How We Fixed Up The Lake House (Our Vintage Camper)

October 8, 2014

laurie jones home

laurie jones home

I can’t get over how many emails, nice comments and new visitors that have stopped by to check our our camper!  I was so excited to see it at Country Living, Redbook Magazine and eve a shout out from The Novogratz!

There were lots of questions so without further adieu here’s the nitty gritty of what we did, what we bought and how it all game together!

The camper is a 1972 Crossroads trailer. It had good bones but was pretty smelly, the fabric was rough and scratchy and as you can see sported alot of fake wood. The camper is small about 15 feet. It sleeps 4 and has a very small bathroom. Besides an electrical project and some plumbing we did all the work ourselves.

laurie jones home

I wasn’t interested in restoring it back to it’s 1972 glory nor did I want to make it too kitschy or too cute. I wanted it to be bright, fun, clean and safe for my kids ages 16 and 23 months. I wanted the camper to be more like a very small cozy lake house in the summertime.

I chose red, white and blue because I’m a bit nostalgic when it comes to summertime and the 4th of July. With that said I tried not to make it scream AMERICA! The great thing about the color scheme is that there’s so much to chose from during the summer and it’s super inexpensive to find things after the 4th of July!  And as the years go by I’m never going to have to worry about not being able to find Americana type items to keep the camper looking fresh.

laurie jones home

(The rug was on sale for around $20.00 at Walmart)

I primed the entire inside of the camper with fast primer 2 interior water based primer & sealer in white and then painted it with pure white paint by HGTV Sherwin Williams. The small camper took 4 gallons of white paint. The wood was sucking the paint in faster than I could paint it.

The kitchen cabinets were painted with Pittsburgh Ultra Interior Paint & Primer in One Eggshell Blue Flame. Before painting the cabinets I washed them with soap and water and lightly sanded them. There wasn’t alot of prep work. I also took off the hardware and sprayed them with a flat black spray paint.

laurie jones home

(Under cabinet light was existing, I cleaned it, sprayed the metal white and painted the red stripes)

We tore out the vinyl wallpaper ceiling that was already falling down and re-wallpapered it with a pattern wallpaper from Menards. Have you ever wallpapered a ceiling? It’s a 2 person job for sure! After it was papered we painted it white.

Out went the narrow sofa in the back of the camper that was replaced with an extra long twin mattress. I also opted to use good (but not expensive) sheets and comforters. They were from Target, the sheets are tshirt sheets that are really cozy and soft.

laurie jones home

(Pillow from left to right on the bed – Home Goods, Target, Target, Target Home Goods, striped pillow at table is Jonathan Adler JcPenny, curtain fabric from the 4th of July fabric bin at JoAnn Fabric.  The red and blue nautical glass is from Florida, the nautical mirror is from Midland Antiques.)

The outdated lighting was also replaced with regular home store bought lighting and they all were put on dimmers. The red lights towards the back of the camper is marine lighting (Menards and less than $9.00) that I spray painted red. I also added a small chandelier from Home Depot for over the dining table. (Hampton Bay Bellefont 1-Light Polished Nickel Crystal Ball Semi-Flush Mount).

laurie jones home

(Jump in the Lake sign is from Hobby Lobby, bolster pillow Target and is over 5 years old and the pendant is from the Target Dollar bin.)

All the cushions were reupholstered and plumped up with some added foam by an incredible small local reupholstering company in Indianapolis. I bought the navy cotton duck fabric that was sale and I got some additional savings by using an online coupon from JoAnn’s fabric.

laurie jones home

The floor was pretty ugly and not original to the camper. All we did was tile over it using vinyl peel and stick parquet wood vinyl tile from Home Depot. It was easy to install and the tile makes for easy clean up.

The old chipped formica countertop was tore out and replaced with a 1 inch particle board that I painted with rustoleum chalkboard paint in black finish once I applied a few coats of paint I went over it with minwax paste finishing wax on top to mimic the look of soapstone. It turned out great and is one of my favorite things in the camper!

laurie jones home

The backsplash was ugly and dated and needed to go. In it’s place we added a peel and stick backsplash that was probably the most expensive element to the inside makeover.  It’s called  aspect self adhesive metal tiles stainless hexagon from Menards. I like to think of it as the jewelry of the camper. I will say it’s a bit tricky and we had to be extra careful to place the tile correctly (meaning straight) once it was on there it was on there and pretty unforgiving.

We tore out the old stove (I have no plans to bake) also I really didn’t want to mess with an old gas stove for safety reasons. Let’s face the facts,  a green ugly oven wasn’t something I wanted to invest money into. We replaced it with a stainless steel stovetop/sink combo (online from a company called Atwood) which gave us extra countertop space. It has 2 burners and because the sink is attached it gave us some much needed extra counter space. We also took out the non-functioning refrigerator and replaced it with a stainless steel college type one instead of an actual camper one, which saved us hundreds of dollars.

laurie jones home

(Chalkboard on the door was purchased from Hobby Lobby, the stove is under the basket on the counter, the basket is for keys and cellphones and emptying out our pockets, things we need to grab quickly.)

