Introducing our 1999 25 ft. Airstream Safari. We purchased her in May of 2011 and spent almost a full year renovating the interior and polishing the exterior.
Here she is on the first day we owned her- in the driveway of our former home in Vermont
The lighting in this picture hides it well, but much of the clear coat on the top half of the airstream was peeling off, and in some spots the aluminum had oxidized to an ugly grey-brown. At first we thought it was something we could live with, but after spending so much time renovating the inside we couldn’t bear to leave the exterior in such a state of disary. It also appeared that the clear coat issue was only going to worsen, and since stripping and polishing an airstream is a huge undertaking we figured it was now or never. So in mid-May of 2012, only a month before the closing on our house, we took the plunge. Without going into detail about the process, let’s just say that it was a LOT of work. And it was totally worth it. We got rid of the ugly blue stripe (along with the map that some previous owners had stuck to the side), we buffed out the oxidation and after about two weeks of polishing her true beauty began to shine through.
The other change we made to the exterior was to replace the old ceiling vents with two Maxx Air Fans. These amazing fans allow air in while keeping the rain out. They also have nifty remote controls for when you just can’t get out of bed to turn the fan off.
The inside of the Airstream received an almost complete redo. The first order of business was to strip nearly everything out, leaving behind only the refrigerator and shower. The ugly, stained baby blue carpeting had to go and we figured a new floor would be much easier to install with nothing in the way.
Speaking of ugly couches, that thing was hideous ! The whole couch came into the house over the winter and received new foam and a new cover. We also made all new curtains and valences with matching pillows for the living room.
The other change in the living room was a new chocolate brown counter top for our media cabinet. The old one was an ugly off white with oak trim. Also note the shiny aluminum wall above the cabinet. We don’t have a picture of the old wall but it was covered with the same fabric as the couch- yuck!
The kitchen also recieved a new counter top and aluminum back splash. All the original appliances were in great shape so we kept them. We did make a few other changes in the kitchen though including painting the stove fan hood black to match the stove color, replacing the sink faucet with one that had a built in sprayer head, and installing an under sink soap dispenser. We also ripped out the old kitchen window curtain and replaced it with a custom made roller shade using some cool airstream themed fabric.
The bathroom was treated to a new counter top, aluminum back splash, sink and faucet. We also replaced the toilet with a porcelain bowl and installed a low flow Oxygenics shower head that conserves water while still giving you a great shower.
The bedroom went through the biggest structural change. This model Airstream originally had twin beds in the bedroom. The previous owners had converted the two beds into one by covering them with wooden slats and throwing a futon on top. A great solution for weekend trips, but for full-time living we wanted something a bit more functional. It was important to both of us that we had space to walk around the bed (climbing over each other in the night is such a drag), some sort of night stand, and under the bed storage. As you can see the old bedroom didn’t offer any of this. Well…there was under the bed storage but you had to crawl under the bed to get to it!
Tim ripped everything out and started from scratch. First he built a custom bed frame with lots of storage. The area on the far right is accessed through the outside hatch, and the area on the far left is under a door in the bed platform. Here we store things we don’t anticipate using often (at least for now), like 1 pair of fancy shoes each and our winter coats. The large compartment in the middle is where we store our laundry basket. To get to it you just open the doors and slide it out- cleaver huh?
The bed frame was then topped with a plywood platform that overhangs the frame by a few inches. Our queen size memory foam mattress fits perfectly and Tim built a night stand/drawer combination over the top of the water heater on the right side. More new new curtains and valences were made to complete the bedroom transformation.
There you have it- a custom renovated Airstream. A few details are missing, such as the plate rack above the stove, the clothes wardrobe with pull out drawers and the bedroom curtain “door”. Not to mention all the fancy electronic devices, hidden wires and outlets that Tim skillfully installed. If anyone wants to know more about these projects or any of the renovations please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are more than happy to share all that we have learned and hope we have inspired at least one of you to take on this kind of project. There are lots of older model Airstreams out there just waiting for a little love.
-Check out the Airstream Interior Tour post for a complete tour of the inside-
Update: September 2012 & December 2012
We’ve gone solar! 200 watts installed in October, and another 100 watts in December. For more info check out this blog post about the installation.
Update: December 2013
The living room underwent a bit of a design change this month. We purchased a new rug, which led to new valences, and new couch pillows.