Camper Update: This Ceiling Is Bananas

Guys I can't wait to show you how the ceiling in my camper has turned out!!!

I partnered with Milton & King on this project which was awesome because from the start I knew I wanted to wallpaper the ceiling of this camper. They have so many great options and I wanted this place to be a bit wild. The biggest surface area to do it on is the ceiling. Liz Kamarul's RV was an initial source of inspiration. 

It wasn't my intention to do tropical like she did. At first I was thinking about something a little more geometric and subtle like the one on the left. Then one day on the way to school, my 4 year old daughter says, "Mommy, I think we should do palm trees on the ceiling in the camper." I don't even know if she knew I was doing something on the ceiling. I'm don't know where that came from, but I did have the Jungle Palm wallpaper on the right in the back of my mind and asked, "How about banana trees?" She screamed, "BANANAS!" which I took to mean "Hell yes." and so the decision was made. The wild factor in this camper multiplied by 100 thanks to my design assistant.

Then the doubt set in. I'm about to install banana wallpaper on a ceiling. In a camper. I've never installed real wallpaper, only peel and stick. And did I mention in a CAMPER. Also did I mention that I am alone in this renovation? I've been determined to do most of this camper reno myself bc honestly I need a long LONG break from contractors. But, anyway, I realized that I cannot in fact install wallpaper on a ceiling by myself. So, I enlisted the help of my husband. My husband geeks out as a system's engineer and programmer wallpapering is not in his list of repertoires. This should be interesting. At the time I wanted the wallpaper go up, he was preparing for a very important upcoming conference. I had to wait. I wanted the wallpaper to go up first thing after painting in case any goop dropped down from the ceiling or something of that nature. Why go and put new floors, cushions and kitchen stuff in if the ceiling was going to rain goop? You see how this is becoming dramatic?

Let me paint a picture for you about how this was to go down. The camper is parked at a storage lot. No water. No electricity. No one to install wallpaper for you. My daughter and her friend were also with us. Let me remind you they are 4. So, when the day came I was at anxiety threat level: MIDNIGHT.

Luckily, inside the camper we had two very long benches to prep everything on and I didn't quite care if I scored right through the paper to the bench. It would be covered with paint and a cushion eventually. Here are the materials we used including this glue from Home Depot. Believe it or not it is not that easy to find wallpaper materials these days even though wallpaper is all the rage.

So, we finally got started after weeks and weeks of self imposed stress. Would it be falling down everywhere? Would we be able to match up the seems? Would we kill each other? So many questions. And guess what....

IT WAS EASY.

The most difficult part about this process was thinking about it.

I mean why WHY did I let this get so built up in my head? All we did was paint the glue on the ceiling with a paint brush. Then we lifted up a sheet together and got it lined up. We didn't fight! I mean we aren't really fighters but you know when frustration is high, barking ensues. But, no need for that because this was EASY.

We worked in small sections so we didn't have to hold up a really long piece and try to work around too many obstacles at once. In the camper there are a ton of obstacles like curved walls, cabinetry, more cabinetry, appliances and doors all within a foot or inches of each other. So, small pieces it was.

We were even able to match up the pattern pretty well considering the non-straightness of....um everything. We layered up the paper in spots so that it matched and honestly you can see the layered areas but you can't. I mean who will be inspecting the ceiling except us at this very moment?

It easily could've taken us 3-4 hours to complete but we instead stopped after 2 hours because 4 year olds. We came back the next day and finished up within an hour or so. I think Dusty was probably getting sick of me saying "OMG OMG OMG I FREAKING LOVE THIS!" and "DUSTY, I'M SO HAPPY WE DID THIS AND WE DIDN'T WANT TO KILL EACH OTHER."

It really was so easy. I encourage anyone to give it a try. If you know how to work a paint brush and a have a buddy to help out, you'll golden. Check out Milton & King's full inventory of wallpaper! They have so many options!

