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Don’t crush trailer, it has good bones!

By on April 27, 2020 in Featured Homes with 0 Comments
Three groups of visitors stayed in the little finished guesthouse this winter and all absolutely loved it, said Kelly.

Editor’s note: We received two stories this month about local couples who vacationing in the southland found remodeling projects they just couldn’t keep their idle hands off of. 

Here’s the first story from Kelly Rollen about redoing a tired trailer. 

In the next story, Lief Carlsen writes about remodeling an abandoned company-town house.

By Kelly Rollen

In April 2017, my husband, Roger and I sold our Wenatchee home and moved to Chelan so I could help care take my mother.

Roger is generally furloughed from his job as a foreman for a local heavy construction company for the winters and Mom was doing well that late fall, so we decided to spend the winter road tripping in our new RV. 

We stopped when we hit Yuma, Arizona. Roger had spent three years stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station in the early ’80s and had always liked it. It was sunny and warm and that was good enough for me. 

We spent the winter hiking the desert and checking out the Southwestern border town. 

Exterior before and after: “We bought ‘that property’ — the cheapest place in the best neighborhood,” said Kelly. “Needless to say, our neighbors are thrilled with our work!”

The day we left to head back home in February, we signed papers to purchase an abandoned city lot with a 40-foot 1977 Santa Fe park model trailer on it. 

My husbands first words were, “I can have that thing crushed with an excavator and in a 15 yard dumpster in 20 minutes.”

“Nooooooo!” I screeched. “It has good bones …”

Two winters later, our marriage somehow survived a DIY remodel project that neither one of us had a clue about. Ignorance is truly bliss my friends. 

No, no I did not keep track of what we actually spent, as I’m not sure our marriage would survive that truth. That said, we are really proud of our little ’77 Santa Fe.

Here’s how we got the project done.

That first summer when we were back home, I determined I had just a few short months to convince Roger it was possible to rehab an old trailer — an old house? Sure, but a trailer? 

We returned to Yuma just before Thanksgiving and immediately started demolition of the interior.

We didn’t have any experience or real plan, just my vague vision of a retro-style studio guest house. 

Living room before and after: Keeping as much natural light and open feeling were goals with this whole project.

It was super dated, dark and cramped inside, so we just started peeling back the layers and opening up the interior. 

A few days later and many trips to the dump, we had removed everything except the bathroom walls, the bedroom closet and a cupboard in the living room. 

At this point we were high-fiving each other and proclaiming we should totally be finished by Christmas no problem. 


By the first of the year, we were completely overwhelmed and frozen with indecision, so I did what any smart wife does and booked a quick trip to Puerto Vallarta for some sun and fun. 

Upon return, we tackled our first big hurdle we had uncovered, which were the wheel wells that stuck up through the floor, as technically, the trailer has to remain movable. 

The Rollens spent the most money on the bathroom — all new plumbing, fixtures and tiled tub surround.

We ended up framing them in and creating a base for a smaller size refrigerator and a bench in the hallway. 

Next hurdle was the kitchen. For the life of us, we could not figure out a kitchen configuration using cabinets, then I stumbled on a very simple free-standing kitchen unit complete with sink and faucet for $136 bucks from IKEA. Sold! 

Thirdly, once we accepted that Yuma sits just eight miles from the Mexico border and there are many tradesmen willing to work side jobs, suddenly our plumbing, tile work and flooring dilemmas became much less troublesome. 

Turns out, money really can buy you marital security sometimes! 

This December, Roger got the exterior painted with our third Wagoner spray gun (don’t ask about the first two) and I ran around buying every rattle can of “hammered brown spray paint” I could find in Yuma and got the super cute aluminum window awnings painted and we hired the local brick mason and had a large Mexican brick patio put in. 

I had spent our road trip down taking advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales on my iPhone ordering all the furnishings and fun stuff. Packages started arriving the day we got to Yuma and didn’t stop for a few weeks! 

When it was all unpackaged, assembled and placed in all its cuteness, Roger turned and looked at me and said: “I finally get it, I see your vision, honey.” 

Better late than never, right?! 

Here Roger and Kelly are at the all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. “I booked it to get us the heck away from that project and get a huge attitude adjustment. Worked like a charm,” reported Kelly.

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