My Sister’s Camping Trailer


camping trailer makeover

My sister turned 40 this year, and I wanted to do something special for her to celebrate. For her 30th, her husband and I threw a huge party and hired a square dancing caller to teach us some square dancing. It was so much fun! When I asked her what she wanted to do for her 40th, she had a different kind of request. She said she just wanted to go to a restaurant with my mom, her dear friend, and me. So that is what we did. Since her celebration was on a smaller scale I wanted to figure out something special for this milestone year.

I schemed with her husband, who suggested a small camping trailer that we could make over. My sister has always wanted one. She camps a lot, so I knew it was a perfect gift for her. Their purchase price budget was really small. We also included me being there to do some redecorating as part of the gift.  Because they live a 40 hour drive away I had only four days to transform the entire thing while I was there for her birthday. Our budget was less than $500.00.

A camping trailer makeover on a budget
A budget camping trailer makeover

This trailer is vintage, but that was part of the charm of it for us! For this budget camping trailer makeover we wanted to keep the charm but make it feel fresh and clean. So in the kitchen we kept the hardware, countertop, sink, faucet, appliances, and window. We also changed the backsplash. It was previously contact paper over the original backsplash. We also deep cleaned and painted the cabinetry, which had seen a lot of wear over the years.

When I stepped into the trailer for the first time, it had a really unpleasant smell. To be expected for any unused and unloved trailer. After we deep cleaned the whole trailer, we set out bowls of vinegar to deodorize it, and recovered the upholstery. We were really fortunate that the foam under the disintegrating covers was covered in plastic, so it could be salvaged! We still shook baking soda over all the cushions and put them in the sun for a day to really deodorize any lingering smells. Then, recovered the dining bench foam in fabric my sister already owned, and the cushions on the couch we recovered in thrifted fabric. Also, we changed the flooring, since the original floor was in very rough condition. To stay on budget we went to Home Depot and bought the most inexpensive vinyl wood flooring we could find. 

Before and after of a budget camping trailer makeover

When I am designing a space for a client, I make sure it reflects the style and look that they love. This project was no exception. My sister sent me inspiration pictures filled with greens, whites, and woods.  We chose a green she already knew she loved for all the panelling. White for the cabinets, built-ins, and plain walls really brightened everything up. We also kept the solid wood pieces in the space as-is. 

At the very beginning of this budget camping trailer makeover, we were figuring out what we wanted to keep and what we wanted to change, making sure to keep our budget in mind, I said to my sister, “Amber it’s not going to be perfect.” She responded, “I don’t care, it might not be perfect but it will be a lot better than where we started!”

What she said is exactly what I passionately believe about all our homes. We don’t have to have an unlimited budget and/or time to have spaces that we love. So often we feel like if we don’t have an HGTV $100,000-style budget we can’t achieve perfection, there is no point in doing anything at all. I hope you agree that this less than $500.00, one long weekend, using a lot of the existing elements plus some thrifted items and super cheap new purchases makeover was well worth doing!

Happy Birthday, my beautiful sister. I am so thankful for your friendship, love, and support. I can’t wait to see what we do for your 50th birthday!

Are you looking for some help with your own budget makeover? Check out my services page. If you have done your own budget camping trailer makeover, I’d love it if you shared your photos with me @reclaiminghomedecorating.

This post was also featured on Apartment Therapy!

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