Happy Friday, friends! If you’ve been hanging around here for awhile, you already know Emmett & I moved to Utah because of our love for the landscape & mountains. We’re pretty outdoorsy people… we ski, hike, paddle, dive, bike, off-road, and generally just love spending time finding adventure outside. Camping has always been one of our favorite hobbies and our preferred way to ditch cell service & unplug. We have an impressive tent camping and backpacking setup that we’ve accumulated over the past decade (see my favorite gear for that here), but we’re getting to the age where sleeping on the ground (even on a nice camp pad) isn’t quite what it used to be. Toss our two dogs into the tent with us and it makes for an interesting night trying to sleep, ha. I think you can guess where this conversation is headed. Emmett convinced me to go look at a camper with him. It’s older, it fit our small budget, and we ended up pulling it back home with us that same night. I’m excited to tackle a unique design project that is a first for me. We’ll be giving this dated camper a quick and budget-friendly makeover before we hit the road and make some memories. Click through for the before tour, our to-do list, and my plans for this tiny home away from home…
Emmett has had his feelers out, looking for a camper or converted van for awhile now- almost a year. It’s something we’ve always dreamed about… the ease of adventure & travel in a comfortable way. It appeals to us! The last time we tent camped, we decided to get serious about our search for a better setup. Both dogs ended up having allergic reactions to who knows what (despite their monthly allergy meds), which required a makeshift bath in our emptied Yeti cooler with bottled water in an effort to de-puff their sweet little faces. Emmett also ended up passing out and injuring his wrist on a boulder from the fall while getting out of the tent in the middle of the night (we’re pretty sure he has PoTS which causes this). Anyway- it was the Murphy’s Law camping trip that really tilted the scales for us to look into campers more seriously.
The timing for our camper could honestly not be worse… we picked it up the night before leaving for vacation a couple weeks ago. It was an eight hour round trip to pick it up, we got home around one in the morning, packed for Hawaii, and didn’t have a chance to think twice about it. After arriving home from vacation, I halfway forgot about it until we pulled into our driveway and there it was. We were finally able to brainstorm and get excited about this little project. However, our primary focus right now is still the entryway.
We’re about to hit a lull with the entryway renovation though (update on that room coming soon)… the tile is almost finished and we’ll be stuck waiting on our stair parts, so it will be the perfect time to switch gears. While a very spontaneous purchase & project, we’re excited to get started on the camper soon, so we can put it to good use this summer! Our goal is to finish the camper in a one week time period. Think we can do it? Are you ready for a little before tour and our plans?
The camper is actually on the smaller side- it’s a twenty footer with one slide out… but it feels surprisingly spacious and will be more than enough for our needs. It’s lightweight and will be easy for us to pull. After all, we’re used to cramming into a two person backpacking tent with our dogs. Let’s go inside!
Since we’ve been on the hunt for a camper for almost a year, we discovered what layout we were most attracted to. Oddly enough, there were only five of these campers with this particular layout available in the states. It was the layout we really wanted, so when a used one popped up relatively close by (and within our budget)– Emmett jumped. When you walk inside there is storage on the left, the kitchen is on the right, and the bathroom is straight ahead. The bed is tucked away at the opposing end- which we really like.
The slide out makes this camper feel like a magical Harry Potter tent. It’s honestly kind of mesmerizing! With the press of a button, the dinette slides backwards creating a ton of space. You better believe this is the area I’m most excited to transform. I love the symmetry and can’t wait to replace the window treatments and reupholster the banquette seating… which actually turns into a queen size bed, if more sleeping space is needed. Our sweet niece has already called dibs on that spot for an upcoming camping trip.
Of course this thing will require lots of paint, and we’re planning to make some budget-friendly replacements, too. I found some remanent pieces of marble look alike solid surface material from Emmett’s work that was headed for the dumpster. I’m going to have a new table cut from it, and maybe I’ll find some more for a matching kitchen counter replacement.
The main bed is a queen size bed, which will be plenty of room for us. I’ve got a similar plan for the sleeping nook- new window treatments, paint, new hardware, maybe a couple sconces with battery powered lights on a remote. Of course I’ll also bust out some nice bedding and I’ve already ordered a memory foam mattress topper because the mattress is way too firm for my liking.
The kitchen is really charming… or at least it will be! I don’t love the cabinet door shape, but we’re keeping them for the sake of the budget. I will be painting the cabinetry, replacing the hardware, adding a backsplash, swapping the faucet, and installing new window treatments (think cute cafe curtain). We are extremely excited to have a fridge, freezer, oven, cooktop, AND sink. What more could we possibly need in here? Emmett said he is most excited to bake cookies while camping. I’m pretty sure he has never even baked cookies here at home, so I’m not sure what that’s about.
