So as Jorge previously mentioned, we bought a travel trailer. Like, to live in. 28' of space to fit our entire lives in. Yeah, I hardly believe it myself.
Even I didn't think it would ever happen when I first dropped those (not-so-subtle) hints to him many months ago. Nor did I have ANY CLUE as to what we were getting ourselves into. Words like "purge" and "simplify" can be very misleading. Yes, simplifying comes with a wonderful lightheartedness. But it also comes with the gut-wrenching pit in your stomach due to getting rid of things you hold an emotional attachment to. Gut-wrenching pits aren't so fun to blog about so maybe that's why we don't hear about them more?
I got the book The Joy of Less by Francine Jay for Christmas and sped through in an effort to embrace the selling off of all my awesome things. It was very helpful organizationally-speaking but it did little to soften the blow. Plus Jorge said it turned me into a get-rid-of-stuff nazi and that didn't mesh well with his desires to hold onto his stuff (like the Wheaties box with his face on it).
So can we agree that as a rule, if a trailer-living blogger is setting out to give a realistic picture of all their their super fun adventures, they should be sure to include just a bit more about the nasty stuff. Like haggling over the selling price of their wedding jewelry garage-sale-style (I got them up a whole $2 over what they offered, if you care to know).
As to not sound so cynical, we're going to the focus on the positives. And it's a BIG positive, the truly amazing transformation we pulled off inside this beast of a project, which we affectionately named Andina (more on that later). After battling the headache of losing the handy-man we had contracted initially to do all the work for us, we (and by 'we,' I mean 'I') You-Tubed our way into the confidence to pull it off ourselves.
As you can see, although well-taken care of, it was not the prettiest thing you've ever seen. That wallpaper. And that headboard! Ick. What started as a simple kitchen remodel turned into a gradual tearing out of nearly every bit of the space. Painting one thing led to a need to paint another, and so on. I won't go into every little detail (you can ask and I'd be happy to share) but I'll give a brief rundown.
The walls were atrocious so that was a given. An opportunity to use a can of paint that had been sitting in our garage for literally years with no previously revealed purpose made for a light and opening addition to the space. Doing away with the sad-looking laminate cabinets by painting them to match the upper kitchen cabinets. Keeping existing bedding, throw pillows, and curtains that coincidentally matched said painted walls.
Removal of the banquette was a must and turned out beautifully for me as a work-from-homer. We purchased 2 identical slabs of laminate countertops from IKEA so the desk would match the kitchen. All that light just flowing in at my desk every day!
A new set of drawers was added under the desk for office storage. And a small freezer tucked under as added freezer space for the dogs raw food. Shelving above the desk holds props for work and what doesn't fit is sitting in storage for the time being. (NOTE: as of March 2015, we've scaled down our storage unit to just a small shed behind the trailer!)
Only our favorites in terms of decor made the cut. Important reminders in the form of small pictures, momentos, and the best of the books.
Not much was done to the bathroom other than painting and fixture additions, extra towel bar, etc. Upgrading the shower nozzle to an eco-friendly, water-slowing head with an on/off switch added a good 5 minutes to our shower times and was quite possibly the most important change we made within the whole of the trailer. The small 6-gallon water tank gave us a measly 3 minute hot shower before this change. We have plans to switch out the bathroom vanity to get more counter space and a less meltable sink (flat iron + plastic sink is a no-go) but didn't make it into the budget in the first round.
Last, but not least, the kitchen. The center of our home. The "befores" are dismal at best, pretty much zero counter space and teensy tiny sink basins. Shooting my next cookbook in that space was never going to happen. We don't use a microwave much at all and felt the large vent hood took up too much space. So after taking a crowbar to this space, spending hours in IKEA's kitchen design software, and with the help of a new friend/handyman to get the cabinets in securely, I am full on IN LOVE with the results. Room for the kitchen aid (sworn accidental match to the walls), Hurom juicer, and a 25" basin sink!
The stove is the only thing left from the original kitchen. Drawers and doors with soft close latches (a cheap addition that was well worth it). A water filter built in to the sink. Upper cabinet doors that swing upward and hold out of the way. Little details like a magnetic knife rack, adhesive backsplash, and under-mount lighting makes this kitchen soooo much more pretty and user-friendly. Organization is a work in progress but we are pretty dang close to not even noticing we live in such a small space.
