Editor’s Note: I started writing this 11 months ago, but then, well, 2020 happened. I finally finished it, mostly so I have a record of the changes I’ve made over time.
Sooner or later, most people modifies their living space, whether it’s a two-story house in the suburbs or a tiny trailer. It took me about a year to make ANY changes to my Alto 1743. The trailer comes with a 2-year warranty from Safari Condo, so I respected that and didn’t go drilling holes or changing much until that 2 years was up. And then this year, I definitely worked on making my tiny house a more comfortable home.
So in order of how much they changed my life, here’s the five biggest things I changed in 2019:
- Lagun table mount
- New cushion covers
- Surge protector
- Dump hose carrier
- Bathroom door, wall, and mirror
Lagun Table Mount
One of the big perks of the Altoistes Facebook group is reading about other people’s modifications and thinking if that’s something I could use. It took me about a month after the first Lagun mount conversion pictures were posted before I decided to go for it. I bought the kit and brought it to Colorado, where I camped with fellow Altoistes, including the designer of the additional mount supports for Altos. He installed it for me, which I really appreciated since I was still fighting altitude sickness and a slight case of bronchitis at the time.
This table mod literally changed the way I feel about my front area. It’s SO EASY to move it around, get to the storage areas, and clean the floor. The horrible tracks on the floor that used to hold the old table setup are gone and the floor is completely clear of obstructions. I’m so happy with this mod, I think everyone with an Alto would love it.
New Cushion Covers
When I ordered my Alto, I hesitated about choosing the cushion covers and lost out on the last round of green fabric, so I went with the new turquoise that Safari Condo was offering instead. It was OK, but it took a beating over the last three and a half years of my vagabond life. So when a new blue fabric was announced, I figured that was my sign to go ahead and order new covers direct from Safari Condo.
It was change out the covers on the front cushions, except the velcro has reversed sides since 2016 so I had to buy some sticky-back velcro to put on the walls that matched the velcro on the new covers.
The hard part was the two long back bed cushions, where they are screwed into a long L-bracket. Thankfully, my clever and patient nephew, Kevin, figured out a few hacks to get things put back together, although we had to uncover the Truma to get at one of the screws and we both did a little swearing at screws and tight clearances. Now, though, worth it!
Thanks to another very talented and generous friend in Virgina, my Alto now has an onboard surge protector. It’s tucked into the front storage hatch, above the caravan mover and just to the left of the inverter/converter. It has a little readout for status, which I ended up mounting that right next to the big black box because it’s very convenient when I’m hooking up the power.
I’ve always had at least minimal surge protection, using a big heavy yellow thing I plugged into the power pole at the campsite, and then plugged the big heavy yellow power cord into that and then to the Alto. Now, I just plug the power cord into the power pole and Alto, then watch the Progressive do its thing to check the power is good. After 15-20 seconds, the click and display numbers tell me I’m good. And if there’s a low voltage or surge, the device turns off power to the inside of the Alto. The first night, as a matter of fact, there was a power dip, and it clicked off and the A/C went with it. About a minute later, power was restored and the A/C restarted too. So it definitely works!
Dump Hose Carrier
If you have an Alto, you’ve probably directed at least a few strongly worded phrases towards the default hose holder, tucked under the left front area of the trailer. I know I have 😉 So when I saw this longer hose carrier mounted just behind the battery box on the tongue of a friend’s Alto, I HAD to have it. Picked it up a friends’ house the next month, installed it with some industrial strength sticky velcro, and I love it.
It easily handles the better, longer, Rhino hose I used to have as a backup. And it is SO EASY to pull out the hose and put it back. Oh, man, I should have done this about two days after picking up my Alto in 2016. It’s that much of a game-changer for “dump tank” days. (Note: the velcro had a hard time staying stuck, due to the curve of the coroplast, so I crazy-glued it on. Seems to be staying now…)
- Dump Hose Carrier from Amazon
Bathroom Door, Wall, and Mirror
I probably wouldn’t have changed any of this except for ticks. The bathroom door on the Alto has a round mirror about face height, which makes it difficult to see ticks anywhere other than my head. After three tick scares in one year, I wanted a bigger mirror. So I decided to dump the door and get a better mirror at the same time.
I put up light curtains from Target, which makes the bathroom so much easier to get in and out of. I went online and bought a custom-cut glassless mirror and had it shipped to where I would be in a month. The wall next to the ex-door is actually the one place in my Alto that can take a decent length wood screw, so I mounted the mirror with some serious screws and then added decorative screw covers.
I also found (on Amazon) another of the book racks that Safari Condo uses and it acts as a bookcase or fruit and veg bowl, depending on the day.
The new mirror meant the coat rack that had been hanging out on that wall (sorry, bad pun!) had to find a new home. I found a nice straight four-hook holder from Target that easily screwed into the reverse side of the wall. Yes, it’s the bathroom, but it’s also the coat closet, laundry bag storage, and trash and recycling area. I make my bathroom multi-functional!
These changes means the coats are out of the way and I have a mirror where I can see every inch of skin for a tick check. And, yes, I know how to do a tick check now.
- Mirror from Dulles Glass and Mirror:
- 14″ x 24″ Custom Glassless Mirror, 1/4-inch thickness
- Brushed Nickel Round Mirror Clip Set (1 set)
- Note: Use screws about 1/8 inch smaller than what is shipped with the clip set or they will go all the way through the wall.
- Black wire rack from Amazon
Making modifications to your trailer is a very personal decision, just like deciding which model of trailer to buy in the first place. What works for me may not work for you or anyone else, but that’s the fun of customizing things. Don’t be afraid to make changes that will make your trailer feel more like home, it’s totally worth it.
The essence of interior design will always be about people and how they live. It is about the realities of what makes for an attractive, civilized, meaningful environment, not about fashion or what’s in or what’s out. This is not an easy job.