Photo Credit: Emily Brownell

You Will Never Guess the Year This Vintage Trailer Was Built!

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We tour gorgeous camper remodels every day, but it’s not often one leaves us as speechless as this vintage trailer build.

Designer Emily Brownell of Gilded Hearth Interiors dreamed of owning a vintage trailer to escape LA and spend time in nature with her husband and two boys. But finding a vintage trailer in good condition that was affordable proved impossible.

Photo Credit: Emily Brownell

“We saw a few local vintage trailers [where] you could poke a hole through the walls, where paint was hiding water damage, or we got underneath to see a bulging chase. I knew my husband wouldn’t trust a vintage model and I couldn’t see my vision in a new one,” Emily said.

Not wanting to give up on her love of vintage campers, Emily kept searching. That’s when she found Aero Build.

This Vintage Trailer Was Built in 2021?

Aero Build is a custom vintage trailer builder out of Nashville, Tennessee. While the look of their trailers dates back a few decades, everything is built brand new and custom for clients from the tires up.

Typically, Aero Build builds commercial trailers for mobile offices, coffee shops, cocktail bars, and more.

Related: Need Help with Your RV Renovation? Find A Professional RV Renovator Near You

Emily said that working with AeroBuild in 2021 was an “experimental contract” since the company had focused more on mobile business builds until that point.

Recently, the company started focusing on more residential units, like its all-electric luxury travel trailer brand, Coast. These modern trailers have a vintage style silhouette with modern design and state-of-the-art technology.

Working With a Custom Builder

Hiring someone to custom-build the entire camper allowed Emily to build out the exact RV she wanted. With her tow vehicle in mind, she determined the best possible length and weight of the trailer. Despite offering enough room for her family of four, the trailer is under 21′ bumper to hitch.

“[Aero Build has] an in-house draftsman, so I started with a floor plan, basic mock elevations, and their draftsman came up with plans. We then did several revisions to make sure things like the bunk height was right, that I had the drawers the size I wanted, etc.”

With a custom builder, Emily had total control over what she wanted in her trailer. She chose everything from the species of wood, the cabinet profile, even the knobs and pulls on the drawers.

It’s hard to believe looking at the photos that the wood inside this RV isn’t over fifty years old!

Photo Credit: Emily Brownell

But Emily didn’t leave all of the work to Aero Build. She installed the lights she wanted and did all the painting and staining herself. As a designer, she wanted to be picky with what worked with her design. She had control where she wanted it but left the heavy lifting to the team.

“At the time we started, it was the pandemic and I had two young kids at home and was still juggling my interior design business. We knew there was no way we could take on an actual build ourselves so this ended up a good happy medium. It was still a lot of work since we designed it from the chassis up and took almost 2 years.”

Design

As an interior designer, Emily wanted an earthy, organic aesthetic to complement the outdoors. Despite being officially built in 2021, the exterior was built reminiscent of the 1960s.

Photo Credit: Emily Brownell

The floors are lightweight Forbo Marmoluem which is textured to mimic slate.

In the kitchen, a drop-in sink made of composite materials by Houzer was chosen over the traditional stainless steel. Stainless steel sinks are popular in manufactured RVs, but Emily wanted a sink that gave a more high-end look instead of the mass-produced, sterile vibe of steel.

Photo Credit: Emily Brownell

Emily chose Formica counters as a lightweight to mimic the look of stone to pair with Glazed Earth Zia tiles bordering the kitchen. The cabinets and doors were finished with Rubio Monocoat.

Starting from scratch meant Emily could choose which classic RV features to include in the build. “We ditched the idea of a built-in table for more floor space and it was such a great decision. We like to eat outside anyways!” she said.

Ditching the dinette is one of the most popular RV renovations we see. Emily’s moveable dining area features a custom built couch at the perfect height for eating that converts into a bed. The table and stools can easily be folded up and moved outside.

Photo Credit: Emily Brownell

Find a foldable dining table: 12 Space-Saving RV Dining Table Options

What To Know Before Hiring a Builder or Renovator

For those of us who love a beautiful camper, but lack the ability or confidence to tackle a remodel ourselves, there are builders like Aero Build or professional RV renovators located across the country.

Before hiring someone to help with your RV build out, here are a few things to consider:

  • Does this builder or renovator complete projects in the style I like?
  • Is this renovator close enough for me to monitor progress on this build if I want to? If out of state, will they deliver the camper to me upon completion?
  • Will this company handle mechanical issues or just aesthetic remodels? (Many renovators will not fix engine parts or other system issues.)
  • Who chooses the details of the camper, like paint colors, faucets, sinks, lighting, etc?
  • How long will renovations take?
  • How much will this project cost?

How much does a project like this cost?

Emily estimated that the all-in cost for her custom-built trailer was about $40,000.

Photo Credit: Emily Brownell

Costs to hire professional builders or renovators will vary based on the scope of the project.

Professional renovator Alice Zealy of Rain2Shine Ventures noted that for custom builds of vans, she quotes most clients $50-$130K. “The range in price is totally dependent on the labor. I charge an hourly rate plus materials,” she noted.

As for Emily’s custom build compared to the costs of buying and renovating a vintage camper, $40,000 sounds like a steal!

Find a Builder: Check out our list of top RV renovators!

Advice from an Interior Designer

Whether you want to hire someone to execute your vision or are a confident DIYer ready to renovate yourself, you should know what design you want before you start. We asked Emily to share her interior designer expertise.

“My advice would be to start with a lot of research. Really comb through inspiration to pin down what you want the final look to be and then backtrack from there.”

Here are some good starting points to figure out which styles you love and hate:

Save your favorite renovations to a Pinterest board to keep a mood board to come back to as you plan your renovation.

“Lighting, curtains, and things like wallpaper can really transform a space,” Emily added. Take time to shop and find the right products to fit your design style. Oh and always keep weight in mind as you buy! Don’t add too much weight to your RV.

More inspiration: 24 Gorgeous Light Fixtures to Upgrade Your RV

A Word of Caution

“I do hear a lot of horror stories of DIY trailer renos,” warned Emily. “I would highly urge people to at least consult with a professional to make sure that what you’re building will be structurally sound. There is nothing more dangerous than flying down the highway with a trailer or RV that is about to collapse because you took out some overhead cabinets that you didn’t like but were actually meant for stability.”

“As a designer I love a bit of DIY but I do feel there are professionals for a reason. I would always advise people to leave anything structural to someone who has the experience and is licensed to handle that part and then do the more fun finishing items themselves.”

DIY: How to Wire RV Light Fixtures in 7 Easy Steps

We Can’t Believe This Trailer Is Only 3 Years Old

When we first saw this trailer, we guessed it couldn’t be older than the 1970s! How old did you think it was? Drop your answer in the comments!

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