When a solo adventurer was ready for life on the open road with her cat and dog in tow, she turned to Innovative Spaces to help source, design, and build out her new home on wheels. Through their network of Airstream pickers, the mobile home design-build firm found a 1973 Airstream Tradewind.
"The condition of these vintage trailers rarely matters for our projects, as we replace just about everything on the interior and often also do quite a bit of customization on the exterior," says Innovative Spaces owner Nate Stover. "It was your typical 1970s trailer—pretty funky inside after years of sitting around."
The design firm gutted the trailer and then did a top-to-bottom "shell-off restoration." After decades on the road, steel chassises often rust, bend and endure other kinds of wear and tear. By removing the shell, the design firm can ensure that the core of the trailer is rock solid.
"In essence, we gut the entire trailer and lift the shell off of the chassis. We do this to make sure that we are building on a solid foundation," Stover says. "We spend thousands of man-hours on these renovations, and our clients pay a pretty penny for us to build them, so it is critical that we start with a solid foundation that will last another five decades on the road."
To strengthen and lighten the trailer, the chassis was completely rebuilt out of aluminum. Then the subfloor systems—grey and black water tanks, wiring and plumbing, and fiberboard—were installed. From there, the shell was reattached and spray foam insulation and new aluminum interior skins were added.
Around 90% of the Airstream was overhauled, and the interior layout was completely reconfigured. The client requested an open-concept space with a great kitchen for cooking and a spa-like bathroom. She also wanted it to be off-grid compatible for her adventures.
The 165-square-foot interior includes a variety of thoughtfully arranged areas, like a luxurious bathroom, work desk, bedroom, office, closet, and a kitchen with breakfast nook. It also features built-in dog and cat beds, an outdoor screened-in drop-down deck, and plenty of storage.
"We rarely rebuild projects similar to the layout of the original space. Every client has a different vision for the space, and thus every project is very different, even though we use similar products, methods, and materials," Stover says. "Some common themes to our designs include a focus on multiuse spaces with lots of ground-level storage, and cultivating the feeling of an airy, open space by leaving the headroom areas uncluttered and generally free of cabinets."
Shop the Look
Interior designer Lauren Ravenhill of LF Design Studio worked with the client to find unique and timeless finishes that jibed with her aesthetic. "Kahrs maple flooring lends a warm foundation, comfy leather cushions will stand the test of time and get better with wear, and a maple tabletop and shelves complement the flooring and anchor the spaces," Stover adds.
The kitchen is designed with the client’s love for cooking in mind, and it features a custom wine rack, deep sink, double-burner stove, and Smeg microwave. With the pets in mind, an eye-level eating area and individual sleeping spaces also were integrated. And a central vacuum system makes cleanup easy.
With a spa-like vibe, the wet bath is waterproofed. The walls are clad in whitewashed cedar and paired with Glacier White Corian countertops, teak flooring, and a bench. A see-through wall with a floral motif welcomes natural light into the bath, while also providing privacy.
A lightweight aluminum deck off the kitchen adds extra square footage to the small living space. With a push of a button, the drop-down deck lowers. And a mosquito net awning adds a layer of protection from outdoor elements.
Builder/General Contractor: Nate Stover, Innovative Spaces
Lighting Design: Nate Stover, Innovative Spaces
Interior Design: Lauren Ravenhill, LF Design Studio
Cabinetry Design: Nate Stover, Innovative Spaces
Get the Renovations Newsletter
From warehouse conversions to rehabbed midcentury gems, to expert advice and budget breakdowns, the renovation newsletter serves up the inspiration you need to tackle your next project.