before and after

Before & After: A Horse Trailer Becomes A Chic Refuge For Competitions

by Rebekah Carey

Simone Howell is an interior designer and describes her life simply as, “We ride horses and design interiors. The horses eat hay and run around barrels as fast as they can! And I am an Elite Designer for Decorist — an online interior design service.” Today Simone is sharing a horse trailer that she designed for her daughter for their life on the road doing barrel racing competitions.

Simone was born in the UK and raised in New York and California. Up until four years ago, Simone and her family were living in Los Angeles where Simone was designing and her daughters were dancing competitively. Moving to Dallas, TX was definitely a bit of an adjustment. Simone’s oldest daughter easily transitioned from dance to cheer (as football reigns supreme in Texas) and her youngest, Avery, began working with horses (another popular Texan pastime). Simone herself grew up riding horses, so she was excited at Avery’s interest. Avery is now a competitive barrel racer and as their time at the barn and on the road attending competitions increased, having somewhere to relax at all-day events was a logical next step. When Simone found a trailer small enough to comfortably tow, she naturally saw the potential in a little redesign.

For a designer that describes herself as a “California girl” through and through, the first thing that had to go was the trailer’s brown-on-brown motif. Enter white paint! Vinyl flooring replaced the old carpeting and then Simone began to create mood boards like she does with Decorist for any client of hers, only this time it was for her 15-year-old daughter. “Avery tends to love all things Texas, rodeo and rustic and I lean more toward modern, white and vintage. We worked together to strike the perfect balance of young, hip AND country! A little bohemian and collected with just enough fringe, leather and cowhide to keep her happy and not look out of place at a high school rodeo!”

The horse trailer Simone revamped is pretty petite in terms of the human quarters; at just 70 square feet, with one room and two bunks. No one lives in the horse trailer, although Simone jokes that she’s on the farm so frequently that she should probably consider it! Follow along below to see the unique project that’s “on wheels and also carries two of the most perfect, funny, sweet (and fast) horses!” Rebekah

Photography by Terra Wagner 

Image above: Simone shares some of her design inspiration for the small lounge, “I designed an outdoor lounge with floor pillows and poufs around the table and pulled in a more modern touch with an Acapulco chair. The rug was hauled back from my trip to Morocco. It’s made of cactus and is one of those rugs that just gets better looking with use! This is where the girls hang out in between rodeo events. It’s the perfect mix of modern, eclectic and country! Floor pillows provide a ton of extra seating and the girls come and go, tying their horses to the opposite side of the trailer. I got a bit of an eye roll from my fifteen-year-old when I added the Acapulco chair to the mix but it’s Texas, y’all! Go big or go home!” 

A Horse Trailer Becomes A Chic Refuge For Competitions Before And After On Design*Sponge

Simone’s first impression of the “before” of the trailer: “Brown on brown on brown — but loads of potential! We had been hunting for a horse trailer for quite a few months and when we spotted this one with tiny bunk quarters, we had to have it! A few coats of white paint made the bunk quarters feel much larger and more inviting. We hang out in here when the weather gets too ‘Texas’ and are super thankful that it actually has electricity. We can power up a small heater or fan and watch football or Netflix on laptops.”

Simone Howell And Her Horse The Lucky Recipients Of The Revamped Horse Trailer Tour On Design*Sponge

Simone explains her goal when designing the space, “Creating a comfortable and beautiful space as well as balancing my designer eye with my ‘client’s’ desire for all things rustic and rodeo.”

Being The Child Of An Interior Designer Has Its Perks Horse Trailer Before And After On Design*Sponge

Simone’s design experience made her excited to rise to the task at hand. “The challenge is that it’s SMALL! But I actually love designing small spaces. As an Elite Designer with Decorist, I have designed SO many small spaces, and I really revel in the challenge. It certainly forces you [to] edit!”

