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7 tiny trailers made into homes

Photo courtesy of Melanie Gnau

The latest trend in the tiny house movement is wheels. Do-it-yourselfers across the country are turning aging retro campers into modern homes.

In her blog, "A Small Life," Melanie Gnau chronicles her day-to-day life in a refurbished 1978 Airstream Sovereign. Gnau, who lives in the trailer with her husband and dog, focuses on living simply, intentionally and frugally. Living in a trailer saves them big bucks, according to Gnau, because they live rent- and mortgage-free on some family land.

Of course, not all trailer refurbs are full-time homes. Some owners transform their vintage abodes to upgrade their camping experience.

The glamorous camping -- or "glamping" -- trend is gaining popularity, inspiring passionate DIY-ers to search Craigslist, looking for used trailers to transform into beautiful homes-away-from-home. It can take some glampers several years and several thousand dollars to make their dreams a reality, but the transformations can be truly shocking.

Michelle Sullivan, a photographer from California, took her Craigslist-purchased 1960 Aristocrat Lo-Liner from shabby to chic with bright pink paint, a new stove and sink, new flooring and tons of colorful accessories. Karina and Eric Conklin replaced the green shag carpet and other outdated features of an Airstream that had been abandoned and rotting for a decade and turned it into a cheerful, cozy home for their honeymoon getaway.

Here are seven trailers that might make you want to ditch the tent.

Melanie and George’s “Small Life” Airstream

Photo courtesy of Melanie Gnau

Melanie, George and their dog Bambi are on a mission to live small. Unlike many trailer owners, they live in their 1978 Airstream Sovereign full time, parked on family land in North Carolina. Like many trailer owners, their search started and ended on Craigslist with a $5,000 sale and a lot of renovating to do. Their initial refurb budget was a modest $1,000, but they went $500 over on things like paint and primer, old barn wood, discarded lumber and materials to help them with DIY projects like the new curtains and pillows they made.

Melanie and George’s “Small Life” Airstream

Photo courtesy of Melanie Gnau

Their bright interior, full of custom-built bookshelves filled with records and warm, welcoming colors, complements the exterior wooded garden area, where the couple grows some of their own food and shows off bright potted flowers.

Michelle and Eric’s Aristocrat Lo-Liner

Photo by Michelle Sullivan

California-based photographer Michelle Sullivan also found her family's trailer on Craigslist. Her family, which includes her husband Eric and three daughters, goes camping every summer with a group of friends who started acquiring trailers around 2006. They were inspired when they saw a 1960 Aristocrat Lo-Liner available online and decided to buy and remodel it themselves in pink, gray and red-orange.

Michelle and Eric’s Aristocrat Lo-Liner

Photo by Michelle Sullivan

According to Michelle's blog, the project took about four months of working with her husband. They installed a new stove, some VCT flooring, a new sink and Formica countertops.

Michelle and Eric’s Aristocrat Lo-Liner

Photo by Michelle Sullivan

Then they added a few splashes of color with paint, toss pillows, wallpaper, curtains and even some pink plastic flamingos.

Karina and Evan’s mod Airstream

Photo by Moorea Seal

When Karina and Evan Conklin were dating, they decided to take on the project of completely remodeling an Airstream. A fateful Craigslist ad, $4,500, a marriage proposal and a lot of elbow grease later, the California-based couple even used their new home-on-wheels for a honeymoon road trip. The refurb took two years in Karina's father's workshop -- and for the first year, the soon-to-be-Conklins wore respirators to protect themselves from the noxious fumes coming from what Karina called their "new, disgusting, outdated first-adopted-child."

Karina and Evan’s mod Airstream

Photo by Moorea Seal

They replaced the green shag carpet, stove, refrigerator, oven, beds, couch, vinyl and aluminum walls, insulation, plumbing and cabinetry.

Karina and Evan’s mod Airstream

Photo by Moorea Seal

Now, it has a light and bright interior with pops of green and yellow, some mod lighting and stunning blue bathroom tiles.

Kristiana’s Airstream Bambi

Photos by Wendi Nordeck, courtesy of Kristiana Spaulding

When Kristiana Spaulding, a California- and Las Vegas-based metal artist and jewelry designer, first saw the 1963 Airstream Bambi model at the New York Museum of Modern Art's collection in 2007, she knew she wanted one of her own.

Kristiana’s Airstream Bambi

Photos by Wendi Nordeck, courtesy of Kristiana Spaulding

"I made a vow to myself that if I came across an affordable '63 Bambi, it would be a worthwhile investment," she wrote. "The following spring I came upon one on Craigslist for a fair price. It was love at first sight."

Kristiana’s Airstream Bambi

Photos by Wendi Nordeck, courtesy of Kristiana Spaulding

Spaulding's 16-foot model, with an interior she refurbished herself, is a 1962 Bambi. The native grasses of Lotus, California, near the South Fork American River, inspired its peaceful color palette. There are pieces of collected beach glass on display, as well as other personal touches reflecting her connection to the local environment. It's available to rent for events and commercial photo shoots, along with the other Airstreams in Spaulding's Silver Trailer collection.

Tiffany’s “Audree” trailer

Photo by Tiffany Kirchner Dixon

Seattle-based photographer and blogger Tiffany Kirchner Dixon completely transformed this 52-year-old trailer into a mod, pink "Fancy Farmgirl" abode called Audree. While Dixon purchased the trailer used from a stranger, she was surprised to learn that her friend Amy McCoy, a vintage trailer dealer, had owned it just a year before.

Tiffany’s “Audree” trailer

Photo by Tiffany Kirchner Dixon

Dixon repainted the interior and exterior, put in new light fixtures and changed the hardware, but left many of Audree's original features intact -- like the 1950s speckled flooring, vintage enamel icebox and countertops. She also added plenty of pink and aqua accessories, including a pin board, some framed prints, toss pillows, paper lanterns and flatware.

Ashley’s “Sisters on the Fly” trailer

Photo by Vickie Cunningham, courtesy of Sisters on the Fly

Ashley Rae Burns, owner of vintage jewelry and clothing store Texas Trash Jewelry, owns this refurbed Shasta. She and her trailer are also members of Sisters on the Fly, an organization that claims it's the largest women's outdoor and fly fishing group in the country, with over 6,000 members.

Continuing what appears to be a widespread glamping trend, she has used pink as a signature color to bring a touch of femininity to a pastime that was once considered predominantly masculine. Burns also added cowgirl-inspired accessories like a rodeo toss pillow, upcycled saloon-style chandelier and "Lonesome Dove" wall placard.

Angela and Jorge’s Fleetwood Wilderness trailer

Photo by Angela Gallardo

Angela and Jorge Gallardo found their 28-foot 2001 Fleetwood Wilderness trailer on Craigslist for $6,900 and set to work on shrinking and simplifying their lives. It wasn't easy getting rid of most of their possessions, according to their Anchored Home Blog, especially when it came to Angela's piano and wedding jewelry.

Angela and Jorge’s Fleetwood Wilderness trailer

Photo by Angela Gallardo

But the couple pressed on, taking comfort from the book "The Joy of Less" by Francine Jay, and refurbished their new home: "Andina."

Angela and Jorge’s Fleetwood Wilderness trailer

Photo by Angela Gallardo

The renovations cost about $3,500, and included getting rid of some leafy wallpaper and painting, removing the existing banquette and adding a new desk, re-covering the sofa, adding a small dog food freezer and adding some new fixtures to the bathroom, like a new towel rack.

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