Actor Tawny Newsome Reveals Her Vintage Airstream

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Welcome to DIY Diary. Each entry covers a new home improvement project. Here, actor, musician, and podcaster Tawny Newsome puts the finishing touches on her vintage Airstream, transforming the dilapidated vehicle into a cozy enclave.

Renovating a vintage trailer from the 1960s is an undertaking. But starting a renovation of an Avion Travel Cader in the midst of a pandemic? Proves even more difficult.

Tawny Newsome—who voices the Beckett Mariner character on Star Trek: Lower Decks, plays the ambitious helicopter pilot on Netflix’s Space Force, and cohosts the Yo, Is This Racist? podcast—and her husband faced some unexpected surprises as the trailer makeover hit some snafus in the DIY department. After applying bold Jungalow wallpaper and repainting the inside of the Airstream with earthy stripes (a debacle that came out of trying to do an ombré wall), Newsome and her husband built a platform bed that was adjacent to a built-in closet with storage space a desk—a DIY project that originated with an old IKEA bed. “The biggest challenge was working with things we had on hand, because we weren’t really going into stores,” Newsome says. “We were trying to use scraps and be creative with things we had.”

With half the trailer in good shape, it’s time to wrap it up with the addition of a mini kitchen, living space decor, and an accent wall worth talking about. See the reveal as Newsome gives you a first look into her cozy Southern California oasis.

Step 1: Add details to the DIY kitchen

The mini kitchen came to life via a series of clever DIYs.

The mini kitchen came to life via a series of clever DIYs.

Photo: Kayla Reefer

For the kitchen area, Newsome got some prefabbed cabinets from Home Depot. Instead of putting down ceramic tile, she took the übersimple approach of adding a peel-and-stick tile backsplash from Wayfair.

The floating shelves are perfect for storing glasses and cups.

The floating shelves are perfect for storing glasses and cups.

Photo: Kayla Reefer

Natural wood elements play into the desert landscape that surrounds the Airstream compound.

Natural wood elements play into the desert landscape that surrounds the Airstream compound.

Photo: Kayla Reefer

Newsome needed kitchen organization, so she optimized the small nook with floating shelves. However, since the shelves came without brackets, she suspended them from the ceiling with chains and used tension, as opposed to supporting them from underneath. “[It] was a little bit of measuring and leveling because of the curve of the ceiling—depending on where the chain was coming down from, it made it a different length,” she explained. “But it was like, ‘Oh, this is actually kind of a cool, modern industrial look,’ and it was just born out of necessity.”

Step 2: Find wallpaper alternatives

Record liner notes or wallpaper?

Record liner notes or wallpaper?

Photo: Kayla Reefer

To separate the kitchen area from the makeshift bedroom, Newsome installed a bathroom nook as a sort of natural divider. She had hoped to decorate the kitchen-facing side with “really psychedelic and busy” wallpaper, but the one she had ordered never arrived. “It was one of those early pandemic delivery issues,” she said. So her husband began pulling liner notes out of different records in their collection and voilà—they had wallpaper. “We took inserts from nearly every record that had a cool-looking insert, and we just covered the wall,” she says. “Now there’s all these incredible musicians looking at us.”

Step 3: Optimize the storage and desk area

Music is a common thread in Newsome's design.

Music is a common thread in Newsome’s design.

Photo: Kayla Reefer

To secure the DIY writing desk to the closet built-in— the IKEA bed upcycle—Newsome had to use the Airstream wall for a reinforcement. “The desk kind of only works because it leans up against a wall that’s screwed into a piece of one-by-two that’s mounted to the wall,” she says. “From there, the legs stick out at an angle to meet the ground.”

Step 4: Incorporate thrifted, vintage finds throughout

A deep love seat, cushioned with throw pillows, anchors the living-space corner of the Airstream.

A deep love seat, cushioned with throw pillows, anchors the living-space corner of the Airstream.

Photo: Kayla Reefer

The same “make do with what you have” approach is also applied to the decor, with Newsome dotting the trailer with well-worn pieces. In the living room, a vintage steamer trunk anchors the space, doubling as a coffee table and storage solution. “Oh, my gosh, that [steamer trunk] has been my husband’s since college I think,” she says. “He’s had it in every place we’ve lived in for 15 years. I have no idea where that came from—it probably was thrifted.”

The charm is in the details.

The charm is in the details.

Photo: Kayla Reefer

Personalized notes and favorite musician snapshots adorn the accent wall.

Personalized notes and favorite musician snapshots adorn the accent wall.

Photo: Kayla Reefer

To pay tribute to the trailer’s midcentury heritage, Newsome was going for an aesthetic that was slightly retro but also decidedly futuristic and mod. “I guess I always want everything to kind of look like it existed in both 1972 and the future,” she said, laughing. “I don’t know what you’d call that. Maybe that’s just post-mid-century.” Other design elements come from wall art, cascading and potted plants, and, of course, tune-themed touches that reflect Newsome’s love for music. By sticking to an earthy palette, with elements such as a Persian-like rug with rich browns and greens, the Airstream fits with the desert landscape surroundings.

Step 5: Put together a cozy fire pit

A propane-fueled firepit with an industrial vibe.

A propane-fueled firepit with an industrial vibe.

Photo: Kayla Reefer

For the outdoor space, Newsome used left over flagstone that her mom—who owns a concrete landscaping company—gave it to her. “She’ll just bring me scraps of things, and she brought me a bunch of mismatched limestone,” she says. “We laid it out in front to make a little patio area, built steps out of an old pallet, and the Adirondack chairs we just sort of stuck there.”

Newsome added a picnic bench and sun shade sails for daytime entertaining.

Newsome added a picnic bench and sun shade sails for daytime entertaining.

Photo: Kayla Reefer

The finishing touches were a piece of turf (also from her mom), a propane firepit and string lights. “Got to have twinkly lights,” she says. “It’s all about the vibe, and the twinkly lights and firepit does a lot of work. It changes everything. My summer nights, that’s all I do—I just want to sit out there.”

Although the trailer wasn't Newsome's first DIY project, it was the first she completed while in the middle of a global pandemic, forcing her to stretch her design imagination and ingenuity to new heights.

Although the trailer wasn’t Newsome’s first DIY project, it was the first she completed while in the middle of a global pandemic, forcing her to stretch her design imagination and ingenuity to new heights.

Photo: Kayla Reefer

Even though the project came with plenty of challenges, the payoff is well worth it—not just for Newsome, but for the many guests she has hosted in the trailer since. “I had people there in the winter, which was bonkers because we got snow and it got really cold here, but we had a couple of propane heaters in there, and they liked it,” she says. “The fact that two single people wanted to stay there in the winter was nice. I’ve had friends come back and stay multiple times, even when my guest room in my house is open.”

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest

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