How To Do A Pop Up Camper Remodel Even When You Aren’t Crafty

Is it Possible To Do A Pop Up Camper Makeover When You Don’t Have a Crafty Bone In Your Body

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Like pretty much anyone in the google-sphere looking up ways to do a pop up camper makeover, we’ve ALL been sucked into the Pop Up Princess’ remodels as well as scoured endless Pinterest pictures of pop up campers figuring out exactly what we wanted our perfect, fabulous Used- Pop- Up- Camper Turned Chique to look and feel like.

It leads us down this rabbit hole of DIY Pop Up Camper ideas anywhere from full-on makeovers to simple pop up camper interior ideas.

And I was no exception!

(If You’d Like to Jump Straight To The Nitty Gritty of HOW to Remodel Your Camper Without Being Crafty, click here.  But you’ll miss out on some great backstory if you do! 😉 )

Just like most people reading this

I did my homework. I waited with baited breath to find that perfect cheap pop up camper.

I emailed countless Craigslist listings only to realize I hated that particular pop up camper floor plan or to be devastated that we’d pretty much need a complete tear down to the trailer and hope to God that we can then make a complete pop up camper rebuild somehow (with the lack of skills or time that we have!)

We finally landed on Gretel, our new-to-us Starcraft Pop Up Camper, for a really decent price. I was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to make my checklist of all the things I was going to do to pretty her up!!!

But after the winter of her sitting in the garage, I knew it was time to get real.

All of those amazing and beautiful pop up camper remodels that I’d pinned my heart at to?

Those women behind them must be some sort of crafty machines.

I.AM.NOT.

You see, in addition to Gretel just hanging out in my parents’ spare garage over the winter, I’ve also been using these past months to learn a lot about myself. No, seriously. Hang with me here…

One of the things that I have FINALLY (after 30+ years of life!) come to grips with is I am just simply not a finisher….ESPECIALLY when it comes to something that has a lot of small details and fine print to it.

I can research the crap out of anything for days on end making beautiful goals and plans, but the reality is, I’ll never actually start to finish those damn pop up camper cushions, no matter how easy you try to tell me it is on Youtube!

The reality is that as much as I’d love to have a color coordinating, beautiful, pop up camper curtains to plush, luxurious looking bedding, I can’t sew!!!!!

And even if I could, the other reality is that I don’t really want to. I have other things that I find more enjoyable or that demand my time (cough: toddler: cough).

But I wasn’t quite ready to give up on my dream Pop Up Camper.

I just had to figure out ways to cut corners, cut costs and cut time. So, whether you are

  • Lazy, like me
  • Simply don’t have time to be Queen Crafter
  • Don’t have a single crafty bone in your body
  • or just don’t know where and how to start your pop up camper restoration

Look no further.

Step 1: Make your dream Pop Up Camper Remodel List

I couldn’t WAIT to go glamping in my pop up camper! Just one problem, it was a dingy old ’90s style trailer that didn’t evoke a single vibe of luxury, calm and peacefulness like my vision had.

So, I made a list of all the ways to make it look oh so beautiful and give me a retreat like feeling every time we went camping. Here is what my long laundry list of “Honey-Do’s” looked like.

  • Pick out a color scheme, theme, and overall design and “feel.” – Decorate Accordingly
  • Reupholster all of the camper cushions
  • Color coordinate and re-do the curtains
  •  Figure out bedding, comforters, sheets and new mattress toppers
  • Paint or re-do the countertops to look more modern and not “cheap”
  •  Put in new floating flooring to get rid of old vinyl look
  • Give the cabinets a new coat of paint to brighten up the space
  • Re-do the table tops to either match the counters or be cutesy designs (make one a map and the other out of bottlecaps!?)
  • Make a backsplash for the kitchenette area
  • Figure out logistical storage ideas for in and out of the camper

And that was just the cosmetic stuff!

What about all the things that actually NEEDED to be done to have a functioning (not just beautiful) camper!?
  • Replace all the tires
  • Fix the soft, rot spot in the flooring
  • Clean off the mold on the roof
  • Re- Waterproof the Canvas
  • Check the awning
  • Put in LED lights inside

Yikes.  This list was getting long….and expensive…and exhausting just thinking about it!

