Chic camper vans were trending long before the pandemic hit but lockdowns and quarantines have certainly added to the interest in recreational vehicles. Here, we take a look inside two renovated Airstream trailers that have come in handy as staycations become the norm.
The 1981 Airstream
The outside bore no resemblance to what was happening on the inside. For a few years in the mid-2010s, the 1981 Airstream, emblazoned from bow to stern with a vinyl covering in Etsy’s signature orange, made its way across Ontario and Quebec each summer as part of an event known as the Etsy Road Trip. The vintage Airstream provided the perfect Instagram backdrop to the road trip’s series of outdoor craft markets.
During an Ottawa event, Emily Arbour half jokingly mentioned that if Etsy ever wanted to get rid of it to give her a call first.
A few years later, that phone call came. In the summer of 2018, Arbour, the busy owner of Cheerfully Made Goods + Markets in Almonte, took possession of the Airstream. Inside, she discovered dirt, disarray, and a whole lot of mouse droppings.
Over the next year, Arbour and Melissa DiRenzo of Sweet Escape Design (the two met while studying advertising at college) transformed the interior, turning it into a sunny cottage on wheels. Their inspiration was a 1950s home — lots of turquoise and orange and pretty patterned wallpaper sourced through Spoonflower.
While plans to begin renting it out in the summer of 2020 were derailed by the pandemic, the cheerful space has been well used. “It’s brought staycation to a new level,” says Arbour. Her kids have enjoyed sleepovers, and she’s used it as
a quiet spot for private work conversations and meetings.
The 1971 Airstream
Katie Cleary travelled to Huntsville in the fall of 2019 to pick up the Airstream. Husband Brent Schouten did most of the renos that fall, putting in all the finishing touches during the long, slow spring of 2020.
The couple, who live on a farm outside Ottawa, removed one bed, replacing it with a breakfast bar where their kids can eat meals, and added two bunk beds.
Cleary went for a fresh and neutral look, with two coats of white paint, glossy white counters, and a chic retro mini- fridge. Pretty wallpaper and an abundance of pillows up the homey factor.
The vintage Airstream was the focus of admiring stares when the family visited nearby provincial parks during the stay-at-home summer of 2020. It also came in handy for visits to extended family, allowing for social-distancing weekends in various driveways.
At home, the Airstream is parked by the barn, becoming an outdoor playhouse during the day and a close-to-home camp-out spot on breezy summer nights. Cleary would also sneak out to it to spend some time alone writing in her journal.