Want to learn how to Pimp My Camper? See how we completely changed the interior look of our Dutchmen Travel Trailer with easy tips and product suggestions!
This post was originally titled a more respectable "A Travel Trailer Makeover" but then I thought, wait a sec...this is my chance to use Pimp and Yo in the same sentence!
I can't ever do that writing a chicken recipe! So I changed the name to "Pimp My Camper, Yo!!" Hahaahaaahaaa!
Whatever, I think it's funny. I know most of you may be here for a recipe, but I wanted to switch it up a little bit by posting about me and J's current experience renovating a used 26' 2001 Dutchmen Travel Trailer/Camper. I hope y'all don't mind.
J and I love to travel. Now that we have two dogs in the family, it's become a little more difficult to leave them for a week or two at a time.
Camping is the perfect solution for us to bring the girls along for road tripping, so we started thinking about buying a used camper.
Yes! What a perfect idea and great adventure this will be!
We excitingly thought, "Hey, let's buy an older used one and then we can update/remodel the interior to our liking! OMG, it's going to look so cool! It will be just like a little house on wheels...and it'll be sooooooo easy! What could go wrong?"
Well, as a first time buyer, I can tell you honesty that plenty can and probably will go wrong.
What we thought was going to be a simple updating of a 15 year old travel trailer camper that shouldn't have taken any more than a few weekends, turned into a 3 month long process.
We had to deal with such things as, repairing water damage and an infestation of nasty ants. Good times!!
Here's the girl right after we bought her. Nice, clean, barely looked like it had been used, especially for being almost 15 years old.
The interior screams early 2000s and is not my jam at all. Yucky vinyl linoleum flooring, vertical aluminum blinds, oak cabinets with gold hardware, and the window valances have all got to go.
Although, I am tempted to keep that sweet wallpaper border.
Seriously, if anyone knows where I can get my hands on a bunch of that border, please let me know ASAP. It needs to be in every room of my house...
I forgot to take a picture of the couch but I can tell you it was covered in the same gorgeous blue and tan geometric patterned fabric you see in the photo above of the dinette seats.
I know everyone is on the edge of their "seats" wondering if we kept it or not. LOL!!
This is the bedroom where all the wood damage from a prior water leak was hiding behind the whole entire wall.
Yes, that whole freakin' wall and half of the two side walls and part of the floor. J took it all down and completely stripped it to the outer wall of the camper.
He then rebuilt the entire wall and floor frames, put in extra thick installation, and covered it all with a sturdier wood wall.
He also had to take all the windows out to do this, then put all the windows back in with some special fancy putty stuff to make sure they were sealed properly.
Yeah, I'm glad J did all that and not me. I have no patience for that kind of stuff. Oh yeah, there was nasty old blue carpet in the bedroom too. Eww, so gross!!
I forgot to take photos of the rear bunk beds but, trust me when I tell you this, the only thing you are missing is looking at a bunch more ugly pine wood paneling.
Here's a lovely before pic of the bathroom for inquiring minds. Not pictured is the mirrored pine medicine cabinet above the sink.
Okay, are you ready? Here's the finished camper remodel
Above is a photo of the kitchen/dinette/couch area looking towards the bedroom.
Here is the same area but picture was taken from the other side, by the couch. I took it with my iPhone so the picture quality sucks but it shows a wider shot. Bunk beds are to the back left, with a closet in the middle, and the bathroom to the right.
Even though this is a terrible photo, it still can't downplay how gorgeous those wood floors are!!
The best thing we did was to rip up that fugly vinyl flooring. Love the flooring now that it's all wood.
Also, a big shout-out to my man, J, who insisted on installing wood floor trim to finish out the look.
Even after I repeatedly said "no, that's stupid" to spend money on floor trim, but it looks so much better with it! Who says this is just a camper?
Brighter pic of the kitchen. I took on the tedious and laborious task of painting all the oak cabinets bright white.
Even though I used a paint specifically made for painting cabinets (and that had a primer all-in-one), I still had to paint them 50 million times each.
Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration but it sure took freaking forever to cover up all that pine wood.
Also, the kitchen counter tops were painted with the chalkboard paint.
