Trailmanor Makeover!

June 24, 2023

At 9, 7, and 4, our kids are at the perfect ages for camping adventures! We've been to RV showrooms and walked through lots of beautiful campers with big slideouts and fun bunkrooms. They were just all so heavy and, most of all, expensive! While talking to my mom about it, the discussion turned to the 2006 Trailmanor that's been covered in her driveway for YEARS. I remember seeing it sitting there, but didn't think much about it. My mom said we could not only use it, but give it a little makeover. I was sold! The bonus is that my dad, who went home to Heaven in February of 2022, would be so thrilled to know he had his grandkids enjoying it. He always enjoyed taking us camping when we were younger. 

The first order of business was getting a car that could tow 🤣. We already had our Honda CR-V paid off and while it was a great car, we needed to upgrade if we were going to haul a camper. We sold it and used the funds to pay off the rest of our mini van and were on the hunt for a bigger car. We ended up with a Nissan Armada and drove the 5 hours up to my mom's house in Virginia to take the camper to a repair place to get it checked over. Surprisingly, it was in great shape and just needed a few things fixed. We brought it home and got right to work. 

*spoiler - this was a lot more work than Rachel expected*

We took down the numerous curtains, valances, and their metal rods and filled holes. We also removed the padded borders that held the mattress in place so we could replace them with stained wood.  The carpet and peeling linoleum on the floor also came out. I don't think carpet is ever a good idea in an RV! 

Then we mixed up some TSP and warm water and wiped down everrryyyything. 

The biggest task by far was painting everything! I didn't realize before-hand how big it would be and just assumed it would be quick because of the small square footage. I laugh at my naive former self now! At the same time, paint made the biggest difference. I primed using STIX bonding primer after seeing a full-time RV renovator recommend it. It was fine, but I probably wouldn't use it again. When I painted our kitchen cabinets we used Zinsser oil-based primer, and while it had a stronger odor, I feel it had better coverage. 

It took two full coats of the primer on the walls and three coats on the wood sections to prep them for paint. Working around homeschooling and other life events, it took a number of days to get everything primed, but what a difference it made! 

We wanted to spend as little money as possible on this update (you'll see this theme multiple times) so I decided to spray paint the faucets. Since the Trailmanor folds down, you can't get fixtures that sit higher, and to change them out apparently requires taking out the water heater. Paint it is! We cleaned them up and then taped and sprayed with a matte black primer and paint in one that works on multiple surfaces. We'll see how they hold up!

Next it was paint! A friend of ours works at ACE and let us know that they had a whole section of "oops" paint they can't sell and if any of it could be adjusted to fit our needs, we could have it. Most of it didn't work for the colors I picked out, but one dented gallon can was untinted so we scooped it up and tinted it to our wall color, Simply White by Benjamin Moore. (This color was also used on the few upper cabinets we had.) We also bought a sample can of Toasted Poppyseed by Kilz and a quart of Pewter Green by Sherwin Williams to use in a few places in the camper. 

After feeling like I was painting my life away with a white color, I decided to take a pause and paint the bottom of the dinette benches in the Toasted Poppyseed. It gave me the boost I needed to keep painting the walls and ceilings 😆 Once I finished painting all the walls, it was time to move on to more of the fun stuff!

For the "backsplash" in the kitchen area, I wanted to do vertical shiplap. We bought these panels from Home Depot and my husband cut them to size to go in a few sections. We ended up buying two sheets and had some left over. We took the fire extinguisher off this end section (it's still close by - don't worry!) and put a piece of shiplap there instead. I love the little pop it gave the cabinet!

Clarence put some along this wall around the window as well as on the walls by the sink behind him. In the first photo, you'll see a couple black speakers on the cabinet on the far end of the camper. We didn't feel the need to use those, so Clarence removed them and used some left over shiplap to fill place over the holes. It worked perfectly! 

While Clarence was busy putting up the shiplap, I was back to painting 😓 This time it was the cabinet doors. It took me a whole day just to wipe them down (TSP again), sand, and prime them. After painting my kitchen cabinets, I swore I would never do it again, but here we were haha. The coverage for the green was really nice and mercifully I only needed two coats...which would not be the case with the Simply White later....

The bases on all the lower cabinets were painted green next, both in the bathroom and the kitchen. It felt soooo good to actually have some color on those cabinets! These were the new pulls we ended up putting on the doors and drawers. 

