Sunday, June 2, 2013

Remodeling a Travel Trailer

Coca Cola Trailer Cottage

About 5 years ago, my husband and I bought a 1987 Taurus 21' travel trailer.. To be honest, I had been looking at those small, vintage little trailers, like the Shasta's, and wanted one to redo.. But my husband had other plans.. He thought a big one would be better..You know how men are.. The bigger the toy, the better.. 

We looked at a lot of trailers, new and used, but ended up buying one from a guy who listed it on Craigs List.. It was pretty cheap ($1500) and had a lot of possibilities, so I agreed with my hubby that we should buy it, even though my heart was still lusting for one of those cute little vintage trailers.. 

Within days of getting it home, I started remodeled it.. It didn't need heavy duty remodeling, as it was in pretty good condition, but it did need a new look.. 
I started looking for sites with ideas and info about remodeling a travel trailer. I found lots of info about stripping trailers down to nothing and starting over, but not a whole lot about just remodeling, or maybe a better word is, renovation...

I basically just flew by the seat of my pants and figured out what to do as I went.. It wasn't that different from redoing a room inside our house.. Well, not quite like a room in the house, but similar!

When we bought it, it was your typical every thing is wood look.. The previous owners had just purchased a new, mattress for it and extended the bed a bit. Travel trailer mattress's tend to be smaller than a normal mattress, and the one they put in here was a standard full size mattress.. In order to make the mattress fit, they had removed the door to the bathroom and shower. There is a folding door between the livingroom and bedroom, so there was a little privacy, but not the greatest set up...

 I wasn't sure if wall paper would stay on the walls of a travel trailer, but I decided to try it anyways.. I couldn't find info on it anywhere, but I had bought a bunch of wallpaper on clearance at Lowes when they discontinued it for $2.50 per double roll. Cha Ching! I had one that was light beige with a tiny red diamond print that I really liked, so I decided to use that in the trailer..

I love the color of red, and also have a thing for all things Coca Cola! Love that red and white.. I decided it'd be really neat to go with a Coca Cola theme...
I started by removing all the cabinet doors and painting the walls and cabinets with a good primer..
Luckily, the ceiling was in really good condition, so I didn't have to do a thing with that.

Once that was dry, I painted the cabinets a light beige that matched the background of the wallpaper. I used Behr paint from Home Depot.. I really love that paint! It goes on smooth and thick, and never disappoints..

 I set up a couple of saw horses with an old door on them in our driveway to create a work bench to paint the cupboard doors.. I had taken a picture of a Coca Cola logo to Home Depot and asked them to try and create that color of red in a paint.. They did a great job! It came out perfect Coke red... I had removed the cupboard doors with the hinges still attached, so I could paint them red, too...It made it much easier putting them back up that way. I purchased a big lot of white cabinet knobs from someone on ebay for $10 to replace the knobs that came on the door. I left the little knob backplate on the doors and painted them red, too.
Turned out pretty neat, even if I do say so myself. :o)
After painting the doors and reinstalled them, I got busy with the wall papering and tongue and groove..
I attached the tongue and groove boards with liquid nails instead of nails.. My husband was worried about my hitting wires that may be in the walls. The liquid nails worked great and to this day, I've never found a board that has lifted or seems loose in any way... The wallpaper has also stuck beautifully, which really surprises me considering I live in Northern Michigan where we get huge temperature changes..
However, looking back, I think it would have been smarter to tongue and groove the outside walls for insulation and wallpapered the interior walls.. As they say, hindsight is 20/20..

I purchased some red leather from the Fabric Guru off their remnant page... If I remember correctly, it cost under $30...The previous owners had made a cover for the couch (which is also a pull out bed), so I removed it and recovered it with the red leather.. 
I found the red lantern wallpaper border on ebay. I had been trying to find a Coca Cola border, but the ones I found were way too expensive.. I fell in love with this one and decided it fit the whole camping theme and color scheme really well. It was also kind of pricey on most sites, but I found one roll offered on ebay for $9.99, so grabbed it. 

