Right after Weston was born, I started looking for a camper. William had started asking about camping and it honestly is something that Jeremy and I LOVED doing when we were dating. Forgive me for a moment while I pop in my Beaches Soundtrack and get nostalgic all over you.
The year was 2005…maybe 2006…and almost every summer weekend, we loved getting all our friends together and going out on the lake. We would spend the whole day wake boarding and then roasting dogs and marshmallows on a fire left from the previous nights lake occupants. We would pull out the tents, girls all in one, guys all in the other….and of course, there would be a night full of giggles and whispers and the guys trying to scare the living daylights out of us. We have stories of ‘crap rock’ and the token camping virgin who was scared of every little sound. There are memories of waking up to a tent full of mosquitos and pitting cherries for breakfast. It was honestly the best time of our lives. You know….before we discovered how awesome children are 🙂
I wanted to pass that love along to my kids….but honestly…the appeal of sleeping on a hard surface and waking up with achey bones has passed me by. I will do it mind you….because it’s still sleep….but it’s not my preference. I like pillows. And pillow tops. And being able to move at least one part of my body the next day.
So fast forward to 2012 and I started searching for campers. And the budget was basically nonexistent. There once was a listing on Craigslist for a free one….Jeremy drove an hour to see it at 5:30 am….and it was already gone. Years past by. I got really into reading all the info I could about vintage travel trailers….what mechanically could be terrible….what a good deal looked like….what pitfalls to look out for. The whole shebang. I even remember finding out I was pregnant with Max and my first thought was…well, now I am gonna need a bigger camper. It was a really really long process….until the week after Christmas in 2015. I found a 1977 camper called a Red Dale in South Carolina.
We called the number listed and it was in towable condition. The axles and the undercarriage were well protected and the previous owners were giving us an amazing deal….$1300. WITH A ORIGINAL TITLE…which is something that is a rarity in the south. The listing on Craigslist was misspelled…”travel traler” and it didn’t pull up on any other search…so I think that is why this gem was still available. It seemed meant to be.
The kids got loaded up and explored the tall grassy lot while Jeremy slid on his back in the mud to see if he could get the lights hooked up. That afternoon we drove the baby home. This guy was all ours. It was January 4th, 2016.
Yes – a little over a year ago we bought a vintage travel trailer and we haven’t mentioned it till now. SURPRISE!
The thing is…we wanted to work on it as soon as possible…but then we had to pay for a new roof for the Monroe House and it cost a lot more than we anticipated due to structural issues. So that came first.
We knew that the trailer could wait…that the roof was more important….and so we waited. It was our secret and those are rare in the blog world. The thing is….it’s 2017 and a little over a year later and it gave us ample time to watch every camper transformation ever made on You Tube and read every travel trailer makeover ever written on blogs. It was our ‘research’ period and hopefully it will save us time and money in the future. I say hopefully…because let’s be honest….this is still a huge undertaking…and one that pushes us outside our comfort zone. But that’s life right?! Eleanor Roosevelt (my favorite) is accredited to say “Do one thing every day that scares you.” and boy….this is a gonna be a whole lot of one things.
We are REALLY excited about it….nervous and terrified and slightly overwhelmed….but mostly excited. I mean…look at it – it’s got so much potential! And hopefully when it’s done, we can take it on a voyage up to my grandparents house and park it right there in the back yard 🙂
(look at those baby faces! And Will’s why-are-we-taking-a-picture-in-front-of-the-camper? face!)
This guy is a Red Dale – which is a travel trailer manufactured by the Red Dale Coach Company out of Colorado in the 1960’s and 1970’s. There isn’t a ton of info available about these trailers but from what I have found out…it’s made for colder weather and this particular one is in decent condition considering its age.
We definitely need a rock guard as that was missing and we are actually handing off the propane part of the makeover to the pros. I don’t wanna blow up. It’s just a personal preference thing.
Most of the exterior is in decent shape. We found a couple spots that we need to replace a single piece of aluminum but as a whole…we believe it should be in good enough shape to clean and seal and repaint. I say that because we haven’t dived in yet…who knows what is really in store!
The inside is a makeover waiting to happen. The one end is a sitting/dining/sleeping area with a giant bed (at least for a travel trailer. It has upper storage on two sides and a duck wallpaper border on the other 🙂 The cushions and the table are original but very worn and the we think we can salvage the mechanism for the table…but we have to wait and see. The flooring was added later and that will go. There are a couple soft spots in the flooring….so basically everything comes out so that we can repair subfloor issues.
This camper has the kitchen in the middle and it is small and original.
