Whether you need a mobile office or just want to hit the road in style, the allure of Airstreams is undeniable. For design enthusiasts looking for something more custom, retrofitting a vintage model can be an exhilarating project. Not up to doing it yourself, or need a bolt of inspiration? Here are seven of our favorite studios that specialize in remodeling Airstreams, turning their labors of love into full-time businesses.
Patrick Neely and Kerri Cole are the husband-and-wife team behind Colorado Caravan, a Denver studio that renovates caravans, containers, and Airstreams. Neely, who used to flip houses and fix up vintage cars, does the build, while Cole designs and styles. They got their start with a 1969 Globetrotter named Bonnie that they renovated for $19,180.
"Most of the phone calls we get aren’t for travel," Neely tells Dwell. "People call wanting a mobile nail salon, or something they can park at businesses. These trailers are so iconic that you can do anything with them. They are a great structure—easy to move and very designable."
Sergey Shevchuk opened Vancouver, Washington–based Silver Bullet Trailers in 2014 after updating a vintage Airstream for personal use and realizing the market was receptive to his custom Airstream renovations and restorations. "Our company was started on a basic appreciation of timeless and unique American design," says Shevchuk, who created the live/work Kugelschiff for a tech entrepreneur and his daughter.
"Our favorite aspect is the challenge of being able to fit everything needed for full-time living within the limited space that’s available," says Zachary and Colleen Cashio of their work renovating Airstreams in North Central Arkansas. "Being able to make something functional for each set of clients is different, and they each have their own set of challenges, but in the end when you see the smile on their faces, it makes it all worth it."
The couple live in a 1972 Airstream Sovereign they spruced up for $23,000 with their two sons, Ezra and Harvey, and their Australian shepherd Luna.
Whether overhauling a tiny, 98-square-foot Caraval or something a bit bigger, like a 200-square-foot Airstream that evokes a Parisian apartment, inspiration is never in short supply when it comes to Modern Caravan.
Run by self-taught renovators Kate Oliver (design) and wife Ellen Prasse (build), the company is well-known for both their craftsmanship and signature, pared-back schemes. "I tend to keep materials very minimal, and only use one to three main materials throughout the space," says Oliver. (Look for Oliver’s book on caravan living in spring of 2021.)
"With every custom Airstream build-out, we approach it as if we were renovating a studio apartment," says Mountain Modern Airstream, which is operated by Anna Jacobs and Damian Schmitt in Bend, Oregon.
The couple learned a lot on their first makeover, a 1966 Overlander named Gilda, and have since applied those lessons to more recent projects. "There’s a younger generation discovering Airstreams and realizing what they represented historically, but they’re also bringing a newer idea to it," says Schmitt.
Mavis the Airstream is owned by Sheena Armstrong and husband Jason, a couple who renovated their first "Mavis," a 1975 Airstream Overlander, in 2016, before moving on to "Mavis 2.0," a 1977 Airstream Sovereign.
They chronicle their renovations, extensive Airstream knowledge, and travels on their blog and Instagram channels under the trailer’s moniker. Interest in them has since led to Armstrong’s dad opening his own shop in Canton, Georgia, called NüAbode, with whom Armstrong works with as a designer. They tackled the conversion of a 1969 Airstream Sovereign into an on-the-go pad for Nashville musician Ryan Hunter Sanchez.
Amy Rosenfeld and Ed Potokar are the pair behind Hudson Valley Airstream, a workshop located two hours north of New York City. They renovated their first trailer, a 1972 Sovereign Land YachtAirstream called Betty Jean, in 2017. Each renovation takes about nine months, is typically named for a female singer, and results in an Airstream outfitted with top-quality materials and stylish details.
"They take a long time because we try to think of everything to make it the most efficient use of space, most stylish interiors, and everything you'd need in a modern tiny home," says Rosenfeld. "We utilize the most modern systems and fixtures, but embrace the midcentury-modern aesthetic of when they were originally made. They really are a labor of love."
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