Airstream Dreamin’

By Kate Riley June 25, 2014

In the good ol’ summertime, there is the call of the great outdoors and the appeal of road trips to new or favorite places. We’ve been talking for years about exploring the various ways to road trip in a trailer or RV. We’ve discussed buying something used, but where to store it? We’ve discussed renting but what model? Every year when we road trip through our own state in our car we spy all of the RV stops along the way and say we’ve got to do what those people do and sooner rather than later.

I’ve been missing out. Never in my life have I ever gone camping in a trailer or stayed in a RV park. So many people grow up with that experience, I never did. As a kid, it was always in a tent and gear loaded on top of the family van but now that I’m older I welcome the idea of a certain amount of foam to sleep on. Also, a private toilet appeals to me. :) My slightly more romantic idea of adventure on the open road into the wilderness isn’t just camping, it includes a RV or trailer with amenities.

I know there’s a huge community of people who fix up older models of trailers and airstreams in styles from kitschy to posh and showcase them in various locations around the country. I want to meet these people. I want to tour their airstreams and trailers and oooh and aahh over their mini sinks, fabrics, and vintage or new finishes. 

summertime airstream

I was visiting my friend Cathe in her barn craft studio last week (so amazing) and a month ago she picked up a 1970s trailer on Craigslist which she is decorating with retro prints, I can’t wait to see it when she’s done.

Matt shares very fond memories of taking trips in an RV as a kid. He says it’s easy, you just pull up and park and people come over and holler “Permission to come aboard?!” and the party starts. Airstream and RV hopping is to be expected so I’ve been told. And then I read an article last week about an airstream road trip through California and now I’m totally fixated on these studios on wheels.

Then I started thinking that remodeling one of these vintage airstreams would be such a fun project.

airstream remodel

Fixing up an older trailer or airstream with modern fabrics and amenities and making it a sweet little gathering/cooking/sleeping space would be a great DIY adventure. Don’t forget the awning with twinkle lights for lounging after dark! 

The interior could be calm and coastal inspired …

coastal style airstream

or super glam and luxurious . . .

modern styling airstream

… or bright, airy, and modern !

bright modern airstream

modern airstream

cote de texas / new york times / design sponge


There are some very posh versions out there, I spied this modern airstream interior at C Magazine, complete with Trina Turk fabrics.

airstream c magazine

airstream in c magazine


Tour this luxe airstream parked in Vienna at the Hotel Daniel, swoon!

luxe airstream


Then there is this airstream turned home office , featured in Rue Mag:

airstream home office


This trailer was all fixed up in pastel hues by the Fancy Farmgirl, charming!  

trailer makeover


Do you have any trailer or RV stories to tell? Makeovers? Road trips? Cherished memories? I’d love to hear them! 

***For my fellow Californians, note you can rent a modern airstream for a few days and nights from here and here and take a road trip through the state, I’ve already bookmarked for the future. :) 



  1. we bought a new RV about 3 years ago, despite neither my husband or I having much experience with RVs or camping. Last summer we took a month off of work and took our 3 kids on a road trip around the Midwest. It was so amazing. The best vacation I have ever taken. We saw the Churchill Downs, Iowa State Fair, Estes Park, Mount Rushmore, drank beer and ate cheese in Milwaukee, loved the big city of Chicago and went tubing on Lake Michigan. Honestly – highly recommend RVing to anyone. It is AWESOME!

  2. We are in the process of selling our house, purchasing a motor home, putting our belongings in storage and hitting the road full time. We cannot wait! We have always rv’d with our children and loved it. We have the best memories of camping with them. Now they are grown and we are going into early retirement and hitting the road. We’ll travel until we get tired of it and find someplace new to call home. Go get an rv TODAY….you won’t regret it. :-)

    • Hi Beth – my friend’s parents did the same thing! Sold their big house, lived on the road in their RV for over a year before they settled in a small house after all their travels, enjoy your journey, how fun!

