Tour this Renovated Airstream with Tropical Vibes
This week we’re touring another renovated Airstream, only this one will have you daydreaming of a tropical vacation.
For those that are new here, we’ve created a design vibes series where we highlight renovated campers (and other inspiring spaces) every Friday! Our goal is to share how others have reimagined their homes, in hopes of inspiring you to create a space you love, regardless of the square footage
Brittany and her husband Will began restoring and renovating Airstreams in late 2016 as a way to flex her passion for design and keep his hands busy during graduate school.
They instantly fell in love with the process, and what started as an impulsive purchase has now become the spark to a life of travel, love, and excitement. It has also led to the creation of their business, Trailer Trashin, where they offer everything from design consultations to full on restoration and renovation for vintage trailers!
Today we’re touring their third Airstream, which has been completely updated with modern finishes and tropical vibes. They plan to take this 34-foot beauty on a road trip to Canada in September, which sounds like an amazing adventure!
The overall design was inspired by a fabric Brittany found and used to create pillows throughout.
I love how despite the modern finishes, this Airstream still has vintage flair and how they incorporated an original Airstream advertisement into the interior.
Let’s dive into the tour!
Airstream Renovation with Tropical Vibes
What kind of RV/Camper do you have?
1985 Airstream Sovereign 34′
What led you to the tiny life?
Our tiny life bug started when, randomly, my mom suggested on the phone that we renovate an old Airstream. She said “Y’all should get an Airstream and renovate it”. I still have no idea where that statement came from, and I was wishing the phone wasn’t on speaker. Will over heard her and immediately shouted, “YEAH! We should do that!” By Friday, we were proud owners of a vintage 1971 Airstream. We had just spent the previous year renovating our 1982 home in College Station ourselves and had become more confident in our skills. We missed the design and project aspect, so after not so much debating, we had bought our first Airstream by the end of that week. We are currently on our third Airstream renovation and haven’t looked back. This third one has been a beast. It is also the first one Will and I are considering moving into full time although we haven’t fully taken the plunge yet.
How would you describe your decorating style?
I can comfortably say I lean more towards modern. My tastes have evolved over the years, and it has been enjoyable to see the change. One of the main reasons we have continued to renovate Airstreams is that it is an outlet for both of us to bond over. Will loves to have a project, and I love telling him what to do ;). Medicine is a pretty rigid career, and this gives me an outlet to fulfill my creative side. Once I get an inspiration, I have to see it through prompting Airstream #2 and then #3… I draw from West Elm, CB2, and Article. Another reason I like doing this is it affords me the opportunity to change my style or be bolder than I would be in a larger space. For example, the first airstream was more feminine. The second was more masculine and “Southwest” than I had ever previously done, and this third one is just tropical perfection. All three are tied together with a modern vibe.
Here’s a before photo to give you an idea of how far this Airstream renovation has come.
Slide over the image to see the before photos.
Who do you travel with?
Our crew consists of my husband, Will, myself, and our three pups. We have a yellow lab (Rebel 12 years old), Smore (Shih Tzu 12 years old), and our “surprise at the end,” Riley (3 years old). It is definitely a motley crew, but it is invaluable to Will and me to be able to travel with our boys. Sometimes our travels feature cameos from my large family as well (I am the oldest of 5 children).
How often do you travel?
I am a hospitalist Physician Assistant. Through my job, I work 7 days on followed by 7 days off. There are definite pros and cons to that schedule, but a big pro is that it affords ample opportunity for travel. We have already taken several trips this year. In July, we cruised to Alaska for my Dad’s 60th, and in September we are celebrating the completion of the third renovation with a road trip to Banff, Canada. Details about both of those trips will be up on our site! The Banff road trip is an idea I dreamt up after renovating our second airstream, and I am so happy we will be going in our third one. The extra 9 feet of living space will be greatly appreciated as we cross the country northward!
How long did it take you to remodel your RV/Camper?
Airstream III has taken about 8 weeks of consistently working on it. Will does most of the heavy lifting in the renovating department. I have been known to caulk, sew and paint.
How much did you spend on the renovation?
Let’s just say that the previous renovations have allowed us to take on slightly bigger projects each time. We are not getting rich on the renovations, but they sustain our hobbies. We jokingly say that we are working our way to a brand-new Airstream one decade at a time. 70’s (check!), 80’s (check!), 90’s (in the works).
Did you do everything yourself, pay a professional or do a mix of both?
Over the course of the Airstreams, we have done 99% of everything ourselves. From the sub-floor repair, exterior sealing, window tinting, electrical, painting, plumbing, decorating to furnace/AC/water heater replacement. We have a plumber friend, Nik Boyd (Wilson Plumbing Co., Inc) who helped us replace busted copper pipes with PEX the first one, and he is a highly valuable consultant on little jobs on the last two. Other than that, YouTube and Google have been our greatest ally. There is no educator like experience as well.
Paint Colors Used?
Our color of choice is ‘Snowbound’ by Sherwin Williams. I just love making these old dark Airstreams start out with a light and bright base. Watching them transform with every design layer is the most intriguing part.
If you updated the flooring, what kind did you use?
