After all the prepping, it’s time to start making a real difference with some paint! We went with white, honestly, we didn’t even consider another color. I’ve seen so many camper remodels and they use great colors but I wanted a clean slate – literally.
We started with the primer. We used Zinsser primer. All this dark wood required two coats. I started with a roller and a paint brush. Um…it didn’t look great. We had already decided a paint sprayer would come in handy for this and other projects we want to accomplish. A roller beat out a brush but the paint sprayer was far superior to either option. The paint went on more even and it dried fairly quickly.
We painted all the cabinets before we replaced the floors so we didn’t have to be careful but there are definitely some places we could have been a little more careful. But, as I’ve said before, and will say again….this is a camper, it’s not perfect. Seriously, we dealt with scrunchi-era decor for years.
Probably the most difficult part of the cabinet restoration was replacing the hardware. I didn’t know that there are different sizes/widths of cabinet pulls. I think there is a standard size but holes where our former pulls were 1/4 inch wider than where the new pulls should be. Also, the screws for the pulls were the wrong size, either too short or too long. We got some different screws that still weren’t perfect. I used a drill bit to widen the holes to make the pulls fit and then we used washers to cover the holes and, in some cases, fill the gaps for the screws that were slightly too long. Again, this is not perfect and we are not professionals.
Did I mention we started this project in late August/early September in Texas? It was so hot – days hitting close to 100 degrees. Elbow grease and sweat equity….except we’re not selling! Interesting, after our first trip post-remodel, someone pulled up to the house asking if were would sell, and they didn’t even know it is almost new inside!
Preparing to take on this project meant spending some time on Pinterest and Googling other projects. There are a ton of great ideas out there. We got a lot of inspiration from The Popup Princess https://www.thepopupprincess.com/
This is what we were starting with:
Looking at it now, it’s like 1997 threw up. But it really wasn’t until I started exploring options that I became committed to changing it. We had been happy with our little camper and it’s functionality…until I realized we didn’t have to be stuck in the era of dial-up internet.
Initially, my remodel partner and husband of 21 years (how are we that old!?) wanted to take out all the cabinets so that we could lay the floor and put them back in. Let me tell you something that will keep coming back as we go through this remodel – we are not professionals! We also have a tendency to cut corners when the things are more than we bargained for. We ended up only taking one dinette seat and the cabinet by the door. All other cabinets either were riveted in or held other more complicated items like the power converter, the bathroom, etc. All of that stayed in and we just put the flooring in around (to be discussed later).
This countertop needed to be replaced completely. We had never used the indoor stove and wanted to have extra counter space beside the sink. In addition to needing one piece, without a big hole for the stove, the counter was cracked. We removed the sink and the stove for a new counter.
After we got the two cabinets removed, we removed all doors from the cabinets and hardware from the doors. We lightly sanded all surfaces that didn’t have plastic shrink wrap faux wood sticker – who knows what it’s really called. We cleaned all the cabinet surfaces with TSP but you could probably just wipe down with a damp cloth, unless there is grease or other substance.
We removed the faux wood sticker. It was old and brittle and easily peeled off.
Finally, we removed all t-trim and electrical plates to prepare for painting. I was still pretty happy to be working on this project at this point. We had the optimism of a “small” project to do on weekends during 2020 isolation.
I am fortunate in so many ways. My parents liked to be outside and do outdoorsy stuff. My parents and their college friends started camping together before I was born, and I was along for the ride from my beginning. This group stayed friends throughout the years, kids, marriages – life. The group tries to make a couple of trips a year to catch up and enjoy each other’s company. Some years we’re good at keeping to the twice a year schedule, lately not so much. Covid has definitely kept us physically distant. I am part of the second generation of this group and we are now the parents of the third generation. We don’t have any fourth generation campers among us, yet.
We all started as camping traditionalists. Tent campers through and through. As the years pass, a few popups have made their debut and we actually have two RV’ers now, though we still don’t consider this real camping. As second generation campers, we loved our tent until we were camping with a baby. Camping in a tent in Texas is limited to a few months a year. Adults can tough out a little cold or a some heat (more cold than heat) but we weren’t enjoying tent camping with an infant. So…when our third third generation camper was about six months old (2007), we purchased a 2002 Coleman popup. Game. Changer. We could go camping in the winter without freezing and we actually traveled out to Big Bend in August the second summer we had our popup. We put a ton of faith our AC would make that trip, it did and it’s still running though I don’t think I’d expect it to labor through long desert days over 110 now.
Our 2002 Coleman has notched off 18 years of camping, 13 with us – two kids, two dogs and a few family and friends have enjoyed our accommodations. She has been stored in our garage and has held up very well, but, she’s starting to show her early 2000 roots. Outdated upholstery and laminate. Worn and chipping cabinets. Remodeling a camper though? How do I even start? Pinterest.