Stella – Or How an Old Pop-Up Finds a New Identity

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After years of tent-camping, schlepping air mattresses and crates of camping supplies, cleaning and drying the tent afterwards, we decided to venture into the luxurious world of pop-up campers.  Unfortunately, new campers that  fit our family of 4 comfortably still cost upwards of $10,000, and then you are stuck with some “wanna-be” posh decor.  We decided on researching the matter and settled on purchasing a used, almost 20 year old, but extremely well maintained camper that was merely stuck in a cosmetic, early 90’s decor time-warp.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take step by step photographs of the renovation process, but it just took a few days and less than $200  to transform our “pup” into a very cute, comfortable camper.

Here are the before pictures:

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The tent was in great condition, and the camper looked and smelled clean.

Supplies used:

  • sandpaper
  • 1/4 gallon white primer
  • 1/2 gallon white kitchen and bathroom paint (to protect against mildew)
  • brushes of various sizes for crevices and corners
  • small foam roller for even paint application without brush marks
  • black metallic spray paint
  • peel and stick vinyl floor tile
  • fabric for curtains and cushions
  • curtain hardware and zippers for the slip covers (I recycled the old ones)
  • coordinating yarn for sewing

I began by taking down the curtains and freeing the cushions from their 90’s fabric prisons.

I then separated the zippers from the old slip covers and the curtain hardware from the existing curtains.  Anything that can be recycled is not only a good idea because it cuts down trash but renovation cost as well.  It adds a little bit more time to the project, but it’s worth it in my opinion.

I found mid-century inspired fabric for my new curtains and coordinating red fabric for the slip covers at JoAnn’s on sale.  Here’s a note of advice:  Don’t ever buy fabric (or other craft material) at full price before checking online for coupons.  I can’t remember the last time I didn’t get an additional 25-50% off, simply by searching for store coupons either at home or (which is the case most time, because I forgot) on my phone right in the store.

In order to create  a pattern for the new cushions, one can carefully rip the seams of the old slip covers and trace the shapes directly onto the new fabric.  As with any  sewing project, make sure that you cut your shapes all in the same direction if using directional fabric.  I had simple red fabric, so it wasn’t much of an issue.

For the new bedding, I used an old sheet set I still had at home.  The fitted sheet went on one bunk and I turned the flat sheet into the matching counterpart for the other bunk.  Sewing fitted sheets is extremely easy:

Once the sewing projects were complete, it was time to paint the cabinets.  I first removed all doors and drawers from the cabinets as well as all the hardware.  I then cleaned everything thoroughly and lightly sanded the cabinets, doors and drawer fronts.  Next, I applied one coat of primer to everything and ended up using two coats of paint to get an even surface.  Finally, I spray-painted the old hardware with black metallic paint.

The last, and most gratifying project was the flooring.  The old floor consisted of a solid, very tired looking vinyl sheet.   I decided to leave it since it was in good shape and created a moisture barrier.  Since one of the advantages of a pop-up trailer is it’s light weight, we did not want to install any flooring that added a substantial amount of weight and chose a thin peel-and-stick faux wood vinyl tile by Achim at a cost of under $20.  These tiles are seriously awesome.  They were easy to cut, peel, stick, instant gratification, and withstood at least one camping trip so far…  We shall see how they look after one complete camping season.

A couple of memory-foam mattress pads, storage boxes and extra kitchen items I had floating around the house anyways, and voila:  “Stella” (as the kids named our new home on wheels) was ready to become to envy of anybody struggling with tent poles and having to blow up air mattresses.

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10 thoughts on “Stella – Or How an Old Pop-Up Finds a New Identity

  1. WOW! I’m really impressed with what you were able to accomplish on such a small budget. Has a nice fresh modern look – the white cabinets make it look more spacious than the before pictures. Nice job!

  2. Stella is beautiful! I got some great ideas. I’m in the process of renovating a pop-up. Her name is Gypsy. I’ve made all the curtains, using bright fabrics I found at Goodwill. I even found an old Victorian-looking bedspread from an antique store. Now I want to paint the cabinets. Did you paint the formica table? I also want to do the floor… thanks for the recommendation of the product.
    Happy Camping!

    1. Thanks Kathy! No, I have not done the table or the counter tops. I want to though and have been researching some ideas and materials on how to. Chalkboard paint on the table might be fun. If you have any suggestions, feel free to share them with me :)

    1. Actually, I don’t remember :( I measured the width of the trailer and the length of the fabric to get he total area and multiplied it by 1.5. In retrospect, I should have used more though, so if you find a good deal, just get some extra and use it for throw-pillows if you have some left over.

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