We haven’t decided yet if we are gonna salvage the stove….it’s hard to test without the propane hooked up and there are many more options now that are energy and cost efficient….including countertop hot plates. So we shall see. The location of everything will remain the same though.
Next to the stove is a pull out pantry – which coincidentally does not pull out….and then a fridge that is REALLY bulky. The newer versions are much more efficient and we have decided that we will probably replace it. You know….so we can actually fit a dozen eggs in there. The fruit wallpaper will probably go too. We are contemplating a microwave somewhere in here….I would trade a stove for a microwave and a hotplate in a New York second….is that weird?
Across from the kitchen is another sitting/eating area that converts to a bed. This is the one area that we can’t decide on. Do we remove the upper cabinets on the left and make it bunks? Do we figure out how to make it a bigger bed? Do we keep the cabinets and buy removable bunk beds that can fit on the floor? The boys are little enough right now to all share the big bed in the front and Jeremy and I can possibly squeeze into a large twin….kanoodling required….but what would be best in the long run? The debate is still up in the air.
ALSO…full disclosure…we don’t see ourselves using this camper forever for our entire clan. It might go to a family member eventually or used more as a ‘family’ camper for special events. My brothers go hunting a lot and this would be nice if they needed it. Or like if we went with another family…like my sister’s family….the girls can opt to stay in here and the guys (and I have a lot of those) can sleep outside in tents. The possibilities are endless….but it’s kind of our version of a ‘starter’ camper. One that we can learn from and use those skills for when we find a bigger camper that will fit the whole family for world wide travel. Yes I know about the oceans…calm down. That being said….we want to make practical decisions on the renovation….because we know that most times, this won’t be used to fit a family of six.
Beyond the kitchen and dining area is the bathroom. This bathroom is SO nice. I have literally looked at a million camper bathrooms and this thing is like the Taj Mahal….look at all that space!!!
SO again…the whole thing will be gutted because of a spongy spot in the floor. UGH. But the square footage space is so great. It has a vanity, small upper storage, a toilet and even a tub.
Yes…that is the original tub! It’s tiny and we are gonna try our best to salvage it! Someone put a weird seat made out of wood on it….and so that will be the moment of truth. PRAY IT DIDN’T MAKE HOLES IN MY MUSTARD YELLOW TUB.
This is the part that I am most excited about. The tub. For camping bubble baths 🙂
Across from the tub is a big door with a full sized mirror…#spoiled.
And that has a huge closet that is almost TOO much room for a trailer. Storage is usually at a minimum in these campers but this one seems like it has a lot.
ISN’T THAT SO FUN?
I mean…like I said before…it’s crazy nerve wracking but so exciting at the same time. We have some definite updates that need to happen just for it to be sufferable….heat, air, water lines, the electrical works but it needs updating as the wiring is *probably* all outdated (this is an assumption from our research on these trailers), and the subfloor will be a big job. And any dry rot will need to be removed/replaced/sealed and then that doesn’t even start us on the actual layout, new fixtures, design portion. It’s DEFINITELY going to be an adventure. And yes, we are telling you all this because we are starting THIS WEEK. You can follow along on sneak peeks on Instagram…I’m @bowerpowerblog if you want to join along the fun.
Now I need to hear your camper-renovation stories….what was your budget? What was your timeline? What did you wish your camper had? More outlets? A stove vs a hotplate/microwave? A bigger fridge? A set of bunks? A hammock? A bidet? A butler? Spill folks! 🙂
OMG!!! I love it. I have wanted a small camper for so long. One of these days hopefully. I can’t wait to follow along
Lose the oven, you don’t need it. The storage though, KEEP IT ALL. Definitely add more outlets. And from experience, if the floor is soft, double check the roof (we had a literally pin sized hole, and it ruined our floors and ceiling. ) Also redo all plumbing, first time we hooked up, the pipes just burst cause they were old. That said, how exciting! We love camping, and our camper! Great family time!
So fun! I can’t wait to see what you do with this
So much fun!
I don’t have a trailer but would love to have one. We camp once a year with a group of family friends and we really enjoy the time spent together.
I would vote for a microwave over an oven as well. When we camp, we grill more than anything. Packet meals are the best over a fire. I don’t want to be stuck inside with an oven. The microwave will heat up whatever you need just fine.
Traci K says
We have a Class A and went from no kids to 2, so we’re now figuring out bed stuff as well. My comment would be to have the boys all sleep in that front part. It makes it a fun thing that doesn’t happen normally, and what you don’t want is to have to put the bed away every morning while you’re camping. You want to be able to just get right down to cooking or playing or hiking without cleaning first. And I am definitely on the side of hot plate and microwave. I mostly always use our portable stove outside on the picnic table because that’s also part of the fun. And because of the small space our stove and oven set off the fire alarm every stinkin’ time. We painted right over the camper wallpaper with oil-based paint.
