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!

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Before & After: Client Abstract Gets A New Kitchen

Gray Kitchen with Subway Herringbone Tile and Quartz counter tops

Client Abstract had been living with her blah oak laden kitchen for years. Not only were her oak cabinets a seriously depressing shade of....oak, the brown floors and the beige walls were just not helping matters. She tried everything she could to give it some life by infusing some decor and a bit of her own bold artwork. Wasn't working. Nothing could overcome the beige!

Beautifying it was only have the battle. You can see in the photos that the room is quite large, but the layout of the old kitchen was ridic. The sliding glass doors are placed right in the middle of the room separating the kitchen and dining area. Now the kitchen is all squished into one side making the center of the room useless. The appliances are all sitting on top of each other, meanwhile there is a dance floor size space going unused. Unless you're dancing of course.

Oak Cabinet Kitchen Beige with Dance Floor

I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that this one was a tricky floor plan to overcome. It was a big room, but very long and not very wide if you're going to try to squeeze an island in. Also, the length of the room was becoming an issue because we needed to include a way to allow the dogs to get out to that section of the yard. The doggie access point was right in the middle of where we wanted the new kitchen.

Moving on to the other side of the space was the dining area. Client Abstract wanted to put in a new slider to the pool deck here. We'd need to move the one in the middle of the room to make way for the new kitchen, so this was a good plan. But, space was already an issue. It was getting pretty tight as it was.

Dining Room Before with Red wall

I ask a ton of questions during design consultations. Through this questioning I want to know what people want, but I also try to discover what it is they REALLY want. Many of my clients hire me because they have so many ideas and need help making sense of and weeding through them all. It's my job to take those ideas, try to implement many of them but also make sure that the overall goal (what they REALLY want) is achieved. Client Abstract, for instance, wanted a bar area in the dining room. After some debate, we realized it was a fun idea, but in reality it would probably just collect dust and be in the way. Not only that, all of those bottles would really take away from the new uncluttered vibe we were going for which is what she REALLY wanted. So, instead of a bar we made sure there was a dedicated area in the kitchen cabinets for the booze, as well as a wine fridge to take care of the important stuff.

So, back in the kitchen I set to work trying to come up with a game plan for these cabinets. We originally thought a peninsula coming off the wall where the original sliding doors were was the best option since the room wasn't very wide. Only problem was that it eliminated the doggie door. There was just no way to fit the sink, the range, a peninsula and room for seating on the wall and still allow for the doggie door. We also didn't want to move the sink because we didn't want to move the plumbing or do new flooring. To move the plumbing, we would have had to jackhammer up the floor since houses here in Arizona are generally on a slab. No basement ceiling to run plumbing through. The flooring was in good shape and replacing the entire first floor would be a huge expense.* Long story short, a peninsula wouldn't work.

An island would work but could only be 2 feet deep to allow enough room to move around it. Also, we'd have to axe that arch that looked important but was just really in the way.  Client Abstract didn't mind losing the arch, but didn't like the idea of looking at the kitchen and seeing the side of an island. Hmmmm....then I discovered the answer. An angled island. It was weird, but good weird. AND it worked.

Long Skinny Island Floor Plan with Angle

In real life the island is not angled this much. We set the cabinets exactly where we wanted them to allow enough clearance all the way around. The red lines in the floor plan indicate countertop placement. We were able to angle the island because the counter on the range wall ends while the island continues. Normally you wouldn't have the island jut out longer than the cabinets on the opposite wall, but then again Client Abstract and I are not normal. The angle helps the longer island feel balanced in the room. We put 2' deep cabinets in the straight section of the island so it could house an trash bin cabinet and plenty of storage. The angled section we made 1' deep with an overhang to allow for seating. Here's the new and improved kitchen.

Angled long skinny island with gray cabinets
Gray Kitchen Cabinets with White Quartz Countertops, Sputnik chandelier and wire pendants

You may have noticed in the floor plan the area opposite the island that had a counter overhang. Also seen in the photo above where there is a counter but no cabinets below. Say hello to the doggie door!

Doggie door built into cabinetry

This is one of my favorite parts! I felt like a mad kitchen scientist when I came across this idea. Putting the doggie door "in" the cabinetry allowed the counter to extend under the new window replacing the slider. We wanted the width of the new window to match the existing window over the sink. The doggie door closes and locks if Client Abstract is away. If she or a new owner are no longer in need of a doggie door, they can frame in and drywall the area inside and slide a stool or a rolling cart under the counter. Shelves could even be made to fit the space.

On the other side of the room is where I put my client to work. Don't worry, she was game. We needed something on that far wall as an accent to break up all of the white paint and her husband wasn't feeling the whole wallpaper thing. I found in her Pinterest boards a piece of abstract art that looked like giant black brush strokes. I knew she could pull this off after seeing some of her work around the house. It would be perfect! Nice and bold, but yet would not detract from the monochromatic uncluttered feel of the room. She did a great job!

