Recycled Hawtness: Architect's Airstream RV is a DIY Dream


Gas 2.0 editor Chris DeMorro has said that the greenest car is the one that’s already been built.  That’s a claim that’s open to some debate, I’m sure, but it’s a claim that’s based on proven ideas and methods like conservation of resources and recycling.  With something like an RV camper, however (which is 100% on its tow rig for mpg numbers) there can be little doubt that a recycled / renovated RV leaves a smaller footprint than a new-from-the-ground-up approach – and that’s where Santa Barbara architect Matt Hoffman comes in.

Hoffman is making a strong case for recycled RV’s, who lovingly restored a 1970s Airstream towable … which looked like this when he found it.

The new interior features slick hardwood flooring, a beyond-stylish bathroom that would look at home in an upscale apartment, space-saving kitchenette, and a tiny home office that goes significantly beyond slick and into a new dimension of space-efficient sexy all its own.  You can get a sense of Hoffman’s extreme packaging skills (any maybe pick up a few ideas) with the floorplan, below.

There’s a full gallery of photos here (all by the architect/builder), but be careful about flipping through the photo gallery.  It is all-too “inspiring” and you may find yourself getting way too motivated to start scouring the classifieds for an old RV of your own … you’ve been warned.

SourceHoffman Architecture.

About the Author

I’ve been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.

  • It’s a thing of beauty. My hat is off to anyone who can look at picture #8 and visualize picture #1. The cabinetry is very stylish, the interior color scheme inviting, the flooring BEAUTIFUL and practical, and there are touches of brilliance, like that dinette/desk design. (Although I wonder how well that monitor arm will survive potholes?) The sit-down shower design is elegant, if quirky, and a good adaptation to the Airstream’s famous silhouette.

    But as a former RV full-timer, I see some design limitations that, I predict, he will want to cure with a gut-rehab after he’s been living in it for a while. He’s going to get tired of sleeping on that narrow couch, I predict; when he does, he should go look at the rear dinette design of the Home & Park Roadtrek’s “Popular” series. I’ll be startled if he ever uses more than 2 of the burners on that stove; redesigning the counter to a 2-burner stove or even a 3-burner will make room on that counter for the microwave he’s going to regret having left off. (I’m assuming that he bakes as little as I do; I would cheerfully have done what he did, sacrificed the oven for more cabinet space.) I’m also amazed at how little clothes storage space he’s given himself, including exactly no vertical space for hanging clothes; that cute sliding wire rack, in addition to being likely to be finicky after vibration, is probably going to get sacrificed the next time he remodels, to make room to hang a jacket or store something tall.

    I’ve been considering, for quite some time, doing something similar with a small fifth-wheel; this gives me some ideas for when I do. My previous experience teaches me that it can be an astoundingly cheap and surprisingly energy-efficient way to live. It’s also lovely to look at.

  • My spouse and I are in the middle of renovating a beautiful 1970 airstream with solar energy, recycled materials,led lighting, as well as more efficient and sustainable insulation. It is inspiring to see another lovely airstream completely finished.

  • Jim

    Looks like the architect has been flying first class on SAS lately… the cabins are just about identical. Nice work!

  • The guys who designed these were pretty interested in aerodynamics too. My brother’s has an aluminum belly pan to cut down on drag. They’re really well-engineered trailers.

  • A friend of mine did the same thing with a GMC motor home, which looks just like an Airstream. It was a bit more involved but for someone who has restored an older sailboat, as he and I have, it is not too intimidating. The trailer vs motor home argument will go on forever. I would probably do the Airstream. Maybe in a couple of years.

    • I’d love to see pics of the sailboat – always wanted to live on a boat for a summer or two, but haven’t gotten around to it yet!

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  • ompliments! It shows how the manufacturers are quite stupid about how people want it to be inside. I didn’t bother going into the RV’s at the show, they all resemble a house and dysfunctional and crowded with stuff people don’t do anymore. They are rickety and illegal all over the place. To get multitudes of places to park these things and live, is within ideas but not reality…too expensive to port around and the police pull over vehicles, height restrictions get tows and tickets in California. Can’t be over 7 feet high on many streets by any ocean and cities, and in the 80’s they made residing in a vehicle illegal at the same time they bumped up the campground prices from $2.00 a night to $25.00. So, this totally overcomes the inside usage issue, we have other problems to overcome. We should be able to port these around and park in shopping center’s at night and be gone by 8am…alas, they say no…I think they are in league at the malls with the hotels to get the rent out of people….direct opposition to the cause is massive yet this is not just a dream, it’s a lifestyle that should exist….but it winds up being affordable and the hotels can’t rent and we are up against a wall except for the few that find a place for this.

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  • Mark F

    That is one nice trailer! I’d love to know how he’s going to keep the tile grout from cracking though.

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