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A Mountain Modern RV

A blogger and her beau travel the country with some serious style in tow



Photography by Katie Nathey

This couple’s love for the mountains was, at first, paralyzing. 

In 2014, Katie Nathey and her husband Eric were scouting for a permanent home in the Appalachian Mountains when they quickly realized they just couldn't commit to any one place. The North Carolina towns of Boone and Blowing Rock were top-of-the-list because they were close to family, but the urge to explore the Great American West was too strong to ignore. In lieu of settling down, these pioneers committed to moving in a different sense—they’d take home along with them, in a cabin on wheels.

What started as a plan to tour the country in an RV for a few months turned into a way of life, and they’ve been traveling ever since, stopping in various mountain towns for as long as their hearts desire. 

Armed with entrepreneurial spirits and a tenacious knack for design, the couple has documented their cross-country adventure and the mountain-modern renovation of their RV in their blog, Mountain Modern Life

We caught up with Nathey to learn more about her passion for all things DIY, rustic-modern and reimagined, as well as which mountain town has been the favorite thus far.

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New flooring, white paint, an electric fireplace, and blankets-turned-curtains make the RV living space almost unrecognizable. Nathey crafted the mountain art above the driver's seat herself.

ML: HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON AN RV?

NATHEY: I started researching tiny homes and container homes—they fascinated me! On the weekends we’d drive to different parts of Georgia and North Carolina looking for spots to set up camp. We went to California for a wedding and drove through a bunch of mountain towns. We were very noncommittal and working remotely, so we quickly realized an RV was the perfect solution.

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The windows, framed with distressed wood, add even more light and airiness to the kitchen redesign. Resident RV pup McNally gets cozy on the built-in sofa.

Nathey's design is always evolving; she has recently re-updated the kitchen space, with reclaimed wood on the bottom kitchen cabinets.

WHAT FIRST SPARKED YOUR LOVE OF MOUNTAIN-MODERN STYLE?

I am definitely inspired by and drawn to mountain-modern architecture. I kept trying to figure out: What is it that I like about these spaces? The décor would vary, but it was always about the architecture, the natural elements, and the views. 

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HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO REPLICATE THAT STYLE IN AN RV?

This was our first renovation project… and it was on wheels! I’m really drawn to mountain-home design elements, like forged iron and rustic wood, but the RV has all these weight restrictions. It was a real struggle, but it ended up working by shaving materials down and making them lighter somehow. I incorporated a lot of different textures, natural elements, and pieces that told a story. For example, we used reclaimed century-old barn wood from our wedding venue—a cabin in North Carolina—and had it planked down really thin. We also incorporated thin pieces of corrugated tin from Eric’s family’s farm. For me, it’s all about adding texture and history, but balancing it with clean, straight lines. Not only is it a reflection of us, but it also flows with the outdoors. It’s like a little cabin on wheels! 

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FAVORITE MOUNTAIN TOWNS YOU'VE VISITED?

We really loved Ouray, Colorado. It almost felt like it wasn’t real—it looked like a dream, like a painting. I also really liked Telluride, Colorado. Right now we’re in Nevada City, California, which is one of the places we were thinking about moving to before we got the RV. It’s an hour from Truckee and has a historical charm about it. There also a ton of summer festivals, which we love.

DO YOU ANTICIPATE SETTLING DOWN ANYTIME SOON?

There’s no end in sight! I know things can change, but we have such strong gypsy spirits and feel like there is still so much to see.

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