 

 

 

 

 

Camper Update: DIY Geo Dinette Table

Geometric Basswood Camper Table

One of the very first projects, besides painting the interior, was making this dinette table! I originally had the idea that I would have If You Give A Girl A Saw make one for me. But, if you follow her you know, she is very busy. At the time I wanted to order her shop was down with no reopen date reported so, I decided I'd make one. This would be a chance to put that chop saw I have to work for the second or maybe third time ever. 

Here was the inspiration for the table.

Obviously the pattern she did here is amazing. But, look at that coffee. Delicious. And a green mug. My camper color scheme has green in it. Staging works my friend. I was sold.

In order to make this as easy as possible, I thought I'd take the old table and just glue the pieces of wood on top. I saw an episode of The Weekender (around 16:20) where she uses balsa wood on a cart and thought this will be perfect. Cheap craft wood is the way to go. Thin, easy to cut, beginner friendly.... but, after seeing balsa wood in person at Michael's, I could tell that would be way too soft. It's so soft that you can dent it with just your fingernail. That's no good for a table top. What I did see at Michael's was a harder wood called basswood. Unfortunately, they had only 1- 2 pieces of each width. Hobby Lobby same problem. So, I went to good ole Amazon and bought a batch of it.

A full list of the materials will be at the bottom of this post. This post contains affiliate links.

The basswood arrived and I got to work. First thing, I learned which I probably should've checked in the first place is that the old table was crap. It was particle board with a thin laminate on top. It was crumbling and no bueno as a base. I had to buy a new base so I headed to Home Depot and bought a good piece of cabinet grade plywood. I didn't want it to have a bunch of knots in it and make my table all bumpy. I also didn't want it to warp. I bought a 4' x 8' piece and had them cut it to the size of my table and had ample leftovers I could save for other projects.

Finally after all of this running around I was able to start actually working on the damn table. I started by configuring the pattern. I split down the middle both directions and marked it off on the plywood. Honestly, this plywood is so pretty it could've been the table on it's own.

Next I figured out the angles. I had been taking an architectural drafting class which came in handy. I had some triangles (not pictured) to help with determining the necessary angles. 

Making the first cuts for my geometric table
Making cuts

First I cut every piece to cover the board. I wasn't sure if I was just going to paint on the actual pattern at this point or cut the pieces into a pattern and then just paint those actual pieces.

Look, I'm a newb. I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm winging it. So long as you get that. This post is as much of a what not to do as what TO DO. But, in the end you know I made a table so the lesson here is just try and maybe you'll end up with something you can use. LOL. 

Next thing was cutting the ends off so it was close to the size of the actual table. I left a little overhang so I had some to cut off if necessary instead being too short.

If I look back now I think I wish the pattern chosen a narrower basswood but honestly figuring out the angles and cutting all of these pieces was enough for me. Design-wise I'd prefer the narrower pieces but DIY-project-wise I'm glad I had the wider pieces and less cuts, angles and pieces to deal with.

Next, I decided to go ahead and cut the pattern into the pieces instead of just painting it. I wanted this to be "legit". During the first cuts I learned that if I moved the saw super fast that the wood would splinter, so this time I was sure to go slow and smooth. Why call it a chop saw if you can't karate chop it down!? Makes no sense to me.

After cutting the pieces I painted the appropriate parts. Next up was gluing it all down. This part just about ruined everything. The thing is that this basswood is super thin and probably the downfall of the entire project (except it worked so maybe I'm exaggerating). Once I glued it down with construction adhesive it started to curl. I checked in with my guy Joe Wood at All Around Joe in Cincinnati. He was my long time contractor when I lived there and gives me pro-tips when I've gotten myself into a situation like this. He recommended I clamp down some wood over top to help secure it. Probably would've worked except I didn't have clamps. I used paint cans and heavy tools and everything under the sun that would fit. I wish I had a photo of this because it was a shit show. Anyway, the next day I come to see the results and it was good.... not great. A spot where I used an unopened tool still in its box to hold it down didn't stay down like I wanted it to. It curled and buckled in areas as seen in the crappy photo below.

