Dear Friends: This vintage camper renovation took place after our daughter Melinda decided to turn our old 1989 Starcraft into a palace on wheels!
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
The blackout curtains were wrinkled but otherwise in good shape. She decided to recover them rather than replace them.
At one end, the larger pop-out has a double bed with mattress.
At the other end is a smaller pop-out with a single bed mattress.
In the centre are two bench seats, facing each other.
Under the bench cushions are plywood boxes painted brown.
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!
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.
We even found the original manual, which might come in handy someday.
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.
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.
Melinda decided to go with a black and white colour scheme. She began by priming all the woodwork.
She removed all the bench seats and cabinet doors and painted them white.
She meticulously lined all the benches and cabinets with sticky shelf paper. (I would have skipped this step).
She then reassembled the benches. She knows how to use power tools, but good old Dad was on standby if she needed any help.
Then she went to work on the cabinet.
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.
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.
Her fiancé Andrew was tasked with covering the old floor with new floating vinyl flooring.
We think the new floor looks great with the white woodwork and black cushions.
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.
The white sheers cover the bed areas, but allow natural light into the camper.
The double mattress was covered with a white fitted sheet, and a white duvet. Doesn’t it look cozy and inviting?
The greatest transformation was the cabinet, painted white with new black hardware.
Even the old icebox got several coats of paint.
The tabletop was painted white, and the metal legs sprayed black.
Now they are all ready for their first camping trip!
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!
We hope Melinda and Andrew will enjoy as many happy hours in the camper as we did!
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