sizing up the space

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Sizing Up The Space

So we start with a 1977 Airstream Trade Wind model. The illustration from a sales brochure is a fairly accurate representation of the trailer I acquired (ours had a full sized refrigerator). The Trade Wind model is a 25′ trailer. You can click on the image to see more of the brochure and also see other models from that year. Note: trailers are measured by the length of the frame. The frame includes a 3 foot triangular section at the front, known as the tongue, the point of which hitches to the rear of the tow vehicle. There is no enclosed living space built on this portion of the trailer frame. So a 25′ trailer has only 22′ of frame dedicated to the living space.

So we have a trailer with a living space 22′ long (measured on the exterior of the shell, subtract about 4” total for wall thickness to get the inside dimension). This begs the question: 22 feet long by how many feet wide? This next bit may seem a bit nit picky, but when you are dealing with small spaces, the nits and picks add up. In section view from the end, an Airstream shell flares out as you move up from the floor, achieving the widest point at about counter top level and then tapers back in as you go higher until finally curving sharply to form the roof/ceiling. So the answer to how wide the enclosure is changes as you move up from floor level. In my trailer the width of the inside of the enclosure is approximately 88.5” at the floor, 90.75” at the widest point slightly above the counter tops, and 79” at my ‘eye level’ (I’m 5’7”). In addition the shell has a similarly convex profile at the rear. The interior space lengthwise at floor level is 248” (20.66′) vs 258” (21.5′) at just under counter height.

I say all of this because coming up with a square footage measurement is tricky in a space where nothing is “square” or straight and all the sides and corners are rounded. But continuing in an attempt to put a square foot metric in place we come up with approximately 152.72 sq ft at floor level and 162.6 sq ft at counter top level. (These figures are certainly incorrect because deductions need to be made for the radius of the corners). In a space this size any extra square footage has utility and perhaps more importantly it makes a substantial difference in how the space is perceived. So I will use the figure of 163 square feet of area as a general reference because being at counter top level that space is entirely useable. Cubic volume of the space would be a very useful metric but considering the complex nature of the form, that figure is beyond my math abilities.

So, we have about 163 sq ft of inside living space to play with. Deciding what to do with it was the fun part of the project and thinking about it helped keep me sane during the gutting and stripping process.