Old mobile homes are the new finds for young people starting out, older couples facing an empty nest -- and anyone in between with a sense of adventure, a streak of frugality and an excess of style. Collect ideas for maximizing limited space and adding a sophisticated or whimsical note to decor for your long, narrow, rectangular home.
Color It Light and Bright
Paint the inside of an old mobile home in pastel shades to create a sense of expansiveness in the restricted space. An all-white ceiling and white trim throughout give visual continuity and "flow" as your eye travels. Using the same wall paint color in all the living spaces further connects discrete areas into one seamless "larger" interior.
You need a full-length mirror, so place one where it creates the impression of distance and another room. Consider a completely neutral decor, with quiet soothing colors blending into each other and natural wood trim for a serene retreat.
Hang artwork just a little higher on the walls than you would in a house, and make curtains longer than the windows to increase the impression of height. Remove dated veneer paneling and carpet; paint the walls and add molding for contrasting trim. Replace the carpet with sunny, durable bamboo, and where possible, open up a dark space with a pair of French doors to replace a small window.
Climb the Walls
Go up to take advantage of every inch of space. A stacked washer and dryer is a compact luxury; a floor-to-ceiling bookcase holds your entire library in a single column, or hides office supplies with cupboard doors on the lower shelves. Reclaimed tall wood cupboards, distressed and whitewashed, make use of the vertical and can hold wicker baskets or fabric-covered hatboxes on top for extra hidden storage.
An old fireplace frame secured to a wall has a niche to display art in the empty firebox and a handy mantel to support a large mirror or pier glass, lending grandeur and a focal point for the conversation area. Keep clutter to a minimum, but look to the heights for usable space that won't make you feel hemmed in.
Shutters and Porches
Live outside in mellow weather with a wrap-around porch and deck that has space for a fire pit or barbecue, planters for container vegetables or flowering annuals, an arbor or pergola for shade and hanging plants, or a sun sail for protection from noonday rays or a light rain.
Treating the real estate around the mobile home as part of the home creates a "yard" and relaxed recreational space. Add shutters and window boxes to the front windows of the single- or double-wide for an even greater facsimile of permanence and cheerful curb appeal.
Got Wheels, Might Travel
An old school bus is a very mobile home that parks nicely on a scenic lot when it's not on the road. "Tiny house" fans are converting the buses to mortgage-free, simple homes with surprising amounts of room for amenities and storage. An arched loft at the back of the bus provides room for a queen-size bed below, with built-in drawers and windowed ledges that serve as night tables and let in light. A ladder leads to a platform above the "bedroom," with low, comfortable seats for a casual conversation area.
A real stove and vintage enameled refrigerator fit in a surprisingly generous kitchen with a double sink. Reclaimed plank floors, salvaged windows, and a French door set sideways across the back of the loft give the small home a sense of permanence and a quirky character. The bus resembles a Hobbit house -- with its wood-shingled cladding and wood-paneled curved interior ceiling -- paused in a clearing in the Shire.