A small space isn’t a sacrifice in these impressive homes on wheels
February 18, 2016
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Palm Springs Realtor Matthew Reader has owned many vintage trailers (you’ll get to see a bunch here), some of which started out as barely anything more than a shell. He bought this 1955 Roadcraft for the bargain price of $1,000—and it was in a state he likens to something out of Breaking Bad. Reader had to completely rehabilitate the trailer to its current shining glory. He’s now lucky enough to live in it full time.
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Reader carried the soft yellow-and-white exterior color scheme to the interior, then tempered the look with touches of wood (like that fabulous mid-century divider). The warm tones amplify the sunlight, while the larger windows maximize the unique scenery from the vintage trailer park he calls home. Located in view of Bob Hope’s famous Lautner Estate, the “neighborhood” also boasts a clubhouse and gym converted from WWII-era bunkhouses.
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Reader’s completely tricked-out Airstream Excella trailer dates back to 1988, making it one of his more modern models. However, you’ll notice that with its clean lines and metallic body, the Excella doesn’t look very ‘80s at all. The classic rounded shape that all vintage lovers recognize as the iconic Airstream actually dates back to the 1930s.
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Reader also blurs decades in the interior of the Excella. Furniture and accessories from ‘60s and ‘70s furnishings are enlivened with a bold lime green color scheme, packing plenty of personality into the 250-square-feet. Originally bought on eBay, the Excella was the first of many Airstreams Reader would own (he sold it in 2015).
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Park and rec
Reader’s love affair with the Airstream can be traced back to childhood vacations spent in a camper and longing for the iconic recreational vehicle (which his father considered the domain of “rich people”). His 1966 Airstream Safari could be considered the cool older cousin to the Excella. He spent 14 months remodeling the trailer, and put it up for sale in 2015.
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Mad for mod
The daffodil yellow and rich brown color scheme are period-perfect for this trailer. Shag carpeting, gold leaf paneling, mid-century-style hardware, and graphic fabrics give you the feeling that you’ve stepped right into the late ‘60s. Trina Turk fabrics, LED lighting, and updated appliances bring you back to our modern age.
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Mandi Gubler of Vintage Revivals created this little hideaway (dubbed “The Nugget”) from a down-on-its luck 1973 Bell Travel Trailer, which was held together in some places with tape. Gubler spent a good two years looking for just the right camper to call her own, so she wasn’t about to let a little wear and tear get in the way of her dream. She and her husband spent four months getting it back from the brink.
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Though the trailer presents very tight quarters, it feels surprisingly open and airy. Gubler created the effect through the patterned, sunny yellow stenciled statement wall (which help draw the eye up, visually “lifting” the ceiling). Muted accents, such as the soft pink dining nook and the light wood shelving, keeps the look from feeling cluttered. Of course, it also helped to take out the hulking cabinets that dominated precious overhead space.
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When photographer Michelle Sullivan was looking for a camper to tote to her yearly camping trips with friends, she simply couldn’t resist the charms of this adorable Aristocrat Lo-Liner when she saw it for sale. No, it didn’t come with that peppy pink-and-white motif—originally, the exterior was a drab shade of brown and white. What a difference spray paint makes!
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The completely overhauled interior has a restful gray-and-white color scheme that’s punched up by the energetic orange accents, which can be swapped out easily to create a whole different look. Sullivan kept budget foremost in mind when redecorating the space, opting for very inexpensive vinyl floor tiles (only 79 cents a square foot) and tap lights to provide illumination.
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The almost-too-cute-for-words 1964 Serro Scotty camper owned by Retro Roadmap’s Beth Lennon is the smallest of this group, but it certainly makes a big impression. The turquoise accents (note the glimpse of color in the white-walled tires) emphasize the tidy shape.
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Like Reader, Lennon decorated the interior with an eye towards vintage authenticity. Though adapted for modern lifestyles (including sometimes functioning as a studio for her husband, musician Cliff Hillis), you can easily imagine a bouffant-ed traveller taking a breather from her family road trip in the kitchenette nook.
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Personalized for fun
Jen Eckert of Fresh Crush bought her camper for a steal—$400 to be exact. Like Michelle Sullivan, she intended to use this trailer for camping trips, so the appeal of a fixer-upper (even one with paint that was completely chipping off) that she could customize to her needs was particularly attractive.
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Compact yet cozy
The exterior paint wasn’t the only problem. When Eckert was removing a few unnecessary features, she discovered the one thing all renovators fear: wood rot. After restoring the entire structure, Eckert created a cozy kitchenette (she was able to salvage the original cabinets) that provides a lovely home away from home. On the other side of the trailer, she added extra seating that can be turned into a queen-sized bed.