Skip to main content

TBT: Miss Moppet and Her Upwardly Mobile Home

In a pandemic, mobile homes have some advantages over apartments in multi-unit buildings: it's easier to stay safe from disease transmission when you don't need to share entrances and common spaces with people outside of your household, and in many cases you can find more peace and quiet for working from home when you don't share walls with others. There are also disadvantages to mobile homes: more expensive and unreliable heating and cooling as well as challenges with maintaining and replacing trailer-specific appliances and fixtures. In both mobile home parks and apartment buildings, there is a rising risk of exploitation by unscrupulous landlords, ironically causing ostensibly cheap housing to cost renters more in the long run and push dreams of home ownership even farther out of reach. Cheaply rented living spaces are not ideal long-term housing situations for most people, but hey! 2020 is not the year when we can expect everything to be ideal. Transitional housing can, at least, be stylish on a budget, as my friend Miss Moppet demonstrated back in the Great Recession. Your current circumstances don't define you, but you can express yourself and make yourself a little more comfortable within them, using creativity to stretch your budget. Please enjoy this tour of one couple's mobile home makeover in the aughts:

Miss Moppet and Her Upwardly Mobile Home

There was a time when I harbored stereotypes about trailer parks and their inhabitants. Then a few years ago, I picked up an issue of the very stylish and modern Dwell magazine at an airport and was amazed by the pictures and articles on ultra-modern, hip, eco-friendly mobile homes--some being used as additions on existing houses and some situated in parks with others of their kind. Dwell is not a publication targeted at low-income people, by any means. In fact, it tends toward the snotty and elitist. Those articles really baked my noodle.


A couple of years later, my recessionista colleague Miss Moppet, who used to live in my old apartment complex, opted to purchase a mobile home with her Blue Collar Romeo. It was a lower-risk and lower-cost home ownership choice than buying a house in our shaky economy, yet it offered more freedom and privacy than staying in an apartment or condo. Besides, the park they chose is an attractive neighborhood with big trees and curvy roads. Miss Moppet and Romeo bought their trailer for practical reasons, not because they're uber-trendy Dwell readers, but they have made their single-wide into a lovely home.

Here is a photo of the living room when they bought the place:

Living Room

It looks like someone made an attempt to liven things up with quirky stripes, but somehow it ended up looking like a clown costume on a sad baby. Not cute. First order of business was to warm and brighten the walls (and paint over the dated wood paneling to give it the look of beaded board) with a golden color.

Living Room

Oh, and throw in a badass TV. Next came the biggest splurge, a beautiful and cozy new sofa and armchair set, and multi-layered, light-softening window drapes. Function and fashion coexist in the Roman shades, which help insulate the windows. The sheer and solid layers give the option of blocking outside light entirely or screening the inside of the home while letting in some honey-tinged sunshine. Better yet? They're cheap and easy to install! Find them at Lowe's, Target, Meijer, and many other stores.

Photobucket

Note how Miss Moppet used a favorite piece of art, the Madame Butterfly print above the living room shelves, as a guide for coordinating the whole room's color scheme. Hints of the simple palette are repeated on objects throughout the room, such as the Japanese-style tea set and other items on the shelves, holding everything together without looking too "designed."

Photobucket

To give the home personality and showcase the inhabitants' interests without looking cluttered, Miss Moppet and Romeo display their favorite objects in neat, orderly compositions. They group like things together, like these theater posters in matching frames.

Photobucket

They used the same paint from the living room in the kitchen and dining area, helping the two rooms flow together and making the space seem larger.

Photobucket

Here is a "before" shot of the dining area:

Dining Area

It's truly amazing what window treatments, paint, and little decorative touches can do to cozy up and beautify a little space. Now Miss M can spend cheerful mornings in her kitchen, making her famous pancakes. You wouldn't believe how good they are, and I'm convinced that eating in a pretty room makes food taste even better! Actually, warm colors like golds and reds increase the appetite and enhance the experience of flavor, while cool colors like blue and green reduce appetite. So scientifically speaking, the gold paint over the old celery green scheme probably DID make Miss M's pancakes taste even better than ever.