  3. Those Airstreams are awesome! We just got back from a long road trip early this morning, and we saw a ton of Airstreams. I have always loved them, but pairing them with the pictures above is like my dream!

  4. My hubby and I have always wanted a airstream. His dream is when he retires to travel around the country in one. However I want one now… We have the same dilemma though….where would we store it? But I would love to redecorate one…. That’s my dream. Lol

  5. What weird timing! I just put the finishing touches on my tent trailer redo last night and I love it! We debated buying new but when I realized I could renovate an older trailer to suite my tastes, it was the only way to go. Plus, you can make really bold choices you might not make in your home!

  6. Fixing up an old Airstream has been a dream of mine forever. I grew up camping, and now have a posh RV we go glamping in, but it lacks the charm of the older units. A friend bought a 25′ Aistream a few years ago and totally gutted and redid it and uses it as a guest house at her cottage. It’s amazing. Beware the exterior polish of an Aistream…I’ve read and been told that it’s at least 100 hours of work!

  7. The timing of this post is perfect as a good friend and I have been talking about doing this for weeks. In fact, she just picked up a used trailer and will be starting work on it soon. I still need to find mine, but I’m so inspired by the ideas and pics in this post. I can’t wait to get one and get started!

    • Have fun Michelle, I am fixated on the idea of remodeling one myself then taking it out on the road, someday!!! You’ll have to send me pics when yours is done!

  8. I have great memories of camping and RV’ing with my family! My dad and his brothers converted an old school bus back in the late 50’s to use when they went hunting in Colorado every fall. It was a little rustic so he upgraded to a real RV in time for me to go on a couple of trips while I still lived at home. My parents used it a lot after retirement to escape to the northwest during Texas summers. I’ve dreamed of having one of those little Chinook RV’s – small enough for me to handle on the road.

  9. Noted Melodie, I was thinking the same thing, they’re shiny so they need polished for sure!

  10. These are adorable and would really be a DIY project that kept on giving. I wonder if there is a resource that offers used Airstreams for sale? What do you think it would cost to totally renovate one (ballpark)?

    • I did a quick search on eBay Barbara, the cost for one is all over the place, from low thousands to tens of thousands for posh versions. I’d def buy a used one that’s in need of remodeling, see Karina’s post that she linked to it can give you an idea of the process & cost. I’m excited to own one myself someday, now where to park it? That’s a different dilemma. :)

  11. My husband and I renovated a 1973 Airstream for our honeymoon last year! We unfortunately didn’t do a blog about the process (hindsight is definitely better than foresight). One of my friends did a blog post about it though,

    We live in the Bay Area, and will probably be bringing it to Napa sometime, we’d love to show it off!


    • HOLY AWESOMENESS Karina!!!! You must email me if you come up here, I’d love to check it out in person! Bravo!!

  12. The Airstream is my dream. I want to fix one up soooooo bad. And then I want property big enough to park it on so I can use it for cocktail parties. :0)

  13. Hilariously, my grandma and her two sisters travel the country together in a fancy RV. They’re actually on the road right now, so this is great timing! I don’t know that I’d actually want to travel and sleep in one, but it could be cool to have in the back yard as a kid zone or home office. :-)

  14. You sound just like me, thinking that sooner is better than later for buying a trailer. After talking about it for years, my husband and I bought an inexpensive 2000 model trailer last August. We have been camping in it 6 times already! I’ve mostly just cleaned it well and added pillows and new curtains to update it a bit. We sure are enjoying taking our children on slower paced, sometimes spur-of-the-moment trips.

    • That is exactly the encouragement I needed to hear Sharon, thank you :)

  15. About 30 years ago, my husband and I bought an old travel trailer that needed a little fixing up. Our vacation was just three weeks away and in that time I recovered the bench cushions for the kitchen table, had the sofa reupholstered, wallpapered the bathroom, and made new curtains for the entire trailer. We didn’t own our home at the time so it was the one “home” we did own and we wanted to make it very personal! We saw a lot of Minnesota and Wisconsin in the years that we owend it and made many family memories – both good and bad (like a flat tire on the road, tornado warnings along Lake Superior). It was a wonderful bonding time for our children and us.

