The winter in which we finish the trailer

A little more than two years ago, we decided that a vintage camping trailer would be the perfect gateway to cheap, stateside getaways. It was a notion borne out of one part falling in love with our fire pit (more here), one part missing the relaxation that comes with unplugging in nature and one part restlessness (our rented condo was done from a design standpoint and we were a little bored on our occasional free weekend.) We searched high and low, bought two trailers that we quickly sold and finally settled on a 13-foot 1967 Trailblazer.

What we thought was a medium project quickly ballooned into a total tear down that dragged into the winter of 2012. And then the firehouse happened and, frankly, our lives turned upside down in the best possible way, leaving the trailer behind priorities like getting our studio up and running, creating a happier living room, fencing our yard and finishing our garage. And so, two entire years later the trailer has only been touched to move it from the front of the firehouse to the back and then from the back of the firehouse to the studio.

Yep, you read that right. The trailer is currently taking up residence IN the studio. It’s time. It’s time to get it done so we can use it or sell it. But most importantly, so it’s not hanging over our heads as some great, unfinished project. We’re finishers and this is bothersome.

So this is it – our big winter project. As such, we thought (in case we weren’t friends two years ago) you needed to get up to speed on our trailer project while we make a new “to do” list (the original was lost in a small fridge water line flood last year) and start the march toward the finish line.

Meet the trailer! We were looking for something small (under 15 feet) and inexpensive. This became “the one” thanks to the numerous windows. Obviously it still needed work.

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The front was riddled with hail damage and the ombre effect was caused by wear, not a desire to be on trend.

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We were buoyed by the inside, which didn’t have any sort of musty smell and looked to be in great condition. Obviously everything needed paint (white, naturally.)009trailerbuyanddemo

The dinette is at the rear of the trailer and folds down into a bed. To the left is a large storage cabinet, to the right a small kitchenette.010trailerbuyanddemo

The bigger bunk is in the front. It’s a couch that pulls out into a bed (seen here flat with the original cushions piled up.) There was also a small sleeping bunk above it. We plan to halve the depth and turn that into luggage storage. In this view the door is to the right and the kitchenette is to the left. 011trailerbuyanddemo

Here’s a better look at the kitchenette. 012trailerbuyanddemo

Once it was in a temporary home (a former train tunnel at the Lemp Brewery that we rented) we started strategically demoing, with an eye to keeping anything that we could still use. The goal was to clear out the space so we could paint the entire interior. We knew there was some water damage in the back, but we weren’t scared.


This is the back (dinette) and you can see water damage in the bottom corners and around the windows (now that the frames are removed.)014trailerbuyanddemo

After pulling the interior panels, we realized the damage was more widespread than we anticipated. 015trailerbuyanddemo 016trailerbuyanddemo

The more we peeled, the more we wondered how this thing stayed together for the ride to St Louis. The outside skin basically popped off when we removed the trim. 017trailerbuyanddemo 018trailerbuyanddemo 019trailerbuyanddemo

All of the dark wood is rotten… yes, everything around the edge.020trailerbuyanddemo

The front wasn’t much better. There was a little rot near the bottom.021trailerbuyanddemo 022trailerbuyanddemo

And a lot of rot at the top left. 023trailerbuyanddemo 024trailerbuyanddemo 025trailerbuyanddemo 026trailerbuyanddemo 027trailerbuyanddemo

When it was all removed, we were left with this. Homey, right?  029trailerbuyanddemo

At this point the project had ballooned WAY beyond the original scope, but it had nowhere to go but up.

Trailer overhaul – Exterior part 2

(Get some background on our trailer project here. Don’t forget to check out the first exterior post and interior.)

Once the new walls were in place, Aaron removed the old insulation and used aluminum foil tape to seal the paneling seems. This will also help keep water from damaging the interior.


Then the framing got a coat of Kilz primer. 002trailerexterior2

Then he cut foam insulation to fit between all of the panels and sealed it in with more aluminum foil tape.

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This whole project sounds really easy, but it is incredibly tedious.


Exterior metal
The tongue and the bumper were showing quite a bit of wear… particularly the bumper, which we lost half of somewhere between Ikea and home. These got a good sanding, a coat of primer and then a coat of paint.005trailerexterior2 006trailerexterior2 007trailerexterior2 008trailerexterior2

The new jack also went from black to white before being installed. 009trailerexterior2 010trailerexterior2


Metal skin
Tackling the new metal skin for the trailer was something we both dreaded from the get go. The metal skin came in sections (basically two for each of the four sides of the trailer.) It was shipped in a tube so we had to lay it out in the back of the tunnel and weigh it down in an effort to remove the bend. It was only slightly successful. When it came time to attach the metal, I held a piece in place while Aaron traced the shape on the backside. Then we cut it, held it up and stapled it into place. The bend fought us, but we got the lower piece attached. The second (upper piece) didn’t play nice. Because of the bend and the sheer size of the piece, it was nearly impossible for me to hold it (along with some clamps) while Aaron stapled it in place. After it and the bottom piece popped off TWICE, we called in reinforcements.