A blurry close up pic of the Smart Tiles we used on the kitchen wall. Smart Tiles are lightweight plastic peel-and-stick tiles that look like glass tiles.
They were ideal for the camper and so easy to put up. It did take some extra time making sure the tiles were lined up properly and evenly, but it was a breeze compared to using ceramic tiles.
Another crappy iPhone pic below of the bathroom and more Smart Tiles!!!
I painted the bathroom a pretty blue color, while the rest of the camper walls are painted tan.
Why in the world can't I take a decent, non-blurry photo??? I am so dependent on my tripod for taking food photos that I now cannot steady a camera to save my life. Apparently, I need to invest in some IS lenses. Hurry up Christmas!!
Anyhow, this fuzzy-ass pic above is showing the dinette table top that I painted with chalkboard paint and the cushions recovered with canvas painting drop cloths.
Both of these ideas I saw on another site, so can't take credit for them. It was perfect though because J had some chalkboard paint leftover from when he made a dartboard cabinet.
Yay, one less thing we had to buy!
Bedroom photo. Not the clearest (sigh...again) but you get the idea.
Can't find the right kind/color/pattern of throw pillows yet for the bed so using our patio furniture pillows in the meantime 🙂
Isn't this the cutest pillow? Picked it up at Home Goods. Love that store so much!
Another Home Goods find above, a lightweight canvas hand painted picture that we hung in the living room area.
It has all the colors we used! Score!!
One last photo to sum up the awesome fun time I had painting all the pine cabinets white.
Nola decided to chew this trim brush on the first day of painting. I guess she thought it was a toy for her.
Please note: this photo was taken with a tripod and is NOT blurry!
All in all, the camper renovation was so rewarding in the end and I'd love to do another one next season (how cool would a vintage camper remodel be?)
Also, now that J has experience in fixing a camper's water damage, we won't be scared off when we see one in rough shape and stripped down to the outer walls.
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All items used to pimp my camper:
- painted all the cabinets and the refrigerator wood panels with white cabinet paint (used INSL-X Cabinet Coat Urethane Acrylic Satin paint)
- all of the walls, the dinette booths, and the bunk beds were painted a light tan color
- painted the closet and bathroom doors with an off-white interior paint
- used a black matte spray paint for all of the cabinet hardware, the doorknobs, and the bathroom towel rods
- painted all table tops with a chalkboard paint
- installed a wood floor (TrafficMASTER Handscraped Saratoga Hickory Laminate Flooring) and added ¼ round foot moulding
- installed Smart Tiles for the kitchen and bathroom wall back-splashes
- recovered the couch and dinette cushions with heavy duty canvas drop cloths
- installed black curtain rods and hung ivory colored blackout curtains on all windows
- hung teal silk curtains dividing the bedroom from the living area
Hope you enjoyed this Pimp My Camper post and my tips! Please let me know in the comments below how you are renovating or have renovated a camper because I'd love to hear about it!
Linda A Thompson
We just purchased the same camper, I could use any all tips you have for restoring it. I love the look of yours.
Thank you Linda and congratulations on your new camper!! The best tip I can give is to pick a color scheme and work around that. I absolutely loved decorating with the Smart Tiles and was so happy with the way they completely changed the look of the camper. Also, painting all the dated wood trim is a game changer...even though it's a pain to do and very time consuming 🙂 Don't know if you know about the luxury vinyl "looks like wood" flooring that's available now, but we recently put it in a guest bath of ours and it would look awesome in a camper. It's lightweight, waterproof and very easy to install. Next time I renovate a camper, I'm using it! Hope you have so much fun renovating your camper and please send me some before and after pics!
I just purchased a 2003 Dutchmen that is almost identical to your camper. Am you share any of the dimensions of the cushions, window curtains, floor and kitchen backsplash area?
Hi Brett, I sent you an email the other day with some info links on the camper hoping they might help. Unfortunately, I can't measure anything on my camper because it's still in winter storage and I don't know when or if we are getting it out this year. Let me know if you didn't get the email and I'll copy the link(s) here. Have fun renovating your new camper!
