Trailer Parked

The tiny spaces trend takes over a mod mobile home. Architectural book publisher Gibbs Smith and designer Troy Bankord offer homeowner/designer perspectives on going small.

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Gibbs Smith has owned a vacation trailer for 10 years in Blue Skies Village, a gated, 55+ mobile home park in Rancho Mirage that was developed in the 1950s.

“I felt it had the potential to be crafted as a small midcentury modern home that wouldn’t feel like a trailer,” Smith says. “When I recently met designer Troy Bankord, we hit it off. He spoke my language, so I decided to redo it.”


Troy Bankord carried the vivid theme throughout the home’s indoor and outdoor environments.


As a student, Smith studied architectural history with David Gebhard at UC, Santa Barbara. During that time, Smith met many of the renowned regional architects and fell in love with the work of Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra, Harwell Harris, and others. His passion led him into a publishing career that he launched with books on California and architecture.

“I did the first book on Greene and Greene and the first book on Bernard Maybeck,” he says. This season Smith will publish a desert modern book by Daniel Chavkin and one on William Krisel. “Buildings inspired by European aesthetics and set in the southern California climate were very inspiring to me,” he says. “Blue Skies gave me an opportunity to personally fulfill this modern vision.”


The dining room and bedroom feature the same retro elements as the fireside sitting area in the courtyard garden, for which he also designed the landscape. “Making their home functional and fun with the incorporation of colorful stripes, exciting colors, and funky furnishings was my motivation,” says Troy Bankford.


Gibbs, why a trailer in Blue Skies?
G: In California, if you leave the hitch on, you pay taxes to the DMV instead of property taxes. So that was a plus. To me, Blue Skies is more than a trailer park. It has a special history started by Bing Crosby with a clubhouse designed by William Cody. The palm trees make it luxurious.

Troy, what is your background in small space design? Is this movement still growing?
T: I’ve been in business for 30 years, creating “places of peace” for my clients. In that time I’ve come to realize how important small spaces are and how incredible they can be. Someone visiting a small space will enter it looking to the left and the right and within a nanosecond will know if it feels comfortable or not. Designing them is a challenge I embrace. Given the past downturn of the economy and our busy lives, people are rethinking how and where they want to spend their time. Small spaces have become more manageable and more desirable.the ceiling near the exterior walls is limited in depth. This makes it challenging to install fixtures that will illuminate artwork and furnishings.


Gibbs Smith: “Troy caught the vision of what I was trying to do and helped me do it.”


Favorite part of the end result?
G: Troy caught the vision of what I was trying to do and helped me do it. Now it reflects the spirit of Palm Springs. The trailer makes me feel like I have a place to have a Palm Springs holiday in.

T: The colorful wall striping adds excitement while evoking the feeling that the rooms are wrapping their arms around you. The horizontal striping mimics the movement of the horizontal galvalume siding. Interior/exterior connectivity is what I ultimately strive for as a designer; the striping tied up the property in a colorful little bow.


The James Servais sculpture in the far corner of the living room served as inspiration for the homeowner’s designer, Troy Bankord. Its outspoken color palette and playful style was an open invitation to combine new and vintage elements for a bold, mod vacation home. On the table, architect and Palm Springs culture books that Gibbs Smith publishes set the tone for his trailer’s remodel.

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