We love to camp. I started camping when I was 19, and Jordan and I were still dating. My parents let me go with his family, and I have been hooked ever since. I started in a tent, but with the addition of 3 tiny humans in 2 years, we upgraded to a 5th wheel. Yes, I am spoiled, no, I’m not sorry, and if you’re not nice you can’t use my bathroom. Kidding, mostly. The camper we bought had belonged to my in-laws, and hadn’t been updated since it was built in the 80s. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the entire thing was paneling and wall paper. While it was a little ugly, okay, a lot ugly, it was perfect for our little family and was in fantastic shape. So of course, we decided to DIY it, and update it. The process was a little crazy, but I am here to walk you through what we learned.
First, let’s start with the before pictures, so you can really get a good idea of what I mean by “paneling”, “ugly”, and “wall paper”.
Alright, we good? I have more befores if you realllllllly want to see them, but I think this paints a pretty clear picture. The very first thing I did, was make new curtains, and get rid of the valances. There was a fair amount of prep work involved in getting these down so that the walls were ready to paint, there were a lot of staples in the wall holding the curtains and valances in place. I am not a seamstress, so when I say “made curtains” I am using that term pretty loosely, but because I can’t sew I am here to tell you that you can update a space like this without any skill! I used hem tape, or stitch witchery, to hem the curtains and just bought a cute (and on clearance! Hobby Lobby is the best) duck canvas fabric to make them. Jordan did the measuring for me, and I was able to make all 14 panels in two days worth of nap times. Or roughly 4 hours, for those of you without napping toddlers.
Another very high priority for this project, was Operation: Lose All Paneling. We opted to go for a white paint, to brighten the space. It took 3 coats of paint to cover everything. We had started with a decent quality white paint that we had leftover from our Super Kid, Super room project. When it was time to buy more paint, I opted for the thick, cheap stuff that covers well. Also, we noticed that using a smooth roller, and a wide brush was great. Just be mindful of using a brush, because wood paneling has no texture, the strokes are very easy to see, so going over the brushed areas with the roller to smooth it out is a great trick.
For the wallpaper, we painted it. I had initially thought to cover it with a fun peel and stick wall paper, but thought better of it. I am so glad I did. The continued white throughout the space really ties it together and makes it look clean and bright. One fun thing we did decide to do in the kitchen was to paint the drawer faces and cabinet doors a fun color. We had leftover yellow from another project, and thought that it would be a funky touch. So glad we went with it, it just screams retro happiness to me.
Fabric choice was one of the harder things I had to do. I wanted something timeless, and fun, but that was durable, washable, and not $20/yd. I ended up choosing a solid navy (from JoAnn fabrics), and a fun green and navy floral (Amazon really has everything). These two fabrics were used to recover the bench seats for the dinette, and the cushions for the couch. When it came to covering the cushions, I was able to do the dinette myself. Again, I don’t sew, so we bought some backing, cut it to size, and then I stapled the fabric to the backing while pulling it taut. Worked like a charm. That being said, the one downfall is that by doing it this way the fabric isn’t removable so I have to clean them in the camper. The previous covers weren’t removable either though, so I figured it was probably fine. The couch cushions required a little more finesse, so I roped a friend who can sew into helping me. She did an amazing job! The finished interior is everything we hoped it would be. I love spending time in there now, and feel proud of what we accomplished.
The final thing that the camper needed, was some love on the outside. I am not sure what color our trailer started, but it was a dingy brown-ish? I’m not even sure, but I think Jordan hated it more than I did.
I can’t take the credit for the tips I am about to give for painting the outside. I did very little work, and even less research for this part of the project, that was all Jordan and our dear family friends. We found out there is a paint called DTM (direct to metal), and it is stupid expensive (~$45-60/gal, you need 2 or 3 gallons for a project like ours), hard to find, but can be sprayed or rolled straight on to a camper, or a shop. We chose three colors and went with it. Jordan used an attachment for his drill that took the decals off, and then pressure washed it. I helped him to tape everything off, and he did the painting. He used a paint sprayer that he picked up at Harbor Freight for $15. Worked great, and it only took a few evenings to get the entire thing painted. Start to finish we were able to do this project in two weeks, only working after the kids went to bed, or when they napped. Here is the after of the outside.
To say that I am proud of what we accomplished would be a huge understatement. Through work discounts, frugal wife finds, and reusing things we already had the entire project only cost about $350. I am not sure what our next big project will be, but we have obviously caught the DIY bug, so I know we will find something.