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This Family Turned a 1973 Airstream into an Eco-Luxe Home on Wheels

Photo courtesy of Melanie Raver // ourtinywander

Melanie Raver and her husband were laying in bed one night after putting their girls to sleep. Her husband, David, was flipping through his browser looking at retro trailers when one caught his eye: an orange and white airstream trailer. He showed the 200-square foot marvel to his wife. Melanie and David knew the 1973 Argosy Airstream was meant for them. 

As a successful, Pacific Northwest-raised interior designer Melanie owns her own company, Rave Interior Design, which specializes in mid-century modern home styling with a colorful boho flare. Melanie is no stranger to bold colors. In fact, her family lives in the functional-if-bohemian-inspired decor of her own design. With three young daughters, Melanie and David have inspired the love of craft in their young family. They also happen to have an insatiable appetite for DIY projects. 

Photo courtesy of Melanie Raver // ourtinywander

The RV the Raver’s stumbled across was perfect for their family, with one exception: it was 1,500 miles away in Oklahoma. Still, Melanie knew it was exactly what they wanted. So, over their children’s spring break, the family headed across the country on a road trip to see the RV. They were sold. 

After they brought the airstream back home, they dove into what would become a two-year project of creating the perfect auxiliary home on wheels. The RV would not replace the family’s primary residence, but it would give them the ability to see the extraordinary, awe-inspiring destinations in the U.S. without compromising the comfort of their own home. 

Melanie and David completely gutted the 1973 hitch trailer, sparing no opportunity for personalization, upgrade, and of course, fun. Two years later, the Ravers were ready to roll — literally. 

The RV is trendier than most traditional houses and is divided into four main areas: the front space, the kitchen/entryway, the kid’s sleeping area, and a full bathroom. Despite its compact design, each area is carefully presented using locally sourced or handcrafted choices. 

Photo courtesy of Melanie Raver // ourtinywander

The front area serves as both a living space and a master bedroom. Separated by the kitchen and entryway, this space has a convertible bed that turns into a U-shaped couch during the day, which Melanie says is her favorite place to sip coffee and take in the new locals they’re visiting. Bright colors contrast with the natural light that floods the space at the nose of the vintage trailer. Tassel, pattern knit pillows line the window in the front of the Airstream, with understated but distinctive brass sconces overhead, which provide additional light on a cloudy day. 

Photo courtesy of Melanie Raver // ourtinywander

The entryway is a small door and after a few stairs, emerges into the full kitchen, complete with an oven, stove, overhead vent, refrigerator/freezer (not pictured), and mosaic backsplash. To the left of the oven, a floating shelf houses a vining plant and some serving dishes next to a framed text square that reads, “Ain’t nothing but a G thang,” to keep things fun. 

Despite the kitchen appliances that many would bend over backward to have in their full-time home, Melanie writes that her favorite piece of the kitchen is actually the dark walnut countertops. Originally, she says, the posh and durable wood was far out of their budget. Like so many things though, shopping locally in their hometown saved their wallet and they were able to go for it. Enlisting the help of a local craftsman, Melanie and David say they saved thousands by steering clear of large, commercial manufacturing companies, and thus were able to make the beautifully handcrafted counter space a reality. They even have a matching insert for the full sink, which creates additional counter space for cooking family meals or prepping a BBQ. 

Their three girls sleep in the next section just past the kitchen, which is made up of a set of bunk beds and a single bed that turns into a daybed after sunrise. In a similar fashion to the master bedroom area, crisp whites contrast acorn wood accents and earth tone bedding framed by macrame wall hangings. 

Photo courtesy of Melanie Raver // ourtinywander

Just past the kids sleeping area is the full bathroom. But separating the two areas is a distressed pocket door in a medium-tone wood with bright hues, just distinct enough to make itself known but still coherent enough to tie into the more polished, acorn-colored accents around the trailer. The door, pictured, is Melanie’s pride and joy, and she crafted it herself by hand. Despite taking more effort than she thought it would, Melanie says it has become one of her favorite (if not her most favorite) aspects of the tiny home on wheels. Gently slide back the pocket door to find yet another masterpiece: the bathroom. While most trailer bathrooms leave much to be desired (and then some), this one is fit for a king. Step in and your feet meet a plush rug that reads “you look good,” which is crowned by a warm white under-sink cabinet, modern tabletop sink resting on the same walnut counters as the kitchen, and of course, a wicker planter with a snake plant as a nod to her bohemian style. To the right is ample storage cabinets in an unassuming design as well as additional counter space rivaling the spaciousness of urban luxe apartments. To the left of the sink and below the window, the wood floors meet a mosaic ledge a few inches in height, atop which the toilet (a real toilet, by the way), sits. Beyond that, a floral tropics-patterned curtain with tassels opens up to the standing shower, complete with an entire mosaic tile wall that bends along the frame of the 1973 Airstream, leaving no questions of where you are. In addition to the generously sized window in the bathroom, the lighting is accentuated by a simple Edison bulb in a brass, ceiling light fixture.

Photo courtesy of Melanie Raver // ourtinywander

This airstream is an extraordinary design piece, and this family has learned how to use the most of the space they have available, even if it’s just temporary. Their local sourcing of materials and DIY spirit are an inspiration to all home stylists and project fanatics across the country. Melanie’s word of advice for novice designers? Keep going. “I think it is normal not to know what you’re doing most of the time [on a project],” she writes, “But those that succeed are the ones that find a way regardless.” 

You can follow along with Melanie, David, and their kids’ journey on Instagram @ourtinywander

Photo courtesy of Melanie Raver // ourtinywander

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