Roam Sweet Roam: Mobile Beach Cottage

The many ways to take a home on the road

Cissie Main Image

There is a multitude of reasons why someone would buy a camper or van, then renovate it into a livable space. Take for instance Cissie Brooks, Big Sky Design’s team, and Suzi Drake, all of whom recently renovated campers and vans. It might be someone’s dream retirement pastime or their escape route when hurricanes arise. It could also serve as a temporary solution for a booming business running out of office space. Read more about Cissie Brooks and her Mobile Beach Cottage below.

CISSIE BROOKS is a retired educator who’s longed for a Sprinter van since she was sixteen years old. About five years ago, she finally made her teenage dream come true and bought one. Brooks gave in after forty-seven years because with retirement looming, she knew she wanted to travel and visit her children in San Diego. 

“I wanted to be able to stay there for extended periods of time and not have to stay on their sofa,” she says. “Also, I retired last July. So, just looking ahead at what I wanted to do in retirement, I knew I wanted to be able to do a little traveling.” 

It took Brooks awhile to find the perfect van largely because she could never find the right one at the right price at the right time. When one finally popped up that fit her specifications, she immediately bought it. 

Cissie In Article

As for renovations, she had a few nonnegotiables, such as a place to put her surfboard and a refrigerator. She knew she wanted a fan and USB plugs so she could stay in there for extended periods of time when the sun was shining. Her van also boasts water and a portable shower. 

For interior construction, she enlisted the help of a local home construction expert. 

“Basically, I told him what I wanted,” she says. “During COVID, he spent about eight weeks and just did a beautiful job with the interior construction. We never really put pen to paper, it was just sort of a discussion every day of ‘This is what I like, this is what I want, this will work.’” 

So far, Brooks has taken her little beach cottage to San Diego, Florida, and Maine. She’s also done some local trips here and there. 

“It’s really a combination of a lifelong dream that I’ve had to just be able to travel and camp,” she says. “In retirement, I wanted to be able to have that freedom, to take off and go where I wanted. This sort of exceeded my dreams actually.”

To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to

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Categories: Features