Before & After: A Couple Revamp an Old Airstream Into a Charming Workspace and Home
When Sheena and Jason noticed their everyday was becoming a bit too monotonous, they knew it was time to shake things up. So, they did what any curious mind would do—they turned to the treasure trove of eBay.
It didn't take long before the Atlanta–based couple laid eyes on their next adventure: an outdated Airstream in desperate need of renovation. While it took 10 months and countless hours of hard work, Sheena and Jason have successfully revamped the old trailer, and are now transitioning to living in the 1975 Airstream—also known as Mavis—full time.
Below, Sheena tells us more about the couple's DIY renovation and sheds a light on what it's like living and working on the road. Keep scrolling for the remarkable "before" and "after" images.
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Dwell: When did you and Jason first get the idea of taking your life on the road?
Sheena: We spent the majority of the beginning of our marriage traveling every chance we got. Like most people, we lived for vacations. We also wanted to move to a different part of the country but we just couldn’t decide on where. So that’s when the idea for an Airstream came into fruition. Why not work and travel at the same time?
Tell us more about the renovation process. Did you have to stay within a specific budget for the revamp?
We rebuilt the Airstream over the course of 10 months and transitioned it into a rolling living and workspace. We didn’t have a specific budget, as we really had no idea what to expect with renovating one of these things. I’m a really good bargain shopper so we really managed to keep the costs down.
My mom gave me our kitchen faucet which was a spare she had in her garage. We found our vessel sink at a scratch-and-dent shop for a mere $10. We did have our share of splurges though, such as a big pile of tongue and groove reclaimed barn wood we used throughout the space.
Given that the renovation was 100 percent DIY, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced during this project?
We had two big challenges: designing a space that could sustain the trauma of rolling down the road at 70 mph, and designing a space basically inside a fishbowl, as my dad liked to call it. I didn’t want to disassemble everything every single time we moved the trailer. But I also wanted the space to have lots of layers, including plants and hanging baskets.
Can you tell us more about the trailer’s layout and how you went about designing the floor plan?
Since we work from the space, we wanted to be sure we both had dedicated work areas. We designed the space so we could have as much space between us as possible—my desk is at the front of the trailer and Jason’s is at the rear. Originally, our trailer was a rear-bath unit with twin size beds. We relocated the "bedroom" 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.
The interior of Mavis feels so bright and airy! What were some of your biggest sources of inspiration when decorating?
I knew I wanted the space to feel as bright and large as possible so everything from the floor up was painted white, and we added warm wood accents to the walls and countertops. I love the clean lines of Scandinavian style, yet I also wanted to add some nods to the 70s with lots of dreamy macrame and antique Turkish rugs.
What are some of your favorite storage hacks?
We hide storage everywhere possible. We have a ton of space under our sofa and bed. I think my favorite storage hack is the little space under our refrigerator to kick off our shoes when we walk in. Also, I use the walls to store things that make great wall decor.
What has been your favorite/least favorite aspect of living in a 200-square-foot Airstream?
I love how few things we have in the Airstream. Instead of a cabinet full of various sized pots and pans, we have one pot and one pan. We have no excess of anything. Everything in the trailer serves a purpose.
When we came back to our townhouse after the first four-month stretch in Mavis, we felt like everything in the house was suffocating us. Every time we make a stop back in our home town, we spend the time cleaning out the townhouse and downsizing.
Now that we know we can survive without a house, we will eventually sell the townhouse, put everything in storage and then continue to roam the country. Our plan is to build a tiny solar-powered container home somewhere in the country to serve as our home base with a nice covered area to park Mavis in the backyard.
How often are you and Jason on the move? Is there a specific place you’re dying to visit while living in Mavis?
Last summer, we spent it roaming across the western part of the USA, staying only a week or two at a time. We journeyed to Iowa to spend time with family and parked on their beautiful farmland. From there we headed west through Colorado, New Mexico, and West Texas. However, it became a little stressful juggling where to go and what places had a cell signal to work from.
This past winter, we spent a couple of months on the North Carolina coast in the teeny tiny town of Southport. It was picturesque and quiet—a welcomed change from the scene we are used to in metro Atlanta.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is seeking to restore an Airstream trailer, camper, or bus?
Plan, plan, plan! It’s one thing to build the space how you think you’ll like it and another thing to actually live in it. A tiny space is a very different animal to build. You need to think about every little area and how to make it useful. Think of creative ways to build in storage, like hiding shoes under the refrigerator or utilizing wall space for everyday items.