Tag Archives: sovereign

The Airstream Diaries: Basking in Fall

Airstream front in the fall Fall is my favorite season. To me, nothing is better than frolicking through a field of pumpkins, drinking PSLs to my heart’s content and wrapping up in a cozy sweater. But after my beloved fall is my dreaded winter. Winter in the Airstream isn’t very fun. Winter in the Airstream means cold feet, staying next to the space heater at all times and freezing pipes.

airstream in the fall airstream in the fall light Before dreaded winter is upon us, I’m trying to soak up as much fall as I can get. I’ve been happy to brush the pine needles off my steps, crank up the Crockpot and on warm fall days, open up the windows. In the next few weeks we’ll need to winterize our home and pull out the heaters.

Airstream and leaves Until then, I’m raising my PSL to you, fall. I love ya.

– melanie

Our 1978 Airstream Sovereign Land Yacht: The Exterior Tour

Airstream through the trees copy I’ll be the first to admit that we didn’t do much to the outside of our Airstream. We washed it, polished it and put it in it’s permanent home. We didn’t feel the need to acid-wash it and make it super shiny. It just didn’t fit our style.

Airstream in the woods copy We did put a lot of work into the land that the Airstream is parked on. We had to clear brush, lots of poison ivy (George got so sick!) and even cut down a few trees.

Airstream in the Pine Trees copy The second-most frequently asked question I get is: “Do we own the land we’re parked on?” Kind of. We live on land that has been in my husband’s family for over 80 years. Part of the land is wooded and part is farmed. We earn our keep by helping out around the property– chopping firewood, cleaning the barn and feeding the animals.

Airstream and Garden copy

The first-most asked question I get asked is: “Do you actually live there?” Yes! We live here full-time. In the event of an emergency, like a hurricane, we have relatives we can visit nearby, but we’re in the Airstream during the heat of summer and the cold of winter.

An Airstream in the pines copy George with Airstream copy Anyway, since the Airstream is so small, we’ve tried to make the exterior equally as nice as the interior. George surprised me one day by laying the rock path to the house. He also built a natural rock fire pit from rocks on the property after I talked about our friends’ fire pit for 2 weeks. I think he did it just to shut me up. 🙂

Airstream Outdoor Setup AMB

When it’s nice outside, George and I like to break out the lawn chairs and a few beers. We’ll often cook dinner on the fire and eat in the outdoors. It sounds corny, but living this way has really made me appreciate nature.

Airstream Sovereign Tag copy Back of the Airstream copy Airstream Front View copy

door to Airstream copy Succulents Outside the Airstream copy Thanks for touring my humble abode this week. And Happy Friday! This weekend I plan on doing what I do best, just hanging out around the ol’ Airstream.

Got any weekend plans? Let me know about ’em in the comments!


Our 1978 Airstream Sovereign Land Yacht Remodel: The Interior Tour

Airstream Remodel Airstream Remodel Yesterday I showed you all the before and after shots of the Airstream, well, today I want to show you a few glamour shots. We live in the Airstream full-time, so not only did I want the Airstream remodel to be functional, but I also wanted it to feel warm and cozy. (Even in the winter, when it isn’t so warm!) We had a tight budget, so we built most of our furniture. We bought very little for the Airstream, instead we used the things that we already owned.

In the shots above you can see our copious amount of handmade pillows. One of my favorite things to do in the Airstream is curl up in the queen-size bed and watch a movie.

Airstream Remodel

Airstream Remodel George does all of his art work from the trailer, so we knew it was important for him to have his own space to work and conduct all his business. 

Airstream Kitchen Remodel Airstream Kitchen and Sitting Area Remodel

Fiestaware in the Airstream copy

Although the kitchen is small, I’ve managed to squeeze out some killer meals in there. Sometimes when the space is feeling too cramped or hot to cook, we’ll go outside and cook right over the fire— camp style.

Airstream Bench Remodel Airstream bench remodel There for a while, the bench was something we didn’t use much. But since George built me a mini-desk, I’ve been sitting (and napping!) on it constantly. Again, it’s got plenty of homemade pillows and we covered the bench cushion in vintage fabric.

Custom Drawers and Shelves in an Airstream remodel Records in an Airstream Pictures in the Airstream Record player in an Airstream When we first designed our the Airstream, I had grand dreams of open shelving. We had open shelving for a few months until I just couldn’t stand the clutter anymore! I’m a minimalist and I love a clean space, but George is an artist and needs a lot of stuff for his business, so we decided to compromise and build drawers from reclaimed barn wood to hide our junk.

Bathroom in an Airstream remodeled Bathroom in an Airstream remodeled I like to think that I’m not prissy, but I couldn’t live with a composting or camper-style toilet. Just couldn’t do it. That’s where I draw the line. But since we are parked and hooked up to a septic system, a real toilet wasn’t a problem. Thank god.