My friend has her Grandmother’s 1970’s trailer. You’d be amazed at what painting the cabinets, recovering the cushions and replacing the floor can do. You could even go with a fun 70’s retro vibe.
Allyson Dobberteen says
This is so exciting! I can’t wait to see what you do with it. I might be living in an apartment downtown right now but a part of me wants a camper too haha!
Also coming from a camping family there were MANY a trip where the older kiddos were banished to a tent while the younger/more skiddish kids and parents were in the camper. Totally adaptable for a larger family as they grow!
Oh, I’m so excited for you. We bought and remodeled a camper that we traveled to Alaska in. We had planned on living in it while searching for our perfect property, but then found the perfect property. The camper remained a camper but was mostly used as a guest cabin on our property. Our friends have it in Alaska still and it’s ours to use when we visit (We live in Germany now.) I love it. The camper really has our heart and soul in it, even still.
The biggest change we made (besides the colors of walls, cabinets, and upholstery,) was taking out a sofa at the entrance and expanding the kitchen to have more working space and more storage. Our camper sleeps 6 already (a master bed, a dinette bed, and a set of bunks in the back,) and we didn’t think we needed a couch in addition.
We cook a lot, too, so we wanted a small-but-still-normal-sized sink and faucet in the kitchen. We have a microwave but hardly use it- for us the stove top is very important. The oven, though, never got used. . . Another thing that we actually didn’t use was the bathroom much. As it turned out, most of the time, if we were camping, we were at a campground and there was a bathroom and shower, which meant less to worry about in our camper. (Finding dumping stations isn’t always easy in Alaska. . . I’m sure in Georgia it’s easier.)
I am so excited to watch this journey. I’ve probably seen all of the websites and youtube videos you have.
Now, if I could only convince my husband that we need a camper again. . . 🙂
btw- these guys were my inspiration.
This is so awesome! We bought a pop up last year. Only replaced the curtains and recovered the cushions. We LOVE to camp! Can’t wait to see what you do with it!
I recall seeing this trailer when you shared your video for the time lapsed spray paint art for Rustoleum. Figured it was a neighbors or something!
Look for a convection oven/microwave. That way you can have both functions of a oven and a microwave.
Consider getting a Greville Smart Oven (contertop), Comes in three sizes, tiny, medium and large (uses the small baking cookie sheets. Can toast, broil, bake and other things, With a hot plate an a microwave oven, you have the capabilities of a full kitchen on a smaller scale.
Yes! It was the only time I couldn’t avoid it being shown! I was trying to keep that secret 🙂
Is that big closet big/long enough to take out and stack 3 narrow bunks there?
I’m only about 18 months out from when my family and i lived in an RV for a year; it was quite the year. You are spot on re the stove. A propane stove is a tough cookie to get used to, plus it is so small only your smaller pans will fit, which isn’t useful for a family of 6. I didn’t master it for much beyond frozen pizzas. But a microwave, a crockpot, and an electric pancake griddle were gold. I’d put the microwave (maybe a convection/microwave) where the oven is
More outlets in the kitchen, make sure you have some by bathroom sink, and make sure there are some on both sides of your bed, for charging phones at night. Also, we added lamps which took up valuable space, so I’d put thot into your lighting, for sure.
Probably my biggest lesson to being happy in an RV is accepting what size it is. Don’t overfill it, take less, and accept how much room you have. You don’t need as much as you think.
If replacing the fridge gives you the chance, you’ll appreciate even a one ft length of counter top in the kitchen area. I got to where I could prep/cook an entire meal on the 9″ of counter between my sink and stove. But more than 9″ is better!
So excited to follow along on your camper makeover. We bought a small 1988 (older than me!) pop-up trailer in the fall and we will start fixing it up in the next few weeks. I did tons of research over the winter and found @myrtlesmakeoveryyc on instagram which has the exact look/feel we had in mind for our camper. Can’t wait to see how yours turns out!
