If you caught Carla & Emma’s makeover last week, you know I am a sucker for a good family makeover story. That’s why I am so excited to bring you another one. Meet Robyn. Robyn and her husband were season tent campers and enjoyed taking their two boys on family camping trips. Sleeping on the ground was getting old, though, and Robyn was looking for a way to make the experience more enjoyable for the whole family. If mama isn’t happy, no one is happy. Am I right? Robyn bought her used 2003 Flagstaff pop up camper from her aunt and uncle, as they weren’t really using it any longer. The camper was clean and in great shape, and her relatives even threw in all of the their camping supplies from pots, pans and dishes to extra bedding and a few board games. They were all set to take their two young boys out on some amazing outdoor adventures.
After several years of successful camping trips, Robyn’s much loved camper started to show some wear. One of the first signs was that the wood-grain adhesive paper started peeling off the edges of the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. For a while, Robyn tried clear packing tape to secure it back down, but it wasn’t a very good solution. She started browsing the Internet for a more permanent fix and discovered the wonderfully creative pop up camper community. She loved all the makeovers she came across and soon decided to undertake a remodel on their Flagstaff. It did take some time to convince her husband, though, because he knew he’d be recruited to help out. Eventually, Robyn got him on board and the renovations began.
Robyn began by popping up the camper in the third stall of their garage so she could work on it evenings and weekends, no matter the weather. She removed all of the cabinet doors and drawers and tediously peeled off the remaining veneer, so the cabinets were down to the original MDF surfaces. Then she used two coats of Glidden Gripper White Primer/Sealer on the cabinet doors, drawer fronts and the wall surfaces inside the camper. The countertops were still in great shape, and Robyn liked the color, so she was careful to prime and paint around them. Finally, she applied two coats of Behr Premium Plus Interior Eggshell Enamel paint in the color Brown Teepee to the walls and cabinets. She reports that over the camping seasons, the latex paint hasn’t held up as well as she would have liked. She plans for yearly paint touch-ups at the beginning of each camping season to repair some of the nicks and scratches in the paint.
Robyn used Style Selections peel and stick vinyl plank flooring in Antique Woodland Oak from Lowes for the floor. This is where her husband’s skills were required. He did a great job cutting the tiles to fit around the cabinets, which were nowhere near square. Though Robyn had read several tutorials about applying this flooring over existing linoleum, she didn’t find much success with this method. For several camping trips after the makeover, she had to bring along a tube of construction adhesive to readhere planks that inevitably would have popped up off the floor since the last time the camper was used. Now that most of the planks have this extra layer of adhesive, the floor is holding up nicely.
Robyn’s husband also suggested they add ¼” square trim around the perimeter of the floor to cover any imperfections in plank spacing around the perimeter of the camper. They used Gorilla Wood Glue to secure the trim to the cabinets. They also added a piece of metal stair edging to the step in front of the bed to help keep this small section of floor planks in place. It also helps protect the edge of the step from little feet. 😉
Robyn decided on black for the cabinet hardware and purchased new hinges and handles at Lowes. She spray painted the furnace and electrical box covers, the fire extinguisher casing and a few other items black as well. She purchased 3/4″ Smooth Black T-Molding from Amazon to replace the woodgrain and gold trim originally on the edges of the counters and table. Then she applied the new trim to the edges of the countertops with construction adhesive.
With all of the big projects and painting finished, Robyn moved on to the fabrics. The original denim blue colored curtains were in great shape, and she didn’t want to to deal with trying to remove them from their track. She decided to use the blue from the curtains as the foundation of her color scheme. She is a novice seamstress but easily made pillow covers for some throw pillows as a first project. Then she tackled the cushions. With a little advice from her mom, who is a much better seamstress than she is, Robyn took apart the old cushion covers and used them as patterns for the new covers.
The vinyl backing on the two bottom cushions was still good, and Robyn was able to reuse it. She kept the zipper attached to one side of the vinyl panel and sewed the new cover to that original vinyl. She says there was definitely some trial and error in this project, but by the fourth cushion, Robyn was a pro. She asked her grandmother–another talented seamstress in the family–to make three matching quilts for the camper. Robyn and her grandmother picked out the fabric together, and her grandmother then created the beautiful and cozy quilts that Robyn’s family uses on every camping trip. How awesome is that?
Robyn purchased a new matching outdoor rug, a new Shademaker awning, and cute hanging party lights to complete their little campground setup. Robyn says that the bulk of the makeover took about two weeks to complete with some projects–like the cushions and pillows–finished up as weekend projects later on down the road.
Their pop up camper is about as small as they come, and as their boys grow, it might become too small for their family to be inside all at once. Robyn heard the phrase “A crowded camper is better than an empty castle” online and had it printed on a metal sign panel to decorate their refrigerator door. It’s a small reminder to value their family togetherness in this little space. The sentiment actually helps Robyn and her husband refrain from the temptation of buying a bigger, newer, more expensive travel trailer. This little pop up camper and their time together is all they need.
In fact, on their first official trip after the makeover was finished, Robyn’s then 7-year-old announced as he was crawling into bed one night, “Mom, this camper feels just like home!” And for Robyn, that makes all the time spent on the makeover worth it. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Robyn. Once those boys have grown, I know you’ll all have found memories of your crowded camper, just like we do. 😀
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