Family Heirloom: A Musician Makes His Home in a Restored 1968 Airstream Land Yacht
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Family Heirloom: A Musician Makes His Home in a Restored 1968 Airstream Land Yacht

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By Ethan Tucker
Musician and designer August Hausman transforms his dad’s old trailer into a cozy minimalist space that goes big on the details.

The story of August Hausman’s restored 1968 Airstream Land Yacht begins about 25 years ago, when his father, noted interior designer Shawn Hausman, received it as a 40th birthday present from his own father, a film producer. "My dad had it for a while," says August. "He lived in it a bit when he was working on projects and whatnot, but for the past decade it’s just been rotting away." 

A musician as well as an interior designer in his own right, August saw an opportunity. "I thought it was a gem," he tells Dwell, "and I don’t think my dad had a plan to do anything with it, so I asked him if I could take it off his hands." At first, he toyed with the idea of fixing the trailer up to make an Instagrammable rental or an Airbnb, but around the same time he decided to leave Los Angeles for his hometown of Ojai and he needed a place to live.

Ojai is a town of about 8,000 located in Ventura County a few hours drive north of L.A. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Los Padres National Forest, it’s long been a retreat for artists, hippies, and new-age types. While August is probably not the only person in Ojai who lives in a restored Airstream, his is probably one of the nicest around, with a clean, timeless design and a few high-end flourishes; it’s a place he is happy to call home. 

The Airstream Haus, parked in Ojai, California. August says that when your dwelling is small, it’s important to make the most of outdoor space.

The Airstream Haus’s interior is minimalist, but comfortable, boasting a fully functional kitchen and queen-size bed that doubles as a couch.

But before it was home, it was a project. The trailer needed a lot of work, and August had decided early on to do it all himself. He began by gutting the interior down to the panels and the subfloor. When it was down to bare bones, he hauled the trailer from the lot where it had been sitting neglected for a decade, to a friend’s tiny-home shop in Ventura, California to borrow some tools. 

The design work came naturally to August, who had a clear idea of what he wanted the space to feel like. "I wanted it to feel like an old airstream, just with a refreshed new face. So I decided to start with white and have only one wood tone, walnut. Then I would add the color as I lived in it—I liked the idea of starting with this blank space and adding things over time." But the build was less simple than he hoped.

"I wanted it to feel like an old Airstream, just with a refreshed new face. So I decided to start with white and have only one wood tone, walnut," says August.

Years of working in film-industry art departments and some DIY skills he picked up remodeling past apartments came in handy, but didn’t fully prepare him for the challenges posed by the Airstream’s small space and lack of straight lines. "When I started, I was thinking maybe I’ll be able to do this in four or five months, and here I am a year later finishing it up," he admits. "Those airstreams are hard, man. Every curve is different, nothing is square."

For the interior, August deployed dark walnut for the countertop in the kitchenette, the table in the dinette, and the doorway trim. The cabinets, which he built himself, are fitted with porcelain knobs designed by Pierre Charpin. "Of course they were the most expensive ones I found," laments August, "but I fell in love with them and I had to make it work." The functional kitchen is the trailer’s centerpiece—the long countertop offers plenty of workspace and cabinets, and compact appliances maximize every square inch. 

The kitchenette is an exercise in space efficiency; a handmade walnut insert covers the sink to maximize counter space.

Since August’s Land Yacht is only 23 feet long, it does not have a separate bedroom. Instead, a queen-size bed in the main living area hides storage beneath, and it can be configured into a couch or daybed. In the bathroom, he replaced the original hulking fiberglass combination sink and shower with a composting toilet and an open shower. The composting toilet also allowed him to repurpose the black water tank as a gray water tank, which can be drained with a leech line into a nearby garden.

August decided to forgo an enclosed shower, opting instead to build an outdoor shower where he keeps his trailer parked. A composting toilet means that there is no black water tank to pump out.

The minimalist bathroom features another walnut countertop. The Airstream’s curves and lack of straight walls presented a challenge for August, who built all of his own cabinetry.

August was intent on honoring the history of his camper; he left the exterior unpolished, keeping the patina earned by decades spent on the road. Inside, the original control panel with buttons that once controlled water pumps, tanks, and electricity is embedded in the wall between the sleeping area and the kitchen. "I upgraded all the systems, like inverters, converters, batteries, and such, so I don’t actually use it that much. But I felt like it’s the heart of the Airstream and I wanted to keep that," he says.

The trailer’s original exterior boasts the hard-earned patina of decades spent on the road.

It’s a distinctly modern, almost minimalist look, but the spare design keeps an already small space from feeling cramped. August, who has been living in what he calls the "Airstream Haus" for three months now, says that although it’s challenging to live in such a small space, in the end it’s worth it. "You have to really be selective about what you have and what you put in there," he says. "You realize what things you need and what things you really don’t. The things that you do use, you want them to be special."

An oil painting of American bison is an homage to August’s grandfather’s ranch in Montana.

The small space also allowed August to indulge in small luxuries. Leftover tile from the TWA terminal in New York, supplied by his friend Anne Sacks at DDS tile, covers the bathroom floor, and the sleeping area features upholstery from Diamond Textiles and custom pillows from Hermès. "Besides," he says, "it’s 4,000 pounds, and I can strap it to my truck in ten minutes and take off—I think that freedom is a really important side of it too."

Related Reading: 

8 Ways to Renovate an Airstream 

Budget Breakdown: A 1972 Airstream Sovereign Is Transformed Into a Family Home For $23K 

Project Credits:

Designer/Builder: August Hausman / @augustlifestyle

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