Photobucket

A nice feature that came with the home is the cabinetry floating above the counter that creates plenty of cupboard space without using counter space or completely cutting off the kitchen from the living room. Glass doors allow light to pass through and show off the hand-painted dishes inside while keeping them tidy.

cupboard

Romeo added a shelf in the middle and stacked books along the top. Books are some of my favorite decorating items. They really make a place seem homey. Plants also lend curved, organic lines and serenity to the square corners of a house. I often mix plants and books on my own shelves. Even in the bathroom!

Photobucket

Isn't Miss M's monkey bathroom adorable? The mirrored doors to the laundry area reflect light and make the room seem larger. The "backdrop" positioning of the monkey shower curtain was a brilliant creative idea that Miss M had to cheer up the stark white walls without dealing with wallpaper or paint in a humid bath corner, and without cutting the bathroom into smaller bits of space with a closed-off bath.

Bathroom

Miss M pulled the cheery, tropical theme into the bedroom, too. Here is a "before" shot of the previously dark, dated bedroom:

Bedroom

Miss M completely made over the bedroom with a new glass overhead light fixture, pretty lamps and candles for mood lighting, crisp linen window treatments, and bold color.

Photobucket

Like in the living room, Miss M used a couple of her favorite prints in warm colors, complemented by a pop of bright blue, as a palette for the room.

Photobucket

There's no reason to be afraid of vibrant color in a small room, especially if the decor is simple and coordinated. This room has basic white drapes and metal hardware that echoes the curves in the candle stand by the bed.

Decor

Decor

Miss M and Romeo also repainted the outside of their trailer when they moved in, giving it a sky blue color with clean, white trim. Others in their park have gotten creative with their landscaping. One man even has an ornate garden complete with a hedge wall and archways. Perhaps he will be featured on a future post!

As you can see, trailer park life can be a comfortable and stylish housing option. And if you buy a house later, you can take your trailer with you and make it into an addition, three seasons room, she-shed, or guest cottage! A mobile home can be transformed into a hip, modern dwelling, a quaint aluminum cabin, or a pretty flat that resembles a spread in a home and garden magazine. Well done, recession-savvy friends!

Happy mobile homeownership!

Comments

  1. Great post of your friend's great work!

    You've probably already discovered this, but if not....

    http://www.wendyrussell.com/

    Hip, creative and fun, She’s Crafty is the first craft show that dares to cross the line between craft and design. “Getting crafty” now means creating high style for your d├ęcor, with host Wendy Russell and her special guests delivering stylish do-it-yourself designs for your home, without breaking the bank!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That shower curtain in the corner is SOOOOOO CUTE!! and a good idea, it's more like a window into monkey whimsy than a closed in shower! I told her already but those forks and spoons with the clock-GENIUS! I love the contrast of the warm colors in the posters in her bedroom with the blue walls. Excellent choices there. I think the most darling thing (to me, at least) are the musical posters framed with the tickets. Such cute little momentos and truly personalized.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I know! And I didn't give Blue Collar Romeo enough credit. He's responsible for all the flower arrangements and some other touches. Seriously! Miss M and I both have men who have had a professional interest in floral arrangements. Why not?

    ReplyDelete
  4. This cropped up on the sidebar and here I am oggling my own house. Man it looked good! I'm inspired to actually rearrange because it looked so much better like that. I can't wait for you to see the new office. It looks amazing! Much like the bedroom, the dark paneling was weighing the space down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You two are so great at home makeovers! I may have to take some pictures and update this post.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

