Beautiful and Green: Runaround Sue -- 1961 Vintage Airstream Safari Renovation


We undertook Runaround Sue's renovation as a way to expand our remodeling business and use our skills in a creative, challenging way. In this specialty project, two of our interests came together: our love of vintage Airstreams and our concern about indoor air pollution.
In order to make Sue as environmentally- and user-friendly as possible, we constructed the interior with reclaimed, sustainable materials and applied no-VOC finishes. Lightweight foam insulation, an easy-to-use composting toilet, and solar panels with deep cell batteries also allow a camper to spend more time boondocking.
If you're tackling a project like this DIY-style, DO expect it to be labor intensive. DON'T expect that it will necessarily be cheaper than buying a new trailer (in fact, it probably won't). That said, renovating allows you to create a space tailored to your needs and tastes while celebrating and preserving a piece of Americana.
We're proud of Sue and hope she can find an owner who appreciates all of her unique qualities. If you're interested in buying her or just in seeing more before, during, and after pictures, visit our website under Vintage Airstream Project.
Dining area of renovated vintage Airstream.  The tabletop folds down to form a bed.
Dining area of renovated vintage Airstream. The tabletop folds down to form a bed.
Dining area of vintage Airstream before renovation.
Dining area of vintage Airstream before renovation.
Flooring of vintage Airstream before renovation.
Flooring of vintage Airstream before renovation.
Main living area of vintage Airstream before renovation.
Main living area of vintage Airstream before renovation.
Bathroom area of vintage Airstream before renovation.
Bathroom area of vintage Airstream before renovation.
Lightweight soybean-based foam insulation increases air tightness and adds strength to the frame.
Lightweight soybean-based foam insulation increases air tightness and adds strength to the frame.
The cabinets are constructed from "plyboo" -- plywood made from bamboo.  All casing and trim was finished with tung oil and VOC-free solvents. 
Staining was done with VOC-free aniline dyes.
The cabinets are constructed from "plyboo" -- plywood made from bamboo. All casing and trim was finished with tung oil and VOC-free solvents. 
Staining was done with VOC-free aniline dyes.
The kitchenette has a lift-up sink cover and a 
stovetop with two propane and one electric burner.
The kitchenette has a lift-up sink cover and a stovetop with two propane and one electric burner.
The couch folds out into a bed.  Upholstery is Cradle to Cradle Certified (overseeing sustainability) and ScS Indoor Advantage Certified (indoor air quality). There is plenty of storage both above and below.
The couch folds out into a bed. Upholstery is Cradle to Cradle Certified (overseeing sustainability) and ScS Indoor Advantage Certified (indoor air quality). There is plenty of storage both above and below.
Bathroom sink with reclaimed redwood counter.
Bathroom sink with reclaimed redwood counter.
Beautiful reclaimed redwood grain in the shower area.
Beautiful reclaimed redwood grain in the shower area.
Deep-cell solar panels power the water heater, furnace, refrigerator, fans, and most of the lighting in the trailer.
Deep-cell solar panels power the water heater, furnace, refrigerator, fans, and most of the lighting in the trailer.
New retro awning.
New retro awning.
22 feet of rambling Americana.
22 feet of rambling Americana.

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2 of 32 comments
  • Carole White
    on Sep 26, 2016

    Such wonderful work...that redwood is beautiful!!! Congrats on such a great "green" makeover! Thanks for sharing,

  • Vicky Corey
    on Mar 12, 2018

    I live in a RV and you did an awesome job with this! Just WOW!!

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