Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Little Lampy Camper Before and After

If you're here looking for posts about working on an old house, I hate to disappoint you but once again we're talking about old campers. If you want to look at old houses, just scroll down a little bit and you've got about 7 years worth of stuff to fill your time with BUT if you want to see some photos of a really cute camper, you're in luck! 

After five months (almost to the day) of non-stop, all consuming work on our most recent camper purchase we finally finished it and rolled it out to its first event as a photo booth here in Wichita on December 16, 2017. 

If you'll recall, this was the BEFORE: 


and here's the AFTER: 

It was a real process this time, folks. If you've been around these parts for the past 5 years you might remember us fixing up our first camper, "Lampy" to put a studio and darkroom inside. We eventually converted it to digital but then we had all of this extra space that we didn't need so we decided to scale down when we found this new camper for a steal at $600.

In spite of being about 6 feet shorter, this new camper was AT LEAST as challenging mostly due to the fact that there was nary a straight line on it. The first camper was much more boxy so framing wasn't as difficult. This one's "canned ham" shape meant replacing rotten wood that was bent and built in a factory 70 years ago was...difficult to say the least ; ) I would estimate that about 70% of those 5 months was spent re-framing the camper. 

All told, we ended up spending about $3,600 on renovating the camper inside and out. 

We scraped all of the old paint off using aircraft stripper (nasty stuff)...

My parents removed pretty much every piece of the skin of the camper to get to the old rotten framing and replace it. 

We started with this: 

Then came this: 

Then we lost the floor somehow: 

But eventually got things back in order and framed up: 

 And now...the back (or bedroom area) finished:

Lamphouse Photo Booth Co.

And the "dining" area before:

And after:

Lamphouse Photo Booth Co

So, there it is - the Little "Lampy" Camper. We even had a friend of ours that is a sign painter do hand lettering on the back. It's darn cute: 

If you're in the mood, there's even more photos on the Lamphouse website here.

We learned a lot from our first attempt at this five years ago that helped us make this one even better and *hopefully* longer lasting. We're really excited to get it out in the spring and fall to some weddings around Kansas and let people enjoy it like they did the original camper. 

Who knows if we'll get back around to house projects now that this is complete. Lord knows we need to get back to painting the house like, YESTERDAY so maybe that will get some more attention when it warms up outside or who knows, maybe we'll just throw a couple of sleeping bags in the camper and take a much needed vacation...

Until next time, Keep Smiling! 

Monday, July 24, 2017

ANOTHER Vintage Camper!

We did a thing! 

If you've been following along for a while or if it somehow slipped your mind, in 2012 we purchased a vintage camper for $500 and turned it into a traveling photo studio and darkroom. Flash forward a few years and it's still rollin' but with digital guts. Read all about that here

But if you want more beat up, before pictures and the story of how we found this cutie, keep reading!

We have been wanting to downsize for a while now. Since we stopped developing photos in the camper, having an extra 5 feet or so for a darkroom was unnecessary. Also, since we started Lamphouse, there have been a number of venues open in up in Wichita that could easily accommodate a camper smaller than Lampy. Throw that together with the fact that we've gotten a warm response for the "Lampy" camper as a digital photo booth and we were ready to start looking in earnest for a smaller camper to fix up.

Problem is, in the past 5 years things like "glamping" and "putting a photo booth in a vintage camper" have become ~things~ thereby driving the price up on old campers and even making hard to find ones that aren't fixed up already.

View from the hitch. This window is definitely not original. Hoping to replace it with one that is or similar. 

So a few weeks ago I decided to start really looking. That means checking craigslist about two dozen times a day, along with any other classified you can find and even, if you have NO shame, asking your neighbor who has one in their backyard if they'd ever consider getting rid of it...

We stopped in Russell and got duct tape for this window. It lasted about...1/2 a mile I'd guess. 

I found a really cute one on a classifieds site in a town called Russell, about 160 miles away but it said that it had been sold. Womp womp. I thought my chances would be better on a smaller site than Craigslist so I checked again that night and WHAT WHAT there it was - for sale again!

The seller told us that the man he bought it from was using it to go fishing at the lake. 

It was already 11 o'clock at night so I couldn't call the business number that was listed. I set my alarm for the next morning and immediately dialed the number - the camper was still there and still $600. One problem? The tires were mush.

A Loveland, Colorado sticker

We went ahead and drove straight up in the Jeep and had a look at it. Conan mentioned there was a camper parts store in town that we could maybe get tires at and the man selling it said that would be a bust so he called the local tire shop and lo and behold, he had 2 perfect, used tires! The seller even jacked up the camper and took the wheels off for us! Kansas nice, y'all!

From the other end - cute marker lights! 

So we got two tires, put them on and headed home on side roads and two lane highways. A trip that took 2 hours going took 4.5 coming back. Now that's what you call "white knuckle driving"!

Here she is parked in Stafford, Kansas on the way home:

The inside is pretty standard fare for an old camper. An area for a table 

A cute little kitchenette

(with an icebox!)

A sleeping area

And some souvenirs! 

I'm keeping that mug.

Conan dug around on the internet and found what he was pretty sure was the make of the camper - an ALJOA (or ALJO if it was after '57). He went out and had a look and sure enough, you can barely make out ALJO on the top and back panels of the camper.