We chose a waterproof laminate to install. It was lighter weight, and the waterproof feature was an added bonus. Crazy story about the flooring… we were shopping at a local store and I fell in love with this one option. It was going to cost over $1200 for 180 square feet! Over $6/ sqft despite the “deal” they were going to give us. Will ended up shopping around online and found it for less than ½ the price. We loved that we could use that savings for an upgraded AC unit!
What was your least favorite project and why?
I would have to say painting. There is so much prep work and cleaning that goes into that chore. Although it is tedious, it is one of the most rewarding. We always cannot wait to get past that step. It seems like everything really starts to take off after that is completed.
What was most challenging about your renovation?
The most challenging part about renovating an Airstream is navigating the curves in the shell. There are NO right (90) angles when putting anything in or cutting a floor board. Every curve and angle need to be painstakingly mapped out and cut with precision. The trial and error in the process have been nothing short of a nightmare that keep Will up at night. It is getting better with time though and when you put in a perfectly fitted piece on a curve, it is one of the best feelings in the world. Pure ecstasy!
What project made the most difference in the space?
I think like I mentioned above painting makes a huge difference. Another thing that I didn’t realize I would appreciate so much is lighting. We were much braver with our choices this go around, and I am surprised how it transformed the space. Will installed an LED dimmable rope light over our desk area that he just sits under mesmerized.
What do you enjoy most about your space following the transformation? Is there a specific area you spend most of your time?
I have to say I am most excited to be upgraded to a king size bed. With the crew I mentioned before, the two little guys feel like our bed is their bed. Having enough space for all of us will be a welcome addition to our travels. In addition, the “bedroom” is so cozy. It is like a little nest where we can lay our head after our travels have ended for the day. I think Will’s favorite spot is the last chair at the desk. He loves sitting there working on his computer, next to the fridge. Every time he sits there he talks about how he can just grab a cold Topo Chico! It is also right in front of the two big windows, so he can enjoy whatever view there is to be had.
Where’s your favorite place to shop for décor?
I mentioned some of my inspiration places being West Elm, CB2, and Article. I wish I could outfit every Airstream in that décor. I usually use these places as jumping off points and find a more reasonable priced item on various websites. I do find that I will look for sales on things that I just “have to have.” Most common places include Amazon, IKEA, and Pottery Barn.
What’s your favorite tiny home hack?
Our renovations have all been on vintage Airstreams. The walls are all curved, including the windows. Any sort of window treatment will fall away from the window and leave a noticeable gap at the bottom. Not great for privacy! My husband started using tiny magnets that allow the curtains to stay close to the wall giving us that needed privacy from nosey neighbors. I’d say this is our best ‘hack’ for dealing with the uniqueness of an Airstream shell.
What piece of advice would you give people starting an RV/Camper renovation?
Be prepared to be stumped at times (and persistent)! It will be so different from anything you have ever tackled. Fortunately, we have found a solution for all the hiccups that have arisen. There is a plethora of information on YouTube, various blogs and forums to lean on. Don’t skimp on style as well. The details of design are what make a tiny space welcoming. Expect to spend more than you thought! I wish this wasn’t true, but it has been the case for us throughout our renovations (and others that we have talked to). There are so many times where I thought, “How could such a tiny space cost some much money?” It is all worth it in the end though. There is no better feeling than when we get to enjoy and live comfortably in the space.
What’s your favorite aspect of tiny living?
We can only speak casually on this topic since we are not full-timers, but I have to say life (and the associated craziness) seems simpler. We connect more as a couple, and the time we have together is of substance. We are not concerned about the next Netflix episode we need to catch or the new thing we need off Amazon. It is healing to be able to sit silently next to someone simply reading a book or appreciating nature and not preoccupy yourself with filling the space with words or actions.
What is something you’ve learned in general or about yourself since going tiny?
The biggest self-discovery I found was just how adventurous my spirit really was. I always wanted to get out and travel, but it was not until we had not taken that step to create our vessel (Airstream) that this dream finally felt obtainable. I also learned that I crave a simple, fulfilling life. One full of experiences, not materials. One full of love, not worry. While this is not something contained to tiny living or RV traveling, we have found our balance in this mix.
What has been your favorite place to explore so far during your journey?
Being from Texas, there is a lot of ground to cover, so our trips outside the state are limited. We’re hoping to change that coming September! But I actually have two Texas favorites so far. First, Big Bend National Park! I may be biased, but I feel like this park does not get enough attention. It is absolutely stunning, but it is quite a trek. There are so many things to do inside the park with beautiful hiking trails, but two spots stick out in my head. Santa Elena canyon and the hot springs have to be visited! Second, Pedernales State Park and Hamilton’s Pool. They are about 30 minutes from each other, but it is worth seeing both of them if you are in the area. I can’t believe Hamilton’s pool is just outside of Austin. Its emerald green water is enchanting.
Thank you so much Brittany and Will for sharing your amazing renovation with us, and we can’t wait to see what else you do!
Follow Trailer Trashin'!
Be sure to swing by Trailer Trashin to learn more about Brittany and Will, follow along on their adventures, and see all of their renovation projects! You can also watch their video tour of this renovated Airstream here.
And If you’re looking for help renovating your own vintage trailer, you can contact them for a design consultation or full-on renovation project!