Demo Day(s)

Demo Day(s)

You guys, I am so excited to finally be writing this post! This is wild, I feel like it was just yesterday that we were bringing home our camper and parking it as D.J.’s dad’s house, but that was already 4 months ago!

We knew our camper was in great shape and other than the really crappy caulking job the previous previous owner did on the outside and needing to replace the awning, there really wasn’t anything else that NEEDED updated (other than those couch/dinette cushions that I thought were so ugly and needed to get rid of) but we were going into this knowing we wanted to give it a little makeover, making it more modern and homier.

D.J. and I both grew up going camping with our families but our experiences looked a little different. D.J. used to go down to his family’s farm in West Virginia where his Pap grew up. He would have to spend days cutting the grass out in the field just to be able to “set up camp”. They didn’t have any bathrooms, running water or electricity, so he was definitely used to roughing it or camping “primitively”. When I was younger, I used to go tent camping with my church all the time to different campsites and when I got a little older, my family upgraded to a pop-up. Ever since then I have definitely enjoyed more of the “glamping” lifestyle, especially after staying at a 5 star Dude Ranch in Montana for 3 different Kilar Family Reunions. (Go checkout the Ranch at Rock Creek if you want to see what I’m talking about!)

So even though we had a fully functioning camper in great shape, we wanted to turn it into a glamper before taking it on our first trip. Pinterest has definitely been my best friend throughout this project and where I go when I need some inspiration. I am the WORST when it comes to making decisions and I get so stressed out when I have too many options, so it’s been so helpful seeing what other people have done in their campers! I created an entire board “On the Road” and you can check it out below.

We were originally supposed to be on a cruise the week of Thanksgiving but because of COVID that was obviously canceled. We decided to still keep our PTO for that week and spend all our extra time working on the camper. We literally thought back then that we would be able to knock out this entire project during that week… HAHAHA! This has quickly turned into a lot more work than we were originally planning but it’s been so much fun and I have been learning so much along the way! If our three days of demo taught me anything, it’s the fact that you can really learn so much about how something is built by taking it apart. I am totally confident that we could build one of these from scratch one day but let’s get through this project first!

BEFORE PICTURES

This is the original floor plan for our 2005 Keystone – Springdale

Demo Day 1

  • Updated all the lights to LED bulbs. The very first thing D.J. wanted to do as soon as we got in the camper was to update all the lightbulbs to LED and they truly made such a big difference! Campers are already so dark and dull with the color choices they use and the lighting doesn’t help. Switching them out really brightened the place up!
  • Took off all of the doors, hinges, and hardware from the cabinets. We tried to do this is in a very organized way making things easy for us when we were finally ready to start putting things back together. We put all the pieces in labeled Ziploc bags and stored them right on top of the cabinet doors they belonged to in one of the spare bedrooms in D.J.’s dad’s house.
  • Removed the bathroom door 
  • Took apart the dinette. By taking it apart, we saw how simply it was built and knew we’d be able to make something similar. We’re planning on keeping the original frame and seeing what we can do to enhance it.
  • Knocked out the wardrobe that was behind the dinette.
  • Ripped off all the trim throughout the camper and tape between the wall panels.
  • Cleaned up a BUNCH of mouse poop and the dead mouse we found. When we bought the camper Venetia and Roger had little baggies of shredded Irish Spring soap scattered throughout which they said helps keep mice away. They obviously didn’t stay too far away because we literally found a dead mouse which I hated and got so paranoid we’d find more so D.J. bought some Ultrasonic pest repeller electronic plugs which seem to be working pretty well!
  • Disassembled the tv/sound bar that was connected to the overhead cabinets above the couch. We’re still deciding whether or not we’re even going to bother putting the TV back in. We hardly ever watch TV in real life when we’re at home and can’t really see us watching one too much in the camper, but have been thinking about getting some sort of projector.
  • Took apart the Jackknife sofa and ripped up the pink carpet that was underneath it. I’ve never heard of this style of sofa bed before. It was honestly pretty cool and nice because two people could sleep on it if needed, but I knew in my head what I envisioned for that space. That couch was not it, so had to go.