Abstract Black Brush Strokes Accent wall
Gray Kitchen with Abstract Art Accent Wall

My client was also gifted this great mirror that kept with the theme of uncluttered-ness, but also was useful in reflecting the light from the new patio sliding door, as well as a view of the pool. 

I'm very happy with how it turned out, not only in aesthetic but in how it worked for my client's needs.

Before and After: Oak to Gray Cabinet kitchen
Before and After: Dining room with abstract black and white accent wall
Gray Kitchen Cabinets, White Quartz, Herringbone Backsplash

Even though there are twice as many cabinets and added seating now, the new kitchen feels much more open and airy. I can only imagine the sort of buffet she could serve on that huge 12' island! She could even take the booze she was going to have in her bar and set up a mixing station with plenty of space left over. I see many parties in her future.

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*Side note: we did have to run electric in a small trench to the island but got lucky! The tiles popped up and we were able to replace them no problem. 

Kitchen Redesign: A Rustic Modern Kitchen

When we're not renovating houses, we're doing new designs for those who want to tackle the renovations on their own. A client asked us to put together something for her dining room and kitchen. She filled out our quick questionnaire and sent us some photos. Game on!

The Needs

"We need to move the washer/dryer- with this, we will be re-designing the eat in space of the kitchen. We're also looking to update the kitchen cabinets and floor. We don't have an extensive budget, but we are learning to be handy. We recently moved in to this house, and there's a chance we may move again in the next 5 years. So, we're looking for something functional for our family but not too custom that could potentially hurt the resale appeal. We are hoping to paint the kitchen cabinets white and change the floor of the kitchen."

The Room

Laundry closet in kitchen

The Design

When I saw this kitchen and dining area, I immediately knew what to do. Simple and clean lines of white cabinets and white backsplash would appeal to many buyers and won't be out of style within her 5 year timeline. A hint of color in the furnishings and window treatments would add a little fun without any permanency. 

The Roadmap 

  1. Cabinets: Let’s start with the most important part. We recommend leaving most of the cabinets, but paint them a nice crisp white. Behr’s Ultra Pure White is a good choice. To open up the space a bit, remove the cabinets to the left of the window, eliminating the awkward and bulky cabinet that sticks out over the peninsula. Ideally, the soffit would go, too but that could be costly. It’s ok to stay as it is. 
  2. Counters and Door Hardware: From your photos, it appears that you have black granite counters and stainless cabinet pulls/hinges that could remain and work with the new look.
  3. Flooring: To get the rustic look, use a tile that looks like worn wood. It will hold up well with the traffic in the kitchen and dining area. 
  4. Backsplash: Tile the backsplash with a simple white subway tile. It is classic, modern and inexpensive. White grout will give it a clean, simplistic look while a dark gray grout will give it a little more interest. Carry the backsplash from the refrigerator on the right, all the way to the peninsula on the left of the sink. We recommend carrying it all the way to the soffit where the cabinets to the left of the sink used to be. 
  5. Shelving: Replace the cabinets that were removed with open shelving. We like black brackets with a pine board painted white on top. If you will use the shelves for dishes, make sure it is deep enough to hold your dinner plates (10-12”). Keep the items on the shelves to a few neutral items to keep from looking cluttered. 
  6. Faucet: Replace the faucet with a modern stainless goose neck version.
  7. Laundry: Decide on whether to move the laundry to the basement. Several things to consider are: 
    • Do she really need more storage in the kitchen? 
    • Will moving the laundry to the basement be a huge inconvenience being further from the bedrooms?
  8. Closet: If she does decide that she'd like more storage in the kitchen and move the laundry to the basement, consider installing the same wire shelving that is in the pantry. This closet could be used to house small appliances such as the stand mixer, bulky serving ware and other items not used daily. Also good for this closet would be supplies used on the dining table for homework or craft time.
  9. Dining Area: A rustic wood table with a metal base will be great for meals as well as hold up to every day use. Add some interest with colorful metal chairs and an orb pendent light fixture. The rug could be used to add softness to the room, but could be left out in case kids will be dropping lots of food on it. 
  10. Windows: Bring out the bright color used in the dining chairs again in the window shades. Choose a geometric pattern that is lively for a roman shade over the kitchen sink and the same matching fabric in curtains in the dining area.

The Numbers

Along with the design and road map, she received a spreadsheet with the locations of all the items in the mood board, quantities she'll need for her space and the total cost to purchase the items for the 2 rooms. The total came to $2210, not including any labor costs and building materials.

What many of our clients do is use this as a starting point. We find middle ground priced materials at realistic costs, not best case scenarios. This way, if they find a coupon for Lowes or a similar tile at a discount store, they're going to come in under budget. Win-win!