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Couple’s Renovated Eco Airstream Trailer

Today this couple is busy renovating a traditional 500 sq. ft. small home that they recently bought. It’s a very old home (over 100 years old!) so they tore it down and are building again from scratch.

Cool, right? But it gets better because before that they had sold their previous home (and all of their stuff) and they renovated and then lived in this tiny Airstream for 18 months. And that’s what I’m showing you here now.

And if you want you can even rent this exact ‘Eco Airstream’ using Airbnb. It’s in Alameda, California and can accommodate up to two guests. This travel trailer has been completely remodeled with solar power, clay walls, LED lighting, a waterless composting toilet, full kitchen, shower, and more.

Couple’s Renovated Eco Airstream Travel Trailer


Images © greenrvlife/ystudiophotography

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Images © greenrvlife/ystudiophotography

Learn more: http://www.greenrvlife.com/


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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 36 comments… add one }
  • Cahow
    March 21, 2015, 10:12 am

    Well, since there’s two topics at hand in this posting, here’s my two responses:

    1) “Today this couple is busy renovating a traditional 500 sq. ft. small home that they recently bought… so they tore it down and are building again from scratch.”

    Um, sorry, but TEARING down a home is NOT “renovating” a home! If a client hired me to renovate their home, only to come home and find out that I bulldozed it down to the foundation…there’d be mighty Hell to pay! LOL

    2) Their renovated Airstream is stellar. For unknown reasons, it ‘reads’ as very Urban Chic/Manhattan, and in my book, “That’s a Good Thing!” 😀

    • sgmaps
      March 21, 2015, 7:23 pm

      @Cahow-I had the same thought about the’renovation–perhaps they meant that they tore everything down as in stripped to to the walls?

      • John
        March 22, 2015, 8:14 pm

        My guess is they had to keep part of the original structure in order to call it a renovation. Probably because 500 sq. ft. was under the required sq. footage for a new dwelling in that city.

      • Polarxena
        August 20, 2016, 7:10 pm

        Me too! Noticed a strange contridiction there lol. Unclear at any rate, I hope they simply stripped it down:))

  • Lynnette
    March 21, 2015, 10:52 am

    This is very nice. Custom and unique!

  • March 21, 2015, 11:32 am

    A hundred year old house is not old. My house is 95 years old. Actually that time period is my favorite house architecture. Besides that, they built with real materials back then and the houses last very well. I’d say my house is probably aging better than houses built since the 1950’s, which is when more modern methods and materials that don’t last as well came into use. Look at what a lifetime warranty means these days on such things as windows. Twenty five years is a lifetime warranty today.

    • Cahow
      March 21, 2015, 2:17 pm

      I’m on the same page with you, donaleen! Our cottage was “born” in 1920, so we’re 3 years away from celebrating it’s centennial. The structural integrity is phenomenal in most old homes: true craftsmanship and no stinting on materials or talent.

      One of my dearest best friends, Pam, bought into a *Brand-Spanking-New* townhouse development in Schaumburg, Illinois. Three years after buying it, she was forced to move out (along with everyone else in her unit) because the back wall of the entire building was LITERALLY peeling off from the townhouses!!! It started at the ridge beam and then just began to separate from the whole building…can you even imagine that?

      As an architect, I also know where “all the bodies are buried”, so to speak, regarding hazardous waste sites. One such development in Chicago, of uber-pricey “custom town-homes” beginning at $2M, were built on an old tannery. When you dug into the soil, you could smell the fumes from the formaldehyde lifting into the air. We’d find animal bones, bits of leather, rusty cans…you name it, when we’d put in a patio or deck! And as usual with these modern homes, they are sealed SO TIGHT that there is no air exchange within the homes, causing headaches and dizziness.

      We did lots of renovations in that area and got to know the “Old Timers” that lived there and worked in the tannery; they shared the horror stories of what used to happen on that plot…I’d NEVER buy new construction or land without having an environmental impact study done and soil tests.