  16. I can’t help but smile and think of my grandparents after seeing “Airstream Dreamin”. I grew up with them traveling the world with their Airstream and diesel truck. They were part of the Wally Baum Caravan Club for 30+ years. They planned several caravans and participated in several caravans, including one that took them to Europe. I was lucky enough to spend a month with them when I was 14 on a caravan they led in Canada. I had a great time and memories to cherish.

    Their Airstream wasn’t the fanciest or newest model but my grandparents made it their home. I can’t help but turn my head everytime I see one on the road and look to see if they have a number signifying their membership with the Club. Grandma and I used to look up the number in the membership book to see if they had met along their travels. Go out and make memories traveling in an Airstream!

    • Wow amazing story Angie, how wonderful to keep a book of members, I had no idea there was such a club, now I’m intrigued, must learn more!

  17. We have a 30 ft. RV for about 5 years, loved it! I would suggest you get the smallest one that will fit your family comfortably, we didn’t do that. There are lots of state parks in VA, last home, where our RV was too big to take there. We kept the RV loaded with clothes, etc. so it was fast and easy to take off and go. I would love an Airstream now, one of the little baby ones though, but the cost of storing it monthly is a factor. Good luck!

  18. Go for it! I look at our RV as another place to “nest” and decorate. We have a 32 ft. Class A, which is a bit large, but perfect to take our grandkids and the dog along – and everyone loves it. As another reader said, we keep ours fully loaded (except for groceries) so we can hit the road anytime. We do pay for inside storage, but think it’s worth it to keep it in good condition. Although we bought ours new, I’ve been personalizing it with pillows, linens, candles, and even hung a large burlap coffee bean bag from Maui on the wall – every time I climb inside I feel like I’m in my home away from home!

  19. Please please please do this project! We have an old airstream in need of renovation and I badly need some ideas and guidance!

  20. I’m in LOVE with Airstream! In just a few short weeks my husband and I are leaving for our 1 month road trip from Atlanta to Seattle stopping along the way…I’ll be tent camping for the first time! I’m so excited to see the West I can barely stand it!!!


    • Atlanta to Seattle? Sounds fab Christine! I wish you good times and a safe trip!

  21. Ooh I love this post! We used to have a little trailer (not an airstream though I always thought that would be my “dream” trailer if we got another one, haha) and I had reupholstered the cushions and made new curtains for it. It was fun and I loved the memories we made in that little thing. We used to call it the Glamper after I fixed it up but it was nowhere near as nice as these, these trailers are fantastic! The idea of solid walls (and your own toilet!) while out camping in the wilderness is so appealing to me too. :)

  22. When our boys were 17, 14 and 8 we took them out of school for 3 months and travelled in an rv around the USA, driving thousands of miles. My husband ‘homeschooled’ them in the morning and afternoons were spent on ‘field trips’…It’s not that we had lots of money to spend, we actually had to be VERY careful!! We have wonderful memories of that time. Worth every penny we needed to save! The other day when I was cleaning the (same) rv, my boys now older, only had good memories…and it was so fun to go back a few years remembering…We had everything we needed in our 28ft fifth wheel trailer, crockpot, bread machine and all:)

    • That is such a wonderful story Jan! We’ve talked about that too! Thank you for sharing, I hope to create some similar memories with my children too!

