Pop Up Camper Renovation on a BUDGET

pop up camper renovation from TMTOMH Too Much Time on My Hands 18 copy

I am REALLY excited to be sharing this easy and super thrifty pop up camper renovation! Join me on this exciting journey that had twists and surprises at every turn...not even joking.

We bought this 1990 Coleman beauty last summer from Craigslist and my back has not stopped thanking me. It was around $3000 and has 2 queen beds with a bench seat that turns into another bed. It was small enough for our Subaru to pull and the perfect size for us to get started in the camper game!



We have always tent camped, but dang I have been fighting Lyme disease and my joints hurt a lot when I sleep on my sleeping pad in a tent and a bed has improved my camping expereince 100%. Also the heater has been key. We live in Colorado and even camping in the summer can get chilly-like 35-40 degrees at night when we are up really high. The heat helps the kids sleep through the night without waking up and keeps me happy as a clam snuggled under my cozy comforter.


The first project I completed was painting the countertops. I could have bought the $150 Countertop transformations kits I have seen, but that was not in my thrifty budget. So, instead I went with one can (about $20) of this Rustoleum Countertop Coating. It was tinted black and I figured for $20 it was worth a shot. I also still have 75% of the can left for yearly touch ups if needed.


I followed directions and applied with a small foam roller. It is oil based and super stinky so be sure to get as much ventilation as possible. Even with the door and all the windows open, the smell was a bit overwhelming. Final results are good ...for a camper. I would definitely not use this product in my kitchen, I would splurge on the whole kit. But really, it's a camper. I want it to look nice, but we don't live in it so I am okay with some roll marks. It took about four coats, but it is good coverage and working for now!

pop up camper renovation from TMTOMH Too Much Time on My Hands 11 copy

There are a couple of knicks and the one big issue I had was the plastic edging around the bench seats. I painted it because it was an ugly beige, but the paint is chipping right off. I am going to be looking to buy new black edging to replace what we have got.

pop up camper renovation from TMTOMH Too Much Time on My Hands 15 copy

Then I moved on to the cabinets. I had my little minions help remove all the hardware and we stacked the doors and drawerfronts on the dining room table AFTER we marked where each one belonged back in the camper.

pop up camper renovation from TMTOMH Too Much Time on My Hands 19 copy

 I used a mistint gallon of dark gray paint that I found for $5. It was eggshell and again, I could have tried a cabinet paint kit, but really for $5 I wanted to see how this will hold up. I  also spray painted all the brass hardware instead of buying new and I really love how it looks. The cabinet paint is holding up awesome!

pop up camper renovation from TMTOMH Too Much Time on My Hands 4 copy

In the middle of painting the cabinets I discovered a little visitor!


Oh little cutie. I kind of tried to shoo him out and went on my merry way. I naively thought one lonely chipmunk had wandered into our pop up while it was set up out front and I was doing all these renovations. WEllllllllll.....

The next night I arrived home after a dinner out to a mad scene. Half of our neighborhood surrounding our camper, 5 children screaming and running all through the street, and my husband dashing around with a broom over his head. They had discovered 5 more chipmunks and were trying to scare them off into the back yards of our neighbors. I may or may not have stepped on one and squished it under my flip flop- they were running evrywhere! It was crazy and awful!

Around this time, I had my animal lover friends hounding me to call animal control to save the chipmunks (insert eye roll) and telling me it was my duty to help them. I decided to go to bed and hope all of the chipmunks would be happily settled in our neighborhood, bushes, trees, and backyard burrows by morning. Not so much.....

I was putting the cabinet doors back on in the morning and discovered this under the sink cabinet.

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Oh my...babies and very sickly and weak new babies. I wandered out of the camper debating my moral dilema of how to save their lives when the kids found three more babies limping around our front yard flower beds.I hopped on-line and discovered that chipmunks can not survive at Denver's altitude and I just had to call animal control. I do have a heart!


Officer Dan arrived with traps and we worked together to catch 6 chipmunks in all. Apparently a mom had had her babies nestled in my dishcloths while our camper was stored at higher altitude over the winter. I felt terrible that the mother was no where to be seen and was probably left back at our storage area while here babies were driven away!

Everyone will be happy to know the chipmunks were taken to a wildlife rehabilitation facility to be nursed back to health and be released into the wild when they were ready. Who knew this was thing?

Anyway, I was happy to get back to my projects!

Next project was the gross floor, this camper had carpeting....YUCK! Gross old, dirty carpeting is not what you want when you have kids and a dog running in and out of a camper. I needed to be able to sweep and wash throughout our trips and I just could not even stomach what I was walking on in my bare feet. I tore it out and scrubbed the floral linoleum that was there. Then I hit Home Depot for a box of self adhesive tile, a putty filler for cracks, and a stain pencil to cover the filler. The one box of tile was enough for the whole project and runs about $26 per box or $0.87 a square foot. I applied it right on top of the old but clean linoleum that was already in there.


