A Mobile Home Make Over

This humble, old-timey trailer website does not pertain to classic mobile home restorations, per se. That subject is covered on the Mobile Home Living site (you will find their link at the bottom of this article). 

Anyway, I wanted to add details to PORTABLE LEVITTOWN about a mobile home renovation that I, personally, did many years ago. This project was started in 1979 and completed in 1980. It transformed a well past-its-prime, 1958 Detroiter Custom Deluxe Urban rig into something of a late '70s showplace. 

At the beginning of my mobile home modernization, the 20-year-old Detroiter trailer was in bad shape, indeed. To put it bluntly, it looked like it had been rode hard and put away wet. When it was pulled into the trailer park, the owner literally freaked at the sight of the thing. I almost got evicted before the rig was set up, lol.

Gradually, with a tremendous amount of work, and who knows how many dollars (I did not keep track of expenditures), a truly beautiful house on wheels emerged. By the time I was finished, the park owner literally could not believe his eyes. I nearly couldn't myself.   

Regretfully, only two interior photos are all I now have for documentation. I posted these here and have also drawn up four "before & after" front side elevations and floor plans.  

In the first of our mobile home make over images, we have a depiction of the 1958 Custom Deluxe Urban rig, as it looked when sitting -brand spanking new- on the trailer sales lot. I am going to guess-timate that the price of this new unit would have been somewhere in the range of 5 or 6 thousand dollars. 

Our second "Before" drawing shows a floor plan of the original, 10 by 50 foot trailer. It had quite a long combination living room and kitchen area (the living room alone measuring 20 feet). When new, this Detroiter came with a yellow refrigerator and stove. Its bathroom fixtures were yellow, as well. All floors were covered in linoleum, with birch wood walls and cabinets. 

This drawing shows the front elevation, post-renovation. The original "two tone painted exterior" had been smeared over with a dingy navy blue shade by the time I bought the rig. First off, I replaced all of the large, front side windows with new house-types. A decrepit, metal trailer-type door was refitted with a wider, wooden house-type entry. I also installed exterior wainscoting below the new living room and kitchen windows. The color palette is shown on the two doors. The left side was painted dark brown, with a tan shade used on the right.

Above, we have a post-renovation floor plan. The original sliding closet doors in the rear bedroom, and "folding door" that separated the rear bedroom and bath, were long gone by the time I came along. I used wooden louvered shutters to create hinged closet doors. A wall, with door, was built to enclose the bathroom. Likewise, I divided the living room and kitchen with a wall. I also bought a new refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and stackable w & d. A poorly-installed furnace was removed. I used a "4-stack", 220 volt unit for heat.

Now we come to the two remaining photos I have of my revitalized rig. These were taken with a Polaroid SX-70 (anybody remember those, lol?). Frankly, I don't think the decor could have possibly looked more "late '70s", what with the flame stitch love seat, cork-covered wall and rattan accessories. I stripped, sanded and refinished all of the birch cabinetry. In keeping with the times, their new finish was very, very dark. By the way, the two light fixtures were new, but the "acoustamatic" tile ceiling was original. 

Our final photo shows the kitchen, with new Frigidaire 12 cubic foot refrigerator, "butcher block" top GE dishwasher and electric stove (I can't recall its brand). Out of view (and taking the place of a gas furnace) were a stackable Whirlpool washer & dryer. The washer was on wheels and connected to the kitchen sink faucet. The kitchen walls are covered in simulated brick paneling. In the very top of the photo you can see a bit of the space-age trailer's "skyroof" windows.

Link to the Mobile Home Living Site:

Click below to see more vintage mobile home renovations.


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