Around this time, I started putting Simply White on the upper took about 2 million coats. And that's only a slight exaggeration. I'm not sure if this is true of all white colors, or if this specific coverage was just really thin, but I'm SO glad I didn't do all the cabinets in white!! 

I was losing my mind and decided to play with the counter top update. All the counters were a blue laminate of some kind. There is one removable drawer cabinet which had a different, brown-based pattern...not sure why they were different, but neither color counter worked! To save money, I bought some marble contact paper and wanted to practice on the removable cabinet first. 

It looked so much better! It gave me the motivation to finish painting the white cabinets. Then I headed back to the camper and started adding the contact paper to the counters in there. It was then that I realized a few issues with the paper. It wasn't the best quality and was looking scratched and bubbled once applied. It also didn't stick to the underside of the counter well, so I had to use a staple gun to get it to stay. Finally, the coloring on it was just really cool, where the rest of the white in the camper was a warm white. I paused to decide what I wanted to do and pivoted to work on other projects instead. 

The bathroom walls fold down and the hinge was broken by the camper mechanic, so we pulled the wall out while we waited on the new hinge. Since it was inside and I could easily work on it at night, I went ahead and applied our bathroom wallpaper to the wall. We had taken down the original mirror in the camper and I found another one with a shelf off Facebook Marketplace for a fraction of the cost online. It was a metal gray, but I spray painted it with the same black paint I used on the faucets. 

It looked quite larger than I thought....this would come back to me once we had the wall in later. In the meantime, Clarence replaced all the ceiling lights with LED ones. Simple upgrade that made a big difference!

Next was putting the wallpaper on the bathroom walls! It went on pretty easy, until I got to the end and ran out of full sections that matched. I had two square areas that didn't have matching paper. Thankfully, the pattern was busy enough that I could choose some leftover scraps that were a close enough match and no one is the wiser 😉 Here is before...

I've heard mixed reviews on wallpaper in RV's because they can fall off with the difference in temperature. One person recommended putting a line of caulk all around the edges of the paper to help hold it on, so that's what we did. We also bought some lattice pieces at Lowe's for another project in here, so I had Clarence cut a piece to size, I painted it white, and we placed it on the end of the wallpaper to create an ending point/border where the bathroom wall ends. This is a screenshot from a video with painter's tape still on, but it gives you an idea of what I mean.

We also used a lattice trim piece on the other side of the bathroom wall. I felt that it made more sense to have your eye travel in one line instead of wallpapering the bottom section of this wall, so we just added a trim piece instead to finish if off.

One of the biggest things to figure out was the curtains! Because the Trailmanor folds down, everything has to be flush against the wall. I didn't want to have to take down the curtains every time (there are 7 of them!) but I saw someone share magnetic black curtain rods. They just put small black metal plates on the wall and the rods could easily go up and down. We figured that could be the kid's job when we set up and tear down. However, curtains are expensive! I bought this $20 shower curtain from Target and while testing in the camper I realized it would make great curtains if we cut it up! Of course that would mean I would have to pull out the sewing machine I hadn't used in 7 years and remind myself how to use it again 😂. Still, I couldn't beat the price! I was able to make all the curtains for the camper from 2 shower curtains, so $40 total! Unfortunately, the metal plates would not stay on the wall 😖 I even tried putting liquid nails on them to give them more strength, but they would continue to fall off. Time to problem solve! We already had to do something different for the large window over the kitchen/dinette because it was wider than any rods. We ended up buying a cheap dowel, staining it, adding eye hooks to the top of it, and then hooking them over picture hangers attached to the wall. So far this has worked great, so we decided to do that for the rest of the curtains as well.

Next, was the floor! Sometimes saving money takes a lot of extra time. That's what happened with our flooring. I randomly popped in a Habitat for Humanity ReStore and found one clearanced box of laminate flooring that I loved! I hadn't measured the floor, but thought "It's such a small area, one box is probably enough". Oh Rachel...

It was not enough. And I bought the last one. 

So we started looking at other options and figured we would just eat the $30 we spent on the first box. Then on a whim, I stopped by again to see if they got any more and got talking to one of the associates and she said one of the other stores on the other side of town might have it. They had exactly 2 boxes left which would be just enough for what we needed! It was a Christmas miracle in April. I don't remember the name of the flooring, but honestly I couldn't find it online before I scored the final two boxes, so your best bet would be to visit a Habitat ReStore if you have one near one. 

