Step 1: Removing Hardware and Built-ins

So now that we have a camper, we know where it is damaged (and we know where it is ugly), what do we do to fix that? Well it’s time for a renovation, of course! And that means demolition is in our future.

However, before we can just start ripping things out, we have a lot that needs to be carefully removed, thrown away, or painted externally to the camper, and carefully re-installed when the item is finished.

The first order of business (which I don’t have pictures of, sorry!) was removing the ugly fabric. Let me give you a short step by step to help with this process. (At this point you’ve probably realized there are a lot of cushions in your way. Just take them inside and deposit them in a low traffic area, you’re not going to need them for a couple of weeks.)

1. Remove the valance like objects first. These are fabric pieces stapled to the wood extrusions that hold up the curtains. In order to not damage the wood veneer of the walls or the wood pieces themselves, you’ll want a pair of needle-nose pliers to help pull out the staples. Protip: wear some gloves if you’re smart. I am not smart and the pliers’ rubber grip rubbed a raw spot on my palm, AND I got stabbed by a staple. 

2. Once you’ve gotten the valances off, you need to remove the curtains. In our camper, a small square headed screw prevented the curtains from sliding out of the end of their tracks. I removed the screws and slid the curtains out and straight into a garbage bag.  

3. Remove the tracks the curtains were in. This isn’t really fabric removal, but you might as well do it now. Our tracks were made of a plastic material, if yours are a thin metal the same process will work. Ours were stapled in. If yours were nailed in you can use this method, but if you have screws you will need to go fetch your drill. Basically, the best way to remove these is to just pry them out. If you’re my husband, that means with your fingertips. However, if you’re me, you’ll want a method a bit less strenuous. I recommend a small crowbar (but even a metal ruler will help. A flathead screwdriver is another option.) Just start at one end and carefully pry them away. In order to preserve the wood pieces (which is important because these wood pieces serve as supports for the bunk beds above), you need to pry more and pull less. Go a couple inches at a time instead of trying to quickly rip the whole thing out at once! 

4. Now you’re mostly done. Yay us!! Look around for any miscellaneous fabricked surfaces. In my case, the front of the sofa bed and the top of the camper doorway had a shin and head guard, respectively, made of fabric. The sofa bed piece was actually attached with screws, and we unscrewed them and then just threw the whole piece away, interior wood piece, fabric, screws, and all. The head piece in the door way is still there. One: because I forgot it. Two: because it’s helping my husband not hit his head while we renovate, so I’ll wait and replace it later, once I have fabric picked out. 


Now, we have removed all the fabric bits, so it’s time for everything else. The general rule of thumb here is to remove anything that can be easily detached and reattached later. Right now I just want to get it out of the camper where it will be less likely to be harmed when we rip up the floor. That also means we don’t need to bother taking off handles and nonsense from the removed cabinet doors just yet, we’ll do that later. For now, we just need to remove the hinges from the cabinets and walls and take the entire doors, including hinges, inside to store for bit.


There is no real step by step for this. Instead just unscrew everything and get it out of there. Below you can see what ours looks like once we’ve taken everything out of it. We also went ahead and pulled up the old linoleum. That was easy as much of it was water damaged and you could easily rip it off the floor. We trimmed the linoleum around the cabinets and walls using a box cutter for a clean edge.



Here we have the view from the door of the sofa that turns into bed number 2. In this picture we have the linoleum ripped up so you can see the subfloor and some water stains indicating water damage and potential rot.

Before                  After

Here’s a view of the sofa from the far end of the camper, you can see the light coming in the door to the right. All the cabinets have been removed but I took this picture before we ripped up the linoleum.

Before                 After

Next we’ve got the kitchen, cabinets have been removed, linoleum is still down. Check out that hideous wallpaper!! I can’t wait to paint over it.

