5 Inspirational Small Spaces

Now that you’ve seen our diamond in the rough, take a peek at my dreams for Nellie.

In anticipation of our own Airstream project, I’ve been collecting inspiration for the interior design and style. Throughout the year, I collected various ideas on my Pinterest, but these are my favorite five inspirational small spaces (both Airstreams and Tiny Houses). Together they will shape the renovation and decoration of Nellie.

Throughout the post, I’ve supplied links to my sources if you wish to dive down the Airstream rabbit hole. So, in no particular order, here are my five favorite small spaces:


#1: Happy Camper Airstream

Happy Camper Airstream is the work of the marvelously funny Lynn Knowlton. She began with a 1976 Airstream Sovereign Land Yacht  (the same as Nellie), which she partially renovated (i.e. did not replace insulation, etc.) into the gorgeous Happy Camper Airstream. Lynn kept a lot of the original elements including the turquoise stove and the original couches.

For our project, we likely won’t be keeping as much as Lynn did, but one thing I absolutely adore about her renovation is how she blends modern and vintage elements into a unique and beautiful aesthetic. I also love her use of champagne gold faucets and drawer pulls. They compliment the  original gold on the cabinetry and, as she says they’re, “like jewelry.”

Finally, I love the way the white opens up the space and how it is complimented with pops of color like the couch, the pillows, and the wallpaper. I want to achieve a similar aesthetic in our Airstream. In regards to keeping such a white space clean, Lynn recommends durable paint and linen textiles.


#2: Lucy

When we originally thought we would be building a tiny house, I stumbled across this tiny house built by Tom and Shaye, a couple who’ve chronicled their construction of several ecofriendly homes. Besides a tiny house on wheels, they also have a cob building and a straw bale home. They live in New Zealand and now have a young daughter.

Throughout the design process, their tiny house has probably been the most influential. Both Spencer and I absolutely adore the combination of dark wood, light walls, and pops of color. Their colorful cookware and wood counter tops in particular make me jealous. I also really love the turquoise color inside the pantry shelves and the variegated wood ceiling. While we can’t incorporate everything we love from this tiny house into our Airstream, it’s still incredibly inspirational.


#3: Mavis the Airstream

When I found Mavis on Instagram, several of the things I’ve mentioned before drew me to Sheena and Jason’s project (such as dark wood, light walls, and pops of color), but ultimately it was their ingenuity and creativity that made me stay. The two also write a blog in which they detail their Airstream projects, including unique vent covers. The two (plus their pup Riley) are currently on their shakedown trip.

I have yet to figure out their secret, but I’m continually impressed by the combination of colors and textures they achieve without making the space look messy. Plus, their addition of small vintage or thrifted items throughout the Airstream makes the trailer feel unique and personal without cluttering the available space. My personal favorites are the road sign above their couch and the dolphin bottle opener behind the sink.


#4: A Small Life

A Small Life is a blog run by Melanie, who lives in this beautiful Airstream with her husband George and their dog. I initially stumbled upon her advice for renovating an Airstream and was inspired by her passion for…well…living a small life. Melanie’s blog gave me a realistic view on Airstream life and ultimately inspired our choice. Melanie recently published an ebook full of advice for transitioning to a smaller lifestyle, which I immediately purchased. When initially planning our Airstream project, we looked for rear bath models, intending to follow a similar layout.

One thing that I really admire about Melanie’s design is the way they’ve incorporated hobbies and work into the Airstream. For example, they display their record collection on one wall of the Airstream, including vintage wood drawers. It’s a beautiful addition to their home. George also has his own desk for artwork. Plus, isn’t that just a great chair!


#5: TinCan Homestead

Renovated by Washington couple Natasha Lawyer and Brett Bashaw, this Airstream has slowly evolved over the past year. Once the space was livable, the couple updated incrementally, ultimately creating a usable, effective space which is still evolving. The project was recently featured in Sunset magazine.

My favorite thing about this Airstream are the white-washed shiplap walls. The wood makes the space warmer and more homely. Spencer also loves the hexagonal backsplash. We plan to incorporate both shiplap and hexagons into our own Airstream. One of the most distinctive features of their Airstream is the jungle they are cultivating. At last count, there were 63 plants. Their color palette is largely neutral and so the plants give color.

Tincan Homestead also helped inspire our floor plan, but more on that in another post!


So there you have it. My five favorite inspirational small spaces. Each has contributed in some way to our design conception of Nellie. As we begin our renovation, we intend to create a space which combines vintage and modern elements, dark wood and light walls, and pops of turquoise and tangerine throughout.