 

Step 2: What Do we NEED

So, this part is tricky, because we all know that REALLY, we probably don’t need much more than anything that is a functional necessity on the list. So, we started with those.

Sure, they aren’t as fun and by no stretch of the imagination were they bringing out my zen vibes, but I knew we were literally getting NOWHERE with the flat tire we accrued over the winter!

We also didn’t know EXACTLY how well the camper had been kept over the 3 decades of its life. We felt like it was just better to start completely fresh so that we knew exactly what maintenance needed to be done and when. Or worse, we didn’t want to be out for a trip and have the canvas suddenly leak when that is something we could have easily avoided with a few hours of waterproofing at the beginning.

Here is what we decided would be QUICK yet essential tasks for getting our pop up camper road and camping ready.

  • New Tires (we had no idea how old the ones that came with it were)
  • Clean the canvas really well and waterproof it
  • Fix the soft spot on the undercarriage that was becoming rot in the corner so that it didn’t spread

Step 3: What Can I Do To Fake It Till I Make It. Literally.

What Do You Have That Can Work Cosmetically. FOR NOW

So after I stepped back and realized that I could either spend hundreds of hours at a sewing machine saying words my 2-year-old son REALLY shouldn’t be repeating OR spending HUNDREDS of dollars having someone else make things like fancy, gorgeous curtains, I decided to figure out what on my list would be “easy” enough while also not being outrageously expensive that could help give the pop up camper interior a new POP!

Use What You Already Have

Pop Up Camper Curtains

I know this is a bit painful for those of us wanting a complete makeover, but get creative. The general color scheme in Gretel when we bought her was a light blue. I decided to run with that.

It may not have been my DREAM vision of what I wanted the inside to look like, but I went back to the Pinterest boards and found some really inspiring pop up camper remodels with shades of blues.

(Follow my Pop Up Camper Pinterest Board for my awesome PUP Inspiration!)

My curtains were “well-loved” but still usable (mostly). I decided that while they were going to need to be replaced soon enough, that we could easily have an entire camping season with them the way they were.

Option 2: Re-purpose Your Curtains With Dye or Stencils

Another thought I had to save time and crafting headaches was to use the curtains we had but either dye them (that seemed easy enough, how hard is dumping powerdery stuff into a bucket of colored water!?) or even painting a stenciled pattern on.

Are your curtains “Live-able” for the time being? Would a quick and easy dye job help to spruce them up for now? It’s a heck of a lot easier (and cheaper) than starting from scratch!

Check out some of these really cool looking stencils I found for curtains.  

Or, I think these arrow stencils would be adorable in a pop up! 

 

Pop Up Camper Mattresses and Bedding

One of my criteria, when we were looking at pop up campers for sale, was if it had good cushions and mattresses.

Aka:

  • Were they still in good shape,
  • Did they have stains under the fabric,
  • Were they crumbling apart or holding together well?

All of these were REALLY important to me because I had read horror stories in other remodels about how hard it was to find affordable cushion materials to start from scratch.

Since Gretel’s cushions, including the mattresses, were in superb condition, I knew that all I would need LOOK wise was a beautiful new comforter or sheet set in a shade of blue.

I LOVED the ideas that others had to make the pop up camper mattress even more plush and luxurious feeling with things like mattresss toppers, but since I was narrowing down my list to ESSENTIALS, I decided I would give her a few runs and decide next summer if I REALLY needed more than the original mattresses and cushions of bedding for a restful night of sleep.

Pop Up Camper Cushions: How To Reupholster

Ugh. This one is a killer. This is where my lack of craftiness heavily conflicted with my serious frugality.

I knew that the cushion covers in Gretel, while blue, were a hideous fabric and pattern that should only be allowed in a 90-year-old Grandma’s home. And that was just NOT going to fly if I was going to create a glamping feel in my pop up camper!

Sure, there were some pretty cheap options for recovering cushions out there like the staple gun method. But, as a growing family, I really felt like I needed something that could be taken off and washed if need be.

If you are feeling up to the task, here was the video I would have used for guidance for no sew camper cushions by stapling new fabric to them

 

But even this seemed overwhelming to me.  So, I had a few choices to make here:

  1. Suck it up and pay someone to reupholster my cushions
  2. Go the cheap route that didn’t allow for washing and hope for the best

However, in true procrastination mode, I still couldn’t bring myself to ACTUALLY start the staple gun method out of fear that I would mess it up, or worse, only get halfway through before running out of steam. I finally decided to start shopping around.

