Oh, you thought the “Camper that could” was the actual Camper


Good morning all from a brisk Sunday morning. Can you believe it, it is November.  Lets give a little update. The camper was sold a couple of weeks ago. I know right, all that work and then poof, gone before we even camped in it one time. Have you ever heard the saying ” its the chase”, well for me and design it is kinda the same. Generally once I am 3/4 the way through a project, I already have the next one in my head. I loved working on the camper and could pour my creativity into it, but in the end it was another design project. I listed the camper and in less than 24 hours, cash in hand, sold! We sold it to a great little family, with a little girl, who the back bunk area looked like it was made for her!

So this blog was named ” The Camper That Could”, it shall stay named that, as the Camper That Could, was always more so me than the actual camper itself. This is where we venture off more into that little part I warned you about before, my crazy DIY life!




Homemade headboard……….$6


The bunk area of the camper is a place that I knew my daughter would be spending a lot of time hanging out in. Needed it to feel like home and display her spunky personality. I knew exactly what it needed a headboard of types. A tufted headboard we have made before, but I wanted something that was less permanent and not so heavy.

I remember in one of my sessions of scouring Pinterest I had seen someone who made a headboard from cardboard. So I sat out to recreate my own version. I had pieces of Coreboard in my workshop that were just the right size. So I cut a nifty pattern on it, and covered with a piece of foam and batting to make edges soft.

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The Coreboard is stronger than regular card board and it also allows us to have something to staple into when we wrap it with fabric. We chose a bright elephant pattern that fits Alyssa’s personality. So now all I have to do I wrap with fabric and we are ready to go. Pull tight around the edges, and cut the access fabric as you go.

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Finished, it took me about 20 mins, and cost about $6 for the fabric. To install on the way we used a heavy duty two sided tape made by Gorilla Glue. Here it is installed!

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The Grand Finale!


The grand finale, the final curtain call, the fat lady is singing somewhere in the background. After many hours of works, sweat, and tears ( lots of tears), she is done. I think I probably have about 200 hours into her. It honestly was one of the more rewarding projects that I have done. We were able to take a camper that was so stuck in the 1980s and make her fabulous again. It really shows that anything can be brought forth , redone and made useable and awesome again. We reused most items that we already had on hand. Left over paint, cabinet handles, bedding, curtains, fabric we are put back to use in our awesome camper, and helped us keep this project redo under $500 for the whole camper. Mind you we still have to do the floors, that should only run us about $180.

The only thing that is really left to do is fix the water heater from leaking and that part is on the way. Honesty the funniest thing is, when you look at the camper from the outside, it certainly looks like the Clampits live there !. So here she is, hope you like.


Walls crumble, but hope does not


I was feeling pretty good about our camper purchase, until I put my hand through the back corner of the bunk area. The Knapps calmed me down, explaining that it really would not be that much to repair. So we trudge on with the rest of the camper until my dad and I could take a closer look.

Demo day finally came and with that we had some hard choices to make. The rot and the damage was way more than we had thought. The entire back corner brace was gone, as well as several of the supports. It seems as though the awning when installed never was sealed off. So years of rain leaking in through the four screws resulted in major damage. We had to tear out the top bunk, part of the ceiling, and parts of two walls. It was however the easiest demo ever. The wood was so gone all the demo was able to be done with just our hands. Here are some of the demo and damage pictures.

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Now with all of that out, we start the rebuild. We made the decision to not replace the top bunk. The top bunk was only rated to hold 130 lbs. Dalton weighs 125, so he was not going to be sleeping back there anyways. The decision as made to make it a place for Alyssa, and also add shelves for storage. After tons of measuring, and creative construction, Dad and I re-built the structure, placed new installation in, and sealed the screws from the awning that were the original problem.

Now that’s its all sealed up, off to build and finish the shelves for the back, and the shelf with the light by the bedside. We decided on three shelves in the back for storage. This got a little tricky, as the back of the camper is not square.  Alyssa and Dad worked together on these projects. Alyssa has a little of my addiction to design and building, so it was fun to watch her and Dad work on it together.

Finished project time? Jump forward a couple of weeks and the back bunk area is complete. After finding the water damage, my hope were crushed, but we were able to fix and build it back better than ever. Even when your projects take an unexpected turn, keep your head and hopes up and push through. It was well worth it and now it is the best feature of the whole camper.

