The "Tiny Trailer to Cozy Cabin Conversion" Makeover

The "Tiny Trailer to Cozy Cabin Conversion" Makeover

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Janel Laban
Feb 8, 2015
(Image credit: Submitted by Erin)

Project by: Erin's Mom and Dad
Location: Wilamette Valley, Oregon

My parents live in a small rural town in Oregon Willamette Valley. My younger brother and his wife live nearby, but my sisters and I are all spread across the country. We try to visit as often as we can, but it’s quite a journey with little ones, so we manage to make one trip a year. The last time we visited, I told my dad we wanted to stay for the summer, but we’d have to try to find a vacation cabin we could afford, WITH internet (so we can work), and a little extra space.

(Image credit: Submitted by Erin)

Dad started kicking around the idea and one night while walking his acreage, he decided that he would build a structure of some kind for us. He wanted a place for his children to come stay, with the grandkids, that would be a fun experience for all of us. He started collecting piles of wood wherever he could. He got a huge load of cast-off cedar, a load of trimmed logs from his brother… the list goes on. He started researching the “tiny house” movement and became enamored of the itty-bitty residences on wheels and decided to create his own. Together with Mom, they started scouring Craigslist for the odds and ends they needed.

(Image credit: Submitted by Erin)
(Image credit: Submitted by Erin)

Dad took an old 5th wheel trailer and scrapped every inch down to the steel base. Then he created a new floor, and started building. He often likes to say that he can build a rocket ship, as long as he has the right tools. He’s only exaggerating a little. He built this cabin in a little over six months, with my Mom as his right hand. They spent every weekend cutting, hammering, sanding, staining, scavenging, designing and creating their magical little cabin on wheels.

I started documenting his journey on Instagram with the #oregonsummercabin hashtag. People started following along and Dad’s little salvaged cabin on wheels project started to gain popularity. Throughout the past few months I’ve had numerous occasions of people stopping me at the store or when I’m out and about to comment on the cabin progress.

My Mom and Dad finally finished the cabin in early July and we landed in Oregon a few days later to take up residence for a summer vacation. We spent the first part of the trip unpacking all the decor items I’d been shipping to the farm. Rugs, drapes, bedding, and of course, art supplies for a big painting over the couch. A few trips to Portland and various thrift shops later, we had the entire cabin put together.

It’s a simple little space, just a sleeper cabin on wheels with a little bar sink, a few appliances and a camp stove, but we enjoyed every minute of our stay. I kept thinking of how refreshingly simple it all was. We had tucked away storage under the beds for clothing and shoes. We added a little rack over the loft for hanging clothing. This served as a storage space, but also helped block the light and noise from the gated loft area when the kids were sleeping. We added a little Ikea fold-up desk for working, and a wireless extender to strengthen the Wi-Fi signal out on the back corner of the property. The rustic touches of the log banister and stairs are my favorite details, closely followed by the salvaged stained glass door with the mail slot.

(Image credit: Submitted by Erin)
(Image credit: Submitted by Erin)

All the items I chose for decor reflected my own vision for a rustic cabin, but Mom and Dad both seemed to get a kick out my quirky juxtaposition of patterns and colors. The rugs are both indoor/outdoor and can be hosed off if need be. I added lots of cushions that often ended up spread around as extra seating. The futon spent a lot of time down and piled with the cushions and blankets as a cozy nest for stories and family cuddling. The additional bed cushions served as seating and an alternate sleep area. The copper side tables also double as additional seating. I bought the crazy wood lamp at a thrift shop for $9 (Because the cabin needed MORE wood, right?) and found the copper kettle for $4. I just LOVE a thrifty bargain.

I tried to choose durable and flexible items that would lend themselves to families of different sizes, especially since one of my sisters has six children. I often imagined how that would work, but I’m convinced with a queen air mattress in the loft, the futon and extra cushion bed, you could TOTALLY fit eight people in there. The more, the merrier — right?

I created the 30″ x 40″ painting over the last couple weeks of our stay. My dad built me an easel and I painted to my heart's content on a few nights as the sun sank behind the trees. It was gratifying to hang that piece on the last day and finally document all the finishing touches.

Mom and Dad did a fantastic job crafting this cabin with the hope that we’d come for an extended stay and it was well worth the effort. We stayed at the little Willamette cabin for a long lovely visit and spent all that time swimming, foraging in the garden, visiting all the surrounding beautiful countryside and generally having an amazing time. I can’t wait to go back next summer — that is if the cabin is still there. Since it has wheels, I wonder sometimes if Dad will get a wild hair to take it down to the coast for a tiny-house oceanic pilgrimage. Or maybe, he’ll take it to the moon. I wouldn’t put it past him.

Thanks to Erin and her talented Mom and Dad!

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