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The Original DIY Project – The Airstream

Latourneau Airstream

photo via Poetic Home

So many of the trends in the DIY, vintage, and upcycling worlds are small-scale (even though they can have a huge impact). I’m talking about the hunt for that one perfect piece, or the reworking of an antique mason jar into any of a few hundred beautiful, useful items, from lighting to urban gardens. But lately, some seriously innovative DIYers are thinking big. Airstream big. Refurbishing these mid-century classics is a trend that’s really picking up st(r)eam lately, and for good reason; their sleek lines lend themselves to beautiful, artistic interiors, the challenge of living more simply is one that is appealing to more people every day (if you haven’t heard of the tiny home movement, it’s another fantastic creative outlet for DIYers nationwide), and the appeal of being able to pick up and go, without leaving any of the comforts of home behind, is perennial.

American Airstream

American Airstream – painting by Leah Giberson

Even the art world loves the Airstream. Artist Leah Giberson pays homage to this icon of American travel –check out her mixed-media paintings featuring the Airstream on her flickr site.

Southwest Coaches published this video on YouTube and it’s a must-see for the Airsteam aficionado. Filmed over 40 years ago at the Airstream Plant, the video offers a first-hand look at an era where manufacturers still believed that quality was attained through details. We love their tag line, “Where Building Dreams is our Business.”

Check out some of our favorite Airstreams (both updated and in all their original glory) here, as well as these fun facts about America’s favorite camper!

* Airstreams are the original DIY project; company founder Wally Byam built the first in 1929 in his backyard, after which he published an article titled “How to Build a Trailer for One Hundred Dollars.” After selling hundreds of his instruction-sets to readers of the article, and building quite a few trailers for friends, Byam decided to expand the operation into a full-fledged business in 1932.
* Airstreams have been upcycled into everything from permanent shoreside homes to mobile libraries to food stands!
* Byam was as invested in the community of Airstream-enthusiasts, or “Airstreamers,” as he was in his product. Starting in the early 50s, Byam started leading groups of buyers to specific travel destinations around the world (check out this fun collection of vintage images of Airstreamers at play. The Wally Byam Caravan Club still meets up every summer.
* Several campsites nationwide are Airstream-only. Some even require membership in the Caravan Club for entry!

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