I've been watching all those YouTube videos with people converting vans, trucks and buses for travel but your's looks like a can do project. It looks so nice in the 1st picture! I didn't think either about the bad underneath work. Isn't there a trained technician person that could have done a check with a monitor that could have diagnosed the damage?? I think I ran across that somewhere in my viewing. If there should be a next time with "pimping something like this out." Would you PLEASE take pictures of the tear down and rebuilding that J did? That must have been some amount of work! It could save a lot of people a lot of trouble if they'd seen those pictures beforehand of the work involved with water damage. They'd probably have not got hold of an RV to do the magic you all did.
One last thought and I'm not criticizing at all! I love that you could do your own work, but, I saw another person making drapes and shower curtains out of paint tarps and the lady used fabric paint to make her own designs before she hung them. You have a lot of pale, neutral colors hanging on the walls, windows and furniture that is kind of bland. You sound and act like more a person of many colors and designs. Craft stores have plenty of different paint colors and stencils that are mind boggling!
Hey Melinda! Thank you so much for your comments and, yes, we could have had someone check out the camper before we bought it, but we didn't because we were idiots. lol!! Next time we buy a used camper, I'll be sure to document all our repair work and I should do a series of videos too. It was hard work, but I'd love to do it again.
That's a great idea on the fabric paint for the curtains! This camper is such a small space that I wanted to do neutral tones with splashes of color here and there, so I need to look into making some of those colorful curtains.
You did such a wonderful job on this makeover. We have the same exact camper as you. Our interior layout is practically identical. I noticed you have been replying to this blog that is nearly 5 years old (the community really appreciates it). You have inspired us to remodel our camper using your designs as a template. One of my biggest question marks is, how well the paint has held up on the cabinets and counter-tops after years of wear and tear? Other than that, did the flooring require removal of the fixtures like the bench/beds? Thanks for your hard work and dedication as a DIYer!
Thank you so much Jason! The paint on the cabinets have held up really well, very durable and easy to wipe down. The chalkboard countertops and table paint job is still looking good, as well. To install the flooring, we didn't remove the table and the bedroom bed (just worked around them), but we did remove the fold down bench in the living room. The bench is easy to remove and only requires removing a few bolts. It comes apart in 2 sections and they are so lightweight, that even I can move them around with no problem. I also 100% recommend installing a 1/4 round foot moulding when you do the floor because it really finishes the look. Hope you guys are enjoying renovating as much as we did!!
Thanks for the information. sounds so great and helpful. Kudos!
Hi again! One other question...What did you do about all the plastic trim around the cabinets? Did you paint them, replace them with white, or leave them off?
Hi Diane! I'm sending you an email with all the info you requested
Hi, I love how you remodeled your camper. My husband and I just bought a 2006 Nash that I want to remodel. What type of primer and paint did you use for the walls and for the cabinets? I'm in upstate NY where it gets really cold over the winter, and we would be storing our camper outside. Lowe's tells me A) I can't use oil-based paint because its now illegal to sell in NY due to fumes and B) if I paint the cupboards and walls with interior paint it will crack when the temperature goes below 45 or 50 degrees. They said exterior paint would be ok in cold temps but needs the sunshine to help it cure (which it wouldn't get if I use it inside the camper). ARGH!!!!! Any thoughts or advice you can give me would be great!!!
Love it! I came across your blog post while doing a Google search for trailers with white cabinets. We are currently looking for a trailer to getaway with our dogs and to hang in while our own house is being remodeled. I am finding the same as you did, that the design in most are them are totally vomit inducing! I literally just said to my husband "hey, let's just find something used and paint the damn ugly cabinets. So glad to see that I'm not the only one with that idea. Why the heck they don't make more of them with white cabinetry is beyond me, it brightens it up so much! Is that a Jayco?
Nevermind, I see in your post that it's a Dutchman
Thanks so much Robyn! Unfortunately, campers are made so cheaply and manufacturers make them with sub-par products, so that's why we bought used and did the remodeling ourselves. You can buy high quality stuff for a lot less money, like the floor we used is Traffic Master and is only .99 sq ft at Home Depot, and the cabinet paint we bought there too and was not that expensive either. It will take many coats to get that pure white clean look if you are painting over solid wood cabinets but it's totally worth it! Please feel free to email me if you have any questions at all about buying or remodeling a used camper. And good luck to you in finding your perfect camper!!