35 Great Things About Turning 35

The prime of life starts at 35! It's the best-kept secret from younger people, but your 35th birthday is a major cause for celebration. For mine, I have made my own listicle of 35 reasons why experts agree that 35 is the best age to be: You get to say, "I'm 35." The number 35 carries so much more gravitas than 30, but you're only a few years older. At 34, I've started fudging my age--by adding a year. People automatically take me seriously, and if they don't, at least they tell me I look young for my age. (Eye roll, hair toss, "whatever.")    35-year-olds DGAF. Inner chill reaches new heights at 35. Despite its #2 status on this list, it's the #1 response I hear about what's best about hitting 35. My gorgeous friend Nerlie was beautiful and resilient and wise beyond her years in high school, but now, at age 35, she gets to fully enjoy being herself on her own terms. She writes,  "I've survived so much that I don't

$Monday: How to Make Do Without Hoarding

As more of us stare down the possibility of weeks in quarantine, it's easy to understand why some people are panic shopping. There's not much else to do when most activity and gathering places are shuttered. And many people are terrified--if not of the coronavirus itself, then of the disruptions to daily life and supply chains. But hoarding is disastrous to society; crowding ourselves into grocery stores is a serious health hazard; and there's no stockpile of stuff big enough to last through a doomsday scenario in which--oh, dare I say it--coffee beans become unavailable for the long term. (Not that I believe that will happen, but...) What are we to do? We can take a lesson from our grandparents who lived through the Great Depression and start learning how to do without some of the things people didn't always have. Some of the things we consider "essential" are things which we can, honestly, live without. Here is a list of items that some people are hoardi

$Monday: How to Get the Most Out of Your Groceries

Many of us have, by now, stocked up on enough groceries to last us two or three weeks. If you're like me, you chose to save money and maximize health by purchasing mostly whole ingredients rather than heat-and-eat processed foods. Now, to make those groceries last as long as possible, the key is to minimize waste by controlling portions and consuming things in a logical order. If you're not used to cooking and eating this way, it will take some adjustment to accept that you can't just eat whatever you feel like, whenever you feel like it. This is a great opportunity to learn old-school home economics and develop an appreciation for down-home cooking. If you commit to these habits, you will eventually get used to it and start to find real pleasure in the process, and these kitchen witchery skills will keep you healthier and wealthier long after the pandemic has ended . Yesterday, I had a hard decision to make. Our batch of Scharffen Berger chocolate chunk cookies dwin

$Monday: Corona Summer Self-Care

Nobody wants to hang out in a waiting room at the height of this pandemic summer. One of my friends just dodged an outbreak by procrastinating on having her cat's claws trimmed. Now everyone who's been to that vet during the past few days is supposed to do the two-week quarantine routine. Now on top of copays and the usual discomforts of obtaining care for our furry friends and our human selves, there's the risk of catching the cooties. Definitely go and get any treatments that you need, but it's great to not need as many office visits. I'm doing what I can do at home to take care of my own health and have all of my stupid, silly summer fun in relatively safe ways--like having a redneck pool party in the lawn with my daughter and husband. Here are some other ways I'm staying healthy, safe, and sane while maintaining social distancing and a spark of faith that my kid might somehow be able to go back to school next month: keeping active with silly st

TBT: Full House

Remember when co-housing, roommates, and multi-generational family homes were good ideas? Those living arrangements still have their advantages, but during a pandemic, it is much safer for individuals, romantic partners, and caregiver/dependent units to have their own spaces, amenities, and entrances. I miss the days when that wasn't so. I hope that one day soon, this pandemic will end, and the Great Recession-era post below will once again be relevant... at least for some people, at some times in their lives. I'm sure it is still relevant on well-governed, geographically isolated island nations such as New Zealand and Iceland. Oh, to be in one of those nations at this time! I sure do miss hanging out with my friends and having overnight guests, but in this very particular moment, I am grateful to live in a single-family home with only my husband and daughter and to enjoy the ability to stay put in it most of the time. I sure did not see an out-of-control pandemic coming

