Before and After: A Totally Trashed, 62-Square-Foot Vintage Camper Is Now Unbelievably Adorable

Before and After: A Totally Trashed, 62-Square-Foot Vintage Camper Is Now Unbelievably Adorable

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Bedrooms
Square feet
62
Sq ft
62

Name: Conan and Katherine and our son Simon and occasionally our dachshund Shorty Waffles.
Location: Wichita, Kansas
Size: 62 square feet
Type of Home: Vintage camper (specifically a 1968 Play-Mor Model 140)
Years owned: One year

We purchased our vintage camper, a 1968 Play-Mor Model 140, in September of 2019 for $600. My wife Katherine found it on Facebook Marketplace and it was the perfect size and style of camper so we looked at it that afternoon and picked it up the next day. The thing that I love about the camper is that it has some character to it since we salvaged the original skins. There’s dents and dings here and there but that’s what makes all of these old campers special is that they’ve already seen a lifetime of travel and memories and now there’s a new generation breathing life into them for hopefully another 30+ years of making memories. Even if it’s not three decades of travel, at least they’re not sitting in a salvage yard somewhere or worse yet, in a landfill! If someone can pick up a camper, do a pretty good job fixing it up and then go out and enjoy it for a year or two, that’s awesome. And I also love the size. We’ve done a few camper remodels and this is the goldilocks size for me personally 14’ not too small, not too big, just right! 

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My wife and I have been tent campers for years and so we viewed this camper as a tent… just a little better. It’s got no big frills but it’s comfortable and a place to shelter and play games or watch movies if the weather is rainy on your camping trip. Even before we were done with the remodel, we would come out every day with our son Simon and pretend to camp and have snacks in here or lunch. We had already started making memories before we took it out of the driveway! 

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I would say that our style is traditional with just a little twist. There’s nothing that adventurous about dark green cabinets but I think a lot of people would worry about painting such a large swath of a tiny space something dark. Everything is light and white and bright to make the space seem bigger but IT ISN’T BIG! We try to play to our strengths if the space is small, make it cozier, richer, add more texture.

Favorite Element: I think my favorite part of the camper is probably the kitchen. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door and it’s very “Wow! this isn’t an old, falling apart camper!” right off the bat. 

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge of this project was probably just the stress of it. We have remodeled campers before for our photo booth business Lamphouse Photo Co. but we’ve always turned them into photo booths, which is just a box basically and we’ve never done a true “frame-off renovation” where you remove the skins, take everything off down to the frame then rebuild it all. It was a little stressful because if you’re even a quarter of an inch off rebuilding the walls, your skins won’t go back on right; one problem would just create another one. I took a TON of measurements and actually created a 3D model of the whole camper in Sketchup to use as a reference. That and working on it out in the elements we don’t have a covered area or garage that wasn’t too fun in Kansas in the summer. 

Proudest DIY: I’m most proud of the whole thing really. That’s kind of a copout but if you had shown me a picture of this camper after it was done I wouldn’t have believed it. I learned A LOT rebuilding this camper and we have already started on our next one we’re hooked! 

Biggest Indulgence: Kind of surprisingly, the beds were the single most expensive project. I bought memory foam mattresses, cut them down, and learned to sew box corner cushions for them. Since we normally tent camp, having a really comfortable place to sleep was the biggest splurge and 100% worth it. 

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? I think with camper renovation there’s a tendency to want to cram all the creature comforts of home into one and to upgrade vintage parts with the latest technology, and I totally get that, but at the same time, my concept for this was: Be better than a tent without taking away from the camping experience. So we don’t have a built-in stove, a refrigerator, a bathroom, heat and A/C, a satellite TV, or a $10,000 bank of lithium batteries. Instead, we’ve got a couple of comfy beds, a fan, a bit of storage, a sink with a day or two of water, and some simple lights. We’re not hardcore, we’re just having fun and making memories as a family.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I really like the little USB diffuser that we have. It’s nice to have good smells and you can’t really safely light a candle in here. 

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: My biggest tip for organizing things in our camper is to use soft-sided containers so you can kind of squish them into place if they don’t exactly fit in the drawer or cabinet. We use those in our upper cabinets as well so if things slide around they don’t get damaged. Also, as you’re designing the space, try and think of how you will actually use it not just what looks good. We debated keeping the dinette at the front but we just felt as a family we would keep it converted to a bed all of the time so we just made it a permanent bed/couch. It was the right choice it’s nice to have two places to come in and comfortably just plop down. 

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? My best decorating advice would be to play to the strengths of the space. Don’t try to make it something it isn’t. If it’s small, make it cozy. If it’s big and open, resist the temptation to jam it full of things. Just let a space be what it naturally is. 

Resources

PAINT & COLORS

ENTRY

LIVING ROOM

KITCHEN

BEDROOM

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.