Travel Trailer Remodel on a Budget

Those who know me know that camping is one of my all time favorite things to do. I’ve been going on camping trips since I was a month old and now I love to take my own kids! We always had a popup camper growing up and I remember it always being a pain to have to crank it up, put the poles in the ends, and fasten the canvas underneath. It was fine for back then, but now we have our two dogs that love to camp too and Levi, the lab, is a monster...he can get out of literally ANY cage but one. We knew he would rip apart anything that had canvas: a tent, a camper, etc. My wife and I decided we wanted to get a hard-sided travel trailer where we could have our own space and keep Levi’s cage. Of course, we couldn’t afford a new one so we started looking at older years in our price range. We found a 1994 Cobra Sunrise on the Facebook Marketplace. She was a beauty...

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I had no idea what to look for when going to inspect a camper, I just made sure everything worked as it should. I negotiated a price and hooked her up to our minivan, a vehicle I ALWAYS said I would never own, but got talked into. (That’s another story!) I couldn’t see a thing driving the 20 minutes home. Minivan mirrors suck and I had never driven a trailer I couldn’t see over, not to mention I couldn’t go over 60mph on the freeway. No literally, it wouldn’t go any faster. When I finally got to our driveway, I panicked. I must not have thought past driving the dang thing. I didn’t know how to back up a massive trailer like that! It took about a half hour and a lot of neighborhood looks but I finally got it in the driveway.

*Side note-we traded in the minivan for a truck before towing it again*

She came to be known as Betty at our house. Even though she was only 19 foot long, she was big and fierce. The inside was very, very ugly but luckily I am able to envision what I can do to it easily enough :) I was excited to take on this project.

I started with removing all the carpeting, cushion fabric, and curtains which were covered in dust from however many years ago. Even just that made a huge difference. I found a fabric banner of a golden retriever and black lab puppy under the cupboard and we ended up putting it on the wall in there since it looked just like our puppies!

Once I had a blank slate to work with, I started painting. For the refrigerator I used 3 coats of Chalkboard Paint so we could have a place to make grocery lists while camping. (It helped a lot and was super cute at the same time)

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I knew this was an old camper and the fake wood in there would not sand so I did it the quick way and just painted over all the “wood.” I liked the distressed look of just one coat, so I stuck with that instead of adding a second coat. Next, over all the walls that weren’t wood, I gave a fresh coat of white paint which brightened it up nicely. I took all the cabinet handles off and spray painted them a metallic silver, which was much cheaper than buying all new.

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While the paint was drying, I went to JoAnn’s and got some fabric for the new curtains and cushion covers. I chose a lighter grey pattern so it would be bright and cheery with the teal and grey. I used my staple gun to secure it to the cushions since I don’t know how to sew. My grandma, mom, and other grandma tried to teach me multiple times growing up but it was so boring I didn’t want to listen. A ‘no sew curtains’ search on Pinterest came up with fabric tape where you place a line of tape about 4” down on the back of the curtain and then fold the top down over it. It sure wasn’t perfect when I was finished, but it would do.  


Now I was ready for the flooring. I had researched what flooring people normally put in RV’s and why, and ended up buying peel and stick vinyl flooring from Home Depot in Driftwood. It was lightweight, cut easily with a Stanley knife, and waterproof. I installed it right over the vinyl that was already there. Make sure you clean every piece of debris prior to starting because it really messes things up. It was relatively simple to cut and lay, and looked amazing when it was finished. Again, it wasn’t perfect, but with dogs and kids coming in and out it didn’t need to be.

I painted the door a coral color and stenciled ‘Let’s Go On An Adventure’ in teal over it since those were our wedding colors. We got compliments on that all the time :)

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I added some hand painted arrows to the wall, a mason jar organizer in the bathroom, and a cute sign and it was beautiful.

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I had planned on painting the entire exterior too, but got busy with other projects so she stayed brown and cream, yuck!

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Our first camping trip with her was in May 2018. It was FREEZING and rained the entire weekend so we were so thankful to be indoors instead of in a wet tent! But we couldn’t figure out why our heater wasn’t working when we turned on the thermostat...only to find out you have to have the gas on first...we learned A LOT this first trip alone.

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We used Betty about 6 times for a whole season, but ended up selling. Our kids didn’t want to share a bed...they wanted bunk beds.

Buying our first camper was a huge life lesson. If you’re contemplating buying your first and don’t know what to look for, take someone who does! We got kind of lucky with ours, but it could have been a lot worse. I’m working on my impulsive decision making ;)

If you are one who knows how to sew, I would definitely recommend sewing the cushion covers with zippers so they can be removed to wash. I’ve also seen crib sheets used as cushion covers that are easy to remove and wash! Ours got so dirty, so fast. I don’t know what I was thinking!

I did this remodel for under $200. That means you can do it too!

Are any of you planning a camper remodel? I’d love to hear about them and see pictures :)