The air conditioner was not working so we replaced it with a larger used one found from a local RV dealership.

The camper took 2 years to complete so I was able to shop off season for pillows, dishes, accessories from places like JcPenny’s for all of the Jonathan Adler items, Michaels, Target, Home Goods, Goodwill,  Big Lots, garage sales and even my house.

laurie jones home

We decided to modify the closet into an entertainment center. We still have the pull out drawers just not the hanging area. (I’m camping and not hanging up clothes, I am however watching movies.)  We keep laundry baskets in our car (one for each of us) and pull out only the items we’re using. It keeps the clutter to a minimum which is important when the space is so tiny.

laurie jones home

(All the blue and white storage in the television unit is from Target, I painted the mason jar with white flat paint)

The old dining table was not the original and was too big and could not be fitted into the slots to make the bed at night. The new table in the dining area was made of particle board and painted with red oil gloss paint and can be taken down for another twin bed at night.

laurie jones home

(Dish towels are from my Williams Sonoma stash, I have them in like 15 colors, I’ve been picking them up for years, the coral candle holder was sprayed white and I found it at Big Lots for a few dollars)

There was lots of spray paint used on old light fixtures, new light fixtures, the stove hood, the window trim and cabinet door knobs. I tried to salvage as much as I could to keep cost down.

Obviously, the outside of the camper needed a paint job but the quotes we were getting were ridiculously high. This camper wasn’t worth much money and to invest thousands on a paint job wasn’t worth it to us. Sooooo after some research we decided to paint the camper ourselves! It was painted with Rustoleum Oil Based paint right off the shelf, safety red, blue and white. We used both a roller and a paint brush. It worked like a charm and probably one of the easiest projects we completed.

We had the awning (sunbrella fabric) custom made. I specifically chose the awning not to completely match the paint job, I’m not a fan of matchy match! Next year we plan on adding an additional awning in the back of the camper.

The total cost for the camper, all of the renovations, the decor, camping supplies and hitch equipment (which was super pricey but safety was more important than anything else) totaled a little less than $5,000.00. It’s not a super cheap project I know but like I mentioned the hitch equipment was a big part of the budget and we saved for two years to complete the makeover because it was important to us we didn’t incur any debt and $5,000.00 for what we call our lake house that is perfect for what our family needed was the steal of the century in my opinion!

I think that covers it but if you have any other questions please feel free to ask!

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15 Comments
    1. A vacation home for $5000!!! Very impressive! and what a great job you did. This was my first visit to your site and definitely won’t be my last.

    1. So inspiring!!! Makes me want to do the same to our 1984 motorhome that is so outdated and not really usable with the current configuration. Definitely have my the wheels in my head spinning!! My question for you is, how do you power the fridge? Do you have a generator that has to run constantly to keep it cold?? I can live without a shower, but hate camping for any period of time when we have to live out of ice chests because we have no fridge.
      Thanks for the inspiration and answers!

    1. Jill everything in our camper is wired including the refrigerator, we only camp at places that have hook ups, all the State Parks we’ve stayed at have at least electric hook ups, we park and plug in the camper and the lights, air and refrigerator are up and running! Thanks so much for stopping by!

    1. This is just wonderful! Great followup article. Now, to find that older camper for sale on the side of the road that is just waiting for me to give it life once again.

    1. I think you did a marvelous job. Everything is so clean and nice. The colors really pop.

    1. Appreciate your detailed cost break down and pics. What a fun lake house, with no lake front taxes! Love it. 🙂 We are in the research stage of selling our vacation cottage and getting a mobile one like you. Happy trails.

    1. I love your camper! It inspired me to do more than I thought I would do with our 78 Prowler that looks a lot like yours! I was wondering if you had any problems with your roof leaking? We bought ours and it had water damage from leaks. The leaks are fixed, but we were told to coat the roof each year just to make sure all is well. Was wondering if you had to do that and what was best to use if you had to? I can’t wait to get started on it. The hardest part is deciding on the colors, I think! Yours is just adorable!!
      One more question, you mentioed hitch equipment? Did you completely redo the base of the trailer to make it safer since it was older? Thank you for answering all my questions. Tissie

    1. Love it! My Dad just gave my Husband and I a similar camper, that is in need of repair. I was wondering if you had to repair anything on the outside and if so what did you use? Also how long did it take you to complete all of this? Great job

    1. Would love any information on how to insulate my camper without removing walls and floor etc. Also the wind took my awning up and bent the roller, is there anyway to bend it back out so it can be used again?

    1. where did you get that adorable awning made?

    1. I don’t get it. We should encourage renewable energy sources to help save the environment. Coal and oil are bad for the environment, and we need to save the Earth. Why do coierevatnvss fearmonger about other countries wanting renewable energy?

    1. I see that you changed out an overhead light for a very pretty crystal one.. I am concerned that our 1985 campers wiring may be too old and crispy to do that. Did you rewire your camper?

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