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Elinor Florence (Company name) Elinor Florence

Vintage Camper Renovation

Dear Friends: This vintage camper renovation took place after our daughter Melinda decided to turn our old 1989 Starcraft into a palace on wheels!

Vintage camper renovation, Melinda and power drill

The old camper, sometimes called a tent trailer, a fold-down trailer, or a pop-up trailer, served our family well over the years.

vintage camper renovation, 1989 Starcraft


Vintage Camper Renovation

Melinda, who lives in Calgary, spent several consecutive weekends visiting us and working on her project.

She began by scrubbing the exterior and caulking all the seams.

vintage camper renovation, Melinda redoes caulking

She then opened it and washed down the canvas walls, which were in perfect condition. The interior, however, was very dated with fake wood grain and (admittedly practical) sandy-coloured flooring stamped with a leaf pattern.

vintage camper renovation, stove and sink, before

She decided to ditch the rusty cooktop. I can’t remember EVER using it. Who wants to cook with propane inside a small space when you can cook outside on a campfire or a camp stove instead?

vintage camper renovation, stove, before

However, she kept the sink. At one time it was possible to pump water into the sink from a small holding tank. Melinda removed the tank, but she can still pour warm water into the sink for washing dishes, and allow the dirty water to drain through a pipe out the bottom.

vintage camper renovation, sink, before

The blackout curtains were wrinkled but otherwise in good shape. She decided to recover them rather than replace them.

vintage camper renovation, curtains, before

At one end, the larger pop-out has a double bed with mattress.

vintage camper renovation, double bed, before

At the other end is a smaller pop-out with a single bed mattress.

vintage camper renovation, single bed, before

In the centre are two bench seats, facing each other.

vintage camper renovation, bench cushions, before

Under the bench cushions are plywood boxes painted brown.

vintage camper renovation, bench, under cushions

And inside the benches, there is ample storage. We found some interesting items in there including beach toys, a propane lantern, and an old Ouija board which we used on camping nights. Spooky!

vintage camper renovation, bench inside storage

We also found a set of old Melamine dishes (complete with dead bug) which I will now take to my mid-century cottage on Vancouver Island. To see more photos, click here: Palm Tree Cottage.

vintage camper renovation, Melamine dishes

We even found the original manual, which might come in handy someday.

vintage camper renovation, 1989 Starcraft manual

There’s a portable folding table. You can use it for dining or, when lowered to the level of the bench seats and covered with the bench cushions, it creates a third double bed. With four kids, we needed every inch of sleeping space.

vintage camper renovation, table, before

There’s even an icebox, the old-fashioned kind. By placing a bag of ice or a cold pack inside, you can keep your food cold, or at least cool.

vintage camper renovation, Icebox, before

Melinda decided to go with a black and white colour scheme. She began by priming all the woodwork.

vintage cabinet restoration, woodwork primed

She removed all the bench seats and cabinet doors and painted them white.

vintage camper restoration, doors, primed and ready to paint

She meticulously lined all the benches and cabinets with sticky shelf paper. (I would have skipped this step).

vintage camper renovation, interiors lined with Mactac

She then reassembled the benches. She knows how to use power tools, but good old Dad was on standby if she needed any help.

vintage camper renovation, benches, reassembled

Then she went to work on the cabinet.

vintage camper renovation, Melinda finishes countertop

My job was to recover the curtains. I cut up two white sheets and created gathered white curtains, attaching them along the tops of the old ones.

The biggest nuisance was removing all the sliding plastic clips and sewing them back on by hand, but Melinda helped.

vintage camper renovation, hemming new curtains

Here are the new white curtains hanging behind the benches.

Melinda had the bench cushions upholstered in charcoal black fabric by a professional seamstress, since my portable sewing machine wasn’t up to the job.

And she replaced the bed curtains at both ends with simple white sheers from Fabricland.

vintage camper renovation, new curtains and new upholstered cushion

Her fiancé Andrew was tasked with covering the old floor with new floating vinyl flooring.

vintage camper renovation, Andrew lays new flooring

We think the new floor looks great with the white woodwork and black cushions.

vintage camper renovation, new floor

She also removed the mattress on the single bed, and covered the base with the same flooring material. Now they can use this platform as a countertop and replace the mattress if needed.

vintage camper renovation, single bed, with new base

The white sheers cover the bed areas, but allow natural light into the camper.

vintage camper renovation, single bed, with curtains

The double mattress was covered with a white fitted sheet, and a white duvet. Doesn’t it look cozy and inviting?

vintage camper restoration, master bed

The greatest transformation was the cabinet, painted white with new black hardware.

vintage camper renovation, counter, finished

Even the old icebox got several coats of paint.

vintage camper renovation, table, painted

The tabletop was painted white, and the metal legs sprayed black.

vintage camper renovation, table, painted

Now they are all ready for their first camping trip!

vintage camper renovation, camping mugs

I searched out this old photograph from 1989 — it is Melinda herself standing in her playpen outside the brand new Starcraft on its maiden camping voyage in 1989!

vintage camper renovation, new 1989 Starcraft

We hope Melinda and Andrew will enjoy as many happy hours in the camper as we did!

vintage camper renovation, Our Happy Place


Friends, we’ve had a busy summer filled with lots of home projects, like the camper renovation, and many memorable family activities. We even managed to squeeze in a few socially-distanced visits with friends. My new novel had to take a back seat for now, but I’m hoping to tackle it again in September.

Please feel free to share Letters From Windermere with your friends, or post the link on your social media.

Here’s wishing you a safe and enjoyable autumn. Fondly, Elinor

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