What do you think of our little home? Let me know in the comments!


1978 Airstream Sovereign Land Yacht Remodel

Airstream Back Before and After 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.

Airstream Bed Area Before and After copy

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.)

Airstream Cooking Setup Before and After

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.

Airstream from Back before and after

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.

Airstream Bathroom Before and After

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.)

Airstream Shower Before and After

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!



Airstream Livin’: A Six Month Update

Airstream in the woods It’s been almost six full months since we moved into the Airstream to live in it full-time. We’ve endured tornados and a vicious cold snap. We’ve endured bugs (oh lord the bugs!), oppressive heat and learned way more about sewage than any person should. But I still wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.

George and I have always had the plan to move into the Airstream in order to save enough money to buy (or build!) our own “real” house. But in the last six months, I’ve really come to think of this ‘ol thing as our real house home. It’s not conventional, but it’s ours.

Airstream Sovereign Sure, I still have days where I get so.incredibly.frustrated. that I can’t have the hot water heater on and make coffee at the same time. Lord, I need that coffee. But I wouldn’t trade it. This experience is teaching me patience. It’s teaching me that I need let go of things in all aspects of my life. And as always, it’s teaching me to live small and dream bigger.

love and thankfulness,

How to Cook in an Airstream Trailer

Airstream Hot Plate Before we remodeled, we had a sketchy gas stove in the Airstream that was home to a full apartment complex full of mice. Seriously, those things had made a straight up, 1970s NY high-rise in that stove. I’m pretty sure those mice were the mice version of The Jeffersons. (Insert Jeffersons theme song here.)

We couldn’t use the old oven and cooktop. It was gas, there were no indications that the Jeffersons had ever turned it on, and it was just too risky. I like my eyebrows. I have no desire to singe them off. I didn’t want to be scared every time I needed a grilled cheese– which is all the time. So we started looking for RV oven/cooktop combos, and just like everything, they didn’t come cheap. In our true cheapo live little fashion, we started thinking about alternatives.

Could we make it with just a microwave and an infomercial burner? Could we just use a toaster oven and a coffee maker? How about two sticks and panini press?! After much Amazon research, we settled on a double burner and a small convection oven. It hasn’t been the easiest change. I had an amazing four burner gas stove and oven in my last apartment, but I’m learning to be more mindful of my timing and I’ve been making things in smaller batches.

The biggest change has been the no microwave situation. It has forced me to slow my cooking down, but I didn’t want to sacrifice the space for a microwave. It also freaked me out to have all that microwave radiation bouncing around in my tin can of a house.

Airstream Cooking In terms of appliances, we also have a blender, a french press and our biggest unnecessary space hog, an electric food dehydrator. Our blender is a Blendtec and it’s pretty much amazing. It was a total splurge from before I went on a saving spree, but I love it and it blends like a dream. The french press is a total necessity. It’s smaller than a coffee maker and makes a delicious cup of joe. Coffee is my life blood. I sing a song that I used to sing in church as a kid when I make coffee. Not kidding. It’s a religious experience for me.

And then there’s the dehydrator. It may seem kind of ridiculous to have a food dehydrator when you don’t have room for a microwave, but George and I got as a (joke) wedding gift and we love jerky. At least I know when the zombie apocalypse happens, we’re going to plenty of dried food to subsist on. Just keepin’ it real.


How to Buff an Airstream

Before Buffing

Before Buffing

Buffing is better when done with a partner. Buffing an Airstream, silly! There is a ton of advice and debate in Airstream Forums about the best products and technique to buff your Bombshell Betty (dirty!). Although,  I’m no expert, I always think it is helpful to share how we did it.

1. Give the old girl a good washin’ and dryin’. Here’s my tips for doing that. 

2. Gather your supplies. We used ICE Paste from Turtle Wax and borrowed an electric buffer from George‘s dad.

3. Prepare yourself mentally and physically. Grab a partner if you can. I’ve heard horror stories of folks going at it alone and spending at least 8 hours just buffing the thing. (It took us 4 hours for the record!)

4. Follow your sensi wax manufacturer’s directions– wax on, wax off.

After Buffing

After Buffing

Tips and Advice:

  • Some Airstreams, like our own, will never get that super-shine without drastic measures, such as an acid bath. Prior to owning the old girl, we think someone used a product that took off some of the original clear finish because it is unnaturally patchy in spots. If that bothers you, here are some tips for getting a super shine. We’ve decided to forego a more natural look for the time being.
  • Work from the top and buff your way down.
  • Work in a shady spot on a day with no rain in the forecast. There is nothing worse than having your wax job ruined by mother nature.
  • Really though, work with a partner. Pay someone to help if you must. This is a huge job!

Happy buffing!