This next makeover is such a great one, because not only is it beautiful, it is functional. When Carolyn first sent me pictures of her camper, I was floored at how much storage space she had managed to create in her pop up. She really has a solution for everything… and if you have camped for long in a pop up camper, you know that is a big deal. Space is definitely at a premium in a PUP. Here’s Carolyn to tell you how she made her camper a gorgeous, organized little getaway. 🙂
Carolyn’s Pop Up Camper Makeover
My family started camping in a pop up camper when I was just a little girl. I grew up in Florida, which meant we could camp nearly year round. It was an experience that has stayed with me, even now that I am well into my 40’s, and something I wanted for my little family. We only have one child, but even at seven years old, he is all about his electronics… all.the.time. Because he is an only child, we cut him a lot of slack, and honestly, my husband and I spend just as much time in front of various screens as he does. We needed a great way to unplug and breathe. Camping seemed like the perfect solution.
My husband is a city kid. He enjoys nature, but he likes his amenities. I knew that this would be a grand experiment, so I did not want to buy a new towing vehicle or spend five figures on something new. There are precious few campers that a Honda Pilot can pull, and most of them are incredibly small. That lead us to research pop up campers, which lead us to my two year obsession. I spent hours upon hours on Pinterest, Google and YouTube camper shopping, and THAT is when I discovered The Pop Up Princess. 🙂
One day in Fall 2015, while I was browsing Craigslist as I did religiously, I found her–a 2001 Coleman Grand Tour Elite Niagara. What a perfect beauty! She had two king beds, a kitchenette with fridge and pantry, slide out dinette, air conditioning and heat, hot water, dual propane tanks, a storage trunk, and an outside high pressure gas line for the grill. She had a little bit of damage–mice had gotten to canvas, and there was some water damage to the interior wall adjacent to the trunk. She also had the dreaded ABS roof, but the price was right. I even negotiated away $500, and we decided despite her imperfections and potential problems, as a starter camper she was perfect, so we bought her.
I’m a planner. I plan. So as soon as I had my camper, I started planning a color scheme. I decided to buy new canvas, so I worked around that. Bear Creek Canvas was offering a 10% off sale for the end of the season, and they had fantastic reviews, so I felt comfortable ordering from them. I went with the gray colored canvas, and from there I was on to find coordinating fabrics. When I found the cushion upholstery fabric, it all just fell into place.We set our little camper up in the driveway for awhile, hanging out in the evening and playing Uno or just chilling. We wanted to get to know her. 😉 When the time was right, I got to work in earnest. I took out the table, removed all the cabinet doors, pulled the drawers out, and started cleaning her up. Then I used masking tape to tape everything off and gave all the cabinets a good coat of Zinsser 1-2-3 Primer. It took quite a few cans and was more expensive than rolling it on, but it was a time saver. For paint we chose a Rustoleum 2X Heirloom White spray paint in a satin finish. I also attempted to spray the original hardware with an oil rubbed bronze paint. I know it worked for some, but no matter what I did it chipped and peeled. I found some great handles on sale at Lowes for $1.50 each, so I bit the bullet and bought new hardware.The painting process was tedious and smelly and made me hate everything, so I took a little break and moved on to upholstery. I must have watched 100 YouTube tutorials on box cushion covers with welting–even after going over The Pop Up Princess how-to article 100 times. I made piping from the blue ticking fabric and purchased extra long upholstery zippers for the closures. I wrapped them around even farther than Larissa did, reaching half way around each cushion. This made getting them on and off a breeze. I actually left the old ugly covers on as a lining, as they didn’t really did smell bad after airing out for a few weeks. The main print was expensive, and I wasn’t convinced it could withstand the abuse the backs of the cushions would get, so I used a different fabric for that. I found a great heavy material that was thick, stiff, and kind of horrible, but it was perfect for the back side.Once the cushion odyssey was complete–and honestly, it took over a month–I was ready to get back inside and tackle the rest of the makeover. I used peel and stick plank vinyl flooring from Lowe’s that was on sale as an out-of-box clearance. There were just stacks of loose planks for $1.00 each. I found all that I could in the color “Old Hickory” and ran with it. I think I spent in a total about $50.00 and had what felt like a thousand planks. It looked so good with my creamy white cabinets, and was definitely worth it.The next big project was the countertops. After being asphyxiated by the paining process, I decided I didn’t want to do anymore painting, so I chose a product called Instant Granite. Here again, I watched lots of YouTube videos. Instant Granite is a product that’s a lot like contact paper, but triple laminated and made for countertops. The installation was sticky, but fairly easy, and while its not perfect, its a million times better than what was there. Since we’ve had the camper out a few times, I’ve noticed that the Instant Granite peels up where it didn’t adhere well–namely the edges. It sticks like a miracle to the old Formica though, so in the future, I will play with other adhesives to hold the wrapped corners. I do not regret using it and will likely just re-glue the edges whenever they need it. I was able to cover all the countertops in the whole camper for just under $100.To give the table some personality, I purchased a Wall Pops dry erase map decal from Amazon (you can find that here) and adhered it to the top. I found my curtains on sale at Homegoods. I didn’t want to start from scratch, and since the Bear Creek Canvas has privacy flaps all around, I only needed something light and decorative to contrast against the grey canvas. I found panels in sets of two in the clearance aisle for $8.00! SCORE! 🙂I also added chalkboard vinyl to the fridge and vinyl Smart Tiles to both the inside lid of the stove and the shower/toilet combo. (You can find Larissa’s tutorial here.) I made a new privacy curtain for the bathroom/changing area, reusing the original mesh and snaps from the old curtain. I used the blue ticking fabric for that curtain to add a little contrast and tie in the piping.We’ve had our new PUP out several times, and I love how it stays organized while we are camping. We have a place for everything, and we’ve been able to keep things pretty tidy on our trips. There are only three of us, so there is usually some bunk space to store luggage, and we used the tension rod shelving tutorial to add shelves to a couple areas around the camper.We purchased this ice maker, which stays on a shelf inside. We’ve also got a Brita pitcher, toaster oven, and a Sterilite drawer for coffee, tea, and such, and they all store neatly over one of the cabinets. The small area over our heater serves as storage for all our games, and the shelving unit above the kitchen galley holds food, utensils, paper towels, etc. I *love* how everything has a place.All those smaller items have a home, too. I added a clear pocket shoe holder to the back of the camper door to store things like handheld radios, bug spray, and flashlights. To add a bit of personality, I purchased these bird decals on Amazon and adhered them to the door. Cute, right? 😉This whole experience has been so worth it! Buying our PUP was like getting a vacation home and being able to take it wherever we want. Like I said earlier, my husband was never a camper and feared that the experience would be uncomfortable, but now with the ability to plug in and have air conditioning in the summer, two king size beds, a little kitchen and a private space to call our own, he loves it. He says it’s like Harry Potter magic when you open this little box up, and it becomes a home. As for unplugging… well, we do our best. We can still be found every once in a while on our phones, mainly posting pictures of our camping trips, but it is just enough removal from reality to allow deep breaths and much-needed relaxation.
Isn’t that awesome? I love all those fabulous storage solutions. In fact, I may have to steal the clear pocket door organizer for my own camper. We are always digging around to find the small items–especially sunblock. I would be awesome to have it easily accessible like that. I also love hearing that Carolyn and her family get to reconnect outdoors. It makes all the hard work worth it. Beautiful job, Carolyn! I’m so honored that you let me share your makeover here. 😀
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