You can also see where the adhesive squeezed through in some spots. That I wasn't too worried about, I could sand it out. I re-adhered any areas that popped up and then got to work sanding away the adhesive and any lumpy areas. This is not that legit of a project. I'm aware. I also sanded the edges away. You can see below that they were rough where I cut them close but not exact. I was afraid using a saw would really tear this wood up so sanding it nice and slow was the best option. The photo below is before I re-glued the edges.

Then the corners I rounded off with the sander so no body stabbings will take place while maneuvering around the table in the camper.

So at this point the table is just about done, just cleaning up and putting a finish on it. Some of the paint was sanded away when I was sanding off the adhesive and trying to flatten some bumpy areas. So, I taped off the pattern and touched up the paint.

FINALLY, it was time to put a finish coat on it. In order to make this thing as flat as possible and fill in any gabs and unwanted "character" I decided to use an extra thick poly. I was hoping it would act as a kind of epoxy. It did a pretty good job but couldn't fix all of my mistakes. :)

Here's the table all done!

And then I left it outside for a few days and it rained. I live in the desert. It doesn't rain. Anyway, I cried internally and then brought it inside. After a day of drying the warping of the basswood subsided and it settled back into place. I put another poly coat on it to seal it all together a little more. 

Next, I stole the old hardware off the old table including the cross supports underneath. This table is meant to convert to a bed and hold someone sleeping so the supports were necessary. 

AND TADAAAAAA.....ALL DONE!

There are some obvious flaws, such as some warping in the one corner but since I've never made a table before, and used a chop saw for only like the 3rd time ever, I'm pretty happy with the outcome!

Stay tuned for a bunch of camper updates! A bunch of projects are being completed and in the pipeline for new posts. There are a bunch of wild DIY projects here I can't wait to share with you!

Material Source List

Camper Update: Paint and Getting Away With Wild

It's about time I start updating you on the progress of my camper! If you recall in my intro post I mentioned that I chose this camper because it did not need to be gutted or have major work done to it. By major I mean ripping anything out or rebuilding any of it. It will, however, receive MAJOR cosmetic updating. MAJOR. As in this will be unrecognizable as the original camper soon. 

Apologies for the crappy iPhone pics. I wasn't about to take the fancy camera to the camper with paint covered hands.

Painted Camper Walls

The first thing I did was attack this thing with a coat of paint. After being totally bummed about spending hours upon hours of gutting my last camper, I was determined to get something changed on this thing right away. I started painting immediately. It was important (FOR ME) that I felt like progress was happening right away. I didn't want this camper to turn out like the last one where I clear it all out and then quit. I probably should have prepped the walls more by sanding them a bit. I probably should have also used an oil based paint or something a little more suitable for paneling than just a paint and primer combo. BUT OH WELL. It's just paint and it can be touched up. 

Already the thing feels bigger and cleaner. The ceiling feels higher. The space feels wider. The place feels....BORING. 

About this time I would typically start freaking out thinking OMG this white is too much white. It's so boring! I have done enough white walls now though to know to keep moving forward. The details I will be adding will fill in the space visually. These plain boring white walls will act as a nice backdrop to the other fun things I have planned for this space. 

White walls in camper renovation

In fact, I have some CRAZY things planned for this camper. I feel like since this is mine and because it is a recreation vehicle, I can let loose a A LOT. The conversations I've been having with my friends and family about this camper reno have been pretty comical. I text them saying, "Hey what do to you think about doing THIS for a backsplash?" and their response is like, "ummmmm seriously? No." You see they are thinking about this in a sensible, let's make this space beautiful kind of way where as I am full on LET'S BUST OUT SOME CRAZY SHIT UP IN HERE mode.

This is a place to experiment.

