Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – Being able to wake up in a different place every day, live and work in some of the most beautiful places in the world, feel absolutely free, no wonder that so many people dream of life on the streets.
American Kate Oliver has not only made life a reality in a travel trailer, but has also turned it into a business.
Oliver launched The Modern Caravan, a company that took him across America while repairing old Airstream travel trailers.
Now, Oliver has published a book called The Modern Caravan as a reflection on life in a travel trailer, taking a look at the lifestyles of people who have refurbished their trailers and giving tips on how to refresh them. .
Growing up in the Midwest of America, Oliver has always felt like I did not belong to him. “I never felt like I belonged here and I did not have an easy childhood,” she says.
Instead, Oliver fled into her imagination, describing the local library she was visiting as a paradise.
Oliver was interested in fantasy books, and then one day she found books on architecture and interior design, and said, “There was something in those pages and pictures in which I could imagine myself.”
Oliver took a different lifestyle – albeit in a somewhat different way than he had imagined – by looking at those books in the library.
“What if we sell everything?”
In 2013, Oliver and his wife, Elaine Brass, started talking about the future and wanted something more for themselves and their 4-year-old daughter, but were not very sure.
One morning in 2014, Oliver came across some photos of a touring band, apparently one of the band members had a baby and was taking them with him during that tour.
Oliver then texted Brass, “What if we sold everything and bought a trailer and left?” Her wife said yes.
The next morning, Oliver went to work to plan a lifestyle change.
In 2014, the life of travel trailers was not unusual.
And unlike the stunning photos on Instagram, turning a travel trailer into a stylish home is no easy task.
After 10 months of searching for a vintage travel trailer, the couple found one that seemed to suit their capabilities, and after doing basic exploration, they saw that this was a much bigger project than they had previously thought.
The wiring and interior design of the vehicle required a major renovation.
Oliver had absolutely no experience with renovation or construction, unlike his wife.
In her book, Oliver talks about the heavy physical exertion that transformed her physically.
People who view the final look of the modified trailers or browse their book will not be able to see the “sweat and tears” that Oliver says were part of the rebuild of the trailer.
A contractor who builds a house usually has someone to do the electricity, plumbing, drywall, custom cabinetry or custom furniture, but Oliver and his wife do it all.
“The only thing they haven’t done yet is the upholstery. We enjoy electric tools, but when it comes to a sewing machine, we need professionals,” says Oliver.
It took a year to update the trailer the couple named Louise. During this time, Oliver sold her house and moved in with her wife in the trailer, which became their home.
After 18 months, a couple traveled across the land through the states in Louise, where they lived in the desert and by the ocean, to live the dream of life on the streets.
While on the road, the couple realized they could do business by renovating the trailer.
The idea was simple: they would take their trailers to customer homes, where they would modify customer trailers similar to theirs.
Nowadays, with the Trailer Life movement and companies offering similar services everywhere, the competition would be fierce, but in 2017, it was even easier.
“This way of traveling was in its infancy and not many others were doing what we were doing,” says Oliver.
The couple had traveled across states, this time aboard their second modified trailer, to client homes where they worked on modified trailers.
It is interesting that most of their clients were women.
However, in her book, Oliver talks about misogyny and homophobia at work.
In fact, one of the experiences she has had with her wife has led them to abandon the business model of visiting clients in their place of residence.
In early 2019, a friend told them about a new trailer for sale and the couple immediately said they wanted to buy it for refurbishment and then sell it.
“In fact, they sold the new trailers to a woman to park her car on her land, as a way to live in peace and unity and to go deeper into herself,” Oliver wrote in her book.
During this new chapter in her life, Oliver was asked to write about street life.
So she and her husband took their third newly restored trailer and spent the year in the US photographing people living in modified trailers. They were already talking about the possibility of settling with their daughter when the pandemic hit.
Oliver says COVID-19 has changed the course of their plans.
“We were back on the streets when the world closed. The camps were closing, everyone was saying go home, but for the backpack where is the house?”
In fact, the couple parked their mobile home in the backyard of Brass’s parents in Kansas, stayed there for a few months, and then decided they needed a studio to do renovations for their company.
“Staying in my father-in-law’s backyard was not an option, so we decided it was time to settle,” Oliver says. In June 2020, the couple moved into a home in the Midwest.
The road to Oliver is definitely life, and she wants to bring that life to the projects she is working on for other people. So how do you pack someone’s core in a cart?
“I can not design for someone if I do not know who they are,” she says. “The cart. as a home, it ‘s important to have an understanding of how they work and move through space.” .
“I want to know what they do at work, what their style of work is. Do they prefer to sit on the couch, at the desk, do they need a separate workspace?”
After talking about needs and style, Oliver moves on to the design phase and the pair add their own special touches like frosted glass doors that divide the living spaces and lots of nuts to bring out the inside.
Oliver describes herself as a strong believer in the power of being off-road.
“When I first came out and I was so far from the Midwest and everything where I grew up, I could breathe and see myself for the first time,” she says.
She continues, “I could see who I was because I had the space and time to think about it. I think a lot of people think it’s an escape from reality.”
“I went to escape from my life that I did not want, I think people will find themselves out of it all. I think we should sit in that quiet,” she says.