You desperately want to put your own personal stamp on the decor of your RV, but after purchasing your camper, you don’t have a lot of cash leftover. You also want to get out there now–not months from now.
How do you take the interior of your new to you camper from “so my parents” to “this is us” without spending a bunch of cash and time? Read to find out how.
How To Keep A Truck Camper Renovation Affordable & Simple
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Our Truck Camper Before We Remodeled It
We bought a new-to-us Northstar pop-up truck camper for a sweet deal. We fell in love with how convenient it was on the very first trip, but we never did fall in love with its dated interior. After using it a few times, we realized there were a few things about the layout that we felt we could improve. But, as usual, money was tight and time was short.
Those last two things didn’t stop us, though–well, at least not me; it took a bit longer to get the hubby on board with remodeling it. I jumped in with two feet by spending an afternoon tearing out all the elements that were bugging us the most; after that, I was forced to tap into my thrifty knowledge to keep the remodeling costs as low as possible.
One week into the truck camper renovations, the hubby sprung a last-minute trip idea on me. His idea left me with two weeks to put the camper back together.
Below is what I learned about remodeling a truck camper on a tight budget, both money-wise and time-wise.
Use What You Already Have
White was not my first color choice for our truck camper’s walls, but we had white paint leftover from another project, so white is what the walls became. Once I was finished painting the walls with a coat of primer and 3 coats of white to cover up the blue and pink sponge design on the wallpaper, I fell in love with how much brighter it makes the truck camper. Sure the light grey I originally wanted would have shown less dirt, but going with white cost me zero dollars and turned out great.
By the way, I am kind of a paint snob, I will only use this brand of primer, and I will only use Behr paint (found at Home Depot). They have never let me down, whereas other brands have. I also find that I use less paint when I stick to these brands and get a higher quality finish.
The flooring that we used was another item we already owned. We had several boxes leftover from reflooring a rental home we own.
Use Your Creativity
You probably noticed from the pictures that we converted the dinette into a daybed. We did this because I suffer from chronic insomnia and wanted a place in the tiny truck camper where I could rest and watch something on my kindle fire (with earbuds in) without disturbing my husband’s sleep. Having four different pieces of worn-out foam that shift every time you move is not conducive to a good night’s rest (or sleep).
We also didn’t find the dinette seats comfortable for anything but eating and the table wiggled incessantly. However, we still wanted a table of some sort to eat a meal on, play a game at, or use to hold our drinks. We would love a Laguna table leg with a cool tabletop, but ouch! The price was way out of our budget.
So we searched Youtube and Google for ideas of how to make a cheaper alternative. Nothing we found would work for our space, so we started looking through the piles of random stuff lying around Jack’s shop.
In it, we found a folding table (like this one) that we had used in our minivan build and our truck topper build to hold our Coleman camp stove when we cooked outdoors. We thought the legs could be used to make a table that fit around our daybed and we were right. My husband went to work finding leftover wood and flooring to make the top and leg supports and in a little over an hour, we had a table that did all we needed it to and could be stored under the bigger bed when not in use.
Accent pillows can be expensive! And the bigger they are, the more expensive they get. I found both the larger tan pillows in the picture above on clearance for 75% off. They create just the right amount of back support for us.
Shop Discount Stores
The curtain on the window behind our daybed is from a locally owned store that buys returned items from different retailers by the truckload and sells them at a BIG discount.
When we were getting close to completing stage-one of our renovations, my husband and I stopped at Big Lots where we purchased matching quilts for the beds, a throw cushion with a fun saying (you can get throw pillows with camping sayings on Amazon for a reasonable price), and a letter board. All the things to give the truck camper a homey feel and a splash of our personality.
Shop Dollar Stores
I saw YouTubers use contact paper on walls and thought it looked a lot easier to apply than traditional wallpaper. When I saw contact paper at the Dollar Tree, I was skeptical about the quality, but it went on with only one minor tear and after several trips, it is still holding strong–not bad for a whopping dollar a roll investment. You can get the Con-Tact brand on Amazon, it is thicker, but the price is much higher than we paid; it will probably hold up longer, though.
I wanted a few inspirational sayings or art pieces to add to the hygge feel I was trying to create. With it being a pop-up camper, wall space to hang things is minimal, and what does exist can only take something thin, otherwise we would constantly be bumping into it. I searched up and down the aisles at Dollar Tree until I found this placemat seen above with a saying I love and in a color that was perfect. It fits perfectly above the fridge, reminding us to treat campers we meet with kindness–even if they blast their music (yes, there is a story there).
We decided to get a narrow twin mattress (here is the one we ordered – it is super comfy) so that it was just wide enough to sleep one person comfortably, but not so wide that it took up more of our walking space in the truck camper than the original dinette once did. The new setup ended up with us gaining two inches of walking space down almost the truck camper’s entire width, which means we can now walk around each other sideways when before it was a one-person only walkway.
Narrow twins are not a popular mattress size. You can get a similar size at an RV retailer, but an RV mattress is shorter than a conventional mattress and costs more. As a thrifty lady who stands just a few inches short of six feet, I decided against going the RV route and turned Amazon, where you can find just about anything you want. The mattress was very affordable. Another bonus of shopping on Amazon for our mattress was that I could use gift cards earned through point rewards programs to help pay for it.
Do It In Stages
You might have noticed that a few times throughout this article, I have referred to this being stage one of our truck camper renovations.
We plan to do more work to the camper as money allows, but for now, we wanted to take care of the areas that made the biggest difference to the overall feel of the camper and its function. We have not for a second missed the pink and grey splotches wallpaper or the dinette with its narrow seats and wiggly table.
Stage two will include resurfacing the cupboards, adding new hardware, and putting in a new countertop. In stage three, we will be adding a water heater, an outdoor shower kit, and a better system for our greywater. Finally, in stage four, we will add a simple solar system to take advantage of free camping without worrying if our battery will die before we want to call it quits and head home.
By doing the work in stages, we can not only save up and pay cash, but we can also use the time to fully research our options and look for a good balance between price and quality, figuring out where we can save and where we would be better off paying for a higher quality product (and how to get that higher quality item on sale of course!).
What The Camper Looks Like After
These last three pictures above give you a peek at what our camper looks like after stage one of renovations. For a better look, take a look at this video tour I posted on Instagram (and be sure to follow us on Instagram while you are there). You can also see more pictures from the start of the renovation to its finish in the story highlight I created on Instagram.
WHERE WE HAVE TRAVELED LATELY
POSTS TO HELP YOU TRAVEL MORE FOR LESS
Want to know how we afford to travel so often? It is because we have developed thrifty living principles that allow us to live a full life for less money. You can learn exactly what those economical living principles are when you read my book, Thrifty & Thriving: More Life For Less Money. You can stop dreaming about travel and start traveling when you apply the 40 thrifty living principles shared in this book.