I called several seamstresses in town and low and behold found someone who would completely redo the camper cushions (with a zipper! Gasp!) for only $150 dollars.

That is: $150 to recover all 10 cushions of different sizes and shapes.

$150 for me to not have to relearn how to sew!

$150 to have them be done RIGHT.

$150 for me to spend ZERO hours of frustration.

Yes, that is $150 dollars I could spend on a travel trip, but let’s be real here. That money is also worth the HOURS upon WEEKS upon MONTHS that it would have taken me to finish this damn project!!!!

I was able to use coupons and found discounts on fabric, so I only paid about $60 total on fabric.  Leaving me with a total of just over $200 for all the cushions.  Yes, this is a decent amount more than if I were to have just paid for fabric and sewn it all myself, but I DID take into consideration how much my TIME was worth as well.  At the end of the day, it was money well spent in my mind.

Painting Pop Up Camper Cabinets and Interior

I’m going to be doing a whole post just on repainting cabinets.  If you look at ANY pop up makeover, you’ll notice that one thing is consistent: a new coat of paint.

I’ve attempted (and failed) at redoing furniture via the paint method before so I was pretty weary on this task, but the reality was that I knew it was going to have happen to get my dream look.  Here are my BIGGEST take-aways on my successes (and a few oopsies) with the cabinets in our camper

  1. Remove EVERYTHING.  All the hardware, all the doors.  Yes, it’s extra work but actually makes life a lot easier when painting, believe me.
  2. Tape and Cover.  I’m horribly lazy and sloppy.  I taped most things and STILL got paint on random spots.  Don’t be me.  Tape and cover diligently!
  3. Get a sanding sponge and just do a quick rub down.  Nothing tedious.  Everything I read said this quick and easy step makes a ton of difference.
  4. Use spray cans!! They are more expensive than rolling it, but holy moly, the ease and quickness of getting everything painted in basically a day (plus dry time) was fantastic.  No worrying about nooks and crannies with different sized brushes, either.
    (Tip: I’m not an expert spray canner, so I have several areas of drip.  If I were to redo, I’d maybe go slower…buuuut I’m a “Get it done quick” kinda gal, so of course I rushed.  Woops)
  5. How many cans of spray paint for pop up camper cabinets?  Here’s what I used:
    -PRIMER! Don’t skimp on this one.  I used 3 cans of Zinsser Primer but also didn’t paint a few areas that I knew would be covered most the time by cushions (again, being lazy).  If you are going to be thorough, plan on at least 4.
    – Main Color: I used 5.  Again, if being diligent on painting everything, I’d get 6 or 7 to be safe.  These do add up cost wise.  However, for the efficiency and how quickly I was able to get the job done, it was worth the few extra bucks.
    – I also used one can of paint on the hardware in a rubbed bronze color (see next point).
  6. Reuse Your Hardware.  I LOVE the look of some of the makeovers with their adorable new knobs and hardware.  But I just simply didn’t want to deal with figuring out sizes and what not.  I bought a $4 can of metallic paint and sprayed those bad boys down.

Step 4: Pop Up Camper Flooring

Have you noticed that every gorgeous pop up camper remodel has redone their flooring?  I can’t tell you how much this step alone changes the entire look of a camper!

The cheap-wad in me struggled with this idea as well because, while not up-to-date, the original linoleum flooring in the pop up was actually still in great shape.  But, I knew to get a more modern look, it was going to have to go!  Luckily for us, it peeled right on up, at least making the demo step pretty easy!

When redoing about floor redos there are two options that seem to win out every time

Peel and Stick Vinyl Plank Flooring

Pros

  • REALLY easy to install
  • Doesn’t require a ton of tools

Cons

  • Surface needs a lot of prep work
  • I was concerned about the humidity making the “stick” come up over time

Floating Plank Flooring (Tongue and Groove)

We ended up with this option, mostly for the durability and longevity.  However, if it hadn’t been for my hubby’s willingness to give the table saw a go with these, my uncraftiness would have won out and I would have just done the peel and stick flooring.

