See Inside a Musician’s 200-Square-Foot Retro-Inspired Airstream Home
Can't-Miss House Tours Straight to Your Inbox
Keep up with our latest house tours each weekday with our House Tour of the Day newsletter
Musician Ryan Sanchez, co-founder of Laughing Heart Studios, a recording studio in East Nashville, admits that downsizing to an Airstream from a four-bedroom house is pretty tough at first, but the act of doing so makes you think about what’s actually essential to your life. “Everything that is in here serves a purpose and has its place,” he explains of his newly remodeled Airstream trailer, which was built by NüAbode and decorated by Sheena Armstrong (who co-founded NüAbode). “Simplifying my surroundings really increased the quality of life and the happiness that brings. I have the Airstream parked at my studio… [and] I love being able to have access to the studio to work on projects without having to deal with the cross-town commute. We also are able to record and write in the Airstream, as well.”
Sheena, who you may recognize from the home tour of Mavis the Airstream, says she wanted to infuse Ryan’s Airstream home and workspace with old-world character. “We incorporated several antique pieces including a kitschy early 1900s horse pencil drawing and some antique sheet music cover art in antique frames,” she describes. “We also picked up a couple of other music-related items like a vintage tambourine and radio. A mid-century sofa over an old-world rug is the centerpiece of the living area.”
While Ryan’s new-to-him home is a stylish space inside and out, it’s the lifestyle change an Airstream affords him that may be one of his favorite things about the space. “It also allows me to be able to take trips out of the city to clear my head,” he writes. “I’m really looking forward to getting out by the lake this summer and being able to take my home with me. Having the luxury to move at any time—and to bring all the essentials with me—really supplies me with a sense of creative freedom.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Style: Ryan – Retro/Eclectic
Sheena – This project I’d describe as old-world meets modern luxury
Inspiration: Ryan – Our studio is very “out there” with lots of psychedelic wallpapers. I wanted the Airstream to play into the retro feel, but also embrace a more traditional feel to change it up a bit. I wanted to embrace the Tennessee roots and give it a bit of a more western feel as well.
Favorite Element: Ryan – Love the eagle over the desk, adds a focal point to bring things together and is a unique piece. The whitewashed walls really bring the western feel to the space as well.
Sheena – The antique cast iron eagle over the front window. I walked past this in an antique shop and knew it had to be incorporated into the decor somehow. It was perfectly hipster and just screamed Nashville musician. I wasn’t quite sure what I’d do with it when we bought it but as soon as I had the eagle inside the Airstream, I knew its home had to be front and center. It just sets the vibe for the whole space.
Biggest Challenge: Ryan – Figuring out how to downsize from a four-bedroom house to about 200 square feet. Had to figure out what was actually essential and make sure the layout was appropriate. Working with NüAbode really helped in making my ideas possible.
Sheena – Little space means little decor items! We had to be mindful of the decor on the tiny walls and leave room for clearance to navigate narrow spaces like the bathroom and hallway. And sometimes you have to alter small items to be even smaller! We had to cut and sew two of the rugs in the space to fit the tiny floor in the bathroom and bedroom.
Proudest DIY: Ryan – NüAbode completely renovated every aspect of it. Figuring out how to bring our vision to life made lots of communication a necessity. We were able to accomplish that through lots of email and phone calls.
Sheena – I’m a big fan of disguising all of the not-so-cute control panels and gauges in Airstreams. It’s best if they’re easily accessible so there’s no crouching or crawling around just to quickly check your Airstream’s systems. In the kitchen, one of the gauges was positioned on the kitchen wall at eye level and cleverly hidden behind a picture frame. The frame is on a hinge with a magnetic closure and when Ryan wants to take a look at his tank levels, he simply opens up the picture like a secret door.
Biggest Indulgence: Ryan – Fitting the Joybird sofa in the living area and the extremely comfortable tuft and needle mattress. I also love all the counter space.
Sheena – I’d say the fanciest, most luxurious part of the decor is the bed. The Tuft & Needle mattress is topped with Belgian flax linen sheets and quilt set from West Elm and the extra long lumbar tasseled velvet pillow is from Mission Mae.
Best Advice: Ryan – Keep things simple. It allows for a more productive and creative environment.
Sheena – With small spaces, it’s always difficult to blend all of the textiles and colors throughout the space since you can literally stand in any given place inside the Airstream and see the entire space. I think it’s best to stick to one main decor color and one main wood color and carry that throughout the space for continuity. In this case it was a rich deep blue with a mid-century era walnut-toned wood.
What’s your best home secret? Sheena – Earthquake putty! It is THE greatest discovery for homes on wheels. Much of the decor in our Airstream builds can stay right where it is when on the road with the help of a little glob of (removable!) putty. Just keep in mind it works best when used to hold down smooth objects to smooth table tops.
PAINT & COLORS
- The interior skins are all powder coated aluminum
- TV stand — Custom built @nu.abode
- Decor — All antique
FRONT SEATING AREA
- Chairs — Vintage
Thanks Ryan and Sheena!