Not Your Grandma's Trailer Park
Craig Kellogg -- Interior Design, 8/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
If not precisely an international man of mystery, the client was nevertheless a bachelor playboy. "He leads a pretty charmed life," concedes Alexia Kondylis, a designer whose backstory has a distinct fairy-tale ring of its own.
Her father, Costas Kondylis, is the go-to architect for New York developers of luxury apartment towers. (Donald Trump likes Costas Kondylis & Partners because the buildings always make money, she says.) Born in Iran when her father was working for the shah, the 27-year-old has now set herself up as creative director of Kondylis Design, an interiors studio right upstairs from her father. "It's architects on the eighth floor, interior designers on the ninth," she explains. "And we don't always get along just because we're related."
For herself, she's currently restoring the interior of a 1971 Silver Streak—the "Elvis Presley of trailers," she says, with systems "so ancient it's like archaeology." But being open-minded, she thought nothing of taking on her bachelor client's brand-new $60,000 Airstream, a trailer 30 feet long and 81/2 feet wide, with electrical, plumbing, and septic systems all in working order. He planned to use it, she notes, as a mobile guest room or a hospitality suite for the polo field at his "maximum-security compound" in Southampton, New York.
Kondylis decided to keep the layout intact but scrap the fabrics and finishes. Borrowing construction workers from a crew already working on the property, she added oak for wainscoting as well as flooring—a far cry from the original gray nylon carpet. An automobile upholsterer installed the ivory-colored synthetic suede headliner, tacked to walls and ceilings with flat fabric-wrapped metal battens. Swing-arm sconces in polished nickel save valuable floor space.
For the living area at the front end of the trailer, Kondylis chose wood mini blinds in a walnut finish. She also revamped Airstream's standard-issue sleep sofa, squaring off its overstuffed tufted cushions and replacing its lavender-and-beige striped chenille with a more tasteful camel-colored cotton twill. For the bed- room at the back of the trailer, the bachelor endorsed her idea of replacing two twin berths with a bed that sleeps two. A custom oak headboard picks up the line of the oak wainscoting, and windows are shaded by pleated linen canvas curtains.
Because the makeover nearly doubled the weight of the Airstream, rendering its roadworthiness questionable for highway driving, Kondylis made the owner promise never to pull the completed trailer off his property. So imagine her shock to receive a phone call during his maiden voyage one midsummer weekend. "He was having the time of his life," she says, camping beachside in the parking lot of a Montauk motel 30 miles from Southampton. None of the luxurious new trappings had shaken loose, he reported—right down to the family photos in silver frames. He didn't mention the gas mileage.