It’s been awhile since we had an update on the renovation of Tilley, our 1976 Silver Streak camper. Work and home life has been keeping us pretty busy lately, which means there isn’t a lot of extra time leftover for Tilley remodeling. (Boo!) But I know several of you readers as well as YouTube followers have been wondering when we’d get back to our regular updates: Now that summer is coming and we’ll soon be off from school, we’re hoping to have more to share with you all on a more regular basis.
But first we need to get caught up on our progress thus far. Jarrett actually finished this door refacing project last fall. At first trying to fix these doors was a huge frustration point in the remodel process. But now their transformation is one of my favorite parts of our camper remodel so far.
When Jarrett and I initially dove into the vintage camper renovation world, we naively thought the project would only take us about a year to complete. We weren’t taking her down to the frame, and by keeping the same basic floor plan we thought for sure this would shorten our remodel time. Haha.
By keeping the same floor plan though, we did have the advantage of being able to reuse more parts and pieces from the camper’s original structure. But not everything was in great shape, like these tall cupboard doors:
The cabinet doors, though, symbolized the opportunity we had to take lemons and make lemonade. The door fronts, after years of abuse from prior owners, were chipped and damaged. At first I thought we could just patch and paint them. But alas, it wasn’t enough—the damaged spots stood out like sore thumbs. I pondered wall papering them but struggled to find anything that would work for the narrow spaces. Then inspiration struck and I had a plan … and then Jarrett figured out a way to execute my vision using punched sheet aluminum. They may not be perfect but I’m pretty pleased with how well they turned out. And here’s how he did it:
Home Depot sells the aluminum sheeting in several different patterns and colors, including the gold cloverleaf that meshed really well with the other gold accents we have incorporated in Tilley. This metal sheeting is very lightweight and thin, so it was the ideal medium to use. We purchased the 36 x 36 size sheet and ended up needing one sheet per door. After measuring each door (because none of the doors were exactly the same), Jarrett used tin snips to cut the metal to each door’s size. Due to the length of the doors, the biggest piece of metal sheeting available to buy was still too short, so we had to make a seam in the middle of the doors.
After prepping the metal sheets, Jarrett used a hacksaw and miter box to cut the channel pieces that would form the edges. Each piece varied in size because he had to leave spaces where the hinges and door latches would be reattached later in the process. The edge moulding serves two purposes: It secures the metal on the doors while also covering the exposed metal edge. He used pieces of PVC composite moulding for the outer edges and then a divider piece to join the two pieces together in the middle.
To secure the edging pieces along the door frame, Jarrett used small nails (18 gauge and 5/8 long) in his nail gun. He started by nailing the edging to one long side and one short side of the door. Then he slid the metal sheet in place before adding the center piece and securing the final two sides. This is sort of tricky to explain, but the nails went into the underside portion of the channel pieces and inside a cloverleaf, so there are no nail holes visible on the outer white trim.
See the video above for more details on how he nailed it together.
Then it was time to reinstall the hinges and door latches. We realized after the fact that we had failed to label which door went with which cupboard. (Oops–fail!) So there was a lot of trial and error trying to figure out which door went with which cupboard.
But once Jarrett figured that out, he put the drill to work zipping the hinges in place:
We are really pleased with how they turned out, and we love the vintage vibe that the doors capture. A little creativity and ingenuity can go a long way to adding unique elements to any camper renovation project. So just remember: When your vintage camper remodel gives you lemons, look for the chance to make lemonade.