I'm doing A TON of experimenting on this camper. I'm going to try some things I couldn't likely get away with in a flip house. So, here we go with some seriously weird stuff and not just in the decor department.

  1. I am mixing super fun patterns and finishes. I'm going WILD just for the fun of it. This isn't a house, it's a fun vacation vehicle. I'm treating it as such.
  2. I'm doing a majority of the renovations on this camper BY MYSELF. I haven't done much in the way of DIY projects in a very long time and I like the idea of making this thing newer with my own two hands. My husband has his own business to run so pulling him away from it to work on the camper with me doesn't make sense financially. There is one project I'll need his help on so he's in on that. Otherwise I'm on my own. I've actually turned down some offers to help me just because I'm stubborn that way. I'm committed to solitude.

    2. I don't have many tools at my disposal. I do have a saw and sander, but you see, my camper is at a storage lot so I can't plug anything in there. I'm doing most of the projects that require power tools at home. Otherwise, I'm trying to find ways to get things done with out a bunch of fancy tools, expense or even electricity.

I'm putting these restrictions on myself in order to foster more creativity. Some of it, like the need for power tools, can be beaten by simply moving the camper to somewhere where I can use electric. I'm pretty stuck to my restrictions, though. When you're forced to stay within certain constraints, you can come up with some pretty interesting ideas. I'll be thinking pretty far outside the box in some cases. It's honestly keeping me up at night as I ride this freight train from one idea to the next. SO MANY IDEAS. Last night I was borderline having nightmares in a haze of half consciously hashing out backsplash ideas. The only thing that kept the constant swirling of ideas from being a nightmare is that it was about backsplashes and thus cannot be anything but a dream.

So, I hope this creativity ride will be as fun for you as it has been for me so far. I'll try to share each project and the thought process behind it. It won't always make sense, but that's ok. Sometimes I like to do things just because. It's fun to see where it takes me.

And a renovation cannot be complete without a before and after (middle?) pic so here is the space since painting everything white.

Before and After Camper Painted white

Coming up next will be the stove which has been painted, as well as the banquette table project I completed. Stay tuned!

Wanna get camper updates in your inbox? How about my Super Secret Saturday Six Newsletter or event announcements? Subscribe here if you haven't yet.

Camper Throwdown: Vintage Vs. Vanity

A Camper Throwdown of Epic Proportions

Vintage vs. Vanity. Mid-century modern vs. Glam. @FlippinWendy vs. @SonoranDesertLiving. It's on.

You may have seen us spouting off about our camper renovations over on Instagram and we've shared a bit in our stories. But, if you missed that here is a place where you can soak up all of the old before photos. 

Guys, I've been looking for a camper for YEARS. Seriously. I bought one a few years ago and thought oh it just needs some paint and it will be cool. Like an idiot instead of just patching and painting the water damaged areas I started pulling the interior skin off. Guess what. STUPID AF IDEA. The skin panels are installed behind the "furniture" in the camper so once you start taking one out, the furniture comes out and there really is no stopping point. So, I ended up gutting the whole thing and result was a box on wheels. I felt pretty defeated and decided to give up on that camper and sold it for a third of what I paid for it. I didn't have the energy for it anymore. Then we moved to Phoenix. So, camper purchasing was put on hold for a bit.

I started looking again on and off with nothing really striking my fancy. Too expensive, too beat up, not the right time to tackle a project like this, small beds, no toilet....reason after reason kept popping up to not commit. I wanted something that had a bed big enough to be comfortable and fit my husband and 4 year old daughter. I also wanted a kitchen and toilet. Getting up in the middle of the night to go outside to the toilet sounded pretty lame, especially with a kid. Anyway, sooner or later this camper showed up and it was like AHHHHHH! The skies parted and it revealed itself to me.

Funny thing was that Rachel of Sonoran Desert Living was looking for a camper as well. She also found the perfect one for her and on the same day even! The Camper Throwdown was on! Dual camper renovations commenced!