$Monday: Testing a New Kitchen Design Before Renovation

My husband and I planned to renovate our worn-out kitchen this year, with my dad's help. And--oop!--we all know what happened to everyone's plans for 2020. There is no way I can keep my family fed properly through the pandemic in my designed-circa-1990, tacked-together, corner-cut, stingy-cheap, crazy, nailed-it-wrong kitchen nightmare that has been crumbling, grumbling, rotting, rusting, and breaking since we bought this house in 2008. We have to do something, so we turned a setback into an opportunity to slow down and beta test some of our new kitchen ideas with temporary staging. It might look insane, but who cares? We won't be having the queen over for tea anytime soon, so we can take time to play with space and function before we commit to building permanent structures and finishing surfaces. For example, open shelves are not practical for everyone. They don't hide clutter or protect things from dust. However, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and prefer

TBT: The Freedom in Tribal Connection

Way back in the day, I dropped out of grad school. I was doing well academically but not, let's say, spiritually. I asked several people in my chosen field what we could do about catastrophic injustices in the systems we were becoming experts in, and I received the same answer several times: "Uh, you could call your senator." I was smart enough to know I didn't need a master's degree to do that, so I quit school and began my career working for social justice-seeking nonprofits. For six years, I worked for a statewide activist organization that sent me on some long trips to reach out and connect with people across county and state borders to work toward common goals. One summer, my boss and I took a road trip from the "palm" area of Michigan's lower "mitten" all the way up to the tippy-top of the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula. We went into mostly rural areas and met with local church leaders and people of faith in humanity, and we gathered

$Monday: Can You Breathe?

You can't earn or save money if you can't even breathe. One reason why "it's expensive to be poor" is that people who live in lower-income neighborhoods don't get enough clean air to breathe . I've demonstrated that " You can't afford a poor diet ," and it's even more obvious that you can't give up oxygen to save money. Poor air quality destroys productivity , and the terrible costs of air pollution are mainly borne by the individuals who suffer health conditions, disability, cognitive impairment , and premature death due to their lack of access to clean air. On top of air pollution hazards, the accelerating Covid-19 pandemic is threatening Americans' ability to breathe. Meanwhile, cries of "I can't breathe" draw our attention to escalating police brutality and our federal government militarizing Brownshirt-resembling forces against its own citizens who are protesting peacefully and within their rights according t

TBT: Buddhist Meditations

Zen meditations! Inspirational quotes! Sick burns! Buddhism offers them all. As many American college students do, I enjoyed studying and practicing Buddhist rituals in college. As a recovering Catholic from a weirdly fundamentalist, Germanic-ish family tradition, I found the "bells and smells" of Buddhist temples familiar in a comforting way and the anti-dogmatic edge of Zen exhilarating in a refreshing way. I learned that extreme prayer and self-control are not owned by Christians, nor is smug superiority. What valuable lessons for a young person to learn. So valuable, in fact, that in our late 30s, my husband and I are still paying the bills for our private college educations. Can you put a price on ancient wisdom? Is that a koan? In my earliest adulthood, I took solace in the meditations below. Please enjoy them here on the Magic Nutshell, free of charge. Buddhist Meditations The Buddha sought a middle path between asceticism and materialism. All over the world, people a

TBT: Fast-Forward Fashion

This blast from the past is funny, because my personal style and shopping habits have evolved quite a bit since my 20s--in fact, full circle to the advice in the first paragraph I wrote, which I went on to reject at the time. In my 20s, I enjoyed extremely silly fashion. I'd look at Vogue magazines and then imitate designer looks in ridiculous ways. I tried to anticipate near-future trends, which I nailed in the first picture here, where I've "put a bird on it" before the meme was born. Yus! ...But. Now that I am a fully fledged adult with a more relaxed budget, I hardly ever shop for clothes or accessories, not even at thrift shops, where I am now more afraid of picking up bugs. I still have a lot of clothes, but I rely heavily on swaps and hand-me-downs from friends and family. Occasionally I browse garage or church sales in communities I trust to sell clean garments. The world is now drowning in excess clothing, so it's easy to rake in quantities of barely-wo