So exciting! We didn’t plan to get a camper (at least not for a few years) but jumped on an opportunity to snag a 2012 travel trailer on a seasonal site at the Jersey shore in August last year. It doesn’t need structural work but could use some refreshing. I can’t wait to follow along… and probably steal some ideas 😉
My two cents is…we almost always eat outside the trailer. We set up a canopy for shade, put up the fold up camping stove beside a fold up table or a picnic table…and cook, eat outside. So I want a big fridge to hold big salads and meats for the family BBQ in the trailer,but we cook outside the trailer. You only need a small micro and burner in there, if you must stay in, not lots of cook room in general. But I do love lots of fridge space. I also like a space to stack the coolers (for the long trip or the fish caught) A place to stack the bin of camping gear that is used outdoors (dutch ovens, and the like) So make sure you have room in the bottom of that closet or somewhere for supplies that routinely get lugged outdoors. You are wise to have lots of comfy sleeping, less eating and living space, because most of the time we are outside. Camping=outside, but at night we want a warm dry place, and a good bathroom.
It’s a long shot, but what if you ditched the bathroom and turned it into a bunk “room”? We have a camper and have only camped at established campgrounds, not actually out in the wilderness with no access to a bath house. To us, the bathroom is a waste of space! Bathrooms are always a short walk away, and in 3 1/2 years we’ve never used the tub for more than storing beach gear!
Oh wow, how fun! 3 years ago we bought a 1951 New Moon trailer (Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz did a movie back in the 50’s featuring a New Moon). We planned to redo it and use it as a guest house, but then we had 2 babies and what with my husband running his own business, well, we just have no time. So the New Moon sits. Which we’re a little sad about, because it could be really cool! Best wishes with Big Red’s reno, and (haha) if you decide you want to renovate another trailer once you finish it, let me know! 🙂
Oh, I have no camper or camping stories but this camper has a whole lot of potential. I know a gal that has been restoring this type camper for a couple of years and does all of them in some kind of vintage style and they are amazing!!! People buy them from all over the country. I can’t wait to watch yours transform. Lots of fun memories are waiting to be made in this. Best of luck and may it all go smoothly.
Couldn’t live without my microwave when camping. When we don’t grill, I try to make all the food ahead of time so I can just reheat in the microwave. I’d much rather be enjoying myself than being stuck preparing meals.
Lisa E says
So fun and great timing. We plan on buying a used RV within a year’s time. I am not sure how old it will be however, I have already warned the hubby, if it’s not pretty, I will make it so! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!
It is amazing where they can squeeze in storage – isn’t it! Looks like a great project then fun times for the family.
Induction burner, convection microwave, slow cooker and/or pressure cooker – those are the things I hear RVers use the most in their kitchens.
Kelly Kuntz says
What if you camp off the grid and don’t have electricity? Out west we camp a lot and having hook ups is a rarity. With the propane stove you can cook as long as you have propane. If you switch to microwave/hotplate set up you would have to be connected to electricity or a generator right? If you could keep the stove and loose the oven I would do that. We never ever use/used the oven.
I’m pretty sure I have a bath in my *house* smaller than your RV one. You guys are going to have so.much.fun.
Kristin F. says
It’s super fun that you posted this today, because we shared our camper reno plans on our blog today, too! Granted, ours is a 2007 and we’ve camped in it for several years — but it’s ugly and I decided it needed to be fancy and beautiful. Because, why not? I’m so excited to follow along !!
Your tub is not “mustard yellow,” it’s “harvest gold.” Trust me, I’m old enough to remember the exciting trends of “harvest gold” and “avocado” for appliances and fixtures.
Oh my gosh I am so excited for you!! I have wanted a vintage travel trailer for a while now. I’ll be taking all kinds of notes while y’all figure this thing out!
LOVE! my husband and I talk about getting a camper all the time! We’d love to give our boys the same childhood memories we had growing up camping at the lake. We talked about your kitchen situation, lol. I love the idea of gaining back counter space, you always need prep area and you’ll do most of your cooking outside probably. You could get a convection microwave and use a toaster oven if you need more oven and plug in “Stove” burners. You have plenty of storage to store them away 🙂 I think a bigger fridge makes sense to store dairy, eggs, and meat, the kind of things that you may not want in a cooler. We can’t wait to see what you do, we’ll live vicariously through you two until we’re ready to buy ours 🙂
We bought a trailer last year after looking for a few years. We found one with a triple bunk (we have 3 boys) and a queen for us (it’s not vintage it’s 2012). We love the triple bunk set up so we don’t have to take down the table. But like you said it may not be used just for your family. Ours has an oven, stove and a microwave and I hardly use the microwave at all.
Allison Hernandez says
So fun. I would love to find a camper to redo one day! I would recommend a Nuwave oven (http://amzn.to/2mgtDNc) instead of a regular oven. We have one in our kitchen and literally use it for everything. I hardly use my regular oven anymore.