So, let me introduce you to my camper (which has no name as of yet)! I've got a 1971 Reddale Camper. It is 19' long and in decent condition. It definitely needs some cosmetic updating but all in all not bad. And I'm definitely not pulling out any skin panels this time! Big win. Here's the exterior. Not cute. But, it has potential.

The exterior has some peeling and worn paint but that'll all come off when I strip it down to the metal. I'll need to address the door knob and the front awning. It's all wonky and broken in one corner. 

Front of 1971 Red dale Camper

Ok enough of that, let's get to the good stuff. The inside! Here she is! So much wood.

To get your bearings, see the entry door to the left behind the dinette. Behind me is the front where that awning lives. This camper is quite spacious without being obnoxiously long to pull behind our truck. The ceiling is around 7' high so it's very comfortable for me to walk around in. The door with the mirror on it is a closet. A closet! How can that even fit? The door directly center in the photo is the bathroom, but we'll get that in a minute. To the right you can see the kitchen with a working gas fridge, the furnace below it and everything that kitchens have. IT ALL WORKS. I saw it with my own eyes.

Guys this shit is almost pristine. Seriously. It's too bad it's so ugly that I have to change it. 

The stove top and oven front panel, as well as the range hood, are already off to the powder coater's where they await total transformation. The rest of the kitchen will get a coat of white paint. Counters and backsplash are still being decided on. 

Let's look at the other side of the camper.

The benches are nice and long and have an expandable table in between them. They also convert into a LARGER than king bed! What what!? That was a major deciding factor for buying this camper. It seems all smaller vintage campers have beds no larger than full size, if even that. Also notice all of the storage. There are cabinets right above that table, as well as cabinets under each bench. There are even more under the dinette benches and some above it. So many. It has so much storage that it can be completely open above the benches where I get the opportunity to install some awesome lighting. It's like a small miracle has happened.

Camper kitchen and bench in vintage 1971 Red Dale

Let's head over to that bathroom now. See it here at the back of the camper.

Let's talk about this bathroom bc OMG. It's olive green. You guys it literally took me 100 attempts to get this shot. So appreciate!

I posted about this bathroom in my stories and to my surprise, when I declared I was keeping it, there was an outpouring of agreement. AGREEMENT ON OLIVE GREEN BATHROOM. What has this world come to? And way to let me down guys. I was really hoping to be a rebel here! But seriously though, I'm glad this won't be a big to-do if olive green is in fact now in. Maybe WE (those of you who agreed with me and I) are trend setters. That's probably what it is. 

I'm not sure that I'm IN LOVE with this olive green bathroom but I don't hate it enough to rip it out. Remember, bad memories of the last camper stripping it down and not building it back up so I'm trying to salvage what I can here. Since I decided to commit to this bathroom, I'm using it as THE source of inspiration for the design. I"m going green in this here camper. There will be several greens. 

Anyway, these campers are an entire house in one small footprint so it has been tricky making sure I remember all the things. Every time I walk into the camper I see something else to add to my list. Things like the furnace grate that need to be painted or oh yeah I broke one of the stove knobs so I have to find those. It's a long list that includes renovating but also outfitting it to make us happy. We need sheets and bedding that are easy to put away. We need cushions that are comfortable to sleep on bc if they aren't WHAT IS EVEN THE POINT? This whole camper idea is so we can travel and not stay in hotels. It has to be something we want to use or else it just becomes a showpiece. I'm not about showpieces. 

So back to the Throwdown bit. Rachel and I are pretty much opposites. She likes all the new fluffy glam style stuff while I like vintage and mid century modern. She's square legs. I'm round legs. Furniture. Not real legs. In the end we'll have a side by side reveal and it will be epic AF.  I'll also try to update you as we go! I love your suggestions over on IG, btw! Have any other ideas? Feel free to comment below. Keep watching my stories for updates or subscribe to get posts emailed directly to you!

Have something weird you need designed? I do weird. Click below to learn more about my design services.