Clarence got them installed in one day, except for the bathroom. We weren't taking out the toilet, so getting out the old vinyl was a bit hard. Clarence was able to cut it out finally, but we didn't know there would be a big piece of plywood underneath. Because of that we bought a box of marble peel and stick from Floor & Decor to put in there, but realized we would have to sand off all the dried glue first in order for them to stick. While we were about to do that, we discovered we actually could put the wood floor in there on top of the plywood, which we thought wouldn't work at first. Clarence then had the task of making lots of little cuts and getting it around the toilet that stayed in place. That was not an easy job, but he finished it perfectly! Then he cut some quarter round for the whole camper and I painted it so he could install it and make everything look complete.

Since we painted all the bathroom walls white, I wanted to do something different with the door to the bathroom. I saw someone on Pinterest share how they added lattice trim (which you can buy cheaply at Lowe's) to a door to dress it up. I had Clarence cut down some pieces and add it to the door. I caulked the edges and then painted the doors black. I had to buy another sample paint of the Toasted Poppyseed for this since I didn't quite have enough to cover fully. They turned out so good!

The brown handle was bothering me, so I grabbed a little black rub and buff and updated it. Quick fix!

A couple more cost savings....I wanted to put wood blinds on the two windows on the ends of the camper. Who knew how expensive they were?? I ended up finding someone selling some on marketplace for $20 a piece and they were the perfect color!

I also saw where someone updated their Trailmanor and added a light fixture over the table. I loved that idea, even if we had to take it down when we traveled. I'd seen carcabaroad on Instagram use rechargeable light bulbs in fixtures that weren't hard-wired, so knew we could do that. The camper did come with a couple flush-mount lights above the table, but they weren't working for some reason. I did a lot of looking around for an inexpensive light fixture and was not having any luck. While at Hobby Lobby one day, I saw a rope basket that I thought would be perfect turned upside down and made into a light! We just needed to fasten a place for the rechargable bulb to attach to and a way to hang it. My husband used rope and cut a small hole in the screen of the window on the ceiling and tied the rope to something more sturdy in the window. Then we just used a carabiner so that we can easily attach the fixture to the rope when we need it.

Remember the counters? Well after a lot of thinking and searching the internet, I discovered this tutorial. She basically used paint, craft paint, a feather, and rags to create a marble look on her counters. I already had primer and paint leftover (which would prevent the issue of the whites not being the same shade), so I only had to buy a few supplies. I think I spent maybe $15? It took a little bit of trial and error and I ended up doing a few layers of the watered down paint on top to tone down the pattern, but I'm super happy with how it turned out! I did three coats of the polycrylic on top, so I'm hoping it will last for awhile! This was a super inexpensive update that didn't had a bunch of weight, but updated the counters so nicely!

The dining table was the last big headache to figure out. It was an orange tone that just didn't match to anything else. It wasn't solid wood, so sanding it and restaining was not really an option. I tried to do some white washing and stain anyway, just to see what would happen. Nothing was helping, so we ended up using more of the lattice pieces as a border and then using thin slabs of pine to fill in the inside portions of the table. We could then stain them how we wanted. It did add a little bit of weight, but the pine is thankfully a light wood and the pieces are thin.

Remember the mirror I bought that looked big? Well, once the wall was in and we tried to hang it, we realized that it came out too far and down and was in the way of the sink/faucet. So I found this mirror on Amazon and it's a perfect fit! 

I had seen people use Beddy's bedding for campers because of it's ease. I wanted to do that, but hoped to find someone selling theirs so we could save some money. Well, I found two of the exact color I wanted for about half the price! Unfortunately it was in Tennessee. Instead of paying for shipping, it just so happened that my pastor's wife was headed there during spring break to visit some friends so she was able to pick them up for me! We have the "Morgan".

All in all it took just over two months to complete the camper. We are so happy with how it turned out and are excited to take it out. In fact, our first camping trip away from the house is tomorrow! Here are some final before and afters. Let me know if you have any questions of anything I might have missed. I'll post some links to other thing I bought at the end. 

The light from the door way is kind of blowing out the color in the photo above. The cabinet under the sink is the more true color.

Wood Shelf in Kitchen - Hobby Lobby

Utensil holder - Michaels

Utensils - Amazon

Black cutting board was Target but I found at resale shop

Rug - Target

Black bowls and plates - Walmart

Wood Tray - Hobby Lobby

Green pillows - Ross

Sconces - Amazon

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