Brandi Paxton says
We have a vintage Shasta we totally remodeled in 2012. Our favorite thing we own by far. We got rid of our oven and have a hotplate. Very happy with that decision as I prefer more counter space. Also we put in an apartment sized fridge, Great decision as well. Storage and a place for everything is key. It will keep you sane and organized when you are camping. We also added more outlets. We kept The interior wood and shellaced it. It kept the camper feeling cozy, and feels more original.
I need to update our blog since we have painted the outside and done some more changes to the inside but here it is if you want to check it out. http://paxtonshasta.blogspot.com/
Excited to follow along with your remodel!
Laurel Oberst says
How fun! I can’t wait to see this evolve! What a fun project. I love camping too and I’m excited for you to go out with the boys and the new pup! As for the oven vs hot plate vs microwave – I always go for more refrigeration space when I’m camping, you’ll most likely be using a propane stove outside or cooking over the fire, but unless you’re snow camping, you won’y have a good way to keep things cool outside!
boaties have tons of great small space/double duty type ideas for bed and storage, don’t forget to check out boat cabin solutions fro extra ideas
I was so excited to see this post and can’t wait for the final reveal! I’ve been searching for a camper of some sort for years. I know yours is a camper but check out The Pop Up Princess blog for lots of great remodel ideas. It has a ton of tent trailer remodels and tips on flooring, paint, storage, you name it. I would keep the dinette area for the kids and look into getting a futon or something to replace the bench area. I also say lose the stove/oven combo and go for a convection microwave or toaster oven and an electric hotplate.
Camper remodels are so fun! Vintage Revivals did one “the nugget”. Definitely check Mandi’s it because it was so beautiful afterwards (maybe not as efficient as you would require for so many boys though!!) but some great ideas!
BUNKS! BUNKS! BUNKS! Sorry, is chanting allowed on here? What a FUN project!!!!! I’m so excited for you! I vote bunks (obv from the chanting). You could even do the top one as a fold down bunk and/or enclose them with curtains – kids LOVE that! I’m looking forward to watching your progress, and some camping posts!
I can’t wait to see what you do with this! Also, somewhat patiently, waiting for any sort of update to the Monroe house. Feels like it’s been forever.
My husband actually runs a small trailer building business and I like to think I could give you a couple of tips from what we have learned from personally camping and our customers. I would go hot plate over microwave. We once had a camper with a toaster oven and we never used it. But we use our stove top every tip we go out. If you get one like a coleman stovetop and you can cook outside instead of inside. We try to refer customers to cook outside of the trailer because of the smell. They aren’t vented like regular houses so any cooking smell will hang around. There are also a wide range of plug in fridge/freezer that you could get in place of a real fridge. That way you could load it up in the house or take it with you for a day trip without having to worry about ice. The brand we really like is domestic. I think bunks would be a good idea, maybe look into the type that hangs down and the hooks into place so it doesn’t cut off the sight line or ease of getting around since it seems to be right by the door. I hope that makes sense.
Susan Skilton says
so fun!!! can’t wait to see you get YOUR hands on it so we can live vicariously through you all!
I’d get largest most powerful(power is the key here – don’t want to wait 20 mins for water to boil!) portable burner, largest electric skillet and a microwave. You could use the electric skillet on the table if countertop isn’t large enough…then move it when you eat.
Jill Waters says
Hi Katie! What an exciting adventure. We have a bus that’s converted like an RV. We do not have an oven but rather a hot plate, larger toaster oven and an induction cook top. That seems to fit all of our needs. When we are camping we often set up a table outside and do the cooking there verses inside the bus. Rather than buying an RV fridge (expensive) we opted for a smaller regular fridge from Lowes. (apartment size) It is built in with cabinetry with room for a microwave above it. Can’t wait to see the transformation. Good luck!
My grandparents had a similar layout of a camper when I was growing up. Above the seating/large bed at the front was a bunk where my brother would usually sleep when we went with them. One of my grandpa’s most memorable stories he loved to tell was when he was surprised during the night….when my brother fell out of the bunk above and onto him, ha! My grandpa passed a few years ago, so it’s great to drudge up these old memories, so thank you for that 🙂
We live in Minnesota, and he and my grandma used to drive all the way from Minnesota down to Guadalajara, Mexico. They did that every winter until they were in their mid-70’s.
Shay Rohmann says
When you are ready to camp, take a look at Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Florida, especially in the Springtime!
Love it. But it’s camping. Why would anyone need a stove? Campfire. 🙂
Candice McC says
This is so fun! I’ve been wanting a retro camper to redo as well. If you wouldn’t mind, do you think you could write a post about what to look for and avoid, etc. when shopping around?
