18 Vintage Airstream Renovations That’ll Make You Want to Hop on the Bandwagon

18 Vintage Airstream Renovations That’ll Make You Want to Hop on the Bandwagon

Architects, designers, and DIYers revamp the classic travel trailers to serve as contemporary workspaces, rentals, and even primary residences.

Airstream trailers emerged in the 1930s and became emblems of Americana—specifically automobile-oriented vacation culture—by the 1950s. The trailers were originally designed to incorporate aircraft construction methods that would lessen wind resistance and improve their strength-to-weight ratio—namely, an aerodynamic, curved shape, polished aluminum exterior, and riveted panels. The interiors were also innovative for the time, complete with synthetic fabrics, laminate countertops and cabinets, and creative storage solutions. Today, many Airstream owners and designers overhaul the vintage travel trailers by incorporating updated features while preserving the quintessential Airstream style.

A Photographer Couple’s Airstream Renovation Lets Them Take Their Business on the Road

Brandon and Gabi Fox—a husband-and-wife team of photographers— transformed this 1972 Airstream Overlander into a mobile live/work studio that lets them pursue their unconventional lifestyle. The Seattle-based couple run their photography business out of the renovated Airstream, traveling the country to shoot weddings and elopements. 

With no prior experience, the couple turned to online research—particularly Airforums.com—to look up answers to questions that arose during the renovation process. The 190-square-foot Airstream now boasts a stove, dining area, and cozy bedroom, which includes hidden storage.

Jonathan and Ashley Longnecker and their four kids downsized from a spacious home to live in their 1972 Airstream Sovereign. In just six months, the couple transformed the vintage trailer into an off-grid family residence complete with built-in storage, colorful decor, and a workspace.

Despite its 220-square-foot size, the Airstream is fully functional for the six-person family. The kids have bunk beds that fold down into two couches to provide enough space for guests.

Custom fabricator Eoin Murphy and designer Robin Grundy-Murphy—the couple behind design practice BORIEN Studio—renovated this 1965 Airstream Overlander Land Yacht for a client in Arkansas. Because the client planned to use the trailer for entertaining rather than as a primary accommodation, the duo preserved the original open-concept layout and created furnishings that fold away to create a sense of spaciousness inside the compact stucture. 

California-based Airstream renovation company Innovative Spaces gave this 1984 triple-axle Excella a complete gut and shell-off renovation for a young family in San Antonio, Texas. The goal was to maximize space in the 34-foot-long trailer and make the Airstream off-grid compatible for weekend getaways and long-term vacations. The exterior of the chassis was updated with a fresh coat of paint in a blue-gray hue inspired by Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans.

The living spaces feature Kahrs’ Oak Johan wood flooring and custom maple cabinetry stained and painted in Benjamin Moore’s Swiss Coffee. A leather sofa lifts to reveal battery storage: Thanks to 200-watt solar panels, a 600aH lithium-ion battery bank, a charge controller, and a 2,500-watt inverter, the 1984 Airstream can go off-grid for three to five days.

Interior designer Markie Miller and her dad, Lance Price—the woodworker behind Ironwood Furniture Co.—joined forces to revamp a run-down 1972 Airstream Sovereign Land Yacht. "This was a special father-daughter project for a couple of people who have a habit of falling in love with things that need fixing," Markie says. Inside the 200-square-foot space, Lance’s wood-and-metal furnishings—the banquette, bed frame, shelving, cabinetry, and countertops—take center stage. 

The 80-square-foot Kugelschiff (German for "bullet ship") is a renovated Airstream Bambi II that now serves as a tiny home and office for tech entrepreneur Jeff Kleck. Robert Edmonds of Edmonds + Lee Architects designed a desk set on pistons that converts to a bed.

Inside the live/work Airstream trailer, a sleek meeting area with built-in seating is marked by an Eero Saarinen-designed Tulip table.

After purchasing a dilapidated 1971 Airstream Sovereign for less than $5,000, Seattle-based couple Natasha Lawyer and Brett Bashaw overhauled the 200-square-foot trailer for approximately $22,000. The daybed area in the front of the Airstream transitions into a small kitchen and bathroom, while a sleeping area with a king-size bed occupies the rear. 

Design-build company Innovative Spaces completed a top-to-bottom restoration of this 1973 Airstream Tradewind for a solo adventurer who was ready for life on the open road with her cat and dog in tow. Interior designer Lauren Ravenhill of LF Design Studio worked with the client to find timeless finishes that jibed with her aesthetic, such as maple flooring and shelves.

The 165-square-foot interior includes a variety of thoughtfully arranged areas, including a luxurious bathroom, work desk, bedroom, closet, and kitchen with a breakfast nook. It also features built-in dog and cat beds and a screened-in, drop-down deck.

