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Local Entrepreneurs Dive Into Camper Renovation

Article by Sarah Howlett

Photography by Poppy & Co. by Kelsey Huffer

Originally published in Cherry Creek Lifestyle

Felipe and Joana Oliveira are an outdoorsy, music-loving couple who are always game for packing up and heading out camping. The one thing they began to miss while enjoying time in the woods with their young son, however, was their extensive record collection.  

“We wished we could have our turntable there camping with us,” Joana Oliveira says. “We want to put a record on.”

To that end, the couple behind midcentury music console company PoBo Lifestyle purchased a 1971 Airstream—the 27-foot Overlander Double—in September of last year. They named it Billie, after American jazz great Billie Holiday, and began renovating. Despite a monthslong search that could have involved traveling out of state to procure the trailer, the Airstream the Oliverias picked was already in Colorado—and was manufactured the very same month and year Felipe was born. The couple, who relocated to Boulder from Portugal in 2019 with their now 6-year-old son, say it was kismet.

Given that they run a company that revives decades-old turntables—and were self-taught home renovators back in Portugal—the two felt confident they could do most of the work on the Airstream themselves.

“We have good ideas and then need to find a path to get to them,” Joana says, adding that there are many online forums where fellow Airstream renovators swap ideas and tackle common hiccups. Other than things like Billie’s solar panels and upholstery, Felipe and Joana tackled the gut job themselves. The work would necessitate a large, covered space plus electrical—requirements that were too difficult to find in the Boulder area—so most of the work took place in a barn in Reunion, near Denver International Airport.

From the flooring and fabrics to the lighting and color scheme, Joana and Felipe wanted Billie’s decor to match the time period from which it came, just as they do with their consoles.

“The already-renovated Airstreams we were seeing were looking very…Ikea,” Joana quips. “When we take 50-, 70-year old consoles and update them, our thing is, ‘Don’t mess with what doesn’t need to be updated.’”

Some aspects of the six-month revamp, however, were just a tad more work than they bargained for, especially polishing the 4,480-pound Airstream’s iconic, silvery exterior. That aspect alone took two entire weeks, Joana says: “It’s a three-step process with a super heavy machine and a compound. There’s a reason companies charge over $5,000 to do this.” 

Billie will, of course, feature a console that Felipe and Joana restored themselves. Customized record storage will hold approximately 50 albums on vinyl, from Radiohead and Jose Gonzales to Bon Iver and Lake Street Dive. Joana says she and Felipe are constantly discovering new music from all eras. Favorite albums within the last year include “Unify” by Lettuce and “Cold as Weiss” by Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio (who are PoBo clients).

Envious yet? No need. Despite all their sweat equity, the Oliveiras don’t wish to keep Billie all to themselves. They hope it will serve many purposes, including renting it out.

Describing the Airstream as “a musical time capsule on wheels,” Joana says brands are already showing interest in hiring Billie for events.

“It’s not super clear where this will go, but there are multiple opportunities,” she says. “Maybe weddings or festivals. Or like-minded individuals who just want to immerse themselves in nature and records.” 

Sidebar: Camping in Comfort

No matter if it’s van life or tent life, a little luxury while camping never hurt anyone—an ethos the Oliveiras say enriches their time in nature.

“To us, what matters the most is the experience itself and having some luxuries to mimic the amazing evenings we have at home—only away,” Joanna Oliveira says. “For instance, we love to have a cocktail in a real glass by the fire, or a wine bottle (not a box), cook our food from scratch and have really comfortable chairs.” 

The family calls out the upper campsite at Steamboat (“great views to the lake”); Estes Park at the end of season; and Tie Siding in Wyoming as some of their favorite spots. 

“We wished we could have our turntable there camping with us. We want to put a record on.”