The bathroom is more spacious than I anticipated. It has a full size shower, a toilet, two sky lights, and a small vanity with a sink and medicine cabinet. We won’t be doing much in here other than painting the vanity and swapping the hardware & hooks. I’ll share a full list of what we’re planning below.
The To-Do List…
This is what we’re hoping to tackle…
- Remove the exterior graphics
- Make some exterior repairs (replace gaskets, a few fittings & lines, etc)
- Replace the linoleum flooring with vinyl
- Replace the window treatments
- Swap the faucets & shower trim
- Paint the cabinetry
- Install a backsplash
- Reupholster the dinette
- Install new hardware & hooks
- Add some additional lighting
- Paint the walls & ceiling
- Install organization systems within the cabinets & storage areas
- Install an outdoor shower or wash system for the dogs
- Furnish the camper (bedding, dishes, cookware, bath towels, etc)
- Style it to feel cohesive with our aesthetic
I also assumed you’d like to see a rough visual, so I pulled together a very quick mood board with the finishes I have in mind…
01: budget sconces // 02: peel-and-stick tile // 03: rv faucet // 04: dinnerware set // 05: acrylic drinking glasses // 06: camp mugs // 07: cabinetry hardware // 08: vinyl floor tiles // 09: curtain rings with clips // 10: adjustable curtain rod // 11: cafe curtains // 12: towel ring and toilet paper set // 13: rubia pillow // 14: towel set // 15: vintage pastel painting // 16: adhesive hooks // 17: comforter set // 18: blanket // 19: gingham sheet set // 20: hand held shower spray // 21: shower diverter // 22: gretchen vintage rug // 23: no spill, non skid dog feeder
Emmett hasn’t even seen the design plan yet… so you’re beating him to it (unless he’s reading this post right now). He has been focused on the repairs and boring things (like sourcing a generator, fixing water lines, and de-winterizing the camper), and I’ve been quickly ordering materials for the design and cosmetic changes we’d like to make. I just compiled everything into a mood board last night, so it’s the first time I’m seeing everything all together. I think it’s looking surprisingly cohesive. Do you get a good feel for where I’m headed?
Will we be ditching tent camping altogether? I don’t think so! There is certainly a time and a (remote) place for backpacking and we’re always up for a good adventure… maybe without our dogs though. They always add complexity to the situation. Certain camping trips call for different gear, but we’re certainly going to pack up the dogs and start adventuring more often thanks to the convenience of this little home away from home on wheels. Funny enough, my bestie Laurie Anne and her husband, bought a converted camper van on the exact same day (without knowing we picked up this thing). As you might imagine, we’ve already planned a few trips with them that we’re looking forward to. We’re also meeting our family in Yellowstone later this summer, and many of our friends here in Salt Lake also have campers or rooftop tents, so we’re excited to join the fun and learn to camp in a different way than we’re accustomed to- which is usually “roughing it”. This will definitely feel like glamping to us!
We’re looking forward to sleeping in an actual bed and having running water… but most of all- I’m excited for a new design challenge. I’ve never owned, let alone designed a camper, RV, tiny home, or travel trailer before. It’s a whole different ballgame… with the caveat of only using lightweight materials. My designer self is always attracted to heavy duty, high-end, super high quality fixtures and materials, so this feels like going against everything I’ve been taught. If my health challenges have taught me anything these past few months, it’s to get outside, take the trip, do something different, and make the memories. Emmett & I are all about experiences, seeing new places, and sharing it with the people we love. I’m looking forward to sharing this quick makeover and camper journey with you! It will be random, very budget conscious, and mostly cosmetic, but fun & entertaining nonetheless.
If you’ve ever owned or currently own a camper, converted van, RV, or travel trailer, I’d love to hear your tips! I’m especially interested in maximizing the small space and hearing your organizational ideas. We’re totally new to this and our plan is to take it out for a maiden voyage one night next week before we dive into making it cute and more functional. We want to see how it functions as is before we start making modifications. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Is this something you’re interested in following along with? I’m debating how much of the process to share. The older (and wiser) I get, the more I enjoy sharing what brings me joy in the moment- whether it’s a good move for my business or not. When we first moved to Utah, I shared a LOT of outdoor and landscape photos from our adventures and my engagement immediately tanked. I got a lot of “stick to design” and “I’m only here for interiors” type of messages that really kept me from sharing that part of our life. Recently I’ve kind of sworn off the social algorithms (and caring too much) anyway- they’re difficult to keep up with and don’t feel very organic to me. I know this project isn’t the norm for Emmett & myself, but I hope it’s entertaining, interesting, and educational at the very least. We’re not going to become a travel blogging couple or anything, but I definitely want to share the makeover process with you… and maybe some fun snippets of us enjoying this thing! What do you say? Want to come along for the ride?