      • Nila Ridings
        March 21, 2015, 6:27 pm


        What you are describing in an HOA. Townhomes are condos side-by-side and are often in a COA or Condo Owners Association. They are, as you have experienced a total nightmare. I’ve studied them extensively for over seven years.

        I hope you will share this link with your friend. And suggest she/he read the book, Escaping Condo Jail by Sara Benson and Don DeBat. They are from Chicago and Sara was on this HOA radio show today. She truly is brilliant on the subject of condo associations. http://onthecommons.net/2015/03/sara-benson/

        • Sharee
          September 10, 2015, 6:15 pm

          Your comment needs a little clarification. Condos and Townhouses are different things. In a condo you own only the inner walls and airspace. In a townhouse you own the land it is located on, too.

      • Nila Ridings
        March 21, 2015, 7:35 pm


        I shared your comments with Sara Benson. She would love for you to contact her…something about you being an architect. [email protected],

      • Ken Ryder
        May 23, 2015, 2:29 pm

        I have been a carpenter and residential general contractor for 45 years. I have extensive experience with remodeling, renovations and high end additions of “old homes” as well as building many new custom homes. I take exception to the comment about the phenomenal structural integrity of most old homes. In my experience so many of these homes had poorly built foundations, often without footings, poor quality concrete, no rebar , no anchor bolts, etc. They were typically balloon framed as opposed to western platform framed, lacked shear strength, seismic connectors and usually did not have a structural engineer involved during the design. With the evolution ( and enforcement) of modern building codes, soils testing and structural engineering, today’s homes in most cases are far superior to “old homes” with respect to structural integrity.

        The craftsmanship of the older homes, especially the interior finish work, was often of a higher standard compared to more recently built homes.
        Ken Ryder, Bozeman,MT

  • Greg burns
    March 21, 2015, 1:38 pm

    The “Airstream” looks FABULOUS, although not sure how, um, “comfortable” I would be, um, “squatting-on-the-pot” out in the open! YIKES! :-O Otherwise, AWESOME job! Enjoy both your “new” RV and your “new” home!

    • sgmaps
      March 21, 2015, 6:57 pm

      I understand your point, but if you live in this solo, what would the problem be really. Or perhaps you could put a folding screen there? I’d love to live in this, has everything you need & no ladders to climb.

    • May 23, 2015, 11:07 am

      squatting in the open is the least of your worries- who wants to sleep next to a commode??

      • Jody
        August 20, 2016, 7:48 pm

        There is a bathroom inside.

        • Jody
          August 20, 2016, 7:51 pm

          I looked through the pictures again, I didn’t realize the toilet was right next to the bed! Ewww

    • Valerie
      August 20, 2016, 5:58 pm

      I was thinking the same thing in the airstream. It would be perfect for me but the toilet area has to be covered.

  • Lisa E.
    March 21, 2015, 2:57 pm

    I never like metal RV’s; too much like tin cans, but this is truly well done except for the point that Greg burns brought up. Communing with Nature is best done alone.

  • Jim Gooley
    March 21, 2015, 7:46 pm

    who on earth would be so crazy as to put plaster in a travel trailer!!!!

  • Rue
    March 21, 2015, 8:56 pm

    Nicely done, except I would feel odd about sleeping right next to the exposed toilet – or using it right next to my bed, even if living alone.

    • Debbie
      May 23, 2015, 11:29 am

      Think of it this way, as you get older, the toilet next to the bed might be a good thing, LOL.

      • Dick
        May 10, 2016, 6:04 pm

        I just cannot resist this…Debbie, your comment reminds me of an old Golden Girls episode in which they’re installing a toilet (with great difficulty, I might add). Sophia walks into the house and exclaims, “Dorothy, you’re brilliant! A toilet next to the televisiion set…it’s an old lady’s dream!!” LOLOL!

        Seriously, now, I agree with the other comments. I’d want the bathroom to be separate, and the bed area screened off from the rest of the house. Otherwise, it’s great and I want it!

