And Now Something A Little Different – A 1951 Vagabond Trailer in Joshua Tree CA

Renovations To A 1951 Vagabond Trailer Create A Guest House

Renovation project s come in a variety of types and sizes, and this particular project is something a little different. This adventure started out as a hunt for a weekend spot. But when the owners saw the property in Wonder Valley, California — a small community of artists and musicians in the Mohave Desert — they decided to leave behind their house in L.A. The owners left their home in Los Angeles and moved to the desert full time. This 1951 Vagabond Trailer, nick-named “Big Blue,” is where they lived while they renovated their new house in the desert. The couple is the design duo behind Wonder Valley, an olive oil brand, shop and studio. The trailer is a total labour of love: They replaced the plumbing, installed the floors and built the bed, couch and cabinets themselves.

They bought the Vagabond trailer from a family outside of Navajo Nations…It took about two months of work to make the trailer liveable, then about another 12 months before they finally got in the house. Now, the trailer is permanently parked and is used as a guest house.” Their business (both Wonder Valley the shop and the studio division) allows them to work in a rural place like this. It took a while to find the right spot — boulders, good neighbours, elevation and plant life all considered. They were excited to take on most of the renovation ourselves and to design a space around their habits and lifestyle.”

Location: Joshua Tree, California
Size: Roughly 275 square feet
Years Lived in: 1 year, owned

 Inspiration: Jay Nelson’s homemade campers, Liz Lambert’s El Cosmico

Biggest Challenge: Getting the trailer there! They had to haul this 34-foot trailer from Arizona back to their property in Joshua Tree.

What Friends Say: Thank god you two aren’t tall.

Biggest Embarrassment: A dent in the roof caused the rainwater to pool and the only place it would drip is directly onto the side of the bed.

Proudest DIY: They replaced the plumbing, installed the floors and built the bed, couch and cabinets…but the biggest job was replacing all the water-damaged and rotten wood panelling for the walls; about 50% had to go. The Vagabond was originally panelled with Baltic birch wood and a high gloss finish – but 60 years and sunlight aged the naturally white wood to a warm golden hue. They had to recreate that aged affect on the new panels by mixing a custom blend of wood stain, actually made for guitars.

Biggest Indulgence: The small details go a long way for a space like this. Having great bedding and towels makes a huge difference…and indulging in a morning and evening routine like daily face oil and really good Japanese green tea.

Best Advice: Vintage This is a great resource for restoring old trailers. We weren’t going for a replica of the original 1951 look, but it still was invaluable for ideas and floor plans





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