• Janessa

Airstream Renovation: Month 1 Update

Sweating it out in a Tin Can: Weeks 1-4

We have made it through our first month of Airstream renovations of Nellie our long drives (with kids) family road trip vehicle. That is four Saturdays of work and guess what, the entire interior is gutted! We are excited about our Airstream reno progress and we want to share what we've accomplished each weekend to give you an idea of what you can accomplish too! PS: Scroll to the bottom to see how much we spent this month! And don't forget to follow along on our journey through Instagram @longdrives_withkids

Week 1: The Beginning

If you haven't already, check out our Airstream Basics blog post to read up on what tools you'll need to be successful during renovations. If anything, make sure you've got power drills! This was our very first day of demolition and we didn't really have a plan of action, we just started taking things out! Matt worked in one area of the Airstream and I worked in another.

We started first with taking out the full-size mattress and then disassembling the bed frame. We cleared out all of the furniture then removed the full-size pantry which was held down with a combination of rivets and screws. Hubby also removed a few electrical components including the thermostat, kitchen light, and control panel. Make sure you practice safe renovations and you're NOT connected to electricity. Go ahead and remove the battery if you want to be extra careful (we did!)

the look of the Airstream interior before we began gutting


Week 2: Goodbye Original Interior, Hello Open Concept

This was a big weekend of work. We had our first demolition day behind us and felt comfortable removing rivets and screws in the Airstream. We were also less careful than before and used the hammer if necessary to get out rusted-in screws. We were able to remove the interior walls, the desk, a closet, two overhead bins, and more lights. NOTE: if you're planning to keep the original interior features for measurements (or to reuse), you'll need a garage or shed to store items. They actually take up more space than you'd imagine. We have completely filled my mother-in-law's outdoor shed!

During our second weekend of renovations, we also found an absolute treasure: the original 1974 Service Manual! If you don't have one, yes, go ahead and buy one off Ebay! The service manual has the original wiring and plumbing layouts and so many beneficial visuals. We referenced it what seems a gazillion times already.

we gutted all of our original 1974 Airstream interior


Week 3: A Blank Slate

Hubby was kinda on his own on this one. Grandma wasn't available so I was babywearing Mira and couldn't get that much done. I wanted to be safe and chose not to use any tools while carrying her. By himself and in a few hours time, Matt was able to remove all of the back closets and the remaining back walls leading to the bathroom. Which meant the back of the Airstream was completely gutted! It felt for the first time like a blank slate. I now started to buzz with all of the interior remodel possibilities! To check out a few Airstream renos that are inspiring us, scroll through my latest blog post of gorgeous Instagram Airstreams!

after week 3, we had a pretty open Airstream


Week 4: Goodbye Kitchen

We had to bring in more muscle to finish the interior gutting so I had to call in my dad! He was an electrician in the Navy, he has completed house renovations before, and he is overall a super handy guy. We knew we wanted the refrigerator moved out of the Airstream, the kitchen disengaged from the interior wall, and the complete furnance system gutted this week. And, through about 3 hours of hard work we got it done (or should I say, they got it done).

Because we were removing original pieces that were installed for safety, some of those screws were just beasts to get out! Specifically the screws attached from the kitchen cabinets to the interior wall and the furnace screws attached to the subfloor. We had to use the power drill, the wrench, the pliers, the hammer, the flat head screwdriver, and pure brute strength to get a few of those rusted screws out. Some, we attempted, took a break from, and had to come back to after a breather. So, just breathe and be patient. If you're having a hard time, most likely other people have gone through it to.

We also swept and starting to take up the hardwood floors up so that we can examine the subfloors (next month's project coming up!)

picture of Airstream interior kitchen
at the end of week four, we have the kitchen and generator gutted in our Airstream


Before & After, Month 1 of Airstream Renovations

*Roll through the slideshow of images to see our month 1 progress*


Nellie the Airstream with views of storage shed and our truck for towing

Cost of Airstream Renovations (Month 1) : $0

Yes, you saw that right! We haven't spent ANY money this month. We thankfully had all the tools we needed between our power tool set, Matt's father's tools and my dad's tool bag. And, of course, we did all the work ourselves! Here's hoping we can continue to keep this price as low as possible. Fingers crossed!

Total Hours of Work Time: 13 hours

We work only on Saturdays. We are parents who focus on family life during the week and hubby also works full-time. We usually get about 3-4 hours of work done every Saturday.

We have a lot on our plate including a number of other personal projects so the Airstream is delegated to a few hours a week. Our Airstream is also parked off-site so I do wonder how often we would sneak out in the backyard and work on it during the week if it was accessible (hmmmmm). We are impressed with how much we can get done in a small amount of time especially when grandma is willing to watch both of our kiddos! Gotta love grandmas!


We can't wait to get to work on month 2! Want to follow along on our journey, subscribe to stay updated with our progress via newsletters where we'll share Airstream renovation tips, tools and tricks we've learned along the way. Of course, comment below if you have any specific questions and we'll make sure to answer.

Dreamin' of an Airstream renovation and remodel and want to stay inspired? Follow my RV Remodel Pinterest Board to see my latest pins inspiring our renovation!

Many Blessings & Happy Renovatin'


We're the Martin family and we're in love with family road trips and family travel! We're currently renovating a 1974 Airstream Sovereign so we can continue our family road trippin' adventures across North America! We're hoping to inspire others to pack up and head out on the road! 


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