        • Kim
          June 16, 2016, 12:22 am

          I second that, I would not want the toilet in the open. Maybe hang a curtain to divide the bed and bath area from the rest of the house. Looks like a shower next to that toilet. If you wake up in the middle of the night and just have to go, it is right there a step or two away.

          I can picture Sofia saying just that, about the toilet on the Golden Girls.

          This Airstream is nicely done and I like that desk, I could put a printer and hook up the lap top and ready to print or scan. I also like that it has picture windows on the top and the bottom opens like the awning style windows. If they are open and it starts to rain, you can leave them open, since the rain will just slide off the windows and not rain in side the unit.

          It is nice, and I always liked Airstream of all the travel trailer manufacturers. If I had the money, I would want to find one that needs TLC and take it Timeless Travel Trailers, as they customize, renovate, repair, and rebuild Travel trailers, and Airstream is usually the ones that they work on. You can even have them customize a new one as they can get one for you straight from Airstream. I like the exterior green lights, and wondering does that silver truck come with the trailer? The Airstream and the truck are matching, oh and the Awning above the door, I would include one of those as well. I would like to find one a bit longer and add a bit more closet space. I would have a bed that is a couch in the day time and pull it out, it is a bed. An electric fire place would be nice.

  • Emily Le Moing
    March 22, 2015, 3:57 am

    Like others I was bothered by the idea that these people had a house that was 100 years old SO they tore it down, as though any house that old would naturally need to be torn down. I live in a house built in the 15th century (I live in Europe) that has a lot of problems but I’ve learned to live with the problems, like anyone living in an old house learns to do. Why buy an old house if you’re just going to tear it down? That’s so wasteful, and to me the Tiny House movement should be anti-waste. I hope these people at least re-used some of the 100-year-old features and materials.

  • Greg Burns
    March 22, 2015, 12:18 pm

    Speaking of doing a “tear down” on an “old house”, it DOES raise a LOT of both “conflict” AND “differing opinions”. I have a friend, Steve, who is a contractor. He was hired by some wealthy folks in Westport, Connecticut to “get rid of” an “old house” and construct a “NEW ONE” to their liking. The “historical society” got involved, and the “project” is at a total stand-still, and poor Steve is caught right in the middle between the town and his client. Don’t think he wants to tear down the old home (as he, himself has bought and restored a few ancient edifices…), BUT, he still has to “eat”… :-/

  • Cece
    March 22, 2015, 4:39 pm

    More detail about the house from the website…

    “We are working with local eco architect David Burton (burtonarchitect.com) who specializes in sustainable living spaces. Some ideas we will incorporate are a vaulted ceiling, adding up to 300 s.f to the house, reclaimed hardwood flooring, storage in the stairs, a rolling dining room table that will fold and tuck under the stair landing, low flow toilet, building a loft-like open concept living space, LED lights, a mud room/indoor garden room, rebuilding the rotted wood porch, energy efficient appliances, reclaimed furniture made from the wood of the original house (we have to remove the roof/roof structure and most walls). The foundation and subfloor are in great shape and we will base the footprint of the house off the current layout. In the yard, we want to create a retreat like planting extravaganza – espaliered fruit trees along the fence, rainwater collection, veggie garden, low water plants and grasses, vine trellises an outside shower and more. We will attempt to use recycled materials as much as possible and document our progress every step of the way.”

  • Sandi B
    March 22, 2015, 6:43 pm

    I have to say that I agree with several of the comments as regards both the renovating of the 100 year old house and then the interior design on the Airstream. My first thought was that the “clay walls” would not withstand being towed — I am thinking this RV is not towed but mostly parked where people can rent it on that spot. I would think the walls would crack and fall apart during towing. Also I do not like where the toilet is placed even putting modesty aside, toilet could have been partially closed off at least and those toilets still need to be vented waterless or not. This would be great for weekend use of short term use, it has been well designed for the most part, however, it does not have the things needed for long term, full time living, unless you have a large storage shed on site with it. The kitchen is not big enough, there is not enough storage etc., etc.. Also Airstream trailers, even (or especially) the older ones. This would turn out to be a very pricey THOW.

