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Shea McGee is used to designing extra-large ranch homes and spacious mountainside retreats. So when her husband and Studio McGee cofounder, Syd, surprised her with a run-down vintage Airstream, she felt a little out of her element. “All of my normal dimensions went out the window,” says Shea. Syd had sought the help of a local Utah Airstream renovation company to track down a van that was big enough for the couple and their three daughters—they happened across the perfect one in Idaho. The camper had been abandoned in someone’s yard, and its mere 180-square-foot interior was in a dire state. 

While the design obstacles piled up, Shea was unwilling to compromise on certain elements of comfort, like central AC, a functional kitchen (boat-grade fridge-freezer included), a walk-in shower, and a queen-size bed. Ahead, the designer shares how she packed plenty of style into her smallest reno yet. 

Be Light on Your Feet

Shea is used to shopping for sturdy, durable, heavy natural stones and woods for her residential projects, but an Airstream requires the exact opposite. “Everything needs to be lightweight,” she notes. When the camper is in motion on the highway, everything inside shakes as if it’s experiencing an earthquake, which means all the stuff has to be a little bit flexible so it doesn’t snap mid-drive. Exhibit A: While the floor looks like vinyl planks, it’s actually a plastic sheeting with a wood design printed on it.

Feast, Then Sleep

The McGee children’s favorite job come nighttime is pushing the button that lowers the walnut dining table. The surface is set on a motorized stand that allows it to become level with the U-shaped banquette. The next step? Grabbing an extra cushion and—voilà!—you’ve got an extra-large bed that comfortably sleeps three kiddos. Shea took advantage of the space underneath the bench by decking it out with drawers for clothes storage.

Take the Spa on the Road

As you make your way toward the back of the Airstream, you’ll find a bathroom with a marble-tiled walk-in shower—yes, you read that right. “I really wanted marble,” insists Shea. She knew the Airstream had strict weight limitations, so she ran the numbers and compromised on the aforementioned flooring and plywood cabinetry. Still, the stone-covered shower couldn’t stand on its own, it needed something to balance it on the other side of the vehicle. Cue the Caesarstone vanity countertop. 

Defy the Layout and Lighting Tropes

Shea took every other opportunity she could to make the teeny home-on-wheels feel high-end. This included brass light fixtures from Visual Comfort and a queen-size bed that faces the rear. “A lot of RVs have a bed that’s turned to the side, so you can only get in on one end. I didn’t like the look,” she says. Someone also recommended going with a full—she said no way. The headboard is made out of superthin wood, wrapped in foam, and affixed to the end of the trailer. 

A good night’s rest is essential after a day with the McGees’ mobile. The family fills their afternoons with hiking to get everyone’s energy out after sitting in the trailer, followed by campfire meals and s’mores. “We set up the beds and go to sleep, and then hope everyone stays asleep,” Shea says with a laugh.