Horse Trailer Converted Into Stunning 80 Square Foot People Trailer

Interior of trailer with brown storage, a white couch, and a kitchenette in the background

Bill Southworth

After seeing Graham Hill's LifeEdited project on the Today Show,  Bill Southworth tossed some photos of his Son-of-a-buggy 16' foot eco-trailer over the transom. He writes about how he dealt with a bad travel experience: Traveling with a Rottweiler means you stay either in really awful roadside motels or very high end hotels that treat the dog as a guest. He "decided that we needed a way to carry our hotel with us on our journeys. I checked out all the obvious travel trailer options and decided that they were either too large, too ugly, too inefficient, or too poorly constructed. I decided that I could do better." And he does, squeezing it all into 80 square feet.

A white trailer in front of a building
Bill Southworth

He built his first out of a horse trailer, and " outfitted it with satellite TV, air conditioning, refrigerator, microwave, king sized bed, water tank and heater, shower and a toilet. " That one got destroyed by Hurricane Irene, so this model is his "Son of a Buggy."

Again, it's 16' long but I made it a foot taller to make room for tankage under the floor. It's a standard heavy duty cargo hauler from Haulmark. I had a couple new goals in mind for it: I wanted it to use the battery and power management technology that we're developing at my company, Hybrid Propulsion; I wanted more water storage so we could travel for a couple weeks without having to find a water source.
White couch in the beige interior of a trailer
Bill Southworth
I wanted solar power to the extent that space would allow; and I wanted to improve the layout so it had an interchangeable "living room", "dining room" and "bedroom", along with a better galley.
White sofa in the interior with a fold-down table in front
Bill Southworth
The walls are designed in a very Scandinavian minimalist style with very little adornment. The idea is to make the tiny space look larger by keeping the lines very clean and making everything disappear. The walls are all made from a honeycomb material made from recycled cardboard and covered with a thin veneer of birch. We kept the wood light colored to increase the apparent size of the space. The floors are made from recycled, compressed Mulberry bushes from Sustainable Flooring of Boulder CO. It's much harder and more durable than even Teak and we think it's quite beautiful.
Fold-out bed in partially down position
Bill Southworth

Here you can see the bed folding down. It is all very LifeEdited:

The sleeping arrangements still provide for king size accommodation. The bed consists of one stationary twin which doubles as a sofa. The bolster collapses under the second twin bed which is a horizontal Murphy bed. When the bed is stowed, a drop down table can be slid into place to make a dining area for four, although my wife has made dinner for five work. The 26" Samsung LED TV swings out above the bed for Apple TV or HD DirecTV. The printer , computers and WiFi storage is in the cabinet next to the TV.
Floor plan for the trailer
Bill Southworth

Bill did the design and installed all the systems; his day job is a company that has developed a hybrid propulsion system for boats that is worthy of a post of its own, and he has applied the technology here. Some tech notes:

I've found that a conventional charge controller works better than an MPPT-type controller for charging the LiFePO4 battery bank. The fancier controllers are "too smart by half" for the simpler charge curve of Lithium. Of course all of this is controlled and managed by our Hybrid Propulsion BMS system and load balancing.
Kitchenette with counter, oven, and microwave
Bill Southworth

I thought the kitchen was a bit over the top: a concrete counter in a trailer? In fact there is reason in his madness:

I needed to balance out the port forward quarter to get perfect trim and tongue weight. It's built by our friend Joel Tremblay in Granby, Quebec. It's quite beautiful and matches the acoustic carpet which covers the walls.
Interior of bathroom with a toilet and a showerhead
Bill Southworth

The bathroom looks like many you will find on boats, right down to the teak grated floor.

Back view of white trailer
Bill Southworth

My first thought was that it should have windows like most trailers. But Bill comes from the yachting world, where windows are often small and sometimes nonexistent, with the only light and air coming from skylights like those in this trailer. Doing without windows gives the designer a lot more flexibility. There is another virtue; MiniHome designer Andy Thomson used to live in a van, and it was illegal to do that in many places. This design looks totally commercial and it is very secure. You could park it anywhere, and they do.

I should point out that in our travels we've only stayed in a campground one night. We hated it. We stay now at only the best Walmarts, Cracker Barrels, TA, Flying J and any friendly restaurant or roadside truck stop. This works every place but Florida. But who would want to go to Florida anyway.
Tablet showing information on energy usage
Bill Southworth

It's got it all, right down to the iPad controller. Nice work from Bill Southworth, who concludes:

We just traveled four thousand miles from Maine to Key West, where we are installing a Hybrid Propulsion power system in a 120' Schooner, the America 2.0. Everything worked great except that I need to tighten up a lot of screws that loosened up battling the potholes of New York. I really believe that New York City streets qualify as off-roading.