I had enough red leather left over to make a cushioned pad for the cabinet under the window... I'm not sure what that little spot is suppose to be, but it made a nice little seat.. 

I had a curved curtain rod, so I decided to make a bathroom door out of fabric..  I found a fabric shower curtain on clearance at Kmart for $5 in just the right color..Not a real door, but much nicer than just leaving it open.. 

The bedroom was such a tight squeeze with the bigger mattress, I couldn't really do a whole lot in there. I tried to pull the mattress out, but it was really wedged in there. I got my hubby to try and help, but after an hour of trying to get the thing out, we gave up and I just worked around it.. It must have been a blast getting that thing in there to begin with! With the position of the cabinets overhead and the shelf, there was just no leverage to get it out...

The little "Exit" sign over the window cracked me up.. Anyhoooo..... I decided since there wasn't a lot of room to work in here, I would just add the wallpaper border over the window and tongue and groove board to the wall. They had added a shelf over the bed, which I didn't think we'd need, so I made a little mattress pad for it so Tomi, our cat, would have a comfy place of his own.. I also removed the cupboard door knobs and back plates and painted them red... 

I already had the quilt and pillow shams, which had been in the spare bedroom in the house, but had been replaced with a new quilt the year before.. I loved that quilt set, so had held onto it... Glad I did, as it worked well in the trailer.. I bought the red plaid woolrich blanket on ebay for under $10! Cha chingaling.. 

I made red gingham curtains and lined them in room darkening fabric so it wouldn't be so bright in the bedroom first thing in the morning...

I didn't do much to the bathroom area other than wallpaper the walls and paint the towel bar and hardware red. 

Below are some before and after pics...some are repeats of pictures above, but for some reason, I don't have a large assortment of pics available.. I saved them to some file somewhere on my computer, but can't seem to locate them.. 

This is a picture looking at the kitchen from the living room.. Like I mentioned, it was your typical everything was a wood paneled look. The blue striped fabric was curtains.. All the accent stuff was blue but the carpet in the living room is kind of a rust color. Not sure how that combo came to be. lol. 

The previous owners had taken out the built in table and booths, and built in a cabinet that didn't quite match the others.. I wasn't quite sure what to do about that but ended up tongue and grooving it and painting the door red.. It blends in nicely now..

We found the little 2 leaf table at a garage sale for $5.. I painted it the light beige color and painted the tips of the table legs red. I found the old fashioned radio at a garage sale for $1.50.. It works and looks pretty neat!

We bought the little vintage look microwave at Wally World on sale for about $30.. The biggest "splurge" was the red coffee maker, which wasn't on sale, but only cost around $20..

I found a 5x7 rug at Kmart on sale in the perfect color combo of red with beige stripes on the ends.. It's like it was custom made for our trailer! I think it cost about $20 on sale.. I put red gingham shelf liner on top of the table, made red gingham curtains for the windows and added  lace valances (also purchased on sale at Kmart)..

I already had the majority of the Coca Cola decorations, purchased a few new ones and just started filling the trailer with them...

The kitchen was really in very good just needed a new look. The wall behind the stove and sink was that factory manufactured wallpaper board.. I painted it with primer, then wallpapered over it and 5 years later, it's still stuck to stay!
I taped off the sides of the fridge and used a little paint roller to paint the front red...It took several coats, but turned out great.. I purchased the Coca Cola decals from ebay vendors.. The white "Coca Cola" was a pain in the behind to get on correctly, but once it was finally on, it's stayed really well.. The hand holding the coke bottle, however, was the opposite. It went on very easily, but the edges are constantly curling up.. I've gotten in the habit of running my hand over it to smooth it down every time I walk past it..

I bought two red dish pans to put in the sinks and put a vinyl splash plate behind the sink on the wall. 