These campers are just not made with suqare edges and straight lines. I made A LOT of cuts and a lot of finaggeling. I used a lot of filler too because my hands started hurting from all the cutting and recutting and at one point I just could not get everything perfect!

pop up camper renovation from TMTOMH Too Much Time on My Hands 5 copy

This was probably the biggest impact of the whole project! Like an amazing difference!

I hit Hancock Fabrics for a discount fabric to cover the bench seat cushious. I also had some fix it work because those dang chipmunks ate a corner of one of the cushions! I just added a chunk of styrofoam and then recovered with my new fabric and it is good as new. I used my staple gun to recover the cushions and it worked awesome!

pop up camper renovation from TMTOMH Too Much Time on My Hands 6 copy

We were using ugly old lismatched comforters and blankets for our bedding. Yes they worked just fuine, but matching sets would make a huge difference in me enjoying my environment and I really do think that is worth something! I ordered bedding sets on Amazon that were around $50 each for the whole set. I just knew the bright and cheerful colors would wake up the drab camper and I would be much more happy spending rainy afternoons in there with it looking pretty!


I also bought black out curtains at Target to replace the original Draperies that were in there when we bought the camper. Now, I am not a seamstress and did not know where to start with making draperies. So instead I bought cheap curtain rods and screwed those suckers above the drapery strip. I have to take them down when we close up the camper, but for the price and ease of installation it was worth it.

pop up camper renovation from TMTOMH Too Much Time on My Hands EASY DIY curtain rods

And that is about it. I bought a few little extras from the Dollar Tree to cozy up the place, but overall this amazing transformation was about $300 all said and done. A little elbow grease and the courage to Do It Yourself is all you need!

pop up camper renovation from TMTOMH Too Much Time on My Hands Before and After Makeover copy

We still have the old canvas top which we hope to replace next summer and it does have a lot of bullet holes in the sides (previous owner-don't ask), BUT it is cozy, cheerful and working for us beautifully!

pop up camper renovation from TMTOMH Too Much Time on My Hands 3 copy

pop up camper renovation from TMTOMH Too Much Time on My Hands 9 copy

pop up camper renovation from TMTOMH Too Much Time on My Hands 12 copy

pop up camper renovation from TMTOMH Too Much Time on My Hands 2 copy

pop up camper renovation from TMTOMH Too Much Time on My Hands 17 copy

The best part of this project is that it is encouraging us to spend more quality family time together with the people we love to spend the most time with!


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I would love for you to follow along! Subscribe via bloglovin, e-mail or rss feed in a reader. I also post on Twitter, Hometalk, and Facebook almost every day. And did I mention my Pinterest addiction....


  1. Great story and nice job on the re-do. I also liked your rationale that being in a pleasant environment is really important. We are in our late 60’s and tent camp once a year. People are amazed that we still do this, and I always explain that it’s the “blow-up” mattresses that have allowed us to continue. Your post makes me think about how we might make our tent interior and site more attractive

  2. You did an awesome job – I love the pops of colour! I just came back from a camping trip and my joints were bothering to me due to my hypothyroidism. A trailer would be helpful!

  3. I know Chipmunks were the LAST things anyone would want in their camper but how cute are they? We have one that lives outside our house and I see him/her every morning scampering around. I named him/her THELONIOUS (the munk, clever joke eh?) and he makes me happy every time I see him (as long as he stays outside)!

  4. This is such a great re-do. I love your photos and am glad the little chipmunk were saved :).

  5. How adorable – you make me wish I’d had one when my kids were younger – just love it !!!
    And I’m happy the chipmunks were saved too !

  6. Your trailer looks great! We used to have a pop-up, but have now graduated to a regular hard side. I would love to do something like this to make it more homey. I will have to start looking at more clearance paint! Pinning!

  7. I love your little camper redo, it turned out great! I’m happy you saved the little chipmunks too, how sweet of you :o)


  8. What kind of paint did you use on your cabinets? My husband and I tried repainting our cabinets in our pop up last year and the paint is kind of sticky feeling? This gave me more good ideas like for the counter thanks, and we bought the same flooring for ours as well.

    • I used a mistint $5 gallon from Home Depot! It was latex but a glossy finish. I let it dry really well between coats and it isn’t sticky at all now.

  9. I’m curious about the curtains. I was planning on seeing some, but buying even sounds better. How many did you have to buy? Did you have to alter them at all? Any information would help. Thanks.

    • I bought them at Target and it will depend on your window size. I did have to shorten the gray set. The red set ended up being short enough!

  10. how did you staple the bench seat covers?

  11. Lindsey T says:

    Love this! I wrote down what you did step by step and this is my project to tackle within the next month. I love how you didn’t sew and stayed within a reasonable budget because these are two things that I have been looking for in a remodel. Can’t wait to start thanks for the inspiration and your realness!!

  12. Laura Holyoak says:

    Love your pics, colour is great. Bought an old tent trailer last year for $400.00 so you can imagine what it looked like. Used water based wood stain to brighten the cotton canvas inside and out. New flooring and flannel sheets. Very cozy.

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