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I love a good vintage camper makeover story, don’t you?
About ten years ago I bought my first vintage camper, a 1964 Lil Gem, and I was officially a fan of these old beauties. Over the years our family has grown, and so our camper had to grow with it. My most recent home on wheels is this 1971 TowLow camper, but I have to tell you she wasn’t exactly the peach she is now when she first arrived.
While she was camp ready, Lorraine as she would eventually be named was NOT wearing her fancy pants. There was rust and paint wear, a rotted front door, a rough fridge, and some other bumps and bruises.
Poor gal. You can see the potential was there, right? As you can see Lorraine is a TowLow, so she actually cranks down for easy and compact towing, then can be raised back up to create a roomy living space.
I saw potential, but what I didn’t see were dollar signs. I wanted to be able to give Lorraine a proper makeover without pouring a great deal of money into her. And so the vintage camper makeover began.
How to Paint a Vintage Camper
I was very lucky that my friend Joel was willing to tackle the job of painting Lorraine’s exterior. I painted my last camper myself and it was not bad, but not fun. Having Joel’s help really got this vintage camper makeover going full steam ahead. Here are some quick tips on painting your vintage camper.
– wash and dry the exterior thoroughly
– gently remove any peeling paint
– cover or remove any fixtures you don’t want to paint such as light fixtures
– use ONLY an outdoor, exterior paint otherwise your paint job will wear and fade fast
– decide if you want to roll or spray your paint on ( I have done both!)
– begin by applying a quality primer, allow to dry
– go SLOW and take your time, allowing the paint to dry well in between coats
I LOVE how the paint turned out on Lorraine. She is bright and cheerful, and 2 years later her paint is holding up so well. I think I will keep her this color for awhile, haha!
Now that the outside was looking great, it was time to move indoors. The interior was full of fake wood paneling and was super dark. The space felt small and cramped, was musty, and just not very cozy.
Judge for yourself…
Vintage Glamper Before and After Ideas
I still get creeped out looking at these photos! First things first. I had to remove EVERYTHING that I didn’t want or wouldn’t want to continue using. This meant the cushions, curtains, carpet (ewwwwwwww) and the old fridge.
Once all of those items were ripped out, it was time for a deep clean! This part was probably the hardest part of all because it is rough on the nose and stomach. EVERYTHING was scrubbed down, cleaned out, disinfected, and even bug bombed. Luckily I didn’t come across any living creatures but I wasn’t taking a chance.
Soon Lorraine was a clean, blank slate. In about two evenings I was able to paint her interior using two coats of primer/paint simply rolled on. The best part? We had leftover paint from a household project so this cost us absolutely nothing.
Remember that dark and dingy dinette? I sure do. Ew. Here is how that area looks now.
Cheap Camper Makeover Ideas
I cut memory foam with a serrated knife to create new dinette cushions. Ideally I would like not just a bottom cushion, but back cushions. That will happen in time. I then covered the memory foam with heavy duck cloth purchased at Hobby Lobby (using the 40% weekly coupon) and secured with fabric tape.
I then added bed pillows covered in colorful pillowcases and mismatched pillows. These not only serve as back cushions for now but will come in handy when the dinette is folded into a BED!
See those curtains? After giving the curtain rods a quick spritz of gold spray paint, I covered with them with these colorful pillowcases turned curtains. No sewing required. I just snipped a small hole in the sides and pushed the curtain rod through. $2 curtains!
As far as the decor goes I used all thrifted finds. I do think that garage sales and thrift stores are key to any vintage camper makeover. The globe, the mirror, the pictures, the flower pots, all second hand and cost just a few bucks each.
Off to the side of the vintage camper is a couch. I did the same there as I did the dinette, where I cut memory foam with a serrated knife and covered it with the same inexpensive fabric.
Here you will see that the couch has been opened up into the bed. I actually prefer to leave it pulled out as a bed because I actually feel like it gives us more space.
A thrifted scarf makes for a great valance, while mismatch linens we already had make the bed super cozy. The wall hanging and bunting banner are new, but both purchased for a few bucks at a local discount store.
Moving to the vintage camper kitchen, where the space needed a ton of elbow grease. The fridge was replaced with a larger, new fridge, while the rest of the area was scrubbed down and disinfected. Twice. Maybe four times.
I kept decor simple to keep the area clean. I did add a thrifted cutting board over the sink to free up more counter space. A book holder also keeps all of my camp cookbooks organized!
The twinkle lights help keep the ambiance soft in the evenings ($5 at a local discount store) while wooden baskets add more storage.
See those curtains? Those are actually one large curtain I cut and glued into 6 smaller panels. For $1.99 I made SIX curtains! As you might have noticed, one is a bit off from the rest, but for $1.99 I am willing to let that slide and hope you will too!
I love this vintage camper so much, and I hope you have loved this vintage camper makeover. There is still so much I want to do, like put new flooring in and add to the decor. Plus, I would love to show you what the dinette looks like folded into a bed because it is SO CUTE.
Be sure to check back and continue on this journey with me as work continues to unfold on Lorraine. She just loves being a star these days…
For now she is going into low mode until more work can be done. As you can see, she knows how to get all nice and compact.
Come back and visit soon, won’t you? I will be updating the blog with more Lorraine PLUS sharing some old fashioned campfire recipes that you MUST try. For now, take a peek at this amazing steak and vegetables tin foil packet recipe! Man it is good.
Til we speak again, happy camping!