  • Sandi B
    March 22, 2015, 6:45 pm

    Ooops, meant to say that older Airstream Trailers are very pricey as are the new ones.

  • Greg Burns
    March 23, 2015, 10:02 am

    Actually, I JUST noticed that this particular “restored” (um, “renovated”?) “Airstream” is referred to as “tiny”. Um, NOPE! This “baby” is pretty BIG! Probably close to 30 feet long! They do have NEW “Airstreams” running up from 16 feet, and some older models started at 13 feet. Back in 2006, I purchased a brand, spanking new 22 foot “International CCD”, which was “retro-inspired”. The interior walls were left as bare aluminum, which made you feel as if you were in an old airliner or submarine. Designer Christopher Deam also created some fascinating colors schemes: the cabinets were black and/or white, and the overhead ones had translucent sliding doors with soft orange lighting inside! NICE! The upholstery choices were cobalt blue, lime green, taxicab yellow, or bright orange, with pale laminate wood flooring throughout. The kitchen had 4 oval “portholes”, 2 above the range and 2 above the sink, plus a round, frosted “porthole” in the angled bathroom door. There was a white desk in back with a bright orange plastic chair for seating, and the outside awning, if I remember correctly, had a “vintage” striped pattern. I had bought it at the Hartford, CT RV Show in January, where it had been marked down from around $47,000 to $40,000. With, I think 5% “down”, the payments (at 6.9% “show special interest”…) were around $400 per month for 12 years. Not too awful. But I would also need to purchase some kind of “tow vehicle” which would likely co$t a lot and get lousy gas mileage, so 6 months later, I opted to trade it in on a just-released “Airstream Parkway” motor home, which was built on one of those turbo-diesel powered “Mercedes/Dodge/Freightliner SPRINTER” vans. It was alleged to achieve between 20 & 25 miles per gallon (and it DID come CLOSE!), was easy to drive and park, and had 2 full-sized sofas that folded together into a king-sized bed, a “wet bath”, fully-equipped galley, generator, flat screen TV with built-in DVD player, etc. However, THAT little “honey” set me WAAAAAAY back: close to $90,000! YIKES! With my trade-in AND $5,000 “down”, the monthly loan payments (at 10% interest! OUCH!) were an unbelievable $809.48 per month for TWENTY YEARS! :-O Um, well, unfortunately, a job loss prevented me from keeping that one. But someday I WILL own yet another WONDERFUL Wally Byam creation! Long LIVE “Airstream”! 🙂

  • MisterMike
    May 23, 2015, 10:59 am

    I am not so sure about this. Its a lovely trailer, but really when I look at one of the appeals of the tiny house movement – for me anyway – is the chance to work towards leaving a much smaller “footprint” on the planet. I don’t know that having a big trailer (& BIG truck to haul it around) as well as a “tear-down” tiny home qualifies. At least not in the way I thought the tiny home “lifestyle” was meant.

  • May 23, 2015, 2:01 pm

    The Airstream has been ruined in my opinion. Why would you take out a wall to a bathroom? Why would you install some kind of exposed composting toilet when it had a holding tank? Makes no sense at all and had devalued the trailer considerably. The trailer didn’t even look that old. What a waste of a great trailer.

  • Mary J
    May 24, 2015, 1:17 am

    lovely, modern with a mid century feel, very appealing and grown up feel to it. would make a great th. though can I have a separation of loo from the bedroom, that might be a little close for comfort.

  • Stine L. Larsen
    May 29, 2015, 10:58 am

    A “very old” 100 year old house *giggles*.
    Sorry for being very european here, I know your body of houses generally is young, since USA is.

    Anyway, thank you for the excerpt cece, good to know that the builders reuse and recycle the material from the old house.

  • kathy
    June 2, 2015, 8:54 pm

    Such negativity! I think it’s fabulous & so is what they are doing, we are not all the same but they are going a good thing. So would it be for sale?

  • Glema
    September 14, 2015, 7:53 pm

    Nice job! Thank you for sharing. God bless and Happy trails! I might come rent that one day hehehe

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