For a while now, I’ve wanted to own a Sprinter van to travel the country with my girls. I’ve been stalking #sprintervan on instagram for so long it consumes the majority of my feed. My goal was to pay off debt and then buy a used van within two years. It turns out said goal would take an act of magic because I am physically unable to save money. I get paid, drive by an Arbys, and my money just disappears. This also happens when I go near a Target or a thrift store. Do they have groups for women who lose their money at Target? The first step is admittance. “Hi, I’m Jess, I buy stupid shit at Target just because it’s in the freakin dollar section.”
My kids need to eat, they don’t need another holiday fedora. (Or do they – have you seen my kids in a fedora??)
Since I’m God-awful with money and extremely impatient, I found a compromise. After seeing my sister’s adorable little pop-up makeover, I went on the hunt to find a pop-up of my very own. They’re the perfect size to tow behind my little SUV, and I’m able to set up and tear down by myself if needed.
I stalked craigslist and fb marketplace for weeks until I found my little fixer upper for under $1500 – a ’93 Coleman. It was rough around the edges but the bones were good. AND I actually saved up cash for it. Truly, a miracle.
Here she is – ain’t she pretty?
Or not… the canvas was full of holes, there were leaks at some point that were fixed, not without leaving behind some damage. The inside of the canvas was covered in mildew and all of the privacy curtains were missing. The bench cushions had been chewed up by mice, and the list went on. Makeover challenge accepted! For three straight days I spent every second and what was left of my money to turn this dumpster into a cozy camping haven for me and two very high maintenance, mouthy children.
Now for the fun part – the before and afters of my three day camper reno!!
The first step was cleaning. I initially purchased an expensive mildew remover which sucked and didn’t touch anything, and ended up using a cheap bottle of 409 that worked miracles on this nasty old canvas. I also took white paint to all of the dark patches. Heaven forbid the previous owner used patches that matched the canvas. That would have been asking way too much for creatively anal people like me. I can’t keep my house clean and my laundry sits in permanent piles, but you can be damn sure my stuff MATCHES.
I ripped out the table and one bench on the left because it was pointless and once gone added more space. I painted all of the walls and the ceiling white, used tension rods to hang shower curtains as privacy curtains, and covered the floor with peel-and-stick laminate! That stuff is amazing – cheap and super easy to install.
I used sheets from the thrift store to cover the bench cushions. This way I can rip them off and easily wash them every time my Neanderthal children destroy them. Another idea from my sister, who saved my life during this renovation, and was about to block my number after the 10th dramatic phone call – “ALYCIA, HOW DID YOU HANG YOUR CURTAINS?? NOTHING IS WORKING, IF I DON’T FIGURE THIS OUT I WILL SURELY DIE” (the answer, by the way, is S hooks).
The macrame bunting came from the clearance section of Target. I tried not to buy anything new but… Target. I think it’s the one piece that ties my entire look together. All of my dishes, the rug, basket, pots and pans, decor and linens/blankets/pillows/curtains/ came from the thrift store or flea market. I went with the 70s boho vibe and used burnt orange, greens, mustard and pops of turquoise to create this look.
I painted the cabinets a light gray. My sister found clearance gray paint at Lowe’s and I mixed it with white to come up with this color. I spray painted the original knobs burnt orange.
I found this map from all of the travel instagram hashtags I follow, and ordered it asap from Waypoint Wanders. It’s a scratch off map to show every place we’ve traveled. I’m obsessed! I’m working on getting a frame so I can hang it.
The girls were involved in this project from start to finish. They helped me clean, paint, and pick out decor. It was truly a project made with love. We’ve already taken it out twice and it’s our favorite home-away-from-home. I can’t wait for a few more years of memories in this little beauty. I put together a complete list of where I purchased everything below:
- Various thrift stores in Watertown, NY (Agape Shoppe, Salvation Army, Thrifty Shopper): All linens, front curtains and valance, rug, fake plants, pots, pans, decor.
- Angus Hill Flea market in Sandy Creek, NY: Dish set, basket, mugs, vintage throw.
- Target: Back curtains, bunting, tension rods, shower curtains.
- TJ Maxx: Large vase, mirror
- Lowes: Peel and Stick Laminate, gray paint, maps
- Waypoint Wanders: Scratch-off Map