Happy Camper

A road-weary jalopy goes from pea green to perfection

DIY is part of Ricki Booker’s DNA. The spacious, white Boulder farmhouse she shares with her husband, Stewart, and two daughters is filled with interesting found objects and colorful, whimsical art, most of which she has created herself on a budget after falling in love with a pricey piece. 

BANQUETTE  Ricki transformed the back table by simply covering the surface with dry-erase contact paper, embellished with decorative-cross, stick-on decals. She had a friend sew up cozy, new slipcovers for the seating areas in a durable, black-and-white buffalo plaid from fabric.com.

So, when she and Stewart, a contractor, set out to buy a camper in order to spend more time together as a family before their oldest daughter left for college, she found the perfect creative outlet. “I would never buy anything that was done. Ever,” Ricki says, with her signature spunk. Consequently, they ditched the idea of purchasing something brand-new. “We were very much wanting this to look cool but not spend a bunch of money, because otherwise it made no sense.”

HOOKS  Ricki hung whimsical wishbone hooks from HomeGoods (out of her basement stash) on top of cartoony city wallpaper by WallPops to provide valuable hanging space. 

Stewart found a clunker on Craigslist. “It was pea green, rusty and water-damaged—horrendous,” Ricki says. “We drove down to Colorado Springs and ended up buying the thing for a screaming deal. Towing it back, pieces were flying off as we were driving down the highway.”

MAP  A sparkly, stick-on decal USA map from WallPops serves as inspiration for future travel dreams. 

Undaunted, they combined Ricki’s creative gifts as an event planner and Stewart’s technical knowledge to meet the challenge. “We have very different skill sets,” she says. “He’s meticulous; things have to be done the right way. I’m more concerned about the way they look. Luckily, we’re a great team.”

NOOK  When Ricki found a fuzzy Pendleton Glacier National Park blanket, she thought, “I love it. I want to see it all the time.” So she cut it up and made it into throw pillows for the seating area.

After refreshing the outside with navy paint and a new awning, they tackled the interior. They replaced damaged ceiling panels; put in a new furnace and water heater; gutted the bathroom; added a new microwave, fridge and countertops; and coated the entire interior with white paint.  

EXTERIOR  Ricki kept the vintage logo plaques and made them pop with, again, a fresh coat of paint. 

Most of the materials they used came from inventory on hand. “The great thing about a camper versus a home is you need materials in much smaller quantities,” Ricki says. “If you have leftover this, that or the other, you have enough to cover the space.” Luckily, they had plenty to choose from. She readily admits that their storage space is, in her own words, a little “hoardy.”

As Ricki approached a search for the final details that would distinguish the project with her signature look, she kept her radar up for inspiration—not seeking anything specific. “I look at things in terms of shape and material,” she says. “If I see a great blanket or rug, I think, ‘How I can use that in some other way?’ I don’t like things too matchy-matchy; as long as something doesn’t clash, it’s OK.” 

EXTERIOR  Owners Ricki and Stewart Booker spruced up the exterior with Glidden paint in Rich Navy and added a cheery, new striped awning they found on Amazon (the old one was trashed). 

The renovation took about five months, with the intention of heading off for new adventures last summer. However, life intervened, and so far, the camper has made it only as far as their spacious back yard. Already making reservations for this summer, Ricki and her family are eager to hit the road.

DETAILS Ricki transformed a post-Thanksgiving 75-percent markdown from a local craft store into a handy magazine rack. “It was really cheesy, really orange and said ‘Happy Harvest!’” she says. After scraping the words off, she covered the base with a colorful strip of leftover Clare V. wallpaper, and then employed furniture tacks and burlap scraps to make pockets. The universal symbol for restroom on the door of the camper’s tiny bathroom ups the fun factor. On the other side of the door, the Bookers added a new toilet, retiled the shower and covered the sink in marble contact paper left over from an event. 

Categories: Interiors