After a year and a half of downsizing their lives, selling a brick-and-mortar Kentucky home, and prepping a vintage Airstream RV for a cross-country journey, Kate and Ellen took off on the road with their five-year-old daughter Adelaide in tow. Kate — a photographer, writer, and stylist — and Ellen, a former art teacher and now full-time woodworker, were well-equipped for the task at hand. The couple bought their 160-square-foot 1957 Airstream Overlander on May 29th, 2014, and spent the next year gutting the interior, then rebuilding it from the floor up, doing 99% of the work themselves. They embarked upon their travel journey exactly one year later on May 29th, 2015 (along with Adelaide, Sofie the chocolate lab, and Memphis, a lovable old cat), and after six months on the road are now settling down in a new Midwestern city.
Kate designed the Airstream interior, with three (often multipurpose) “rooms” — a living/dining/kitchen area, bedroom, and a bathroom. A straight line of sight across the home is available from any vantage point, keeping the space feeling its largest. The lightweight trailer contains only the bare essentials while blending period-appropriate finishes with modern amenities, and most of all, a space that allows for growth and change as they do. Luckily, Ellen had the skills to carry out her wife’s designs. The home offered “a constant, a place to retreat to and feel creatively energized by,” while traveling for half a year.
“Vintage Airstreams are iconic of the great American road trip,” Kate notes. Getting there required new flooring, electrical and plumbing, interior cabinetry and furniture, and an extensive repair of the exterior aluminum shell. Hidden storage eliminates the need for upper cabinets; it’s found under benches, beds, and in a console at the front of the trailer. Curtains establish zones in place of walls and doors, saving valuable floor space and maintaining an open plan. They made improvements after being on the road as they came to understand how the home functions in reality, and the layers of texture evolved as considered collections grew through their travels. “Traveling full-time can be so grueling and demanding,” Kate admits, but the family still retained the familiarity of home, no matter where they were or what they saw. Check out photos from the family’s Airstream adventures on Instagram. —Annie
Photography by Kate Oliver
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