How to Live Large in a Tiny House

After a few months of dating, John Ellis and Laura Preston decided to go on an indefinite road trip. Two Airstreams, three pets, and a wedding later, they’re still together in a newly renovated tiny house on wheels.
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married couple and dogs in airstream

Husband-and-wife Instagram and blogging duo John Ellis and Laura Preston (@thelonglongairstream) have been living on the road since 2013. They share this newly renovated 200-square-foot Airstream with two dogs, Bulleit and Marlow, plus a cat, Papa.

Seven years ago, Laura Preston and John Ellis, her now husband, were living in New York City and dating casually when he asked her to join him on a yearlong road trip in an Airstream borrowed from his mom. Kind of sounds like the plot of a rom-com ready to go horribly wrong, but the couple went for it and totally fell in love with life—and each other—on the road.

They’ve been rolling along ever since, but that first epic trip led to a shared blog called The Democratic Travelers, where the couple chronicled their journey, city by city. The hook? Readers told them where to go next. After the novelty of ping-ponging to random, crowdsourced places wore off, John and Laura reclaimed control and started wandering where they saw fit.

They decided one of those destinations would be a trip down the aisle, but first came renovating their very own Airstream and documenting the process on their latest blog, The Long, Long Airstream. John and Laura spent roughly 14 months designing and building out a trailer tailored to their every need, which includes many double-duty pieces and smart storage solutions: A nine-foot-long desk for working side by side (Laura makes quilts; John is a software engineer) also holds the monitor for after-hours Netflix and chilling from the couch, and drawers built right into a wall create a compact cocktail bar. For privacy, they placed their bed at one end of the trailer, under the bookshelf and directly opposite the common area, where they eat meals and hang out.

The couple did all the work themselves, except for laying the flooring and painting the walls. Unlike most contractors, Laura and John mostly stuck to their timeline, so they could incorporate the trailer into their big day last year in Pioneertown, California. “We parked the Airstream at our wedding venue,” says John. “After the ceremony and reception were over, we brought all dozen or so guests in and had a little housewarming!”

kitchen and dining room in airstream

The living area has a dining table and a sofa that turns into a bed for guests.

woman works on quilt in airstream trailer

Laura stitches one of her quilts (for sale at her online store, vacilandoquilting.co).

red oak wood kitchen in airstream trailer

Rift-cut red oak wood is used throughout, including in the kitchen, and gives the space a mid-century look.

airstream master bedroom with built-ins

Who needs nightstands when you have built-in bedside tables?

pull-out bar with drinks in airstream

Just beyond the bed (which is dressed in one of Laura’s quilts) is the couple’s pullout bar and a small drinks table.

cat peeking through curtains in airstream

“Our cat, Papa, is the king of our house,” says Laura.

airstream wedding polaroid hanging from clip

A Polaroid reminds the couple of their sweet day.

"We've lived in less than 200 square feet for six years now, so it feels normal," says Laura. "We knew exactly what we needed this time around."

Travel Time

parked silver airstream excella trailer

What a Beauty!

The couple’s current R.V. model? A 34-foot-long 1990 Airstream Excella.

newlyweds sitting on airstream trailer

Just Married

Forget the limo: John and Laura drove themselves to their wedding with the trailer in tow.

young couple with dogs near airstream

The O.G. R.V.

The pair basically got to know each other road-tripping in a trailer on loan from John’s mom.

laura preston and john ellis with quilt

Creative Couple

For Laura’s online shop, she makes the quilts and John photographs them.