Although we’ve covered some gorgeous Airstream renovations over the years, there’s always one project that really blows our design-loving minds. This beautiful retrofit of a 1971 Airstream by Idaho-based Traverse Design + Build is simply incredible. Once covered with a rusted out exterior and filled with a dingy avocado-green interior, the 27-foot trailer is now a gleaming contemporary home-on-wheels that can run completely off-grid.
Though the team behind Traverse Design + Build had quite a few Airstream conversions under their belts, when they saw an old 1971 Airstream Overland International for sale, they knew it would be a massive undertaking. The entire aluminum hull was almost entirely oxidized, and the outdated interior (comprised of avocado-green appliances, rotten flooring and yellow walls) was screaming to be put out of its misery.
In addition to the Airstream’s rundown exterior and interior, all of the trailer’s electrical systems, which had been “modified” over the years, were completely shot. “There were electrical modifications that were done to it which were extremely dangerous,” said Jodi Rathbun, owner and founder of Traverse Design + Build. “We were surprised it never caught on fire, and that no one had been electrocuted.”
To begin the arduous renovation process, the team went to work on the exterior. According to Rathburn, just polishing the exterior to bring out its signature silver shine took more than 160 hours. Once the exterior was set and the hull’s trim repaired, it was time to tackle the interior space.
The first step was to gut the interior almost entirely. The dilapidated, nearly 50-year-old trailer had little inside to reuse, but the team managed to retain some of the original elements whenever possible. For example, they were able to reconfigure some of the existing storage cabinetry and some of the electrical and plumbing systems were able to be repaired.
Other than that, the trailer’s interior living space was completely overhauled. To brighten up the space, a fresh coat of all-white paint was used on the walls and ceiling, and engineered maple floors were installed to give a little bit of warmth to the interior design. The kitchen was built out with white IKEA cabinetry that contrasts nicely with the Tiffany-blue upper cabinetry, which was kept in place as a nod to the trailer’s long history. Throughout the space, the team managed to use ethical, sustainable, and fair-trade items to decorate.
Not only did the designers manage to breathe new life into the 1971 Airstream, but they also enabled the trailer to run off-grid. A 510-watt solar system generates enough power to run off-grid for extended periods. Additionally, there is an on-demand water heater, and LED lighting was installed throughout. The bathroom even features a Nature’s Head composting toilet, again enabling the trailer to be self-sustaining. “We built this so that it could be used off-grid, and away from power and water hookups for extended periods,” said Rathbun.
In addition to this beautiful Airstream retrofit, Traverse Design + Build are currently focusing on converting van and overland vehicle using sustainable materials to create spectacularly modern homes on wheels.
Images via Traverse Design + Build