Livingroom Before
Pretty much like most of the trailers we looked at.. Lots of cupboard space, a couch that pulls out into a bed and that about describes it.. 

Living Room After
 The mirror hanging in the picture above was actually a really nice mirror.. I decided to paint it country white, distress it for a shabby look and ended up hanging it in the spare bedroom in the house. 

Some of the mini blinds were a little unstable, unable to be opened and shut and just didn't function properly. I was going to replace them with inexpensive ones from Walmart, but soon realized the windows aren't a standard size and I couldn't find any blinds that would fit.

I ended up taking them outside and hanging them from two Shepherd's hooks, sprayed them off with the hose (because they were really dusty), and when dry, I was able to restring them and fix the majority of problems with them.. I wouldn't say they're the most attractive thing on the planet, but they do the job and for just a little time invested, are usable again...

Living room Couch Area
This couch is actually very comfortable. I've never pulled it out to sleep on it as a bed, but I've been known to sneak out here in the afternoon from time to time to take a little cat nap.. 
The woolrich blanket is another bargain I got on ebay for around $7.. I love bargains!
              Bedroom Before                                            

Bedroom After

It took me about a month to finish the whole thing and I ended up really happy with the way it turned out.. I'm lucky that my husband trusts me to do whatever I want to rooms.. He thinks I'm loony because I never stop changing things, but he's very supportive and just stands back to see what I'm doing now...

Once the trailer was finished, I waited for us to take it camping....and waited....and waited......and waited some more...We had moved it to the back yard behind a little garden pond we had put in years ago.. We occasionally "camped" in the yard and it was very comfortable and peaceful.. We live in a very wooded location, so it did feel like camping out in the wilderness...We can hear the little pond waterfall from inside the camper and it's very relaxing.. But still...I really wanted to take her camping somewhere!

A year went by before my husband finally confessed that he was really nervous about pulling it anywhere, he wasn't looking forward to backing it into campsites and all the rest that went with camping with a trailer. He was worried about something happening on the road pulling it and not having the knowledge to handle it.. He's the worrier in our family.. I'm the adventurer... 

In his defense, we had actually burned out the brakes on our truck hauling it home.. We had to have them replaced the day after we brought her home, which was kind of crazy since we'd just had them replaced about a year before and for the most part, my hubby only drove the truck to work and back, which was only 2 miles away.. 

He has a fishing boat which he pulls with the truck and has never had a problem with it. Unfortunately, this particular trailer just didn't seem to haul smoothly.. It was located about 1 1/2 hours from our home, so hauling it home after we purchased it had given him a pretty good picture of what it pulled like... 

He also said he was thinking maybe a smaller trailer probably would have been a smarter purchase.................................................................................................hmmmmmm........

We talked about putting it up for sale, but in the end, decided to keep it and turn it into a sewing cottage for me.. I can live with that!!!

We ended up pulling the mattress out of her and making shelves for fabric and a cutting table on the bed platform. It took us hours to get that mattress out of there. I'm sure we looked hilarious trying to figure out how to maneuver that thing, and even funnier trying to carry it out.. 

But we did manage to finally get it out of there and we then spent days carrying bolts of fabric out to organize.. 

I have a sewing room in our house, so I was splitting up the fabric by what I use it for. Because I'm self employed and sell hand made items for a living, I have over 200 bolts of fabrics, so this was not an easy chore.. 

But after a few weeks, I had pretty much organized the trailer into a cute little sewing cabin.. I took my older singer machine out there and set up a sewing area in the kitchen. All in all, it was a nice little area to work in. I've sewn out there from spring through fall, and used it year round to cut out projects.. 

We heat it with a Eden Pure heater and I insulate it the best I can every fall in preparation for cold weather.. I used to sew out there even in late fall and winter, but one year I was sewing orders late afternoon/early evening.. It was already dark out... My husband blew a fuse in the house (the trailer is plugged into the house electricity), only he didn't realize he had... It was pitch black out.. I sat in the dark waiting for the electricity to come back on..about 5 minutes later, I decided I needed to make my way to the house and find out what was going on.. Unfortunately, the light I leave lit on the back porch was on the same line, so it was out, too.. 

