Put it All Back Together! Our Camper Renovation, Part III

(If you’re just joining in, part 1 is here, and part 2 is here.)

With the floors repaired and the walls patched and sanded, it was time to get some paint on the walls! Finally seeing things looking bright and smooth and clean was so exciting — it was starting to match what we had in our heads! Plus, all that natural light, combined with clean white primer, made the whole place glow.

Rambler Reno - Reno 6
Even Diddy would be proud of our white party.

At the recommendation of the paint department at our local Home Depot, we used a new primer called Glidden Gripper, and put on two coats. It took a little getting used to, as it goes on thick and dries fast, but I cannot say enough good things about this primer. It blocked out all that ugly old wallpaper, covered the Bondo patches really smoothly, and just generally did everything you want a primer to do. Plus, with six months of use under our belt, I can tell you that it has been a very resilient base coat, and the walls still look great!

Now for the fun part — real paint! We decided to reuse the blue from our apartment bedroom, which we loved, and to paint all the cabinets with Glidden White on White in a satin finish. Rebecca had done a fantastic job cleaning, priming, and painting them, and once I reattached all our repainted hardware, we had a lot of fun putting them up and seeing how good they looked with the wall paint!

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Bright AND calm!

The White on White, together with the beautiful hardware Rebecca had picked out, made all those cabinets look so beautiful.

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Camper Vanna, showing off our hard work.
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Exactly what we wanted.

With the paint done in the bedroom, I could build the bed! After weeks of agonizing over the best way to build the storage platform bed, I finally had an epiphany … at 2 am. I got up in the middle of the night and drew the whole thing out with dimensions, supports, etc. listed out. You’d think making a platform would be easy, but with electric lines, water pipes, AND heat ductwork all run under the bed, it was a bit more complicated than it should have been.

Rambler Reno - Reno 8 (Platform Bed Plans)
The answer is to over-engineer EVERYTHING, just FYI.

Lots of details, but once I had the plans laid out, I was able to construct it at the apartment pretty easily. I then took it over to the camper and assembled it without much of a problem. With some minor tweaking, it was perfect! I’d achieved both our goals — have a huge awesome bed/nest, and be able to store a TON of stuff under it. Ta-da!

Rambler Reno - Reno 7 (Platform Bed)
So much room for activities (and storage)!

While I was busy putting the bed together, Rebecca painted the hallway, kitchen, and living room a beautiful light grey called Silver Cloud by Glidden.  The bathroom got a darker grey (Anonymous by Behr) that we’d painted in a bathroom in one of our previous apartments, and loved — it’s very moody and warm. Most strikingly, we tried a product we’d read about online to recover the sink and counter area — Marine Topside Paint by Rust-Oleum. It worked awesome! Check out the before and after below — the second picture is after only two coats, and after four, it looked incredible. It’s very thick, self-leveling, and moisture-resistant, and even in the curved sink it dried really nicely. It now looks like we have a solid porcelain sink/counter.Rambler Reno - Reno 9 (Bathroom Sink)

Now, we’d known almost from the beginning what we were going to do with the hallway closet. As soon as we saw it in all its double-doored glory, we planned on splitting it in half, and making the left side (which is next to the stove) into the pantry, and leaving the right side for what few hanging clothes we were planning on keeping. And that’s what we did! First we painted it with the same paint we used in the bedroom, and Rebecca found some liner she liked and put that down.

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Then I got to work. First I installed a dividing/support wall down the middle of the closet. Then Rebecca showed me what size containers she was planning on using, and I built the shelves to match their height — no wasted space!  We have shelves for mixing bowls, shelves for large and small mason jars, shelves for baked goods — just about any shelf you could want. The top shelf even functions as our tiny linen closet! The pantry holds more than enough food for us for 2 weeks or more, and after our thorough clothing purge, the hanging clothes area is more than sufficient for our needs. 
Rambler Reno - Reno 13 (Pantry)

Continuing to work my way forward, I turned my attention to the living area. I’d been brainstorming for a while what I wanted to do in terms of storage — I had ripped out the original upper cabinetry during the demo, and wanted to keep the new shelf pretty streamlined (ba-dum-tsss), so I decided to run a solid piece open shelf that wrapped around the entire front of the camper.

It was a bit of a process, but I had fun with it. I had to drill along the walls every half inch or so to find and mark the studs around the whole area. Then I bought the strongest construction adhesive I could find (PL Premium), and coated the living daylights out of the back of my supports. Once they were on the wall, I screwed them directly into the studs with sheet rock screws, and voila! A ridiculously strong shelf mount!

Rambler Reno - Reno 10 (LR Shelf)

I cut the shelf out of a solid piece of 4′ x 8′ plywood, and with some wood putty, sanding, and paint, our new shelf was well on its way!

Rambler Reno - Reno 11 (LR Shelf)

Those yellow wires hanging over the shelf are the interior lights that run off the battery. After I had started mounting the shelf, I realized it would work much better to undermount them, and I pulled the shelf back up and notched out the support to make room for the wires. I mounted them to the underside of the shelf, and you can barely even see them!

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Secret boondocking lighting!

Work was reaching a fever pitch, and we were racing the clock! At this point, we had moved out of our apartment, but due to earlier delays by the RV shop, the camper was obviously not ready for habitation. Thankfully some generous friends of ours who lived up the road had offered to let us stay in their fully-furnished basement apartment while we finished the transition. What a godsend – thanks Zach and Stephanie!

However, on the day I finished the shelf, we had only two more days to be out of their place, so I came back later that night, and began laying the floor. We had looked at a bunch of options — hardwood, linoleum that looked like hardwood, and a few others, but ultimately decided to go with a vinyl peel and stick plank flooring option by TrafficMASTER Allure in a beautiful barnwood finish. Let me tell you, in the sunlight, that stuff looks gorgeous.


Also worth mentioning is how easy it is to install. All I used was a razor blade, a sharpie, a carpenters square, and my 2′ and 4′ levels. It doesn’t actually adhere to the floor — the planks stick to each other. I used a staple gun in a few places to secure it directly to the floor, but other than that, it’s a floating floor. We love how it came out, and it’s proven to be very durable, and with a a quick sweep and Swiffer, it looks brand new, despite the best efforts of muddy rafting gear, dirty hiking boots, and all my tools!

So at this point, we had a place to sleep, a place for storage, a place for clothes, a place for food, and a shelf for books and pictures, as well as a beautiful floor. With our time limit expired, we moved into the camper, kicking off our new adventure at the Harper’s Ferry KOA in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.

Now that we were officially full-timers, what we really needed was a place to sit and eat and relax. So next up was Project: Couch. The original couch that came with the camper had been removed by a previous owner and never replaced. I basically ended up recreating what had been there originally — a built-in couch with underneath storage. I built the seat supports to be removable so we could store longer items like our camp chairs and my rafting paddle underneath, and made the seat long enough (74″) that even a taller person could sleep on it comfortably.

Rambler Reno - Reno 12 (Couch Progression)

With the exception of painting the couch and remounting the folding table to the wall, that completed the interior of our camper reno! We’ve been living very comfortably in it for five months now, and couldn’t be happier. We live a much more outdoor life, spend much more time with our friends and families, have seen a tremendous amount of the country, and continue to plan adventures every day!

Come back next week, when we drop the curtain and give the final reveal — the completed camper!

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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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