Renovating with Reclaimed Wood: Giving Old New Life

Renovating with Reclaimed Wood: Giving Old New Life

The Thrill of the Hunt

When my husband Ryan and I stumbled upon an old 1967 Vega vintage camper sitting neglected on the property of our newly purchased cabin, I have to admit – we had our doubts. After all, the poor thing had been left to the mercy of the elements for over a decade, with mice and squirrels having made it their home. But as someone who adores a good DIY challenge, I couldn’t help but feel a surge of excitement at the prospect of giving this dilapidated camper a second chance.

You see, a few years prior, I had taken on the task of renovating a different camper on a shoestring budget of just $500. The process had been incredibly rewarding, allowing me to tap into my creative side and transform a forgotten relic into a cozy, functional space. And now, with this Vega camper, I had the opportunity to embark on a similar journey – one that would test my resourcefulness and problem-solving skills in new and exciting ways.

As I documented the entire process on my Instagram, I quickly learned that every vintage camper comes with its own unique set of challenges. But with Ryan’s carpentry expertise and my own determination, we were able to breathe new life into this beauty, turning it into a charming, modern haven that perfectly captured the essence of its vintage roots.

Uncovering the Camper’s Potential

The first order of business was to tackle the visual overhaul. I started by spray-painting all the gold metal windows black, a simple yet impactful change that instantly gave the camper a more contemporary feel. With the windows taken care of, it was time to address the soft spots in the walls – a common issue with older RVs. Ryan lent his carpentry skills to the task, helping me rebuild the damaged areas so that we had a sturdy foundation to work with.

Once the structural work was done, I got to work on the real fun part: the interior design. Drawing inspiration from the camper’s vintage aesthetic, I decided to embrace the use of reclaimed wood, opting for a vertical shiplap look that would bring warmth and character to the space. By using lightweight 1/4″ plywood, I was able to achieve the desired look without adding too much weight, which is crucial when it comes to RV renovations.

Reclaimed wood is not only beautiful, but it’s often stronger than brand-new lumber after proper treatment and processing. This made it the perfect choice for our camper, as we wanted to ensure the longevity of our renovation while still capturing that rustic, vintage charm.

Transforming the Camper’s Interior

With the walls and ceiling taken care of, it was time to turn our attention to the kitchen. One of the first things we did was remove the dated hood over the range and the upper cabinets, a decision that was met with some controversy. After all, the additional storage is important in an RV, and many people are hesitant to travel without it. But for us, the goal was to create a more open, airy feel, making the camper feel like a true tiny house.

To dress up the remaining cabinets, I turned to my trusty 1/4″ plywood, using it to frame out the doors and create a custom look. I then painted everything in a soothing shade of Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter, a color that perfectly complemented the warmth of the reclaimed wood. And to add a touch of elegance, I used marble contact paper from Amazon to cover the wood countertops, transforming them into a chic, modern surface.

As for the appliances, a little spray paint went a long way – I used an appliance epoxy spray to transform the dated, harvest gold stove into a sleek, white cafe-inspired piece, then accented it with some gold hardware using my favorite Rub ‘n Buff.

Bringing the Bathroom to Life

One of the most dramatic transformations in the camper was the bathroom. When we first laid eyes on it, the space was dark, dingy, and cramped – hardly the kind of oasis you’d want to retreat to after a long day of adventuring. But with a little creativity and elbow grease, we were able to breathe new life into this once-neglected area.

I started by adding vertical shiplap right over the existing vinyl walls, instantly brightening up the space and setting the stage for the rest of the design. To give the countertop a fresh look, we swapped out the rotted original for a beautiful butcher block surface, which we cut to fit the space perfectly.

But the real showstopper in this bathroom transformation was the tile. Rather than opting for traditional ceramic tiles, I decided to go with a set of peel-and-stick tile stickers that added a playful, modern flair to the shower area. And to tie the whole room together, I sprayed the tub, toilet, and even the light fixture in a sleek, monochromatic black and white palette.

Crafting the Cozy Bedroom

When it came time to tackle the bedroom, Ryan and I knew we wanted to create a truly cozy and inviting space. We started by ripping out the old bed frame and rebuilding it from the ground up, ensuring that the foundation was sturdy and the floor underneath was in pristine condition.

For the mattress, we opted for a space-saving, box-style option that was easy to maneuver into the camper – a crucial consideration when working with such tight quarters. To add a touch of warmth and personality, I framed out the cabinets with the same 1/4″ plywood trim that I had used throughout the rest of the space, then painted them in the Revere Pewter hue.

But the real showstopper in this room? The peel-and-stick flooring that I discovered on Amazon. Not only did it instantly elevate the look and feel of the space, but it was also incredibly easy to install – no professional help required! And to add the perfect finishing touch, I found a cozy vintage rug on Etsy that perfectly complemented the rustic, reclaimed vibe we were going for.

Crafting the Finishing Touches

As we neared the end of our camper renovation journey, I found myself getting more and more excited to put the final touches on the space. One of the areas I was particularly eager to tackle was the little nook near the door, which I envisioned transforming into a charming coffee bar.

I started by framing out the cabinets, just as I had done in the kitchen, and adding a butcher block countertop to create a cozy, functional workspace. And to bring a touch of glamour to the area, I used Rub ‘n Buff to transform a simple light fixture into a beautiful, gold-accented piece that perfectly complemented the camper’s overall aesthetic.

Of course, no camper renovation would be complete without a few unique personal touches. That’s why I scoured Etsy and other online marketplaces to find the perfect accessories – from a reclaimed wood wall hanging to a vintage-inspired “Remember to Flush” sign that added a playful, quirky vibe to the bathroom.

The Joy of Reclaimed Wood

As I look back on our camper renovation journey, I can’t help but feel a deep sense of pride and satisfaction. Sure, there were challenges along the way – from sourcing the right materials to navigating the tight quarters of the RV. But the use of reclaimed wood proved to be an invaluable asset, allowing us to create a space that was not only beautiful and functional but also environmentally sustainable.

In the end, what started as a neglected relic transformed into a cozy, modern haven – a true testament to the power of reclaimed materials and the joy of DIY. And as I step back and admire our handiwork, I can’t help but feel a sense of wonder at the resilience of this old camper, and the new life we were able to breathe into it.

So if you’re ever tempted to write off an old, forgotten piece of furniture or building material, I urge you to think again. Because with a little creativity, elbow grease, and the right vision, you just might be able to uncover the hidden gem that lies within, giving it a second chance to shine.


Get the latest updates on timber construction trends, sustainable practices, and exclusive offers from Timber Building. Subscribe to our newsletter for insights delivered straight to your inbox.

Stay Informed with Timber Building

Contact Us


Copyright © 2023 All rights reserved.