Out With the Old! Our Camper Renovation, Part I

We’d purchased our very own camper, and even managed to get it home safely! After getting inspections and a few repairs done at a local RV shop, we were ready to get busy renovating and updating. But before that could be done, we got to do the really fun, fast, rewarding part — ripping out the old stuff! Say goodbye to the early 90s, camperhome!

We started by pulling out all the odds and ends the previous owner had left in the camper, including the trundle bed.

Rambler Reno - Demo 1

That was fun, because we immediately got a much better feel for both our floor space and our storage space. So much new room!

We’re coming for you, valances and pink carpet.

Once the clutter was out of the way, it was time to start disassembling. While I started pulling out all the drawers and cabinet doors, Rebecca began deep-cleaning every surface, starting with the ceiling. 24 years of grime was no joke! Every square inch had a yellow film on it, which Rebecca went through multiple bottles of heavy-duty cleaner to remove.

Rambler Reno - Demo 2
The camper felt so much bigger after I pulled the cabinet doors off.

Between the front upper cabinets, the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, the hallway cabinets, and the uppers in the bedroom, as well as all the drawers, we built quite a pile. Below is just the start!


We then started pulling down the valances and disassembling the beds. We had briefly considered keeping the two twin beds, but ultimately realized that was a terrible idea. I began planning out a way to build a storage platform bed, which I’m excited to show you soon! But first we had to empty out the bedroom.

Rambler Reno - Demo 3

Rebecca was an absolute champion: once I had pulled out the bed frames, she grabbed a razor blade and ripped up not only the carpeting in the living room and bedroom, but the glued-down linoleum in the bathroom/hallway/kitchen area as well! Soon, we were looking at bare floors.


I had a flash of inspiration before she pulled out the bathroom linoleum though, and cut it so that I could use it as a form later when I installed our new flooring.

Rambler Reno - Demo 4
**Pats self on back for brilliant foresight**

A bit more work, and we finally had a good look at what we were dealing with!


The back of the camper was totally cleared out, which meant I finally had to deal with my nemesis in the front — the upper cabinetry over where the trundle had been. l had played around with the idea of simply pulling the doors off and repainting them and leaving it at that, but somewhere down the line I got Pinterest-inspired to build a wraparound open shelf around the living room area, so the cabinetry had to go. But it had no intention of cooperating.

Rambler Reno - Demo 5
Before we got started, and after I pulled down the doors and removed the radio

I removed every screw and fastener I could find, but even after that, this thing wouldn’t so much as budge. So I did exactly what my contractor father had taught me years ago: I headed straight to Home Depot, and bought bigger and better tools.

Kindly control your drooling.

My greatly-increased firepower got things moving along nicely:

Rambler Reno - Demo 6
20 minutes after bringing out the big guns // 40 minutes after bringing out the big guns.

For anyone who might be inspired to try their own renovation, here’s your takeaway: a lot of the cabinetry and built-ins in campers are back-mounted. That means when you try to pull them down, A) they’ll fight you all day, and B) they will still try to kill you even after they are removed.  Please reference exhibit A:

Seriously, don't scalp yourself.
Seriously, don’t scalp yourself.

But with that cabinet down, the gutting was complete! We took the drawers and cabinet doors home to be cleaned and repainted, and began preparing for round 2 — construction, paint, and flooring!

I grew up in New Jersey, went to college in Virginia, and married a girl from New Hampshire, so I can drive the East Coast in my sleep. I love exploring, jumping out of airplanes, whitewater rafting, fast cars, comic books, and generally refusing to act my age. More practically, I love budgeting and financial planning, renovating and updating older homes (and now campers), and learning to make our family as self-sustaining as possible.

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