Anna Jacobs and Damian Schmitt embarked on their first vintage Airstream renovation with this 1966 Overlander, which they affectionately named Gilda. The majority of fixtures they chose for Gilda were designed for standard homes, including the kitchen and bathroom sinks, faucets, decorative handles, kitchen accessories, and light fixtures. "We ordered most of our light fixtures from Etsy," Anna says. "Being custom-made, we were easily able to modify them to 12V. That way, they can run off batteries when plugged in and pull less power."

Richmond, Virginia–based couple Grace Kuhn and David Phinney spent 18 months rehabbing their 31-foot-long Airstream before taking it on the open road with their dog. Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s philosophy of organic architecture, the renovated trailer features a pared-down interior. "I started resonating with colors like browns and grays found in nature," says Grace. "Nature makes makes people feel calm and collected. I wanted to have a space that gives me that feeling."

Load-bearing drawers pull out from under the sofa, allowing the lounge to transform into a full bed that can sleep two adults. The drawers and cubbies underneath offer concealed storage for the couple’s solar batteries, blankets, and other miscellaneous items.

Designer and builder Ryan Hanson and his wife, Catherine Macleod, turned a 1970s Airstream into a tiny getaway for their family. The vintage trailer’s interior was reimagined using primarily reclaimed materials, including old-growth Douglas fir for the flooring and cedar sawmill offcuts for the ceiling. Ryan crafted the built-in sofa using more cedar sawmill offcuts, while Catherine sewed the drapery and upholstery using fabric she collected from various thrift shops and Ikea.

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

The owners of Traverse Design + Build—based in Sun Valley, Idaho—took on a personal project, completing a top-to-bottom overhaul of a 27-foot 1971 Airstream Overland. 

The updated interior features engineered maple floors, white Ikea cabinetry, stainless-steel counters, and Tiffany-blue upper cabinetry. A two-burner stove, refrigerator, and sink give the owners a fully operational kitchen to prepare meals. Meanwhile, a sofa that folds out into a full-size bed with storage underneath was built across the aisle.

Art teacher Ellen Prasse and her partner, artist and writer Kate Oliver, transformed their lives in 2014 when they renovated their own 1977 Airstream. The personal project led them to launch their own business, The Modern Caravan, where they renovate Airstreams on a client-by-client basis. The owners of the vintage Airstream pictured above wanted the small space to function as their full-time residence with enough space for their two dogs—and to host guests, on occasion.

Mother-daughter design duo Tristan and Lynne Knowlton of Design The Life You Want To Live chipped away at the renovation of this 1976 Sovereign International Land Yacht over the course of a year. "At first, we intended on doing the renovations with the idea of renting out the Airstream on Airbnb," says Lynne. "But when phases one and two were complete, we fell in love with it [even more] and decided to take it out for a cross-country tour."

Kerri Cole and Patrick Neely, the husband-and-wife duo behind the Denver-based design studio Colorado Caravan, transformed this 1974 Airstream Overlander for a family of five in just four months. Spoonflower Boho Tile Blush Dark wallpaper by Holli Zollinger adds a pop of color in the kitchen, which features new cabinetry and appliances, including a Furion 2-in-1 range oven.

Affectionately named Birdie, the 154-square-foot Airstream was treated to a sleek overhaul with an abundance of storage hidden beneath custom furniture. The convertible dinette, which fits five to seven people, can be transformed into a large family sofa or a queen-size bed. 

Atlanta-based couple Sheena and Jason successfully revamped a 1975 Airstream, also known as Mavis, to serve as their "rolling living and workspace." Because Sheena and Jason both work remotely, the duo made sure to create two dedicated work areas—Sheena’s desk is near their bed at the front of the trailer, while Jason’s work area is separately located toward the back.

It took Sheena and Jason 10 months to complete the Airstream renovation. "Originally, our trailer was a rear-bath unit with twin-size beds," Sheena says. "We relocated the [sleeping area] to the front of the trailer; it’s the sunniest spot and definitely makes for a great space for our dog to bask in the sun for his afternoon naps." 

Landscape architect Andreas Stavropoulos transformed a 1959 Airstream that he bought off of Craigslist into a live-in structure situated in the garden of a co-op in North Berkeley, California. With just 150 square feet to work with, Andreas "jettisoned the 1950s colors and wall-to-wall linoleum, and moved in with cork flooring, track lighting, fresh, colorful paint, and custom- designed cabinets and furniture to fit the interior topography," he says.

Stavropoulos stripped the original "flesh-toned" paint to reveal the Airstream’s aluminum interior. Under the bed, a large drawer creates a storage area for the resident’s clothes.

Japanese architect Toshihiko Suzuki of Tokyo-based design firm Atelier OPA applied his small-space sensibility to this gutted Airstream. A steel-clad central island in the center of the space 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.

Much like traditional Japanese futon beds, the mattress hidden in the table folds out for a softer place to sleep. The architect paid close attention to small details, like reading lights at each bed.

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