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Happy camper.

Admit it: when you're driving down the interstate and pass one of those huge silver breadbox-shaped trailers known as Airstreams, you get a goofy grin on your face. You can't help it. They look so jaunty, so retro, so gosh-darn American, so bound-for-adventure. It would be hard, you think to yourself, to be morose or pessimistic in one of those happy reminders of the Good Old Days, when Daddy drove, Mommy distributed peanut butter sandwiches and manners advice from the front seat, Missy had pigtails, and Junior had a crew cut. All streaming down the highways of our great nation, headed for some gentle communing with nature. All in the air-conditioned comfort of their proudly gleaming "Sovereign of the Road."

Though we tend to think of them as vintage collectibles, Airstreams are in fact still manufactured today in a wide variety of styles and sizes. First introduced in 1931, the innovative trailer offered a completely self-contained travel system that was light enough and aerodynamic enough to be pulled by a standard sedan auto--the kind owned by most middleclass families in those pre-SUV days.

Everyone loves an Airstream. So Jackson interior designer Tommie Goodman was delighted and intrigued when she got a call from a client, Ann Hayne, who said, "I just bought this old trailer, and I want us to make it really special inside."

And did they ever! The result is at once up-to-the-minute and charmingly nostalgic, more '50s-chic-sleek than anything else, although in fact the 31-fool-long mobile home is a 1974 model. The year is really irrelevant; the company has never altered the original look drastically. You don't meddle with a classic!

Goodman knew immediately that most of the Formica fake wood inside would have to go on a little road trip to the Dumpster, to be replaced with light, bright, cool colors that would open up the limited space (310 square feet, counting the closets). She suggested a palette of pale greens and blues--aqua, chartreuse, lettuce, and lightest teal, with accents in grape and ochre.

In such a tiny jewel of a space, uniformity was important, so finding precisely the right fabric was a must. Goodman located a sturdy textile in what can only be described as Early George Jetson--on the yellow-green background, a cheery pattern of little stylized TV-shaped objects dance in regular rows. This material was used to curtain the roll-out "Vista-View" windows that wrap around the front and back of the craft and to cover the surprisingly large bed in the sleeping area.

The floor is a cool medium turquoise with subtle flecks--a hard-to-find rolled linoleum that Goodman imported from England. It provides a just-right base for the little sitting-room-cum-dinette by the main (well, the only) doorway. Here, a long banquette seating unit (attached to the wall, of course, in case of sudden stops) is flanked by two very spare, very square brushed chromium tables topped with Popsicle-lime-green resin surfaces. Breakable materials like glass are obviously not a good idea in a house that bumps down the road regularly. These tables can be pushed together to form a dining surface, though the ideal number of dinner guests would still have to be two.

The kitchen-area appliances are all original and of adorable miniature Barbie-and-Ken scale. There is running water and electricity, naturally, and a generous amount of cleverly allocated cabinet space. From the kitchenette, take two baby steps sternward and you are in the bath/dressing niche. By necessity, it's a tiny spot, but equipped with everything anyone might need on the road.

At the far end of the trailer is the bunk, for want of a more descriptive term. It began as an actual, if very miniscule, room, but Goodman and her client decided to eliminate the little table between the twin beds and simply make the whole area one giant bed. Walking into this room is not an option--one must literally crawl into it. Once there, however, the genius of the design is evident. Surrounded by three little window walls, the wide surface is perfect for snoozing, day and night. "It's the best afternoon nap spot I know," admits the owner, who confesses to occasionally slipping out from her main residence and catching a few winks in what she likes to call her "carriage house."

"We also use it as a guest room," she says. "People love it. It's comfortable, it's private, and everybody just says it's just such ... fun."

Which was exactly what the original designers of the Airstream had in mind.

For more information on Airstream trailers, see If an "oldie but goodie" is what you're after, try looking on eBay.
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Title Annotation:summer travel
Author:Jones, Brenda Ware
Publication:Mississippi Magazine
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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Next Article:Recipes from the road.

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