Pros

  • Extremely durable, waterproof, etc
  • Only needed a table saw and a few other basic cutting tools
  • No floor prep work
  • Long lasting

Cons

  • Difficult to get corners exact (we ended up needing to purchase some molding so that no gaps showed)
  • Used almost two full boxes due to all the odd corners

The two options cost just about the same, especially when on the look out for discounts and deals!  We ended up spending about $60 total on all flooring supplies, including 2 full boxes of planks, an extra saw blade and molding.

 

Step 5: Anything Else “Easy” and Affordable?

After I got some of the bigger projects out the way, it was amazing how different the interior of the pop up felt.  Gretel was truly a new gal!

Now, if we head back over to our Pinterest Boards, we’ll quickly see how all these people made adorable little signs here and there, painted chalkboard paint to write cute little phrases.

These are all fantastic.

But Crafty.

CRAP.  Ok, soI know I could go to Hobby Lobby and pick up a bunch of stuff that would be ADORABLE in the pop up.  But the reality is that

  1. I didn’t want to spend the money on it
  2. It would probably just become clutter sooner rather than later after my photos were taken
  3. None of that stuff REALLY would add to the functionality of the pop up.

So, it was that third bullet point that I focused on next.  What could I do that would help us live an easier, more organized (this is a pretty foreign concept to me as well, folks!) life while away in the trailer?

So, I headed to the trusty dollar store.

Camper Storage and Organization

There are TONS of pop up camper storage ideas that I thought would ACTUALLY help us out.  I bought multiple sizes of storage bins.

  • Things like paper goods and plastic ware could all have a home together.
  • Items that I didn’t want contaminating food or smelling up the camper, like bug spray, citronella candles, etc would go in another.
  • Cleaning supplies like wipes, a small dustpan, paper towels and old used towels got grouped together for easy grabbing when needed.
  • Another bin housed extra sheets and bedding for those colder nights (or god forbid, leaky diapers).
  • I couldn’t find a shoe organizer at the Dollar Store, but found a super cheap one on Amazon.
  • I “splurged” on a cute doormat so that dirt and muck wouldn’t be tracked inside the teeny tiny space.  Is this not the cutest one you’ve ever seen for a pop up!?!?

Step 5: Dream On

We decided that while Gretel isn’t in her ideal state quite yet, that she is still beautiful (aw, couldn’t we all apply that to ourselves!?).

Don’t get me wrong, there is always room for improvement, which is why I’m still keeping that original list of “dream jobs” handy.
I determined that every year, I’ll remodel one additional, more extreme item that is on the list.

Doing one major or extreme remodel at a time doesn’t seem as intimidating as completely redecorating and redoing a whole camper in one pass!

Conclusion

The harsh reality is that if you aren’t crafty, you may have to spend a little more money on your camper remodel than if you could (or wanted to) sew and be Susy Homemaker.

However, I was happy to find that I was still able to have my dream pop up look for just about $2000 (INCLUDING CAMPER!) #WINNING!

That means we spent just over $500 in the remodel.  That included the necessities to get Gerta to a top-notch performing state, as well as all of my unnecessary (but oh so adorable) more cosmetic changes.

Costs: When trying to figure out just how much a pop up camper remodel costs, I was shocked at how little information I could find.  I understand that this is going to be based on a lot of variables, but here is our breakdown.

Obviously, the quality of your pop up to start with is going to determine if your budget can be higher or (hopefully) lower! And if you even have a single crafty bone in your body, I bet you can even spend less!

Cost of Pop Up: $1500

Paint and Supplies: $40.  About 3 hours of actual paint time, not including dry time.

Cushion Reupholstery: $150.  ZERO hours! Woot!

Cushion Fabric: $60

Curtains: Taking down, washing and rechanging curtains and valence: Maybe 1ish, not including wash time, since that ran while doing other stuff.

Tires: $125 for 4 new + 1 spare.  (If you buy from Walmart, they will do free tire install!)

Flooring: $60

Misc Items: Less than $150 total Items included things like back up battery, rv cord adaptor, rust paint, particle board for rot spots, waterproofing supplies

Total Cost of Our Pop Up Remodel To Date (everything mentioned in this article, plus a few odds and ends)

$600

Total Hours Spent

20-30 total (give or take)

Level Of Craftiness Needed For Above Projects: Little to none!!!

 

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