We have bears in our area who visit our yard after dark frequently.. Living in the boonies, there are no street lights and our neighbors are spread out so we can't see their homes from our house.. It was the longest 50 ft I ever walked.  I kept hoping I didn't walk into a black bear.. lol... 

From that time on, we decided it probably wasn't a good idea to work out there after dark.. I do all my sewing inside the house during the winter months, but enjoy sewing in my little cottage trailer the majority of the year.. 

I've enjoyed the trailer as is all these years, but have decided to do another redo... Even though I've enjoyed the coca cola theme, I'm ready for a change, so I'm going to turn her into a shabby chic trailer, and have renamed her "My Sew Sweet Cottage"... 

I've already started the redo and will be posting new pics as she goes... I can't wait to see her looking very girly and sweet... 

Stay tuned :o)


  1. My husband and I luv what you have done with your camper , you gave us some wonderful ideas. We just recently purchased a 1989 Fleetwood that needs a little TCL. How is your paint holding up on the cabinets you painted ? Our concern is painting over the veneer and the paint peeling off in warmer or higher humidity temps. And of course trying to put as little money into and trying to avoid buying new cabinets.

    1. Thank you for the compliments...

      I haven't had any problems at all with the paint lifting or chipping
      on the cabinets. I did sand them slightly to rough the surface up a
      bit, then painted with a primer before I painted with the red paint..
      I do attribute a lot of that to the Behr paint.. That stuff is tuff!

      I recently purchased some new Behr paint from Home Depot and see that
      their paint now includes a primer..

      Best of luck with your Fleetwood.. Have a great time redoing it :o)

  2. I really find this travel trailer very fantastic! This is indeed perfect for family outdoor adventures. The remodeled trailer is absolutely beautiful. I think everything is perfectly done. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post.

  3. It turned out super cute! I'm anxious to see the new version of it! I would love to have my own little place for sewing!

  4. Thank you.. I actually am almost done with the new redo... I'll be posting pictures very soon.. Have a great day....

  5. Everything looks good. How difficult is it finding parts for an 87? I always imagined that parts would be the most difficult part towards renovation and it's typically been the main thing keeping me away although I definitely want to try it!


  6. Sorry, I can't help you there.. We were fortunate that nothing needed replaced. This trailer was in very good condition when we purchased it.

  7. Such an adorable RV house, as it can enable you to live anywhere or travel for long distance.May I ask if how much the cost of having this trailer?

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  8. Amazing transformation! The Coca-Cola theme made your RV look cozy and sophisticated. It is simply rocking vintage. And how you incorporated the same theme in your living room makes the transformation even more striking.

    Greg Inward

  9. So glad you shared! Now I'm inspired to fix the one my husband brought home.

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  12. Your Coca-Cola theme looks great! But I think you could still get the desired effect even if you painted the other wooden walls white. That way, the interior will surely look more uniformed. Anyway, things will depend on your preference, and you can always change it up to your liking when you want to. Thanks for sharing!

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  17. Was the area you painted real wood or laminate overlay?

    1. Some of it was real wood, some of it was laminate overlay..

  18. You wouldn't happen to have any more of the red lantern border would you? lol I've been looking for it everywhere!!

    1. lol...Sorry! Used it all.... It's been quite a few years.. Maybe it's been discontinued??

  19. Your blog is much appreciative it has really compelled me to comment on this.

  20. When you can't find the wallpaper you want, don't forget that in small situations like a trailer you can by the fabric with the print on it (Coca-Cola) and use spray adhesive to put it on. You can then coat it with a fabric sealant or a coat of clear spray paint so it doesn't get dirty.

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  22. That’s as well nice, hope it will make a Rocking place for youth and I also Hope that will come true. Best of luck!! FindLocalRoofers

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