Editor’s Note: The following article appeared in the New York Times describing the growing popularity of smaller-sized, vintage travel trailers. To read the entire story and view photos click here.
Sitting in a tiny room wrapped in birchwood the color of honey on a rainy afternoon last week, Kelle Arvay had a look of deep contentment. “It’s hard to describe the feeling of being inside here,” Arvay said. “It’s comfortable. It’s a real safe-feeling space.”
Arvay wasn’t describing her two-story house just north of Toledo, Ohio, which she said she finds too big. Instead, she had invited a visitor into her little domestic getaway: a 1955 Bellwood travel trailer. The 13-foot-long trailer sits under a carport in Arvay’s side yard, its rounded aluminum shell exemplifying all that is sleek and sturdy about midcentury design.
“Sleeping in one of these is just great,” she said, nestled into the trailer’s dinette, which has booth seats and a foldable table that convert into a bed. “Especially at night, if it starts raining. It’s a great sound, the rain on the roof.”
Arvay, 44, bought the Bellwood for $3,500 from someone in Arizona and had it shipped to her home. Her interest in trailers started six years ago, when she purchased a 1968 Shasta Compact from a couple in Indiana. She had planned to buy a new R.V. to go camping with her husband and three children. But the Shasta’s diminutive size (just 10 feet long) and vintage styling, she said, “instantly spoke to me.”
It wasn’t long before she was buying more trailers to refurbish and decorate (and sometimes sell), and chronicling it all on her blog, littlevintagetrailer.com. Fellow trailer enthusiasts wrote to ask questions or share stories and post ads for models they were selling, and a community formed. Arvay, it turns out, was early to what has lately become a travel trailer craze.
These days, design blogs are full of photos of vintage trailers gleaming in the sun, decorated in styles ranging from high-end modern to retro kitsch. On Pinterest, one trailer in particular, a 1957 Sprite painted green and whiteand photographed in an English garden, has achieved fantasy-object status, appearing on dozens of users’ pinboards.
Originally intended for camping, vintage trailers are being repurposed in all kinds of ways: as a roadside bakery stand, as vacation homes on a rustic piece of land, as backyard writing or painting studios.
J. Wes Yoder, a writer who lives in Nashville, bought a ’63 Shasta on eBay for $1,900, fixed it up and parked it in his backyard as a little guesthouse. He began renting the trailer on Airbnb, and it has been booked nearly every day this year, he said.
“A lot of people who stay here talk about how simple it is,” said Mr. Yoder, 35. “No TV, no Internet. It’s something different.”
Anna Scribner, 38, who runs Flyte Camp, a Bend, Ore.-based vintage trailer restoration shop with her husband, Justin, credits the Tiny House movement that grew out of the financial crisis for sparking the comeback, in part.
“People love the idea that they own something that nobody can take away from them,” Ms. Scribner said. No matter how small it is.Arvay, who owns a vacation property in northern Michigan that contains three tiny houses, also sees similarities between them and travel trailers. “It has to do with the small, cozy feel they give you,” she said.
With their propane stoves, lofted beds and mini iceboxes, trailers make clever use of limited space. “Everything you would need if you were living in it is there,” she said.
To read the entire story and view photos click here.