I’m so excited!

Tour our Airstream Before Renovation

Since I last wrote, it has snowed and rained almost incessantly here, so we haven’t done any  work on the Airstream yet. However, all this moisture has helped me pinpoint  exactly where our silver bullet leaks. I’ve only seen two small puddles of water inside, which is promising.  But, there may still be some invisible leaks.

So, in lieu of any progress, I thought I’d take a moment to share some “before” shots of the trailer and discuss its current condition.



Nellie doesn’t have too many exterior problems. Her only dent is on the front curbside corner. It’s not a serious dent so we may or may not pull it out. Other than that she has a few scratches on the rear streetside corner.  These kind of marks are expected on a 40 year old trailer. Clearly, she’s been on some interesting adventures.

Other than these dings, she has some surface rust on the tongue, which also isn’t a serious problem in the desert, but I’d like to protect the frame against potential future humidity.

The windows will likely require the most work. The lamination on several (especially the vista windows at the top) has peeled off due to trapped moisture. Since our windows are double-paned, fixing it requires the separating the panes, which can take a while. While this problem doesn’t affect the livability of the Airstream, better tinting can help reduce radiant heat in hot climates.

It is interesting to photograph though.

The largest exterior problem at the moment isn’t one Nellie came to us with. Unfortunately, my father whacked the open rear awning with a fence post, damaging it. Now, it can’t open and the fabric won’t roll up. So, we’re on the search for a replacement part. The long side awning also may have some difficulties, but we have not tried to open it as yet.

As a whole though, Nellie has a sound exterior and good bones, which was exactly what we were looking for and I’m very happy with our purchase.



In regards to the interior, we plan to remove most of it and customize the layout. Currently, the Airstream sports two couches in the front with a pullout table, a central kitchen, bath, and (huge) closet, and a rear bedroom with two twin beds.

The only problem in the front sitting area is the crack in the plastic end cap. Around the edges you can see where someone tried to glue it back together. I’m not sure exactly how to fix this, but I’m currently thinking epoxy.

My absolute favorite part about 1970’s Airstreams is the tambour cabinetry and I adore the vintage clock and temperature gauge in the front cabinet. Tambour can be a fussy if it becomes warped or damaged though. Luckily, we have only one cabinet in need of a simple repair.

Each window except the front three are equipped with these temperamental, incredibly 70’s pull-down shades. Spencer hates the trim and I hate fussing with them. They’re the first thing I’m taking out when we start demolition.

Another incredibly 70’s detail: the pull-out radio. It’s not a tape player. Not even an 8-track player. It’s just a radio. We’ll definitely be upgrading the tech in here.

I have very little to say about the condition of the kitchen (a little alliteration). The large cabinet underneath the sink is missing its tambour, but that’s alright because we’re planning on rebuilding that cabinet anyway.

The previous owners left a decorative wooden holder on the wall, which Spencer thinks is tacky. They also left a Native American style rug on the bathroom floor. I find these little touches interesting. They tell a story about Nellie’s previous owners.

The oven has seen better days. It doesn’t latch properly and is just generally sad looking. We already have a new oven though, so that’s not a problem. It was the first thing we purchased for this project.

The bathroom is hard to photograph because of its size, but it’s safe to say we’ll be replacing the entire thing. The vinyl on the shower walls is peeling off, the flooring is gone, and the whole thing is just…dirty. My little sister named the dead bug next to the toilet “Gustave.”

Across the hall is a large closet with more clothes storage than we could ever need. When Nellie arrived, we discovered all sorts of treasures in there including sway bars and one of the propane tanks. Both tanks work, which is good news. My father tested them out.

The bedroom is the most interesting part of the Airstream to me because it tells a curious story. I didn’t notice it initially, but the bedroom shows signs of an unfinished remodel. One wall is partially stripped of wallpaper while the others have been painted a light, airy white. It actually looks really nice and it gives me kind of a glimpse into what the Airstream will look like when we’re done.

However, the most interesting part to me is how sloppy the paint job is. This painter clearly didn’t tape things off; they got paint on both the wall fixtures and socket covers. It makes me contemplate the motivations of this painter. Why did they only paint the bedroom? Where they planning on doing a full renovation? If so, why not take more care? The story is unfinished.

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed your tour of the trailer before its renovation. I’m probably a bit too excited for demolition day. If only this weather would improve! (But in all seriousness, we need the water.)

For now, I’ll leave you with a pretty picture of Nellie in the snow.