We are a camping family as well and we use our crockpot all the time. Just plug it in outside and dinner cooks throughout the day without heating anything up! Using the crockpot liners helps make clean up a breeze!
Yes, replace all the plumbing up front with PEX. It can withstand freezing something like 6 times (obviously you should try to avoid letting them freeze, but things happen). Also, color code the lines red for hot, blue for cold because it will make future repairs so much easier (PEX comes in red and blue, as well as white and probably other colors too). Keep the storage! It seems like a lot now but it won’t later.
I have no doubt that you two can make a camper look amazing! It will be a ton of work but I know you guys aren’t afraid of that! So here’s where I throw out my 2 cents which is probably worth less than that but just going to throw it out there anyways. We looked at campers for a long time too and wanted to just get something cheap to get started. But then we started changing how we thought about our future family vacations in general. We decided that for our family we would rather take more short trips and getaways but we don’t like staying in hotels and paying those prices. So being able to camp comfortably with our kids was what we wanted to do for every vacation. So with that in mind we bought a slightly-less-than 10 year old fifth wheel with 2 slides. It has a room in the back with adult size bunks for our 2 kids. We have a master with a queen at the front. We never fill up our storage int that thing and it’s been great. We’ve camped a ton in private and public campgrounds and we are hooked. Our kids love camping. There are so many places to camp that have resort amenities (if you want that) and then of course you can just “rough it.” We are headed to Ft. Wilderness at WDW this fall with our camper and we are getting to stay on the resort property for a fraction of the cost. So my advice is if you all love it and you can’t get this camper to work for you quickly enough and you see your family vacationing primarily through camping in the future, it’s definitely worth taking at trip out that RV dealership.
Def scrap the oven in favor of a microwave or convection oven! We have an apartment sized fridge, and it’s the perfect size. We can get a whole gallon of milk in there, which is important when you have three kiddos!
On a bathroom level: make sure you have a box of plastic gloves for the dump station (yucky), and my husband bought this thing that is like jet powered to clean the hoses while you dump. He swears by that to get rid of poop. 😉
Melisa Feliciano says
How exciting!! We are on the lookout for a camper as well! I’m hoping we will have one before our next road trip. I’m excited to follow along with the remodel!
Check into the convection microwave. Apparently it can cook food like an oven.
Michelle | Birds of Berwick says
We had one growing up (#6pack) and loved loved loved it! We have the best memories. The table by the kitchen in ours converted to a full-ish sized bed and my parents slept there, while my older brother and sister got the big bed. My twin and I slept…well, in the cabinets. The doors folded down instead of out, with no dividers and made another twin sized bed over the dining table/full bed and she and I slept together up there. We only did this until we were about 6 or 7 and then a bigger camper would have been necessary.
Can’t wait to watch you update this and start reliving those good times! Such great memories! 🙂
Cyndy Cook says
I CANNOT WAIT to see how this puppy turns out!!!!!!
Debbie w says
Please update the Reno of the camper …..we bought a 90’s airstream last summer to place permanently at a river spot. Painting projects are gonna happen soon! I have a small microwave behind one of my upper cabinets. Would totally give up the range and hood (if I could)!
I cannot wait to see what you do with it! So exciting!
First comment I’ve made.
We have a camper and and I’ll be renovating this summer. There is a method of fixing the soft spots with a drill and resin. There are plenty of pointers on YouTube and it may work for any smaller soft spots you have.
I’ll second the losing the oven, with a BBQ you don’t need it.
Can’t wait to see it finished!
I’ve commented once, but your post got me excited about getting ready for summer….I came across these portable bunkbeds, one for adults and one for kids. They’re a little pricey but in your case they might work as an option and not be much more than having to build a more permanent solution. You could go either way with using the adult ones or the kid ones and still keep the large table and bench seating which I think would be great for those times that it’s raining and you need to stay in the camper during the day.
M in Denver says
We started camping in a tent. Then graduated to a pop-up then to a hybrid trailer, then moved to a truck camper when the sons moved out and now up (size-wise) to our first 5th wheel as empty nesters with adult (unmarried) sons who love to camp with us in tents.
One thing you should know before your microwave decision is that you’ll need more electricity for those. You’ll need to camp in a campground with 50 amp service. Last I checked anyway. The microwave and the A/C suck the juice. I have one now but rarely use it. On the flip side, I love the oven! I make a tasty casserole at home before we leave and throw it into a ziploc bag (more fridge/freezer space). At the campsite I throw it in a casserole dish and into the oven while I play cards or cornhole with family. (Or take a hike). Very little fuss and we’re feasting. Great for breakfast casseroles, cinnamon rolls from the tube, etc etc. Love the oven.