Thankfully my brother was in town and willing to lend a hand. Between the three of us, we were able to get the skin attached over the course of a weekend. Once the metal was up, Aaron used metal snips to cut out each window and the door. 012trailerexterior2 013trailerexterior2

And that is how the trailer sat while we negotiated and purchased the firehouse. When it came time to move it, we tossed in the door and a few windows to give it some extra stability. Then we woke up really early on a Sunday morning and pulled it the few miles to the firehouse, hoping that we wouldn’t pass a cop along the way considering it wasn’t exactly road worthy.

Since then it has waited patiently for us to find the time to finish it. We checked on it every few months, holding our breath as we unzipped the cover. It looks like it was mostly unscathed by the lack of attention. Aaron has a large list of mini projects to wrap this project up. So we’re getting back into real time blogging as he marches toward the finish line!

Recent buys and some of our favorite antique malls in St Louis

The end of wedding photography season heralds a time when we look at each other and say “Now what?” The closest we come to hobbies (besides renovating a firehouse) are smoking copious amounts of meat (you haven’t lived til you’ve tasted our Jerk chicken) and haunting antique malls. This winter has already yielded a few gems, big and small. Let’s take a look!

This group came from our favorite antique mall in St Louis: Green Shag Market. It’s on the small side for an antique mall, but it’s so well curated that we’ve never left empty handed. Plus if you stop by during one of the first seven days of the month, you can also swing through Quintessential Antiques, which should be a case study in antique store merchandising.

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If you watch any popular design blogs, you know that the internet is awash with ALL THINGS BRASS. While, I’m not a devotee of any particular metal, this little boat sailed away with my heart (see what I did there?) It’s currently hanging out with my jewelry collection, but the mid century aesthetic makes it ideal for any room.


How much scientific glass is too much? I might be reaching the max, but for a couple of bucks a piece these cuties came home with us.


I’m also maxed out on milk glass. Some of my bigger pieces are in storage so I’m being very picky about what comes home…. but I’m also easily swayed when a piece is unique and under $3.


We also have a bit of a problem with glasses… as in we want them all. We’ve been admiring Dorothy Thorpe style sets for some time, but the popularity of Mad Men has upped the price and the “everyone’s got that” factor. When we saw this set, we were immediately drawn to the size and shape. Then we noticed they were monogrammed and said, “Well, that’s going to be a hard sell unless you find the right person.” Then we noticed the monogram was an H….


Apparently we were the right people.

I originally planned to shoot all of these smalls in their final home. The boat and vase by my bedside, the expanding scientific glass collection by the TV and these glasses on the new bar. Then I broke one! UGH. I know. I know. #thisiswhywecan’thavenicethings

I’ve decided that this is only a set of 6 because of the holder. So if we can find a 4 cup holder that we like, then we’re back up to a set, plus an extra. Aaron didn’t buy that line of thinking…


A spin through the South County Antique Mall, our favorite large antique mall in the Lou yielded a few smalls and these tiny tables. They’re not much to look at. Ok, literally they’re not much – wood with unattached mirrors on top. BUT those legs! Just like Yellow Brick Home, we’re not above hoarding hairpin legs. At $30 a piece, these tables sets of legs are well worth the storage space. Future table or bench? Only time will tell.


Another spot I stalk all week long thanks to their awesome Instagram account is South Jefferson Mid Century Modern. Their selection is always well curated and offered at prices that are SO good, like so good I almost want to keep it a secret. But I’m not because 1) I can’t buy ALL the things, even if I want to 2) I want this store to have as many fans as possible so they keep buying and selling these great pieces.

What we bought isn’t exactly their normal offering (I guess we do that a lot…) This table base was in the far back of the shop with a rag and cleaner on top of it. Even though it wasn’t really “ready” Aaron was instantly drawn to the huge, solid aluminum base.

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We inquired about the price and got a brief history lesson. It’s actually a conference table base from KMOV, a television station in downtown St Louis. South Jefferson MCM had plans to add a new top and replace the missing foot, but was willing to let the base go for $80. Sold.

It’s the perfect size for the work table we want to finish off the studio.


For now it’s hanging out with a lot of other items in the studio… like the trailer (full update on that next.)

Lighting up the courtyard

When we first stepped back and said “Hey this looks like a courtyard,” we knew there was one thing that would really give it that courtyard feel


Based on the fact that you can read the title of the post, I’m sure you know that we opted to string some lights!


Eighty eight lightbulbs to be exact, procured from (specifically this type with 11 watt bulbs.) We strung them between the firehouse and garage, creating a ceiling effect in the space. They are hard wired to a dimmer to provide maximum ambiance control.

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When you’re standing under the lights, they really distract from the power lines coming into the building, which is a nice bonus.


This area is really turning into a gorgeous spot.


Please note, this is the only time our dog looks small…


BUT the best part is how they look at night…

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Can it get more magical than this??


Here’s the part of the post where I get all sappy and can’t believe that we LIVE here. For two people who never thought they’d find a “forever” home, I’m continually amazed how the firehouse allows us to craft exactly the space we’ve always dreamed of. (There will be much more of this as we work on the kitchen and create the wine cellar.) (WINE CELLAR! Eek!)

I digress… here’s more eye candy.

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That wraps up the courtyard updates and all of the projects we jumped on for the House Hunters: Where Are They Now episode. (Sometime in March 2015.) Our wedding season is also winding down, so we’re looking forward to some extra free time (watch out antique malls, here we come) and prioritizing our list for 2015. One particular project is looming large (literally)… more on that later.