“My husband and I have always been fascinated by tiny living and both share a deep love for travel. We could never settle on where we wanted to move to so we decided, how about a tiny house on wheels?” shares Sheena Armstrong, who lives on the road along with her husband Jason and Riley (the world’s cutest dog). “When we started shopping around for a travel trailer, I only had eyes for one brand: a vintage Airstream. I loved the romantic idea of a vintage travel trailer. To think of all the memories and adventures etched in these walls from all of the previous owners makes me happy.”
While the Airstream’s previous adventures are lost to the past, its current exploits are being documented by the couple on Instagram and their website. Renamed Mavis the Airstream, while she’s a looker on the inside and out now, Sheena admits it took a lot of work to get her there.
“Our entire trailer was one giant DIY project. We bought Mavis in original 1975 condition. She was full of green shag carpeting, yellowed walls and fake wood furniture – and not the kitschy retro kind…the ugly kind. Jason became an unofficial plumber/electrician thanks to YouTube and the fine folks at Home Depot, and my dad taught me basic carpentry. I built much of the interior myself, becoming a pro at the circular saw, nail gun and rivet gun. I’d sketch what I wanted to build and my dad would then sketch out how to frame it. Jason and I spent countless hours researching how everything worked in here, how to take it apart and how to put it back together with new parts.”
The handmade renovation took a total of ten months, and Sheena explains that it was a team effort from top to bottom. “We had a lot of help from family including my mom who upholstered our sofa and crafted our curtains. She even made the front thunderbird window cover to protect the expensive glass from stray rocks while towing.”
The photos Sheena shares of their life on the road certainly seem shiny, idllic and flawless, but she makes sure to underscore that Mavis isn’t completely perfect. “But she was a labor of love and every little flaw in here is a happy reminder that we built a house with our own two hands.”
And if you’re still not totally charmed by Mavis, the cute couple, or Riley, this last bit of info about Sheena’s dad might warm your heart:
“Since building our trailer and gaining a large following on Instagram, we began to get many requests to build another Mavis for people. I began to refer them to my dad who has since started remodeling Airstreams full-time! I am designing floor plans for him since I now understand what works and what doesn’t in a small space. Check him out over at Moon Trailers.”
Apartment Therapy Survey
My Style: Modern, minimal bohemian with a bit of vintage appeal.
Inspiration: I love the feel of crisp white spaces that draw on color and texture from plants, wood and a mixture of interesting textiles and one-of-a-kind vintage pieces. I wanted the space to feel as bright and airy as possible since I was working with only 180 square feet. Fortunately, Airstreams are loaded with windows. There are a whopping 13 windows in here! I also wanted to pay tribute to Mavis’ roots by adding lots of macramé.
Favorite Element: My thrifted turquoise vintage stadium chairs. I found a pair of them and they serve as our office chairs. They are perfectly distressed and the most beautiful, vibrant color. They are my main pops of color in the space.
Proudest DIY: I’d have to say our saloon style bathroom doors. I made them myself completely out of scrap pieces from the build process. I stained and distressed them and added turquoise knobs from World Market. They are my masterpiece.
Biggest Indulgence: We splurged on a big stack of tongue and groove reclaimed barn wood. The texture, saw marks and patina are just beautiful. Some of our pieces even have actual worm holes in them. We fashioned them into matching desk tops for the vintage style metal desks my dad welded for us. The rest make up the top of our TV shelf built-in.
Best Advice: I realized when decorating a small space in a muted color palette, mixed loud patterns are your best friend!
PAINT & COLORS
Olympic — Snow Bank
Rustic Antler Hook — Amazon
Mudcloth Pillows — My Haven Home
Burgundy Southwest Blanket — Sack Cloth & Ashes
Bike & Surf Wall Print — Three Potato Four
Mason Jar Wall Planter — DIY
Vintage Turkish Rug — Tea Time Rugs
Wood planter — Target
Vintage camera — Thrifted
Duck hand towel holder — Thrifted