Handmade Home

by | Mar 2021

Counter space in livable enclosed trailer

Photos: Alex Linnell

“I’m an artist at heart.”

Many of us found ourselves spending more time at home and missing travel in 2020. While planes and trains may not have been as available, Alex Linnell found other ways to get out and pursue his passion for the outdoors and new places.

In December 2019, Linnell closed his Lake Minnetonka business, The Black Oar, which specialized in surf goods, including paddleboards, kayaks and wakesurf boards. Linnell decided to take advantage of his new free time, and, with the help of his fiancée, Brittany, transformed his trailer into a livable space. “Instead of selling my empty enclosed trailer, I’d convert it into a camper for a fun project this summer,” Linnell says. “[2020] couldn’t be a better year to get outside and on the road with all that’s going on.”

“I just had to start with the basics,” Linnell says. Much like building a house, he began the project by putting up frames for the structure. With such a small space, they were careful to include extra storage, including under the bed.

Thriftiness was key while diving into the endeavor. With secondhand sourcing, Linnell completed the project for under $800. Many of his materials were found online, through personal connections and at thrift stores. Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Minneapolis proved to be a goldmine for the project’s countertops and cabinets. An old dock from Lake Minnetonka provided reclaimed wood, and Facebook Marketplace offered up a queen-size bed.

Trailer Bedroom

“After the fact of getting everything we needed, it was all about decorating and redoing the look of the cabinets and counters,” Linnell says. They added a bench to the front of the trailer for extra seating and storage, a vent in the ceiling for light and airflow, new flooring and white beadboard to the ceiling. The functional elements of the camper are accompanied by natural wood, minimalistic white hues and an aqua tile backsplash as an accent. The couple even had room to incorporate a few small plants to add to the house-like feel.

“The entire trailer is a challenge within itself as you run into roadblocks as you are building something custom,” Linnell says. That didn’t stop him from completing the project in just a month. “I’ve enjoyed the process. It is incredibly rewarding to build and create things like this as I’m an artist at heart.” In the end, the camper turned out to be modern, rustic and cozy—the perfect vibe to bring a bit of home on any road trip.

Though it was certainly a process, the results are perfect for the trips Linnell has planned, both locally and out of state. He often uses the trailer to pursue his love of the outdoors, camping and surfing on the North Shore. As for his biggest plans for the new camper—it’s booked for the couple’s upcoming honeymoon, providing a unique way for the couple to adventure around the country together.


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