The Southern Glamper: Rethinking the Pop Up Camper Makeover

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Rethinking the Pop Up Camper Makeover

Friday, December 28, 2018


This is the fabric that started it all for my big makeover.  The bottom two pieces came from Mood Fabrics in New York right after we decided we were going to buy a pop-up camper.

When we decided we wanted to buy a pop-up camper, I immediately created Pinterest Boards full of inspiration for me to get started.  I even bought some catchy, inspiration fabric at Mood Fabrics in New York.  I mean, that's all you need to renovate a camper - great ideas and snazzy fabrics.  Wrong.  I hate to be a buzz kill here, but its true.  If you are about to embark on a camper makeover, slow down and think this through before you start grabbing fabric swatches and paint buckets.  What did we learn from our pop up makeover?

Is Your Camper Road Worthy?

I cannot stress this point enough.  Make sure you have good tires and a spare.  Get your wheel bearings packed.  Nail biting drives on less than reliable tires is never fun.  We had two leaky tires and a flat spare.  I'm not really sure how something terrible didn't happen to us that first year of camping.  We were so eager to get started that the big picture only encompassed the pretty little interior and safety seemed to be tossed to the wayside.

These were the original tires that we replaced. 
Make sure that your brake lights work, and that you have the proper tag to go on your camper.  These all seem really small at the time, but they are important first steps that you should not skip!  

While you are at it, grab a tire gauge to check your tires before you head out on each trip.  It's a good habit to get into early on in your camping adventures and ensures you are safe on the road.

Exterior work First

It did not take us long to discover a leak in our roof.  After lots of research, we blindly tackled this job with a lot of online photos for guidance.  My husband really did this job on his own.  I researched and bought the materials, but he actually put in the muscle and elbow grease to get this done.  Two years later, we still have a solid roof.  Be sure to check all of your seals and seams to keep water out.

Craig made a repair to our leaking center seam.  He did a great job, and it still works great!
We also had a barely functional canvas that I managed to polish off with a bunch of bleach (NEVER DO THIS!) to clean mildew.  There are specific cleaners that will do the job.  Only use those.  A new canvas for a pop up is not cheap.  But if the price is right for the camper, it is a justifiable expense.  It was for us.  But, we should have done this initially not in our second year.  A leaking canvas on a cold, rainy night is terrible no matter how cute your bedding is.

Our new canvas has made a huge impact of on our camping this past year!
Finally, check for any additional body work that needs to be done.  We had a splitting side seam that I managed to hold together with Eternabond for a year.  I did a permanent fix with the help of a friend and my husband this fall.  With a new paint job, Peggy Sue looks new.


The lesson here is that the exterior work is not fun like the interior work.  All of those Pinterest boards that you follow are full of interior design work that leaves you dreaming of fluffy pillows and twinkle lights.  There is a reason most every board I follow for repairs and work on campers is full of men posting.  All of the interior fun work are women sharing their handy work and color schemes.  Exterior work is practical, but necessary - much more so than your color coordinated curtains and throw pillows!

Interior Work Last

Do your interior work last.  I don't care what anyone tells you.  Unless your exterior work is purely superficial.  Do not put off that exterior work!  Just don't.  The interior can wait.

Once you have gotten your camper road worthy and secured the exterior of your camper, then you can start sewing on your curtains, cushions, curating your bedding and laying down new flooring and countertops.

I used so much fabric redoing the inside of our camper.  I do love the results, but don't burn yourself out on such a big project.  Take your time!

Its a lot of work and can consume your life.  So tackle this work with open eyes, and this brings me to my last point...

Pace Yourself

What is the big rush?  Get your exterior done.   Then you can do a little bit at a time on the interior until you get it the way you want it.  I worked day and night for weeks sewing, cleaning, painting and getting Peggy Sue just so.  I was dying to go camping.  Then, I spent the first year stressed about those projects that needed to get done but we didn't have the money to tackle!  It is the worst plan.  

Before you start, make a list of everything that has to get done.  Price your projects.  Make a budget and a plan to get it done.  While I kept track of everything our camper redo cost, I would have done much better if I would have had a big picture plan and paced ourselves to get it done. 

I have a budget planning sheet to help you get started.  To find out more about the products I used to remodel our pop up, visit my Remodel Page.  I love our pop up now more than ever, but I love her much more now that I am truly done with all of the work and just the superficial things that look good in photographs. 

Peggy Sue all finished!

If you are planning to redo a pop-up camper, I'd love to hear from you.  Feel free to drop me a line with questions you may have or advice you'd like to share with others.  Until next time...

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