It’s hard to believe this aging 1972 Airstream’s pushing 40. It looks as fit and trim as a teenager. A midlife makeover has blessed this 27-foot Tradewind with an age-defying renovation.
Compared to its thousands of other shiny riveted siblings criss-crossing the country it’s just a youngster. Airstream, still an all-American company, turns 80 next year.
Matthew Hofmann, a 28-year-old Central California Coast-based architect, is the master craftsman who’s turning back the clock. This is his second high-design Airstream project to be released this year. Hofmann Architecture (www.HofArc.com), a full-service Santa Barbara residential design and small space renovation firm, is capturing the attention of Airstream enthusiasts around the globe.
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While the ubiquitous Airstream has attracted the eye of avant trailer lovers around the world, the interiors were known for nothing more than ordinary. Hofmann is intent on changing that reputation.
“Currently, we have five Airstreams in various stages of design and production,” said Hofmann. “We’re even designing an ‘Aussie outback model’ for an Australian client.” One of the unique requirements calls for the front door to be moved to the opposite side to accommodate left-lane travel.” (More on this unique Airstream renovation later).
Hofmann’s version 2.0 is truly better in several significant ways, offering more open space, a larger bathroom, and an office desk. The spatial efficiency leaves even the most discriminating minimalist slack jawed. The obvious question is: “How’d he do it?”
Even Henry Houdini would be proud.
There’s a lot that hasn’t changed inside and that’s good because so much of what he designed into the previous 25-foot 1978 Tradewind was quite simply solid design. Like its older sister, this one’s still sleek and contemporary, with very clean lines. “This one was fun to build,” he says with a grin. “It was also a step forward in the small space evolutionary design process.”
In Hofmann’s previous project he combined the workspace cubicle, dining table and second bed in the forward convertible sleeping space – clever, but truly not an earth-shattering step.
This time Hofmann found four feet of linear counter-height deck space for a built-in desk, mid-level chair and three drawers situated between the bathroom and kitchen.
A bit about the client’s requirements would be in order here, because this trailer was designed as a “guest house.” In fact, the client ordered two Airstreams. This first edition has already been located on a recently-graded pad setting among a modest forest of avocado trees. A view of the Pacific Ocean is framed in a window that can be seen while sitting at the built-in desk.
“The client wanted a place to work without having to disturb the dining area or disassemble either of the sleeping spaces,” said Hofmann. “She also wanted something durable because she lives in her jeans and cowboy boots on a 200-acre avocado ranch with another 40 acres for cattle and a couple horses.”
The client has plans to decorate the interior with her two passions: artwork of wild horses and Rottweilers. She and her family are avid horseback riders on their property. And on weekends you might see one of their massive Rottweilers at any number of dog shows throughout the West.
“I want this to be a place where my guests feel comfortable,” said the client. “I want them to be able to relax, but not worry about breaking something or getting it dirty.”
The living space also needed to be spacious, “because I’m pretty social,” she added. “Friends are always coming and going and these two Airstreams will serve as guest homes and provide flexible options for staying home or hitting the road.”
One of Hofmann’s signatures is his close attention to bathroom details and this project again offers a significant upgrade.
A high-design brushed stainless steel sink and faucet sits on an elegantly curved deck that faces another nifty addition – a see-through fish tank that’s visible from the office and bathroom, with only the fish seeing what’s on each side.
Hofmann – who stands 6’4” – offers a refreshing change pace in the full height, stand-up shower. The lightweight 1/8-inch tiles span the shower basin and seal in the water more than a foot up three sides. And Hofmann guarantees the shower won’t leak thanks to an alternative tile installation method that uses a foam backer with acrylic adhesive to substrate.
A centrally-located hi-def 19-inch video monitor displays either DVDs or streamed Netflix videos from anywhere in the trailer. A surround sound audio system provides more than enough sound support.
The monitor swivels on a pullout arm for optimal viewing adjustments and tucks away neatly behind a rollup cabinet.
Although the client’s ranch seldom climbs over 90 degrees and cool ocean breezes provide ample circulation, a low-profile air conditioner keeps the cabin comfortably cool when needed for trips to the desert.
The main sleeping area features a convertible sofa that folds down into a queen-sized bed. There’s ample room to pass by slumbering guests to access the rear bathroom. The coach’s custom-made sofas feature durable fabrics that were selected by the client. The understated pattern compliments the contemporary motif.
Among many sustainable features, is the Cali Bamboo flooring. Although travel trailers don’t qualify as a LEED-qualified project, this abode would earn points for reuse and energy efficiency thanks to the 12-volt ceiling lights and refinished overhead tambour rollup cabinets. The backlit ceiling lights emit a soft glow against the brilliant white surfaces. The cabinets were painted with zero-VOC earth-friendly finishes – together they create a futuristic tone. Three LED puck lights over the kitchen/office stubbornly keep electric usage down and specific task lighting cranked up.
Hofmann is LEED-certified and his sustainable training emphasizes the reuse and repurpose of every material that was disposed. “Construction waste management is one of the most effective ways to be green,” said Hofmann. “We hand-separate the copper plumbing and aluminum trim pieces for delivery to the local recycling center.”
Reusable cabinets (pictured in a BEFORE photo at left), roll-up tambours, bed and door hardware (pictured below at right), window frames, electronics, and decorative accessories from the trailer are stored for future use.
According to Hofmann, the original 40-year old refrigerators are heavy and terribly inefficient. “I sold it on CraigsList to a guy who’s living off the grid in a surf shack along the coast near Refugio,” added Hofmann. “He’s using propane to power it.”
The dining area has been expanded to seat six comfortably at the table, with the addition of two fold-away chairs that adjoin the kitchen area. Underneath the left and right access benches are two “carry-on luggage-sized drawers,” as Hofmann calls them. “They’re for guests to store their travel bags.” The drawer guides, as are all installed drawers, constructed with silent closing Hafele German-crafted hardware that’s sturdy enough for 50 lbs. of gear.
Speaking of culinary arts, there wasn’t any skimping on the kitchen sink, either. The extra-deep stainless steel commercial-style basin will shock seasoned RVers. Most trailer kitchen sinks barely get both hands wet at the same time. (The original kitchen and dining area are pictured at left in a BEFORE photo.) An adequate pullout food pantry fits next to a generous refrigerator. The 2-burner propane stove completes a no-hassles, no-nonsense food prep package.
Hofmann Architecture’s second Airstream project is a work of art that’s ultra eco-friendly, emits cool tones, is tech wise, and crammed with creative details.
Click here for a larger JPG version of the floorplan (BELOW).