Products Used:

  1. Super Bright LED Bulbs for 12V RV Ceiling Dome Light
  2. Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
  3. Craftsman V20 Cordless Drill Combo
  4. 3-Piece Trim Kit
  5. Hammer
  6. Utility Knife and Blades
  7. Ziploc Baggies
  8. Black Sharpie
  9. Broom/Dust Pan

Demo Day 2

  • Removed the vinyl paneling behind bed. The previous owners added this thick vinyl paneling behind the queen bed as a headboard for some extra cushion/padding for their heads. We didn’t love the look of it, so we ripped it out. There was still glue stuck to the wall in big chunks that have been really hard to sand down and we obviously can’t paint on top of that, so we’re going to glue a new panel up there with a different look.
  • Hammered in all the staples from the wooden boxes that were covered in carpet. The wheel wells and pass through storage area were both covered with that pink carpet and after we ripped it out there were still staples sticking out of it. We hammered them all down so they were flat against the wood.
  • Scrubbed off all the tape residue from the walls with Goo Gone.
  • Took out the speakers from the ceilings and the actual unit from the cabinets above the dinette.
  • Took down the air conditioner cover from the ceiling.
  • Took out the microwave. 
  • Unscrewed all the light fixtures from the walls/ceilings.
  • Took down the window treatments and the window frames/screens.
  • Scrubbed down all the walls, cabinets, and windows. You can imagine how dirty a camper gets (especially areas that aren’t typically exposed) so we made sure to give everything a deep cleaning.
  • Swept up all the debris on the floor. 

Additional Products Used on Day 2:

  1. Goo Gone Adhesive Remover Spray
  2. Microfiber Towels
  3. Plastic Bucket
  4. Warm Water
  5. Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner
  6. Dilution Spray Bottle
  7. Sponges

Demo Day 3

  • Sanded the walls and cabinets. Don has a belt sander that was a huge help covering a larger surface in a shorter amount of time. I was really thinking we were so close to priming and painting, but while we were sanding over by the front door, we noticed a soft spot in the wall.
  • Took down the overhead cabinets above the couch and above the dinette. The damage was on the right side of the cabinets so we had to take them down in order to rip out more of the wall to see how much damage there really was. (I was so happy though because it opened up the space even more and we decided that we weren’t going to put the cabinets back up.)
  • Ripped out part of the wall/ceiling to assess the damage. We ended up finding a hole in the roof where the awning was screwed in. Unfortunately it was letting water in, and we could tell some of the boards in the wall were damp.
  • Pouted and realized this project was going to be more work than we originally planned. This honestly was a little discouraging. I knew that the camper would be looking a little nakey while we were going through demo but now there was literally a huge hole in the wall with water dripping in from the ceiling.

Additional Products Used on Day 3:

  1. Belt Sander (from Don’s tool trailer)
  2. Pro Grade Precision Sanding Sheets 120 Grit Coarse
  3. Pro Grade Precision 120 Grit Fine Block Sanding Sponge
  4. Pro Grade Precision Sanding Tool – 120 Grit

EVERYTHING IS OKAY THOUGH! (I may just be saying this because I’m writing this after we’ve already made it through the demo and fixing the hole and getting everything taken care of and are so much closer to wrapping this reno up!) I am so glad we found everything when we did before it caused even more damage. This really gave us the chance to make it a full-on renovation and not just a makeover.

The next blog post will be all about how we fixed this mess!

Getting D.J.’s Truck

Getting D.J.’s Truck

This should be a no brainer but when you buy a camper you also kinda need to make sure you have something to tow it with so you can actually take it to all the places you want to go. I’m embarrassed to admit that thought literally never crossed my mind when I first agreed to buying one. In my defense I think I was still in the mindset of this all just being a dream. When we were on our road trip back home from Idaho this summer, we kept talking about how cool it would be to permanently travel the country in a camper working “remotely”. In my head I was literally thinking of the whole selling all your worldly possessions (including your car), packing up your belongings into a duffel bag, and just hitting the open road in one of those campers that you actually drive. Unfortunately, we’re not in a place in our lives to be doing all of that just yet, so for now we just needed something that we can take with us when we’re ready to pack up and go somewhere over the weekends. Which also means we need to have a vehicle that can tow the camper. Thankfully D.J. always thinks through every single detail and was already on top of this. He loved his Ford Fusion but had been talking about wanting a truck for a while anyways, and was okay with trading it in. We wanted to get something quickly and without all the hassle that comes with buying a car especially during COVID. After looking through all the available options, he bought a Chevy Silverado through Carvana because honestly what could be more convenient than a car vending machine?  