Before                 After


The next four pictures are the bathroom area. First we had to take the whole door off, then inside the bathroom the cabinets and movable fixtures were removed. We ended up removing the threshold pieces from the bathroom door and the middle of the kitchen floor. However, we don’t plan to tear up the floor in the bathroom since it is structurally sound. For now we’re leaving the linoleum down until we get new tile or tile linoleum.



Cabinets were easy to remove. These built in benches were a little more difficult. As you can see everyone pitched in a hand, or paw, to help. The benches were screwed in from the outside wall and the screw heads were underneath the outer paneling. We removed the visible screws, then pulled the boards off of the outer wall screws. Finally we cut the protruding screw heads from the wall with a bolt cutter. Yay for making up procedures!


Finally got those out! You can also see a metal box on the floor. We unwired it before removing the subfloor. It’s a converter for the electrical system, and we marked each wire with masking tape to match the diagram provided on the converter itself, that way we can easily rewire it later.


Final before and after showing the kitchen and the dining area/main bed.

Before                                   After

Now, all we have to do is start demo on the floor! Sign up for my email list to get notified when that is posted. OR tune in here next Friday, to see the continuation of this series.

I Bought a Camper!

So you don’t know this yet, but I love vintage items. This particular camper isn’t as old as I would like (the ideal would be 1940s-1960s era), but for the price (only $2000) this is a great find for a fixer upper!

The camper in question is a 1984 Sunline model, 17 foot total which means the interior is about 13 feet by 8 feet. It can technically sleep 4 adults and 2 children, though I never want to put that many people in it.

We found it in great condition, with very little damage and everything working. The fridge, bathroom facilities, and pumps all work. It did not come with AC and neither us nor the previous owner’s tested the heater, so we’ll have to wait for an update on that one. The only damages were: some external leaks which had been repaired, and some water damages to the floor making it softer in places. But we plan to fix that!

So without further ado! A tour of the camper.

Here we have the outside of the trailer! For now it will stay this lovely shade of 80s brown, because I first plan to tackle the interior. But as you can see from this photo it could be best describer as small and ugly. (But with a new working awning, definitely grateful for that!)








Next, I’m showing the view as you immediately enter the door. There is what passes as a “sofa”, which has a bench piece that extend the sofa out into a twin bed. You can also see on the far wall there is a small cabinet. It is a half sized closet hanging space. Below it there is a pull out counter top piece that serves as a sort of desk.




Next is a frontal view of the sofa, taken from a standing point at the other end of the camper. You can see some storage above it, that storage folds down to a tiny human sized bunk. You can also see the kitchen counter a bit to the right of the photo, and, you can barely see it, the left side of the photo is where the bathroom door is.






This is the best photo of the kitchen I could get. It’s taken from the viewpoint of the sofa. You can see the tiny working sink, tiny working oven, tiny working stove-top, and tiny but useful cabinets. Underneath this construct is the main drinking water tank. We determined there was no water damage to the flooring under the cabinets, so we can avoid the headache of moving them.




Finally, here we have the other side of the camper. The bed you can see is the larger of the two beds located at the back of the camper. It converts into a table by lifting up a center piece and deploying its fold away legs. Above this bed there is another child size bunk that can be doubled as storage.






Just around the corner of the last image, meaning across from the kitchen next to the table/bed, there is the refrigerator. As you can see in the image below, MORE HIDEOUS BROWN PANELING. Who let this happen in the 80s anyway?








Finally, the tiny camper bathroom. Located directly across from the kitchen. It has a small but fairly normal toilet, a tiny sink, and a shower with a built in seat. The shower and the sink faucets are on and the same, connected together. The shower itself is a bit too tiny for my husband, but will fit me just fine. It will also function as a perfect foot washing and puppy washing station.





So there you have it! The grand tour!! We will be replacing the subfloor, the flooring itself, painting, recovering the cushions, making new curtains, installing an air conditioner, and even resurfacing the tub/sink/toilet all in the vintage style of the 50s travel trailer glory days! We have a lot of work coming our way. But it will be worth it! Stay tuned for updates, include the next two installments of demo day!