What a beautiful job you have done! Amazing transformation & beautiful colour scheme. I'm sure you'll have lots of great memories there!
Thank you Dawn. We've already taken two weekend camping trips and next week we are going to Vermont for 5 days!! Can't wait!
YO!!! You totally pimped it OUT! I remember when I used to live in Campers in the summertime! I cannot remember if I liked doing it or not, but I sorta kinda MISS IT RIGHT NOW!! I haven't really done anything too "summery" this past summer - I have mainly been SUPER BUSY with work! But for the next 5 days I have a very mellow schedule, I need to fill my days with summer treats!
Wonderful! I've been dreaming of something like this for all my life. I too love traveling and a camper gives you freedom and joy Congratulations and have fun!
Thao @ In Good Flavor
It sounds like you've got the fever—the fixing up and flipping campers like people do with houses fever.:) What a great looking camper! You and J did an amazing job! I love it all, especially the wood floor! It's nicer than any floor in my house (I have mostly carpet...not a fan at all).
Haha, you are right Thao. Thanks so much and I love the wood floor too. It's my favorite and wasn't that expensive at all compared to the look we got out of it. It's TrafficMaster Saratoga Hickory for .99/sq ft at Home Depot. Super easy to install by locking the boards together and folding down, no glue is needed. We did put down a protective moisture foam barrier between the flat floor surface and the wood flooring. Maybe you can say "bye-bye-bye" to your carpets??
WOW! I absolutely love your Pimped Out Camper! I so want one now! I always have wanted to get a camper and travel with the kids. I am feeling pretty inspired now. Great job!! I can't wait to hear about all your new adventures.
Pimping hard! hahahaha!! Thanks a lot Katie and y'all should get an older camper and work on it together. That would be great fun. Best part is decorating though and I'm taking any chance I can get to go to Home Goods and buy stuff
Wao Karrie! you worked so hard this summer and the results are great, I mean you did pimped up your camper! So I guess you deserve a pork belly.
OMG! How much fun is that! I would love this to take to rock concerts around the country! You did an awesome job decorating. LOVE IT! Enjoy.
Tammy Renea @SanPasqualsKitchen
I love this post, especially the title!!! haha This camper looks amazing. Y'all did an outstanding job. I especially love the tile in the kitchen. Happy trails, to you and yours!!!
Aww, thanks Tammy! Those Smart Tiles are awesome and I'm thinking about using them in my house too.
Beeta @ Mon Petit Four
I couldn't think of a more fitting title for this post after I read through it. You freakin' PIMPED THAT CAMPER, YO!!!! Honestly, I felt like I was watching an episode of Fixer Upper or Property Brothers. Omg just got a brilliant idea...you and J should propose a camper reno show....go across America renovating people's campers!!! Yes you'll be famous!! I love all the colors you chose, that ADORABLE pillow, great wall art, backsplash, and just overall savvyness with picking affordable easy items to use for your DIY. The chalk paint is so great, and I definitely need to look into those Smart Tiles. I love the drop cloth idea....I used drop cloth to upholster a headboard I made a few years ago, and I use drop cloth as a tablecloth when I'm rolling out pastry! :p I love that material.
Karrie, you guys did SUCH an awesome job! You should be sooo proud. I seriously love everything you did, and you and J deserve to have some really amazing adventures on the road in your new beautiful camper after all of your hard work! <3
Rachelle @ Beer Girl Cooks
I LOVE the title of this post, yo! I remember when you posted about finding all that awful water damage. I'm so glad you guys were able to fix it. The new look is GORGEOUS! I totally thought that tile work was ceramic rather than peel and stick! That pillow is perfect for a camper. I can't wait to see more pics of it on the road and the places you go! At least Nola waited until you were done painting before she ate your paint brush. P.S. Who says you can't say Pimp My Chicken, Yo?
Wow, you guys did such a good job!! When I see projects like this, I always wish I had an eye for home decoration/renovation, but I have NONE AT ALL. Love what you guys did to the kitchen, and the colour theme! Looks like a lovely place to spend vacations