Fun Fact:
I love my vending machines. During my freshman year of college my roommate and I participated in a business concept competition. My childhood dreams of winning a big check someday came true and we came in second place for our idea for an umbrella vending machine, BrellaBox. (Ugh which I just recently found out someone else stole our idea and literally went on Shark Tank with it in 2016, same name and all smh)

Obviously I loved the idea that we’d be getting our truck from a car vending machine. Carvana really does make the whole process that goes into purchasing a car so simple. We buy everything else online these days, why not a car? If you’ve never heard of Carvana or don’t know how the vending machine works, you search online for the car you want to buy, pay for it by either financing through Carvana, financing through another lender, or paying with cash, and then decide if you want it delivered to you or if you want to pick it up. If you pick it up they give you a custom coin that you drop into the coin slot which then activates the vending machine to retrieve your vehicle from the Tower and brings it directly to a delivery bay. Sounds really fun right?! Well, sadly we wouldn’t know. When we went to pick it up the truck was just sitting in the parking lot in front of the building because apparently trucks don’t fit in the vending machine. I mean I get it, but that would honestly be our only complaint. Nowhere along the process did they call out that trucks don’t fit in the vending machines. If we would have known that then you best believe we woulda just had that thing delivered right to us. Oh well, we still got a picture acting like it just came out of the vending machine so please just pretend, thanks!

After we brought the truck home, we made plans with Roger and Venita to come pick up the camper that Sunday. Halloween was that weekend and poor D.J. didn’t even have his new truck for 3 days before somebody (not naming any gnomes) drank a little too much and got sick on the way home from a little get together with friends that Saturday night.

somehow D.J. managed to talk me into buying a brand new sewing machine to make those gnome hats but hey now we have one to make all kinds of things for the camper!

Don’t worry – no hangover was going to stop us from picking up the camper that next morning. When we arrived at Roger and Venita’s house the camper was right there in the front yard waiting for us. We got everything all hooked up (well D.J. did I was literally sitting in the front seat with my head against the window closing my eyes) and then we were on our way back home.  

There were still a few other things that we needed to get taken care of. Roger and Venita signed over the title to us but we had to make a trip out to State Farm to get it registered in Pennsylvania, get a new license plate and pay the PA sales taxes.

We currently live in a townhouse right outside of Pittsburgh and don’t have anywhere in our complex to keep the camper, so right now we have it parked at D.J.’s dad’s house. I am being so serious when I say we would not be able to take on this camper renovation without Don and I am so excited to introduce you all to him in my next post and share some really exciting news that he just received!

Anyone else purchase a vehicle through Carvana and actually get to use the Vending Machine? Send me any videos you have of your own experience!

Have you seen the BrellaBox episode of Shark Tank? Would you have given them a deal?

P.S. if anyone was wondering, D.J. still wears that gnome hat on a regular basis.

2020: The Year we Bought a Camper

2020: The Year we Bought a Camper

Omg you guys, hello! So full disclaimer right off the bat, this is my first blog post ever. Being honest, I really don’t even know what I’m doing, BUT I do know that a lot of people have been following along with our camper renovation and figured starting a blog can be a great way to really share more details on the whole process.  

So lemme just back it up real quick and make sure everyone reading this is on the same page. I know I’m not very good at staying in touch (which I’m definitely trying to work on & please hold me accountable) so let me just fill you all in real quick with what I’ve been up to this past year. Back in March when things first started really changing and everything was shutting down because of COVID, I remember being so appreciative for the fact that it was giving me the opportunity to just slow down, get a few things straightened up, and really reflect on what’s actually important to me. I know this has been a difficult year for a lot of people and I pray that they will be seeing God’s blessing in 2021 but for me, 2020 was very good to me.  