I will post in another section, how I made the tufted headboard. Alyssa loves the area, and it added tons of storage for us. Although you should have seen her face when she was told all those shelves were not just for her LOL!


Fabric and Insta Granite are your friends


Going back to the original camper, some of the worst parts were the horrid fabric, and it was everywhere. Some type of polyester beige with a plant of some sorts, sprinkled with dusty blue and mauve. Never a good combination. Again I urge the camper makers to hire someone, maybe like David Bromstad or Nate Berkus. So if you are looking for quick update don’t be afraid to change the fabrics.

I started with the cushions for the table area. I didn’t want to sew new slip covers, instead I used the method found on YouTube. I took thin wood and made a backer for lack of better words for each pillow. Then I wrapped the pillows like a present and stapled the fabric on the back with a staple gun. Now is this washable, no, but here is the thing, I have about $10 in it, if they get stained, rip them off and do again. Which judging by my track record it will probably happen stain or no stain, just cause I like change. Also took down the dark wood “screen” for lack of a better description. Replaced with a fabric silver chevron shower curtain. Curtains I made with fabric I  found at Joanne Fabrics, then lined with thermal backing. This is important in keeping the summer heat out of the camper!

The counter tops in the camper weren’t terrible, I have seen worse. They were a light pink almost, but not exactly my style either. Replacing countertops is terrible, been there done that. So I was off to find another update solution. Cant paint them, no tile, oh how I want the marble look…..then I found it! There is a new product called Instant Granite. They are endorsed by Rachel Ray, what did I have to lose. Hopped on the website (http://www.instant-granite.com/) and there it was marble. So I ordered a bunch and hoped for the best. It was awesome. It is a heavy almost contact paper looking product that looks awesome. Marble for me!  We ordered enough to do all the countertops in the camper, so the look continues into the bathroom as well.

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Love the progress we have made with camper. It is honestly starting to look better than some of the places the husband and I lived when we were younger! Keep following, we aren’t even done with this little redo yet!

And the paint must go on


I left you last with priming, painting, and bears oh my, sorry reverted back to Wizard of Oz, one of my all time favorite movies. Anyhow Alyssa and I are deep into the painting and priming of cabinets and walls. Here is where I would like to address the camper makers, as I am sure that they are reading this.

Dear Camper Makers, I think you need to hire some women or at least some men with design taste. See you are actually building campers for two different sections of the population. The ones who want to be rugged, and have a hunting man cave, and those who want the look of their house on wheels. I would like to be the spoke person for the second group. The 70s have called and they want their bad fake dark wood, paneling, and terrible fabrics back, and while we are talking please stop using any type of bisque or off white toilets, tubs and sinks. These are terrible, terrible. Um on second thought, continue as it will give me loads of business when it comes to redoing all of your mistakes, but if you want to expand your customer base, I would be more than happy to help, for a small fee or a brand new camper!

Ok so here is my camper progress update: Cabinets painted. The completed project ends up taking two coats of Zinsser primer, the three coats of Sherwin Williams high gloss white in Pro Classic. Really think they should start paying me for all these product drops. Keep in mind when using Zinsser, if you want it to be durable, you have to let it cure for 3/7 days before paint. We also put wood putty in the original handle holes, so we could start with a blank canvas. We went with cup pulls for the drawers. The ones shown here are left over from my kitchen redo from about 8 years ago. Score, love reusing items, and it means $0.00 to the budget. For the doors we went with classic circle stainless pulls. Notice the white rectangle on the cabinet doors? Those are left over from the original pulls. Campers have special cabinet hardware that keep the doors closed when traveling. We had to keep them for the doors to stay closed, so we improvised and just spray painted them white. They blend in well I think, and overall look I wanted was still able to be achieved.

I want to talk about the stove. Remember my rant above about bisque color being used. Well the same was with the stove.  The color could not stay, everything else in the camper was going white and light. Armed with tape and spray paint we fixed it. I took it apart and sprayed with Rust-Oleum High Heat in White. The dark pieces were brown and rusty, so we sanded those down, and sprayed with same spray paint product in black. The handle was tricky. I didn’t want to paint all of it, so we just wrapped in jute twine for now, and spray the end of the handles with white Plastic grade Spray paint.



Although this work was done last month, just writing about it has been exhausting! Check back soon for the continued journey. Feel free to shoot me questions, or comments! Would love to hear from you, and you too camper makers.