My She Shed-Vintage Camper Redo

Last weekend my hubby surprised me by announcing that my she shed dreams are about to come true. He didn’t just blurt this out, he took me out to eat after a long day at work and said he had a surprise for me.

Immediately my mind goes into overdrive.  What can this be?  Knowing my hubby, it can mean anything.  He has a knack for surprising me with things that I wish for and maybe had only mentioned once or twice.  I’m totally spoiled in that way.  What can I say, I am an incredibly lucky girl!

He tells me that my she shed dream is going to become a reality!

I have dreamed of having a place of my own where I can write, read, meditate, create, and even just pause and contemplate life for a long time.  I value my alone time and need a quite place to write for my blog.  I longed for a place filled with things I love to inspire me. A happy place just for me.

So as we were driving along and he tells me this, I am overjoyed!! I cannot believe it. I felt like crying I was so happy!

His plan was to ask me if I would rather have him build me one from scratch, or find out if it was possible to buy back my childhood playhouse (once a chicken coop on my Grandparent’s farm) which my Dad had sold many years ago to a family a few miles away where it still sits today.

I actually did not know where the chicken coop was, but Rick had found out from my cousin and he had already checked it out. Driving past it, it looked like it was in rough shape and even if it was possible to buy it back, it would be a complete redo.  I guess after all I was not as tied to that memory because I choose to have him build me one.

So the next day we took a trip to Menards to check out possible plans.  I wanted a porch and a loft.  Those were requirements.  I immediately started pinning she shed ideas. Oh this was going to be fun!

A couple days later, I mentioned how I had been casually searching on Facebook Marketplace camper trailers for the possibility of buying one to use as a she shed and with the option of hooking it on my car and when I felt like camping, to use it for that too. The best of both worlds.  I love to camp. I had been looking for campers for awhile.  I never mentioned it to him for fear that he would just roll his eyes and think I was crazy.

When I shared this with him, he actually thought it was a good idea and we immediately started looking for campers and tossed the idea of building an actual building.  How fun would it be to get an old camper and redo it to how I want. I was in contact with a Facebook friend cause I knew he was going to be selling his 1971 Sprite that was in top  notch condition.  We would not need to do too much to it.

Then Rick found a 1969 Camp-Mor 13 foot canned ham camper near Chicago for $500. It was in rough shape.  By rough, I mean ROUGH!! It would need to be stripped down, the partial rotted frame rebuilt, a new roof, and a total redo of the interior.  Project-yes!! with a capitol P. Somehow the idea of a total redo appealed to us.  He made plans to meet the seller in Kenosha at Mars Cheese Castle and we would be the new owners of a vintage canned ham!

Now those of you that don’t know anything about vintage campers, there is a whole market for these things.  Re-done, they can go for quite a bit of money.  There are vintage camper shows, Facebook groups, and a whole community of vintage camper enthusiasts.  I just think they are so cute and I can totally see one parked in my yard.  It kinda just fits me.  The idea of being a travel blogger and having a she shed that I can hook up and hit the road just appeals to me.

And so the adventure begins!

So on Saturday Rick and Megan took off for Kenosha (I was hard at work). First look and they immediately worried they would make the 2 hour drive home. The side wall was pretty unstable which they found out as they were driving down I-94 and saw the wall was flapping in the wind!  They hit the first Farm and Fleet they could find to reinforce the wall and buy a safety chain to hook on the hitch, plus a couple of working tail lights.  When everything looked secure they hit the road again but avoided the interstate until they were sure things were OK.

They and my “new” she shed made it home.  I couldn’t wait to get home from work to see her (yes, her….now I need a name for her too).  My first impression?  Wow, this will be a lot of work, but I could picture how cool it will look when it’s done.

Watch the video Rick took explaining his take on this project! 🙂

The next day we dug in.  It was demo day.  Rick and I worked a whole morning totally gutting out the inside.  Everything went except for the teal sink and cook top.  Those I will clean up.  My inside color pallet will eventually be built around that color.

Once we had all the paneling and seating/sleeping areas tore out, we could see the damage.  Part of the wood framing was rotted from leaking.  The electrical had to go.  The roof had to be replaced.  The holes in the metal shell need to be repaired.  The floor is actually in good shape, but the door frame is rotted.

The plan was to park it in our extra garage so Rick could work on it and it wouldn’t be out in the elements, but we found that it would not fit. That was a bit of a setback.  We purchased a covering to protect it until the outside was finished.

So that’s basically the first phase of my she shed/camper adventure! I’m sure there will be lots of ups and downs on this journey, but I am overjoyed that the end result will be a special place that will be all mine!

Five reasons why I decided to redo a vintage camper

  1. I can hook it up and go
  2. It’s the perfect size for a she shed
  3. Love the idea of re-purposing old things
  4. It will be a great conversation piece
  5. It’ll be very cool!

I am looking forward to sharing this adventure with you!


Before demolition


Another before demo
It’s a mess!!

After demo
Thanks for reading!


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  1. rebeccaolkowski | 6th Oct 17

    What a creative idea for a she shed! I wish I could fit one in my apartment. Will it stay warm in the cold Wisconsin winters? Just wondering because I live in California. Your husband sounds like a great guy!

    • Lori Helke | 7th Oct 17

      Thank you Rececca!! We plan on just installing an electric heater. My hubby has one in his hunting trailer and it keeps it warm. The thing that I’m most worried about is the snow and ice. I think we will cover it in winter for protection. Yes, he is a great guy! I’m so happy he is handy and once he dives into a project, there’s no stopping him?

  2. Pink Lilli - Bad Gramma | 7th Oct 17

    I am sure it will be fantastic! Have fun with this project.

    • Lori Helke | 8th Oct 17

      Thank you!!

  3. My She Shed Vintage Camper Redo Part 2 | 23rd Oct 17

    […] you all know from my first post, it took a good part of a day for the demo inside so we could see what we were working with. […]

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