away!

It goes without saying that space is precious in any Airstream, so a stashable Murphy bed proved an apt inspiration for the renovation of this vintage Airstream. The main piece in the space, a steel-clad central island, can transform into a cooking surface with a hidden sink and hot plate, a dining table for six, and even two twin beds simply by opening or expanding various drawers and surfaces. Attention to small details, like reading lights at each bed, make this Airstream a well-considered ode to transformable minimalism. 


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