  23. Just went camping last weekend at Meeks Bay in Tahoe (almost exactly halfway between North shore and South Shore). We were in a tent and a VW westfalia Vanagon camper with pop-top – even with the camper, we always pitch a tent and spread out! We went camping with a family who had a trailer so we all stayed in the RV section of Meeks Bay Resort. It was wonderful – weather was beautiful; we were right on the beach where the water was as clear as the Carribbean (not as warm though). Airstreams, especially vintage ones, are great but I love, love, love our VW Westy. It’s has a “kitchen” with fridge, stove and sink and tons of storage. It sleeps 4 and in a pinch, we could easily fit but like I said, we like to spread out a little. I was bitten by the camping bug a few years ago and California has endless campgrounds to explore. Rent yourself an airstream and get out there!

  24. I have always dreamed of having one of these and traveling the country with my kids one day — these glam ones are awesome inspiration! I say go for it!

    x Lily

  25. I have some good memories of renting an RV with my family and driving up the coast. Nothing nearly as chic and fun as the pictures you posted. It would be such a fun project to redo an Airstream. Such a small space it would be a perfect DIY. Thank you for the local links for rentals. I will have to save it for when my girls are a bit bigger!

  26. Loved all the photos…an RV would be the best way to travel with friends and family in comfort :)

  27. The timing of your post!!! Recently, I had thought about starting a blog about our past 18 years of RV travel with our three kids. We squeezed in over 100,000 miles in this short time frame….I say “short” because I am still amazed how quickly those 18 years have flown!!!!! (combined time spent in the RV would probably be well over a year) The kids are now 26, 21 and 18. Our RV journey started with diapers, Legos and juice boxes and is finishing with blow dryers, iphones and computers! How quickly they grew up!!! We chose to “do” the RV instead of a bigger house. Was it a good decision? YES!!!!! And that is the answer from the KIDS! Of course, my husband and I would totally
    agree. Did I mention that when the hubby and I married almost 28 years ago that he told me he would NEVER, EVER RV?? And I thought I would NEVER blog….

  28. RV camping is the WORST THING EVER! I grew up with it every summer and long weekends throughout the year. Trapped with my 2 brothers and Mom and Dad in that small space. No privacy. We weren’t allowed to use the toilet (!!) because it would have to be emptied so we would hike to the port-a-potty or shower in the gross bath house. Everything was always damp with humidity. Hot as heck. No air circulating. Yuck. Horrible memories. I would have much rather camped with a tent. In fact when I was old enough most times we were at an RV park I would pitch a tent and sleep outside. Maybe as an adult it would be more enjoyable than it was as a child and teenager. However I have my doubts. :)

    • Ha ha Kathleen! So great to hear the “other” side of the story… when we vacationed and stayed in hotel rooms as teens I had to share with my stinky brothers, ugh!

  29. Did anyone see just a few months back the issue of Architectural Digest that featured Patrick Dempsey’s house?? It showed that they had a retro airstream in their gorgeous backyard that they used for ‘date nights’, and the pics were really cool- I am now obsessed! Great ideas!

  30. LOVE these! However, I’m not sure all that white would last with my kids and REAL camping, LOL! So fun though!

  31. I just got back from a 3 week trip travel teaching trip in my 1976 Serro Scotty! I design dies for Sizzix and teach classes showing how to use my products at independent craft stores throughout the country. Such fun! In September and October, I am doing a cross country trip from VA to CA- in fact I will be teaching at Cathe’s Barn studio! Let me know if you want me to swing by :-) You can read about my travels at You should get a camper, or at least rent one. You would love it! We also have a family RV and have used it a lot for all kinds of events and vacations. Love your blog!

  32. those interiors made me squee. I have always wanted an airstream to use as a guest room

  33. My parents had an RV (which I liked better) or trailer when I was a kid. The husband grew up tent camping. So, I have always tent camped since I got married (I do require we go somewhere with at least an outhouse). One concern I would have with buying an old RV or trailer is the plumbing, etc wearing out and having problems. Maybe someday I will talk the husband into buying a camper.

  34. We have a 5th wheel with a bunkhouse…so 4 bunk beds for 4 kids..we have our own space. We love it, the kids love it. It also doubles nicely for a quest house when people come over, since it’s quite large and very comfortable.

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