This dream of a project consisted of A LOT of power tools, sorting of scraps, recouping after random El Nino storms, and organizing what seemed like an endless to-do list. But persistence (and mild OCD) got us to where we wanted to be!
I’ve always been pretty into the idea of living with as few material possessions as possible. Since living like a true Semana isn’t a viable reality for me, I at least try to stick to the essentials (or at very least quality goods that mean something to me).
I had an amazing living situation in Highland Park with two of my best friends that are getting their doctorates from CalTech in physics (intense!) But alas, when I was introduced to my knock-out artist/feminist/rock star of a neighbor, Stormie Art (of Roseark Jewelry), my Sagittarius instinct kicked in (classic) and I convinced her to let me live in and renovate the vintage Silver Streak “Jet” trailer instead of turning it into her mobile boutique (she’d been toying with the idea for a while). 19′ and she’s all mine.
She was down (what, really?!), and I was surprised about it. Luckily, the move wasn’t a long and/or strenuous one (I’m across the street), and it only took one car load to move my belongings. So begins the journey of the budget-minded (and epic) Highland Park Silver Streak renovation!
She needed some work. I saw the potential and never doubted her! We got started right away clearing out the insides of what used to be a mobile office for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
And with the help of some tiny laborers, we chiseled away at the project day-by-day. Luckily, I had just acquired amazing lumber from the San Franciscan Bay area from a dear friend (and my favorite artist), Kyle, who owns Bay Area Custom Furniture as well as creates work that can be seen here.
After scraping away at a few decades of dirt and grime from the walls and coating her with some new stark white matte paint, she was beginning to feel the new life breathed into her. I used some of my lumber to create some accents throughout the trailer included the Douglas fir, boiled linseed oil varnished, entrance wall.
We got lucky on the floor and found a lad in the area with a limited supply of hardwood cherrywood (a step up from the most cost-efficient option of linoleum wood flooring). Generally, the floor planks are staggered, but I chose the quality of the wood over the standard design because we had to be as efficient with the planks as possible.
I had purchased the small dresser drawers from a pretty great store in Ventura, California called Rotations. I need to be as space efficient as possible, so I just sawed an inch or so off of each leg and applied little sliders to the bottom of each foot to eliminate scratches on the hardwood floor.
While I do have power to the trailer, it helped saved space and electricity utilizing a couple of fans (for summer) and a small portable space heater (for winter) as well as some pretty great value camping lanterns that I think add to the authentic aesthetic of the trailer.
The large print on the wall is one o the original layout prints for the community garden (Milagro Allegro), so I framed it and it’s just one more element of my tiny home that means a lot to me!
The most labor intensive part of the project was replacing and reinstalling light/air ventilation units in the top of the trailer. We had to take out the old units, replace them, seal the air holes, and tar the surfaces to protect against water damage. In the end, they allow for pretty impressive air circulation and natural light.
The tire cover box is a multi-functional sitting surface as well as a sort of display area where I used a soft throw and some big throw pillows to add some more texture in the room. If you look closely, you can see my issue of the latest Tom Tom magazine sitting on it!
I purchased two air plants from Echo Garden on York Blvd. in Highland Park, and the other finer details sort of popped up organically. The two antique table lights are compliments of antique-junkie/entry level hoarder, Stormie. The genuine leather (bad ass) vintage barber chair was purchased from the buyer for a local store, Sunbeam Vintage (okay, okay, it was my splurge).
The yellow rolling chair (one of my favorite pieces) was also found at a thrift store in Ventura. On the bottom of it there is actually an etched “property of” tag, tracing it back to a hospital office in the late 70s! The filing units under the desk were original from the previous office set up. They had been painted and after scrubbing away with some steel wool, I was able to reach the layer of cool sea foam green, then seal it off with some anti-rust spray.
The avocado table is an original piece created by yours truly! I wrote an article about it in 2014 which can be read here, and I am so excited that it (and it’s counter part, the side table/ stump next to the bed) have found a home where I think they really vibe.
The books on top of the table are a gift from a good friend. They are graphic novels by artist Jaime Hernandez and part of a series called Love and Rockets (and I recommend you get your hands on a copy whenever you get the chance). There’s also some good read on the shelf that I’ve collected through the years and even some recent purchases from one of my favorite places, The Last Bookstore, in Downtown Los Angeles, where I sift through the $1 book section for hours.
Homey touches are along the walls, where I printed some old pictures of my family and stacked some of my favorite art prints on the empty light canisters (original to the trailer). I also have some original prints hanging (you can see them in the “Drawings” section of The Whirling Girlish) as well as a piece from Highland Park artist, Bleys Lieuallen, and one of my favorite prints by artist Tom Lamb, who does hand drawn maps of different L.A. neighborhoods.
Not shown above are the 100+ year old tiles that are from the original house on the main property that was built in 1906 and rest on one acre of land (even amidst the burgeoning nature of the neighborhood). I still need to wipe away the excess grout! Eek! The only caveat is that the internet connection in the trailer is a little less than desirable, so I had to improvise.
Sidenote: (Shout out to the bowl of packaged seeds from the Amaranth harvest we had at the Milagro Allegro Community Garden for the seed library!). I manage the garden and we do some pretty cool stuff. Another perk? It’s right up the street from me, located by my daily spot, Kinship Yoga who partners with us at the garden for various projects, and also the Historic Highland Theatre off of Figueroa.
I attached a simple curtain to the closet area not only to take away from the business of my wardrobe, but also to add a bit of texture to the space. I also did this by adding some different printed wool blankets from Pendleton (via eBay), and adding some large throw pillows to the day bed (also what I like to refer to as, you know, “my bed”). Most of that I just got from some of my favorite Goodwill stores (Glassell Park, Santa Barbara, Redondo Beach).
(There have since been multiple succulents and other such wonderful living things moved onto the deck using recycled containers and water!)
Another one of the my favorite elements is the bright yellow door….my spirit color! When it’s shut and you are on the interior of the trailer, it adds a pretty awesome pop against the white walls and ties together different yellow access around the space ie: the rolling desk chair. The outdoor deck ain’t too shabby either. I’m using a lot of the old drawer units and remaining filing cabinets as planters for different plants and succulents I have growing about.
Now there are more pictures on the walls and texture added by the combination of fleece and wool blankets. It would also be a good opportunity to add some sort of sheep skin, or maybe a cow hyde (artificial if you are sensitive about real furs!). Instead of bulky curtains, I opted for a crochet scarf I found at the Bearded Beagle in Highland Park. It allows for sunlight to stream through and still gives me privacy without the inconvenience of bulky drapery or shutter blinds.
There are some awesome left over pieces of lumber and I was able to make this bike table (created from a vintage movie-prop bike that had been rusting away in my neighbor’s yard for years, and some of the refurbished Douglas fir panels!)
Next to come? An outdoor brick bread oven. Then the holiday trailer/oven parties will be a go-go! She’s going to be a work in progress for as long I live there, and I am looking forward to every minute of it!
Proof it can be done! Use your resources (do you know anyone that might have the materials you’re looking for?), try to keep it local (it’ll mean more if you do), and say “yes” when the opportunity comes up! Is it conventional? I mean, not really.
But if nothing else it does make for a good ice breaker at parties.