Even Jorge has noted more than once that it's way easier than he had anticipated. And I can clean the whole entire space in under 2 hours. That's a serious plus. Uh oh... there I go with romanticizing small-space living. Yeah, my heart still aches occasionally at the loss of our things. My piano. The dresser I'd stripped and painted to match the Klimt print hanging in the future baby room. It's just the two of us and that's ok. And without so much stuff in the way, we actually are focusing on each other more. Without all that stuff, the important things becomes more glaring and bright. Especially if it's something that needs to be righted. It's right there in yo' face, there's no where to run and hide.
So welcome to our "little" life. We're so glad you're here to share in all our stories, both the gut-wrenching pits and bright shiny newness.
Edited as of March 2015. Many have asked how or what was used in specifics so here are some answers:
YEAR, MAKE, MODEL: 2001 Fleetwood Wilderness
COST: we found the trailer on Craigslist and paid $6900. Reno costs totaled about $3500.
FLOORING: we pulled up the laminate and carpet, cleared all remaining nails, and laid down a floating, locking vinyl system from Home Depot. It's called TrafficMaster Allure and we picked the color Ironwood. It's waterproof and you can cut it with an exacto knife to fit your space. We used almost 5 entire boxes (about $225) and laid it ourselves.
WALL PAINTING & COLOR: it's a Frazee color called Rock Flour, code CL 2121W, in semi-gloss. I've had Home Depot pull it up with that code for a small pint for touch-ups so I know their system has it stored. We only removed the strip of wallpaper along the middle with Goo Gone and cleaned the walls well before painting. We used texted rollers, rather than foam, so it would have more of a natural wall look. It's adhered perfectly and only touch-ups needed have been due to our own accidental bumping or scraping.
KITCHEN CABINETS/COUNTER: as noted above, they are all IKEA from their customized kitchen design system. We chose the Sofielund finish (here's a door to get you started) with a white interior cabinet (they also have the option of 'natural') for the base. The uppers are the Faktum Cabinet with white interior, outer is Adel Off-White. and door is the Rubrik Frosted Glass. The laminate countertops for both the desk and the kitchen were the IKEA Pragel in light oak. We bought two slabs and cut them ourselves to fit the space.
REMAINING CABINTRY: we kept the existing cabinets and painted them in a color I found in a Houzz forum somewhere as matching the upper kitchen cabinets (IKEA Adel Off-white): Benjamin Moore Paper Mache. I used NO PRIMER. I gently sanded the cabinets before painting, nothing too crazy. Then I used a homemade chalk paint recipe (matches No. 3 recipe pretty closely: http://salvagedinspirations.com/best-homemade-chalk-paint-recipes/) and blended white non-sanded grout into the paint to get the paint to adhere well. It did require 3 coats but I might've just thinned the paint out too much. I GENTLY sanded after it dried to remove any chalky bits and finished with a water based poly. We have had a few high-traffic areas show some wear--like below the fridge--but other than that the paint has stayed on perfectly.
WHERE DO YOU EAT? We both practice intermittent fasting (IF), nearly daily, so no one is sitting down for breakfast. Angela works from home and takes a break for lunch at her desk. For dinner, we pull out a folding table that's stored under the desk next to the freezer. It takes 60 seconds to set up and we've gotten used to taking this extra step. We sit on the couch to eat with the table at it's medium height. This is a similar model to ours: http://amzn.to/1BRaoje.
WHERE DO YOU KEEP YOUR CLOTHES? Inside the bathroom to the right, slightly out of view in the pics, there's a large cabinet. We keep all our hanging clothes in here. The rest go in the cabinets above the bed. We do have 1 tub of seasonal clothes we rotate out but other than that, it's all inside. Our wardrobes are very minimal, consisting of about 3-4 pairs pants and maybe 20 tops each. Various workout and lounging attire vary but there isn't much. If you are curious to learn more about how we deal with this, I direct you to an idol of mine--Caroline of the blog Unfancy, the inventor of the Capsule Wardrobe.
WHERE DO WE PARK? we use KOAs or public campgrounds on trips. Long-term we find designated Trailer Parks (NOT Mobile Home parks, for some reason these are often much less clean and safe) and pay $400/month plus electric. We presently live in one in the northeast side of Portland, Oregon.
More questions? Let us know and we'll do our best to help!