He even found this neat old photo of the exact same camper as ours:

We're SO excited to get to work on her! If you had asked me about 4 years ago if I wanted to restore another camper I...well, I probably would have said yes because I'm crazy and a compulsive business starter but whatever. 

I haven't quite decided if I want to post about renovating the camper over here and on our business blog or just over there yet but I at least wanted to introduce you guys since you "get" us ; ) 

I'm hoping to get in there and start demo this week or next if the weather stays nice-ish.

Next up?

More camper stuff maybe and a look at an AMAZING piece of furniture we got for the kitchen a while back!

If you're interested, our local paper, The Wichita Eagle did a little write up about the original Lampy camper and the new one here

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Porch Painting Before + After

So, after living here for 9 years and working on the exterior of the house little by little for the past 3, we FINALLY got some paint ON THE HOUSE!!

So, the last time I wrote about painting was when we were finishing up the soffitt around the porch.

To jog your memory

Here's what the house looked like before the soffitt and trim were painted way back in 2012:

And here's the "after" from last fall:

And finally, the finished-ish product!

It didn't look half bad and I was feeling pretty confident in our color choices for the whole house.

When the weather was consistently nice we decided to go ahead and get started on painting the actual porch. Before we get started, I realize that this is probably not how you go about painting a house. There are rules! You work tirelessly scraping and filling and sanding and priming every square inch of the house before you start painting. HOWEVER, I have seen those poor souls. I have walked my dog by their scaffolding week after week, month after month, giving them a little wave of acknowledgement until the weather gets too hot or too cold and they retreat for months at a time.

So instead, I decided to clean, prime, scrape and paint just the part of the house that was in reasonably good shape - the porch - to fortify myself for the crap journey that lies ahead.

And you know what? It totally worked! Am I looking forward to putting scaffolding on our roof in the fall? NO, friend. But I've seen the progress and it's wonderful and I want to finish the job. So, without further ado:


To start with, we took everything off of the porch. Every plant hook, stray nail, wreath screw, unused porch swing 2x4. Everything. Including the porch furniture

Here's my dear mother and father working way harder than anyone 45 years old ever should : P

Looks better already!

Then up went the scaffolding so we could power wash the ceiling of the porch. P.S. My mom is the only person on the earth who can look this pretty while hoisting scaffolding above their head. I said it.

Then my dad got to work playing in the water er I mean, POWER WASHING THE PORCH lol while we scraped paint off of the balisters and trim. I didn't get a lot of pictures of this because
1) scraping
2) water and cameras don't mix

But here's the before of the porch floor:

And after:

Dang. Thank you power washer!

I should mention that over the course of this paint odyssey, we've looked for/tried every paint scraping tool known to man. This guy is still my absolute favorite but my mom tried this heat gun from Harbor Freight and honestly? It worked pretty well. I was shocked. It cut through latex paint like a hot knife through butter and even took off a lot of the enamel paint, too!


Another thing my mom discovered - this lovely lady hiding right up underneath the porch rail with her bbs : /

I shouldn't be surprised since Conan and I have found two of these before around the outside of the house but I just always assumed they weren't a thing in Kansas. Brown recluses? Sure. Everywhere. But black widows? I thought we left them in the smoky mountains of northeast Tennessee when we moved here 22 years ago but I guess they followed us. Sorry, everybody!


By the time I got a picture, we had already put a coat of paint on the windows so that's why they're cream colored but you get the idea. Nice and sparkly white!


You can see at this point that we had already painted the siding and trim. So much for taking a bunch of photos : /

BUT, Conan did highly endorse this trim brush:

When you're painting what has to be MILES of trim everyday, it really is worth the $6 to get an actual trim brush with one of these stumpy, soft handles. Your wrist will thank you for it!

Here are some of those miles of trim:

Funny story: We actually painted the balusters and railing a different color than what you see in this photo (there was no red trim and the white parts were the color of the siding) then, we stepped back to look at it and immediately knew it didn't look right. We hopped in the car and drove around looking for porches with rails like ours to see where we went wrong and the answer was - not enough contrast. Conan re-primed and re-painted the rails in a day so that I could get my bunting up by Memorial Day : )

When it came time to paint the treads on the stairs we were equally stumped. I noticed that a lot of the photos I liked on Pinterest of similar houses had the risers painted the color of the balusters and the treads, the color of the trim so that's what we decided to do!

We used Valspar Porch, Floor & Patio paint because it had a little grit to it and you could have it custom tinted.

Here's Conan plugging away with his handy dandy trim brush.

Another of Conan working on the steps because I a) love my little bunting that took years to find and b) Wichita flag!

We also gave the fence a couple coats of primer and the same cream color paint as our risers and balusters. Here's the before:

And the after:

And that brings us to today (well, a few days ago, actually)!

We still need to prime and paint the steps on the south side of the house and re-install our railing that's just sitting there oh, and PAINT THE REST OF THE HOUSE but I'm really pleased with how it's turned out. What's even better? The neighbors seem to like it : )

Thanks to Mrs. DIY for reminding me to include the actual paint colors and brands on this post about PAINTING THE HOUSE ; )

Siding/Columns: Olympic One, Satin Latex in Tortuga

Dark green trim: Valspar Signature, Latex Satin in Olive Smudge

Red trim: Pittsburgh Paramount, Latex Satin in Dutch Boy's Red Farmhouse

Up next?

We did something crazy AGAIN ; ) Can't wait to share this little nugget!

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