A trailer is restored to create new memories on the road as a vintage glamper.
Recalling fond memories as a child in her parents’ trailer, Sharin Louis—with a knack for DIY projects and an “I can do that” attitude—decided to get a vintage trailer to restore after falling in love with them at vintage flea markets she frequents. She decided on a 1966 Scotsman, approximately 12-feet long, which she found on Craigslist after much searching for.
“I wanted a vintage trailer for my family and I to go camping in,” Sharin says. But the road to getting her trailer to look pretty in pink (just as her home is), took hours and hours of old-fashioned elbow grease.
“The whole inside of my house is shabby chic, so that’s the theme I wanted,” Sharin says, who had a grand vision for the trailer. “As soon as I saw [my trailer], I knew what it was going to look like, what the final product would be after fixing it up. I wanted to make it my own.”
The first thing that needed updating was the paint—and if it wasn’t pink it wasn’t up to par. Then Sharin had to find a window to install since the original was missing upon the trailer’s purchase. Other than that, the trailer was in good condition, but Sharin had way bigger plans for her glamper (“glamorous camper”).
Working outside from April to July as the Arizona heat steadily rose each month, Sharin painted her trailer, ripped out the three layers of linoleum flooring, redid the floors to have a checkered pattern and hired someone to make custom-made reversible cushions. She then wanted to make pillow covers and window treatments—but first, she’d have to teach herself how to sew. Sharin added furniture appliqués, which she makes and sells, to the cabinets to give them her signature style. The final part was finding treasures to give character to her trailer, which she found at garage sales and Goodwill, and took her a while to collect.
Sharin worked on her trailer every day, trying to get it done in time to show to her father, who was very ill. On a wall inside of the trailer is the phrase: “All things are possible if you believe.” Sharin says that is how she felt while working on the project.
“Things are possible when you put your mind to it. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would redo a trailer. My dad was very artistic and he made three horse trailers from scratch…so I come from an artistic past. I wish my father could have seen it. He would have been really impressed. I was trying to get that done and it didn’t work out as planned, but I know he’d be proud if he saw it.”
Sharin’s family, her husband and four kids, have since gone camping twice to Oceanside, parking the trailer within walking distance from the beach. They hope to go camping in the mountains as their next destination. The trailer snuggly accommodates the bunch, as the kitchen table can be brought down as a bed, the couch pulls out to sleep two and above the couch is a mattress for two.
“It was so gratifying to go from the beginning of what my trailer looked like, going through all the steps and time, working in the trailer in the heat with the fans going—even on Mother’s Day as I was tearing up the flooring. It was just fun. I thought, ‘Wow, I did this.’ Anybody can do it. It just takes time and an imagination. I can’t wait to go camping again in it,” Sharin says.
Her next step? “I’ve even thought about getting another trailer and doing it all again, possibly selling it. I just haven’t found the right one. I think maybe a 14-footer this time.”
Sharin Louis’ tips to creating a dream trailer of your very own.
• Find It: Sharin found her trailer on Craigslist, and says she’s seen posts for trailers for sale all across the country. Look at local sites, like Arizona’s Sisters On the Fly (sistersonthefly.com), which run ads for trailers for sale near you.
• Know Your Budget: Depending on the trailer and the condition, Sharin says she’s seen them priced as low as $500—those that will need to be completely gutted and refurbished. Sharin’s trailer was $2,200 and was in good enough condition that it didn’t need to be redone (though she did).
• Starting Point: Sharin recommends that if anyone wants to start refurbishing a trailer of their own, start with the paint first. It’ll make a dramatic change with little cost. Do the upholstery last, in case any of the paint drips.
• Thrifty Finds: Sharin found someone on Craigslist to sew the reversible cushions with zippers for her, paying $150. A bargain shopper, she spent $100 on fabrics and curtain panels she found at Goodwill. Bargain shop and go to vintage flea markets for different ideas. Sharin also says, “I’m always on the computer looking for new ideas and you never know what you can find.”
• DIY Décor: Sharin made many of pieces in her trailer herself, from the pillow covers to the décor. She even spray-painted cardboard with a paint that dries to create a mirror-like surface (that way, if the “mirror” fell down it wouldn’t break). Being a do-it-yourselfer will help you complete the transformation on a budget.
• Be Yourself: Everybody has their own style, so put your own stamp on your trailer by displaying signature pieces that speak to you. “Have a vision of what you might want. It doesn’t have to be shabby chic; it can be black and white, Victorian or country,” Sharin says. Find inspiration and go from there.
For more information on Sharin Louis’ furniture appliqués, visit her website, Shabby Rose Décor, at shabbyrosedecor.com.