Before And After Horse Trailer Transformation On Design*Sponge

“The fringe mirror absolutely makes the space! It might be my favorite mirror of all time! It was handmade in Utah by Lauren of Szklo Glass Co. I stumbled upon her on Instagram one day and absolutely love everything she does.”

A Plush Seating Area Is Tucked Into The Horse Trailer Before And After On Design*Sponge

Naturally, being a working horse trailer, it was important that the space was also functional. “For the bunk quarters, we had the cushions upholstered in a dark denim that is durable and washable. I layered in pillows that were all sourced locally. All the amazing indigo and mudcloth pillows are from One Affirmation, a favorite Dallas-based textile company.”

We Never Imagined A Working Horse Trailer To Look This Nice Before And After On Design*Sponge

Another view of the updated bunks where the family can relax when it’s too hot, cold, or when they just need a little down time.

A Bench Table Holds A Few Favorite Items Horse Trailer Transformation On Design*Sponge

Some of Simone’s bunkside favorites.

Simone And The Horse That Inspires A Renovation On Design*Sponge

Simone and her beloved horse. “‘Daddy’ (he came with the name! I know… it’s bad.) is honestly the funniest being on earth! He’s super curious and very sweet but definitely ornery at times as barrel horses can be. He’s a red roan quarter horse who coordinates well with our second horse, a copper coated Sorel named ‘Bob’ (yep, he came with that name too!).”

Texas Rose Is Apt For Simone's Daughter Since It's Where She's Competing Horse Trailer Tour On Design*Sponge

A rose by any other name!

Lounge Set Up Outside Of The Transformed Horse Trailer On Design*Sponge

“Since the interior is so small, I knew we would be spending most of our time between daily rodeo events outside of the trailer. We focused on pieces that were soft, small and could be taken apart and stored in the bunk quarters, then unloaded and set up once we we were at the arena,” Simone explains. “The gold ram table base was a vintage score found locally and served as the jumping-off point to the design. The fact that the glass top is removable makes it the perfect compactable piece.”

The Main Attraction This Athlete Now Has Quarters Fit For A Winner Tour On Design*Sponge

Simone shares what was most special about the horse trailer transformation, “I am most thankful for the experiences we share and the people we spend time with around this little piece of home. We make memories that will last a lifetime and that is what is most important!”

Some Of The Owner's Favorite Things Horse Trailer Tour On Design*Sponge

A few of Simone’s treasures and lounge staples.

The Star Of The Horse Trailer Transformation Tour On Design*Sponge

“We just bought a small ranch property,” Simone shares. “We are not only renovating the home but are currently on the hunt for additional horses to round out our pasture full of prints, metallics and neutrals! The designer’s eye never stops!”


Seating Area/Outside
Coffee table- Vintage
Rug- Hauled back from a trip to Morocco
Floor Pillows- One Affirmation 1 and 2, and Cost Plus (similar)
Hide Pouf- Dennard’s in Pilot Point TX, No Longer Available (similar)
Acapulco Chair- One King’s Lane
Golden ram table- vintage

Inside Trailer
Paint- Sherwin-Williams, “Alabaster”
Pillows- One Affirmation and similar, and 3 and 4, One King’s Lane (similar), and One King’s Lane 2
Mirror- Szklo Glass Co.
Wood bead garland- DIY
Side table- Arteriors (similar)

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  • Great idea but as a horse person who’s done the show route – where is all the tack, grooming bucket etc kept? In the other stall with the horse or does the horse have the entire width of the trailer? Western saddles won’t fit under the bottom bunk, too big.

    • I also wondered this! Like where is the 500lbs of stuff you have to bring anytime you trailer a horse?

  • In photo #12, what is the book second from the top with triangles on the cover please?

  • That is a pretty trailer.
    I would recommend replacing the glass tabletop with an acrylic sheet.
    Or you could use 1/4″ plywood, and faux paint it any way you want.
    Glass is heavy and if it shatters it is a hazard for feet, human and equine alike.