Check into the amp requirements though. That’s mostly what I wanted to share. Some places charge extra for 50 but not for 30 amp service. Think about where you’ll be camping most and see what they offer. I think you can’t run a microwave off 30 amp service. And if you do decide to put a microwave in, I would also now suggest a surge protector. We just learned about those last summer for the first time. In late summer and everyone at the park is running their A/C units, you can get a brown out and fry your system without a surge protector. We installed an internal one but you’ll start to see some hanging from the electric posts these days. We were told those can get stolen (a big bummer of our times, right?) This stuff is way less fun to think about than upholstery colors and redesigning a fun kitchen. I just put it out there for your consideration. Happy Trails!
Thats a great tip! We definitely need to replace it all.
xo – kb
Sorry! It’s been all the exterior stuff which costs an arm and a leg…but hopefully soon. We are just trying to be smart about the whole thing!
xo – kb
Yes! Hers is awesome! I wish it was bigger though so that she could have tackled a bathroom too…I would have loved to see that.
xo – kb
What a great suggestion. Off to google!!!
xo – kb
hahahahaha! Please forgive me! 🙂
xo – kb
Oh how fun! I can’t wait to check out your post! I’m glad you spoke up because I wouldn’t have found you otherwise 🙂
xo – kb
It’s ridiculously spacious right?! I mean…in a camper! I’m gonna need pics of your bathroom now 🙂
xo – kb
Yeah…so that’s the thing we definitely considered but in the end feel like the bathroom is a keeper because it helps with the ability of a non-bathroom campsite.
xo – kb
Correct. Right now we are thinking of getting a small generator. It’s the thing that has been a wild card in our minds.
xo – kb
Katie check out the instagram travelmrandmrs. Scroll down quite a ways to see the transformation of her camper. you’ll love it.
Oh so jealous over here. Several years ago we heard about a clearance sale at a caravan park in my home town. My husband, brother & I got all excited thinking about buying and renovating ourselves a couple of caravans. Anyway, we turned up a little late to the auction to hear they’d ALL been purchased for $300 each by the local speedway. It still makes me sad to think of the bargain we missed.
Anyway… best of luck with it. I just read this article last night & thought this might be one super cute caravan reno you haven’t seen yet.
Katie! How fun! We (my 4, 2 year old, and husband) just completed a year of traveling to 59 state and national parks for the centiential anniversary of the national parks system. We traveled in a 69 airstream. You’re smart in buying vintage. We didn’t have one issue with it after we fixed it up. Others we met with new trailers were constantly having to find a shop.
Check out our adventure if you like http://www.adventurepossible.com
Megan E says
Girl family here. We would store all our shoes in our tub and my dad installed a spring shower rod so we could hang out clothes. Lol. It may work better for you as a place for muddy shoes and clothes.
UK Reader says
Look at George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces – specifically any of the campervans that have been featured. The works of wonder on these teeny spaces are incredible. This camper has so much potential, especially with so much DIY experience to hand.
What a find! My mum and grandfather love do up old caravans together so ill be keen to watch your progress on this one.
Caravan holidays are an awesome way to travel. I was on a holiday in the US in 2014 with 6 other adults ranging from 26 to 60 year olds in a 7 berth RV and it was an absolute hoot!!
We just finished a camper rennovation this past year. It took us about four months (mostly because we could only work after the kids went robbed at night). We’ve done quite a few renovation projects around our house, but this one was definitely a labor of love. Some nights we wanted to burn it to the ground but now that it’s finished, we absolutely love it. We take our 4 and 1 year olds camping all the time.
Our layout is almost identical to yours. Ours is a 1973 rally scout. We have a storage cabinet above our larger dinette area that folds down into a bunk. We made a rail guard to put up there and that is where my 1 year old sleeps. My husband and I sleep on one of the dinette fold out beds and my 4 year old sleeps on the smaller eating area’s fold out bed (and we still have one bed to spare). Like I said, our layout is almost identical to yours so I can send you pictures if you’d like.
Jakki Thompson says
How exciting! I have wanted a caravan my entire life! I am in Australia and thought I would suggest getting an annexe (not sure what you call them but here’s a link to one https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/mclaren-flat/caravans/annexe-for-caravan/1139923112 )
If you got one of those, the boys could sleep in that on camp stretchers, bunks or air beds. Like these: http://www.bcf.com.au/Product/Oztrail-Blue-Bunks-Single/214554
I can’t wait to follow this make over because we want to buy an old van and fix it up-our problem is we don’t have anywhere to store one (only have 2m down the side of the house and storage fees aren’t cheap).
