Jon and I tossed around the idea of building a house for a year or two, but we just never quite built up the stock-pile of patience needed to actually commit to that kind of a project. We’d write down lofty ideas (Locally-sourced limestone floors! Farmhouse sinks! Concrete counter-tops!) and then start looking around at contractors (booked out for years) and gathering advice from other (frustrated) custom home owners and just shelve it for a couple months.
But then, one day, perhaps after a slow afternoon cocktail or two, Jon and a couple of his buddies got a wild hare and stopped at our local double-wide lot (read: trailer houses) and toured one of the models that looked a lot like a cabin.
Sold. All it would take, they told Jon with a sly round of laughter, was convincing me. They did not expect it to be easy. One of his friends recalled suggesting to his wife that they buy a trailer home and she absolutely dug in her heels and wouldn’t budge.
But I had no problem with the idea at all. And I’m not trying to put myself above anyone or pull a Gillian Flynn cool girl routine. Where I grew up on the Oregon Coast, lots of our neighbors lived in trailer homes/double wides/manufactured homes, and they were quite glamorous. Like most things, if you spend enough money, you’ll get a decent product.
I wrote about the process of getting the home delivered a few months ago. In the time since, I’ve been driving myself insane just trying to get the thing decorated. I had a pinterest board (recently deleted) filled with close to 200 pins of home decorating ideas. After all, when you’re working with a trailer house template, you can only make so many alterations.
We were able to move a few walls and add some windows to the over all plan. Luckily, Jon and I didn’t dispute about any of these changes at all, which I guess is pretty lucky compared to some home-owners. Our visions for the home were pretty well suited to each other. I wanted a zillion windows in the master bedroom and a larger closet. So did he. We also flipped the orientation for the house so that we’d be able to see people coming up the driveway from the living room. Here’s what we ended up with:
Like any home, even manufactured homes are somewhat customizable when it comes to fixtures and furnishings. This particular model from Southern Homes had different options for counter top colors (but not materials), flooring (different linoleum wood prints or carpets), doors, fixtures (brass or nickel), and add-ons for things like stainless steel appliances and farmhouse sinks, etc. We debated for months about having them leave out the flooring and putting in custom flooring (Jon really had his heart set on local Arkansas stone floors), but ended up caving and choosing linoleum with the thought that we could eventually lay something over the top later on.
Anyway, here comes the fun stuff: decorating! This box below is all of the before images–or stock images of the home from the website. I’ll be honest–these pictures are very generous or what the home actually looks like in real life. The window dressings are hideous in person, and I hated the carpet.
Bare-bones wise, we wanted to make sure the home would actually fit in with the woodsy/farm settings, which is why we picked the most cabin-style trailer home one of the bunch. The wood walls and stone fireplace don’t hurt. For the record, I love it. My rental in Minnesota was a cabin on the lake, and I loved that, too. Cabins style is my dream house!
I really wanted our home to reflect the both of us and have some style that extends beyond the whole “we-done-live-in-a-cabin” theme with cutesy log furniture and bears and signs meant to look hand-made. So… how to decorate?
It’s easy enough to flip through an Eddie Bauer catalog and make your home look like a display room at a Cabela’s store. That was exactly what I did not want. I think that stuff is really charming when it’s a vacation rental or a weekend getaway, but not to live in.
But places where I broke out of the mold included our Pottery Barn Chesterfield sofa — which, for the record, I fucking love — and the mid-century modern lamp and tweed chair.
I really, really wanted metal chairs in the dining room, but just about every person I know in the world said they were totally unrealistic because of how uncomfortable they are. And, I suppose, the hardware would have been too much metal. I found these upholstered chairs at Pier 1, which have a very soft green herringbone pattern and metal brads. Pier 1 also has a great assortment of slip covers, so I can switch out the colors when they get old or stained, as they surely will.
Eventually, I’d like to paint or stain (can you stain vinyl?) the cabinets and add a floor rug, but that’s far ahead in the future. Also, lights. We desperately need better lights.
Our kitchen is pretty standard and not huge, but as a quick cook who prefers to work alone, it’s actually perfect for me. One of my favorite little quirks is our rotary phone. It works, too! (Thanks to Straight Talk Wireless.)
Our bedroom is probably my favorite room in the house. The walls of windows feels like a dreamy lighthouse, and in the morning the sun comes flooding in, so we wake with the birds. I love it. Decorating this room was really fun for me. I’ve always wanted a tufted, upholstered headboard, and I thought wood would look weird in a room with wood walls, so that purchase was a no-brainer. Contrasted with black hardware and utility lamps, I think the room has a nice feminine/masculine balance. I found that gorgeous little dresser at an antique store in Rogers, AR.
The master bath is connected. We’ve got a great soaking tub and a separate shower and a walk-in shower. Eventually, I’d like to add more art, but it’s kind of weird to try to decide what best makes for bathroom art. Maybe a set of floating shelves for books, instead? I don’t know yet. I’d also like to upgrade the mirrors eventually. For now, though, it’s suitable.
One of the greatest pleasures of combining our tastes and histories is in the small furnishings. I fucking love fossils, and these 50 million year old fish might make for an odd farmhouse decoration, but they perfectly reflect my love for geology and time. Jon also has some really great family heirloom stuff that looks great in the house, like this map of his dad’s WWII campaign in Europe, and this butterfly tray that his brother brought back from Brazil years and years ago. That gorgeous little lamp is a Handel given to us by his friend and neighbor back in Guam, who’s a big antique collector.
But, of course, in the end, what makes a house a home is who you share it with. And for me, that home rests in Jon. It’s a double-wide life we’ve got, and I’m proud to have it.
PS: the setting ain’t bad, either. I’ve got a growing plant collection, and Jon at least got his Arkansas stone hand-laid for the foundation and the stairs. They look great and the animals love them, too!