This Stylish 34-Foot Airstream Is a Mobile Home and Quilting Studio

published Apr 23, 2019
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Location
Bedrooms
Square feet
300
Sq ft
300
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For creative couple John Ellis and Laura Preston, living in a 34-foot Airstream means having a different backyard every week or so, meeting new people, and seeing the country. “Being in a new place where you can explore new things you’ve never seen before, meeting new people you wouldn’t necessarily have met if you just lived in one place… just traveling kind of opens you up to more new experiences that you wouldn’t necessarily get to have being in one place, that’s what I like about it,” describes Preston of her favorite part of their mobile lifestyle.

(Image credit: AT Video)

The couple has called an Airstream home for over five years now, but they originally only set out to travel around the United States for a year. Eight months into that first year-long trip, they decided they didn’t want the journey to end. In two and a half years they traveled to 39 states.

(Image credit: AT Video)

Their current home is actually their second Airstream; they borrowed the first one (a 1986 34-foot Airstream Excella they named Loretta) from John’s mom… and ended up living in it for about four years. When that one began to break down (and would end up costing a fortune to fix up), they purchased a fully gutted 1990 34-foot Airstream Excella 1000 for a good price, named it Lucille, and renovated it for 14 months before finally moving in last April.

(Image credit: AT Video)

Both Ellis and Preston work from home, so their mobile living space also acts as their workspace, too. It was actually traveling—and the landscapes they saw along the way—that influenced Preston’s current career: She’s the founder and CQO (Chief Quilting Officer) of Vacilando Quilting Co., a mobile textile and design studio where she creates colorful yet minimal quilts, wall art, pillows, and more.

The geometric patterns that adorn her soft pieces of art are heavily inspired by the natural scenes she sees from their Airstream, from the color palettes full of earthy hues to the shapes and forms that mimic mountains, streams, the horizon, and even the moon. Creations made in the 34-foot Airstream. (Her book, “Simple Geometric Quilting,” comes out this summer and is available for pre-order now.)

(Image credit: AT Video)

The small space works beautifully for the couple’s needs thanks to the detail they put into the renovation; Ellis says the whole build-out was an exercise in design. “I’ve studied design my whole life, and being able to take everything I’ve learned over my life and apply it to a functional space that I’m gonna live in—that is inspired by the time we spent in our old Airstream—we were able to give everything a very specific purpose and it’s all very intentional,” remarks Ellis.

“For me that was a huge process of self discovery, I learned a lot about what I’m actually capable of in [the renovating] process. Being on the road, living in this thing now is a daily reminder, like I know about every single rivet in here. I know what’s wrong with that window over there. I know how many coats of finish are on that desk right there. It’s nice to live in something I created.”

(Image credit: AT Video)

And though it’s tight quarters—especially when you add in two dogs (Bulleit and Marlow) and a cat (Papa)—Ellis says that sharing less than 300 square feet actually isn’t all that hard. “We lived in New York. I think we were used to relatively small spaces. And ever since our first date… we’ve been pretty much inseparable anyways.”

(Image credit: AT Video)

While their lifestyle has plenty of perks, Preston and Ellis both stress that it’s not a vacation everyday. They still work 9-to-5 jobs, have to do laundry, pay bills. But for Preston and Ellis, building out and living in this Airstream has been a journey of self-discovery as well as miles traveled. And though it’s been the right path for them, they aren’t saying it’s the only way to live. “I think people look at building an airstream and going on the road as it’s gonna solve their problems and make their life more exciting, and it can for sure. But it’s not the only way to have an exciting life,” reveals Preston.

(Image credit: AT Video)

“Exploring… and being open to exploring even the city that you live in. People get so bogged down in their daily routine, and forcing yourself to go some place new or see your neighborhood in a different way, that’s what I’ve found inspiring.”

(Image credit: AT Video)

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