After repeatedly declining a client’s request to renovate a 1965 Airstream Overlander Land Yacht in Arkansas, custom fabricator Eoin Murphy and designer Robin Grundy-Murphy finally relented after five years.
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"We decided to say yes at the beginning of 2017," says Robin, who runs the design practice BORIEN Studio with her husband Eoin. "We were moving back to Ireland permanently in the spring of 2018, so we thought it would be amazing to have this as our final project in Canada before we left."
Thrilled, the Airstream owner shipped the vehicle up to Toronto and gave the Irish-Canadian creative couple full reign over the design. His only requests were a vintage sunburst wall clock and a finished result that evokes "a midcentury modern art piece."
"I was excited to have a midcentury brief, which obviously works perfectly given the time it was made," notes Robin. "I was conscious that I didn’t want this to be a film set. This would be a modern updated take on the midcentury design. I knew that Steve would not necessarily be traveling or sleeping in it often, so it was more of an entertaining space which could adapt to a family adventure once grandchildren arrived."
The renovation process, which spanned 13 months, began with a thorough gutting of the interiors—Eoin and Robin found multiple animal nests and a live possum when they first opened the Airstream. The pair worked diligently to preserve relevant and original elements, including all of the original badges, which they replated in brass.
While restoring the Airstream, the creative duo took inspiration from futuristic salt flat race cars. They streamlined the exterior, and polished the original aluminum to a high shine.
The exterior’s elegant character carries over to the interiors. While the redesigned Airstream stays true to its original midcentury spirit, the vehicle also integrates an abundance of modern luxuries—like a Bose sound system and air conditioning units, which are hidden from view. Rooftop solar panels allow the Airstream to stay powered off the grid.
Since the airstream would be used for entertaining rather than serving as a home, Robin preserved the open-concept layout and visually divided the front and back of house with a timber architectural screen in the centrally located kitchen.
A leather banquette dining area occupies the front of the space and converts into a double bed. The bathroom and kitchen with a sofa and bunk occupy the middle. In the rear is a "chill out" day bed area that Robin says is "a definite nod to the van life, hippy culture."