before and after

before & after: airstream trailer makeover

by Kate Pruitt

This is the second camper/trailer renovation we’ve received that features boldly patterned walls. I don’t think it would ever have occurred to me to use a busy pattern in such a small space, but it’s an awesome idea. I like it not only because it packs a serious style punch, but also because it’s a nice homage to the groovy era when lounge vans were all the rage.

Vintage campers and trailers are certainly enjoying a resurgence lately, and it’s wonderful to see people adapting the interiors to suit various needs. Ida Gleaton, the woman behind this transformation, uses her airstream as a traveling storefront for her shop, The Urban Cottage, selling revamped vintage furniture pieces straight out of this lovely interior. So clever, and nicely done, Ida! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

See more of this trailer makeover after the jump . . .

Time: 3–4 months

Cost: about $4300 ($4000 for airstream and polishing service, $300 for interior decor, parts)

Basic Steps: The first thing we did was gut the entire airstream, taking out all the interior appliances and built-ins. It’s like working at a puzzle because each piece of furniture is connected to the next. Removing the 30-plus-year-old bathroom and plumbing was by far the worst part. We sold the interior on the cheap to those trying to restore their airstreams to original form. Then we repaired the rotten subfloor, rewired electrical where needed, sealed any leaks, laid the new laminate flooring, applied beadboard wallpaper to the wall and hand stenciled the top pattern on the wall. We also added molding and trim to create a clean, finished look. Keep in mind, nothing is straight in an airstream, so all your products need to be able to bend and flex with the wall curves. We got the exterior polished by the pros due to the sensitivity of aluminum.

Our advice: Be patient and do your research — there are a lot of steps in restoring the airstream, and a lot of repair items are not commonly found. We didn’t know the first thing about airstream restoration, and we relied heavily on airstream forums and our original 1975 airstream manual. Chances are there are others coming across the same issue you are, and they are always willing to help. Also, recruit some help. I somehow convinced my husband and family to help me out — I definitely couldn’t have done it without them. Keep the end goal in mind! — Ida

Mechanical questions: Airforums
Original airstream parts: Out of Doors Mart
Wall Stencil: Chez Ali pattern, Royal Designs

Suggested For You


  • That’s beautiful! I love the wallpaper. Airstream trailers are the coolest things.

  • How to keep the furniture bolted down when you move, do you actually spend the night in it? Looks so great, makes me want to buy one

  • Oh my goodness! I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do this! This is so inspiring. I can’t get my hands on an airstream yet, too many projects. This looks amazing!!!

  • seriously impressed. oh to have the energy to complete a task such as this! stencil work is very nicely done…

  • Hi All! It travels to all my shows and park-n-shop events! We installed heavy duty hooks in the sub-floors for tie downs so the furniture doesnt move when we travel. Occasionally we lay the taller pieces on the backs for travelling. Thanks for all the wonderful comments! Our hands are taking a hiatus from all the stenciling….

  • This is so clean and gorgeous. I can’t believe this isn’t very high-end wall paper. The stencil is stunning!

  • I don’t see a kitchen area or bathroom so I’m assuming that wasn’t part of the plan or is it just hidden somewhere?

    • LA Bremers – yes, from what I understand Ida removed both the kitchen and bathroom to accommodate a larger area for her furniture pieces.

  • i love some of the renovation (floor & wallpaper) but why are there so many dressers? doesn’t seem quite functional/practical?!!!

  • @Kathryn- My business is a furniture boutique so those pieces are for sale and the selection rotates frequently! The airstream is my mobile showroom- I park it around town and at craft shows and sell my revamped vintage furniture. It was my alternative to opening a storefront

  • This is truly amazing and wonderful, but price estimate on this is whack. $300 for interior decor/parts? Right… maybe if the only thing their accounting for is the pillows.

  • I almost can’t comprehend how awesome it is that Ida is using a renovated Airstream trailer as a mobile showroom for her restored furniture. A very modern and creative idea.

  • This looks SO awesome!!Love to live in here! There is a really cute “mobile” boutique in Toronto (www.eatliveshop.com/2011/04/before-after-blush-trailor.html) they had a complete makeover for their trailer as well, and its SUPER adorable like this one!

