I think the best word to describe what I’m feeling right now is giddy. It took a lot of hard, sometimes disgusting, always sweaty, work to remodel our 1978 Airstream Sovereign Land Yacht, but we did it. This may be one of the proudest moments of my life. I may even be more proud of myself than when I graduated from undergrad and grad school. Not even kidding. But before I pop a bottle of champagne, let’s get to the details!
You’ll notice we didn’t restore the Airstream to original. We’re not purists and we only had a budget of $1,000 to fix her up. (We bought her for $5,000, more about our buying story here.) We went slightly over budget due to the amount of paint we needed. We severely underestimated that. Unlike many of the Airstreams you might see online, we also live in this thing. Full-time. We tried to keep the integrity of our original Airstream, but tailor it to fit our needs.
When you enter the Airstream and look left you’ll see what is in the picture above. We tore out the Cookie Monster blue carpets and replaced them with laminate flooring. We created a window in the wall beside the kitchen to open up the space, replaced the gas fridge, George built shelves, a desk and a bench for napping! We replaced all the window screens. (Here’s how to do that.) We also tore out some of the overhead compartments to open up the space. My main job was painting. The Airstream had gas heat which can leave sticky gross stuff on the walls and we think maybe someone smoked in here, so it was my job to thoroughly clean everything (bleach was my best friend), then coat pretty much everything in Kilz and cover it with a bright white paint and primer. In some places it took four coats. On the storage compartments and the weird plastic spots, we used Rust-oleum gloss white spray enamel. On the countertops we used a custom-color oil-based enamel. Overall, the paint has held up pretty well. Some spots have needed to be touched up, but I think the white paint was the most transformative aspect of the remodel.
If you look to the right in the Airstream, you’ll see our spacious queen-size bed. To me, a big bed was more important than a dining room, so we tore out the benches, and George built us a custom bed frame. Read more about tips on creating that here. I also made a ton of pillows because… luxury. (Here’s how I made the pillows here.)
I didn’t have a great photo of the “before” oven because we found a huge mouse den in there and I had to get it out ASAP. We use a convection oven and two burners for cooking. It works out pretty well. There’s no Thanksgiving meals going on in here, but our oven fits a full-size pizza, so I’m happy.
If you walk through the kitchen and turn back around, this is the view you’ll see. You’ll notice we took off the covers from the kitchen cabinets and replaced them with super-cute curtains that my mom made. From here, you’ll also get a better view of the custom bench and drawers we have for hiding all kinds of crafts and art supplies. George crafted the drawers out of barn wood from the tobacco barn that is on our property. The storage area also houses our large record collection. When we were purging all of our worldly goods, we decided vinyl is one thing that we just couldn’t live without.
Oh my god, the bathroom, the bathroom. I’m not kidding when I say that I was scared to even go in the bathroom before the remodel. That camper toilet scared me. A real toilet was priority 1 on my list. Cleaning this bathroom really made all the difference. The “wallpaper” was actually really pretty under the 10 layers of dirt. Then again, we painted with oil-based enamel on the countertops, replaced the lights and did this fun, washi tape design on the mirror. (Here’s that how-to.)
Then the shower! Oh my. Still to this day, George and I have no idea why someone would try to spray paint a shower blue (to match the carpet?!?!). To remedy this situation we took the easy way out and used a kit that we found at Lowe’s. I’d love to one day have a luxurious tub or at least a prettier shower, but sometimes the cheap way wins. We also purchased and installed a very nice shower head.
You can’t see it in these pictures, but we started off with the floors all laminate, but had to replace the bathroom floor when our hot water heater started leaking. That was unfortunate, but it’s been the only big issue that we’ve run into (fingers crossed).
This remodel was a whole hell of a lot of work. George and I have thought about doing it again, but we’re not mentally (or physically) prepared for it. Now that you’ve seen the before and afters, I’ll be sharing more glamour shots tomorrow!
Happy Airstream Week!