I FELL IN LOVE

Last October I got a notification from Facebook to sign up for Facebook Dating. Has anyone heard of it? I swear anytime I tell someone how D.J. and I met no one has any idea what Facebook dating is. Is it even a thing anymore? Anyways, a few days after I downloaded it I had the sweetest message from him commenting on how happy I looked in one of my photos. After messaging for just a few days we decided to meet at Southern Tier Brewery for some pumpkin beer and soft pretzels. I guess you could say that first date went well because just 6 months later I moved in with him! Even though we’ve only been together for a little over a year now, these months quarantining together definitely added a lot more time to our relationship and every single day I feel like the luckiest girl in the world getting to be loved by him. He’s seriously a dream come true and a perfect example of how important it is to know your worth and never settle just because you’re lonely. The wait is so worth it.

I LOST WEIGHT

Last January at work we organized a weight loss challenge which really encouraged you to eat more plant-based foods. So I ended up going back to a vegetarian diet and I swear that’s always the best way for me to lose weight. As of today, I have lost 43 pounds and feel so much better than I did this time last year. I must say D.J. and I have been doing a lot of cooking and can make some good ass dishes. If you have any favorite recipes, please send them our way! 

I PAID OFF ALL MY CREDIT CARD DEBT

I have been able to completely pay off all my credit cards, really pay down my student loans, and I actually have more than $7.43 in my savings account! That never happens. I don’t think I’ve had this much money in there since I worked at Office Depot back in high school and my mom used to make me save 75% of all my paychecks and I used to be so mad at her every pay day. 

I QUIT MY JOB

For the past 2 ½ years I have been working in Human Resources, specifically payroll and benefits. I loved my job but unfortunately it got to the point where I was busting my butt working 50+ hours a week but felt like I was barely staying above water. The perfect opportunity presented itself right after Thanksgiving for me to work 100% remote so I jumped all over. Since then, I’ve enrolled in the first course to get my CEBS certification (Certified Employee Benefit Specialist) so I can learn more about Benefits/Total Compensation while I’m enjoying this slowed down time of my life.  

I GOT CLOSER TO GOD

This whole year I have been leaning into the Lord and trusting the plan he has for my life. I have experienced such peace among all the chaos knowing I am not the one in control, God is. I feel like my eyes have been opened and I’ve been praying to be used as a vessel in whatever way he needs me to help advance his kingdom. I swear my whole life everyone I meet tells me how bubbly I am and how they just love to be in my presence. I know God has given me the gift to be a light in people’s lives. I have been feeling so called and know he has big things in store for me!

WE BOUGHT A CAMPER

Back in June, we ended up taking a cross country road trip out to Idaho to visit D.J.’s sister. The whole trip out there was roughly 33 hours, but we seriously loved every minute of the drive. We stopped in different cities each night (Indianapolis, Indiana; Kansas City, Missouri; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Rock Springs, Wyoming where I really thought we were going to die but that’s a different story for a different day). Before COVID, I was traveling every single opportunity I got. I was always trying to plan last minute trips in the cheapest way possible, even if that meant selling my plasma (don’t worry I haven’t done that since college). So on our trip home we started brainstorming different ways that we would still be able to travel during COVID and decided to buy a camper. We looked around on Facebook Marketplace for about 2 weeks and found a 21 foot 2005 Springdale Camper. If you check out the “before” pictures below, it really didn’t need any updates and was in great shape. However, we decided that since we have so much extra time on our hands right now, we’re going to work on fixing it up Chip & Joanna style turning it into a whole project and really making it our own. So that’s exactly what we’re doing and where we’re at today. 

I’ll be documenting the entire renovation process on this blog. I plan on breaking down exactly what we did, what products we used, how much time it took us, any issues we ran into, and of course share lots of fun pictures/videos. We did get started with demo back in November so I’ll be working on posting what we have already gotten done so far then will continue to post updates regularly. If you’re interested in receiving an email notification when a new post is made, you can subscribe to the blog by clicking on the follow button below.

I will also be posting on Instagram on the days we will be working on the camper. If you miss them, you can always check out the whole Camper Reno highlight to see anything you may have missed.  You can follow me @hkilar.   

I’m pumped to share this with you all and hope you’re just as excited to follow along our journey!