Carson and Mel spent over a year transforming an old 1968 FAN travel trailer into Elsie, a modern tiny house on wheels. After growing tired of life in their home state of Nebraska, the couple came up with the crazy idea of uprooting their lives and careers to rove across the country in a camper. So they bought a beat-up trailer from Craigslist and set to work. With the help of Carson’s dad, who was a former house builder, the couple got the trailer back into tiptop shape and modernized the interiors while still maintaining its vintage charm. Now, Carson and Mel (and their adorable goldendoodle Costello) are travelling across the United States, a journey you can follow on their website Local Colour XC, which is full of dispatches from the road, DIY advice, and tiny living tips.
Carson and Mel in front of Elsie, their 1960s travel trailer. Although they had to clean the exteriors of rust and wear, they kept the green and white colour scheme original to the trailer. After renovations, the total cost of Elsie was around $5,000 USD. Not bad for a cottage on wheels!
The couple decided to keep the general layout of the trailer since they loved that the front door opened onto the kitchen. They also kept the scalloped edging on the overhead cabinets and the vintage wall sconces. Originally, every square inch of the interior was covered in faux woodgrain contact paper, which they stripped using a heatgun and two paint scrapers. After, they gave the walls a fresh coat of white paint.
To bring the trailer into the 21st century, they painted all the cabinets white and installed a backsplash consisting of wooden boards pieced together in a coherent, yet patchwork style. Thanks to the kitchen’s three-top burner, fridge, toaster oven, and microwave, the couple has no problems cooking up big family dinners.
Carson and Mel made some of the biggest aesthetic changes in the kitchen. Although they kept the vintage green formica table, they tore down frumpy curtains, painted the green sink a crisp white, changed the countertops, and reupholstered the cushions—Mel’s first sewing project ever! Since the trailer lacks space for a typical shelving unit, the couple added small shelves to hold books, Kleenex, and succulents.
At night, the dinette transforms into a bed, which Mel and Carson says is surprisingly comfortable. The comforter and wool blanket are actually vintage Pottery Barn from the late 90s, while the white and black pillows are from Ikea.
The couple bought gold and white shower curtains and then Scotchgarded them. The curtains can be tied back using old copper lines original to the trailer.
Believe it or not, Carson and Mel were able to fit two full wardrobes in the tiny closet! To the right of the closet is the bathroom, equipped with the sink, toilet, and a shower, which the couple upgraded with a new shower head.