  • Since renovating and touring the East Coast of Australia many years ago I have developed a soft spot for doing the same with a Silver Stream…although I would never of thought to use a wallpaper. Looks amazing! Very inspired now…although I think it may be the idea of travelling off into the sunset…

  • Yikes! LOL As a vintage 24 Ft – AVION 1987 owner, I wondered at your designs here. I have to say they are fun to look at BUT…. as for my Avion,errrr no thanks. Not that others might not like it,its just not for me. After awhile I know I would tired of the loudness,but for you it works! Great idea for your business! I know, I know, Im boring. My family can’t even get me to wear a large design shirt. NO LAUGHING please ;) If you want to, just for a kicks, you can send some pics to the Avion Yahoo group which has very regular posts on how to restore these little shiny homes. I do know someone toyed with the idea of painting the inside of theirs and they where almost run off, Id love to hear their reaction to this makeover. Somehow, I bet most of them would love it.We are still cleaning and fixing ours out in hopes to have it finished this year. The idea is to get it as close, to how it was originally, for us. But hey, to each their own I say,CHEERS :D
    PS If you don’t need your old refrig anymore I will take it! ;)

  • Ida, I love your vintage furniture that you have turned into very stylish modern. Your remodelled Airstream is the perfect setting to display everything. I think this is the most original idea as an alternative to a storefront I have seen.

  • fab job and luxe decor. sending this to my sis who is looking for RV. Sweet.!!

  • Incredible. I’ve never, ever been one for trailers or camping. However, this is one I like. Your use of furnishings and the wallpaper are so inviting. Splendid!

  • Love love love this! It’s such a lovely little dream space! This is the equivalent of a mobile treehouse! It’s so whimsical and fun! (as well as practical for business showcases). Well done, Ida!

  • Quick question is that wallpaper or was it painted on. IM asking because my Avion has rivets in the ceiling that connect the other sections throughout so I sdo not know if wallpaper would work. I LOVE THE LOOK GREAT WORK..

  • @rachel- this is stenciled on :) you can’t even tell there are rivots! The bottom wainstcoting is a wallpaper however it is textured and thicker than the avg wallpaper so rivots are barely noticeable.
    Thanks everyone for the wonderful comments!!!

  • Really great re-model. Reminds me of the kind of fantasy bedroom set girls dreamed of in the mid ’70s (myself included). Gotta say, artist Andrea Zittel really gave the camper customization phenomenon a great kick in the pants back in the ’90s and I’ve wanted my own ever since. It’s inspiring to see how people today are creating their own fantasy travel pads. Who says times of economic austerity can’t look amazing. Super fun. Well done!

  • Ida, you’ve done an amazing job, the space looks great, and so perfect for it’s purpose. I’d love to get my hands on one of those, but they are very rare here in Australia! Looks exactly like what I need for my re-loved furniture business! Best wishes, Lisa xxx

  • I LOVE IT! I’m actually in the slow and evil process of redoing my “FEMA trailer”. Taking out all particle board and replacing it. It’s hard but creative!

  • I’m currently restoring a 1963 Norris Woodsman myself. Removed cabin from trailer, sanded and painted it, but cabin back on, then removed aluminum skin. Replaced all rotten wood, skin, and now rebuilding rotten pieces of millwork. Yes, it all fits together like a puzzle, and you can’t fasten one thing down without making sure the other pieces will fit! Loved your transformation and story. Very inspiring and encouraging. Thank you!!!!!

  • Ida, I am thinking of doing something similar in Austin. Do you have to get any sort of permit to park and shop?

  • What kind of trim did you use that bends? Ive been looking for some nice looking trim and noticed that yours was beautiful. Thanks for any input.

  • You really have my curiosity up and how you did all of this for $300.00, was the hardwood floor and wallpaper already up? Thank You it look great!

  • This is so beautiful! I would also like to know where you got your stencil and what kind of paint you used for the stenciling. I want to do something similar adding a pop of color the way you did with the yellow and am having a hard time finding any wall paper that gives me that look. Thanks!

  • This is so awesome! What did you make the white seating out of in the top pic? Thanks!

  • What is this polishing service you speak of?

    What can you recommend for the best paint?

    • We have a 28 foot born free and we would like to redo the inside can you help something simple

  • I don’t quit understand the remodel. What are all of the desks and bureaus for? Where do people sit or sleep? Is it not being used as a camper trailer/lodging or is it a studio/workspace? Is there a bathroom?

  • This was so interesting. I’m actually considering purchasing a 1973 airstream that has been somewhat gutted. If you don’t mind sharing would love to know what you paid for the actual trailer? I know it varies. The one we are considering has a solid frame but the inside needs to be completely taken out.

    • Hi Tammy. I just paid $5k today for a 1973 Tradewind. In pretty good condition with working ac and fridge. I will be gutting and renovating her but I plan to reuse the cabinetry after painting it. I hope to strip the old vinyl interior walls so they will have the aluminum finish. I am in Florida. You will find the longer trailers are actually cheaper than the ones which are 25 feet and smaller.

  • Hello All – This is the 3rd reno I’ve looked at in the last hour and definitely have Airstream Envy. I have one, but have too many other projects to do. It’s a ’73 Airstream Overlander 26′ intact located in southeastern Alabama. Wheel bearings greased, new tires all around before we brought it up from FL. If interested, comment! Thanks, Ya’ll!