On a whim, we bought a craigslist camper. Our granddaughter absolutely loved camping (she aged out, no time for such as that now). We are looking forward to the grandsons camping with us when they are a bit older. Your boys will love it too. We had to have the floor replaced due to a leaking roof and we had to have it painted and the roof recaulked. I wouldn’t do away with the bathroom. We have only used the oven and stove a couple of times. We always grill outside. We have had to go into town and eat because the rain prevented us from grilling our meal. With that being said a camper to me is only a place to sleep and bathe. Unless you have slides there is no room to move around. And make sure you have a decent shelter for your camper to stay in when not in use. Sitting in the elements (mainly the sun) is the worst thing for it. Have fun with the renovation and I can’t wait to see the results. Happy camping!
Yes I’d love to see that! The fold out bunk sounds awesome!
xo – kb
Had a seasonal for several years and helped my parents do some updating to their 5th wheel.
Be prepared for many surprises. Just when you think there will be no more there will be.
Lose the tub. You are never going to take a bath while camping. Turn that into a closet and take that other storage and if you can create a door there and use it for outdoor stuff like chairs and canopy and candles etc.
Having items stored in the camper at all times is great instead of packing everything every time.
Turn the huge table/bed into 4 bunks and be able to raise the top ones so you can still have a large eating, game playing area when it rains.
As the kids get older they might want to tent also especially if they bring friends so your needs are going to change many times over the years.
Hi Katie. I’m a little late to the game, and honestly, I didn’t read through each of the comments so I’m not sure if this has already been mentioned, but fellow blogger Ashley of Under the Sycamore renovated an airstream (I think) trailer. I believe she and her husband have 5 kids. Here’s a link to the post where she unveiled it: http://www.ashleyannphotography.com/blog/2014/06/11/a-tour-of-our-trailer/
The first camper we bought was very old and tiny. We paid $900 for her. We named her “Happy”. Get it? We didn’t restore her; my hubby just took out the windows and made them water tight again and I made her pretty and cozy with new curtains, bedding and decor. Our 2 little girls and I slept in Happy. My husband and our two sons slept in a tent . The boys liked that better anyway. Once when we camped over fall break and had an early snow we discovered we could all 6 sleep inside with our sons on what little floor space there was. Our body heat kept us warm and comfy all packed in there like that. We now have a 32 ft trailer with all the amenities, but I think the kids have the most fond memories of the years with Happy. But, I much prefer our new girl, “Shellie”; the closest thing to a beach house I’m ever going to have. We have a very nice outdoor kitchen that we set up beneath the awning and we do most of our cooking on a gas two burner there or over the camp fire. I also rely heavily on the microwave and also my crock pot. We like to go camping for two weeks at a time. I usually plan about half the meals around the crock pot. It’s saved me many times when it’s rained and cooking outdoors is out of the question. We have a custom Corian top that slides over our stove top in the camper to expand my counter space. I’ve never used the burners in the camper and use the oven very seldom. Studies show that camping is one of the best activities to create closeness and bonding among family members because there is almost always some calamity and going through it together creates closeness. Just like the time it snowed and 6 of us squeezed into a teeny, tiny camper. Can’t wait to see your camper restored and ready to provide your family with great memories!
YES! I love hers! She found the jackpot!
xo – kb
Personally I’d go bigger fridge at any cost including ripping out the stove. I’d plan to grill outside, or plug in an Instant Pot inside.
Athena Miller says
Congratulations! This is super exciting! We just bought an RV as well. Were going to go with a Trailer, like this, but my parents decided we should just put our money together (80% theirs, 20% ours) and go big. Uhm, OK.
My suggestions: Convection microwave, so that it acts very much like an oven AND a microwave, and do the hot plates as you mentioned as a stove.
Bunks bunks bunks. The boys do not want to share when they’re in their tweens. Tents will certainly work as well, but you might not be allowed extra tents at some camp grounds, and there’s some areas you might not want the boys out with bears, etc. Look into some options like submarine style bunk beds.
Vica Bourque says
Looks like so much fun to fix up and then hang out in. My husband is going to be so mad at you when I tell him we now have to buy and fix up a camper like the Bowers did 🙂
Bahahaha! We could all meet up at a camp site! How much fun that would be!
xo – kb
Jessie G. says
I know i ‘m late tot he party — on commenting – this is so stinking cool. I wish we had more camp grounds in our neck of the woods here — in south florida — or better yet that we were are lucky as you guys to have the camper on your property. I live the suburbs. no big lots for us.
Also, congratulations on the baby bump. —