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Vintage Airstream remodels are common. Airstreams will hold their value for decades with their classic exterior design and sturdy manufacturing. But an Airstream remodel is no small undertaking. It requires skills and tenacity. RV renovators Austin and Alexandra were up for the challenge!
Austin and Alex love to renovate vintage Airstreams. For their latest project, they tackled a 26-foot 1964 Airstream Overlander.
“We’ve completely rebuilt it from the shell and frame up. It can be hooked up or run completely off the grid!” Alex said. With a composting toilet, solar panels, and a sleek new design, this beautiful modern renovation gave this vintage RV a new lease on life.
Check out the before-and-after!
Building an RV From Scratch
This RV was completely gutted before renovations began. Luckily, the new owners didn’t find any roof or siding damage as they remodeled the RV. They had to do some minor patchwork only to accommodate a new layout.
After being stripped down, the walls were built back up with double insulation. “New sheets of aluminum are riveted on,” the owner said. “The interior walls are made of wood that frame the kitchen/bathroom/bedroom spaces.”
Want to learn more about RV insulation? Read this short guide.
Alex and Austin didn’t tackle this alone. “We had help from a master welder, electricians, and carpenter to ensure that everything was wired correctly, structurally secure, and done correctly.”
You could do all of this on your own. But with skilled friends around, they could get professional insights on their remodel.
Designing an Empty RV
“Designing this specific Airstream was difficult,” Alex said. “We can’t necessarily build a structural wall in the middle of windows, so designing was slightly tricky and we had to work around the original exterior shell and come up with a design that would work for many people and that would make the most sense!”
Austin and Alex built a few walls to separate rooms like the bathroom.
This wood-framed wall hides the pipes for the shower head! You can see the metal tracks on the floor marking where another wall will hide a sliding pocket door.
Updating the Old RV Systems
Since this RV was almost 60 years old, a few things needed to be updated.
“There are two new tanks—a new grey and a new freshwater tank—installed. There was space previously to add them in so we ordered the correct new sizes and installed them without any difficulty. There’s a tankless water heater and water pump installed.”
Need to replace your tanks? It’s surprisingly simple! Find the right size from an RV parts store like RecPro. Mr. RV Tech shares how to remove and install tanks on his YouTube video here for more details.
Everything in the bathroom is new, down to the light switches! Alex grabbed these unique outlets and toggle switches from Buster and Punch.
Not pictured, Alex added this gorgeous rainfall shower head from Bath and Beyond. The tile surround on the shower is Ceramic Decor.
It isn’t common in manufactured RVs, but you can add real tile to an RV like this. Check out this guide on how to properly install tile in an RV for a better idea of how to tackle a project like this.
Alex added this sliding barn door from Home Depot for semi-privacy and plenty of light. She also built live edge wood shelves for storage and decor. This gold faucet from Wayfair matches the door handle and light switches (and even the faucet in the kitchen).
Committed to building an off-grid-ready RV, the new toilet is self-composting.
What is a self-composting toilet?
A self-composting toilet is a (usually) waterless toilet that uses natural materials to break down waste. Urine is diverted into a separate container. Solids are stored and covered in a carbon-rich material that helps it break down. Even your toilet paper can go in this section. Everything composts and can be added to your compost bin. In many states, it can be bagged and added to your trash, but check your local regulations before dumping.
Sound too smelly for you? Having spoken to many people who use composting toilets, they say it never smells. Keep your bathroom ventilated and use plenty of “litter” to cover your business. You can use sawdust, animal litter, or other materials, but most people I know use peat moss. This will break down solids and keep them from smelling.
- Composting,Waterless,Urine diverting, off-grid, toilet
A composting toilet only needs to be emptied every few months, making it less maintenance than a traditional black tank. The urine canister will need to be dumped more often and can be emptied in a regular toilet.
A self-composting toilet is one of the best ways to make your RV off-grid ready and is extremely popular with boondockers.
A Simple, Modern Interior
With all-white aluminum walls, the designers added warmth and color with rich chestnut-colored cabinets and two slat walls. Slat walls have become the “sophisticated alternative” to shiplap walls and are relatively easy for anyone to build. Lowes offers a simple tutorial here.
Keeping the Original RV Alive
When asked if they kept anything from the old RV, the answer was yes.
Even though the entire interior and even all the RV tanks and systems are brand new, one thing from the original 1964 floor plan stayed. The shelf above the dinette!
“We decided to keep it to fill in the space and have more storage options.” There is also storage under the dining booth benches and under the bed.
A Simple, Beautiful Home
With the help of a welder, electrician, and a carpenter to build custom furniture, Austin and Alex transformed the shell of a trailer into a stunning new home.