You know what they say about life throwing you lemons…
After postponing her wedding twice due to COVID-19 lockdowns, our Junior Visual Designer, Angeline King-Kovach, and her husband Ned decided to take the money that would have gone to the big event and instead, bought a used camper, fixed it up, and hit the open road on a cross-country adventure.
Applying her design sensibilities to condensed living quarters, Angeline and her now-husband created a tiny boho oasis, complete with a dinette that transforms into a guest bed and two office spaces for on-the-road remote work. They also chronicled the entire endeavor — from purchase to roadtrip — via Instagram.
In the latest edition of our ATOMIC-Me blog series — spotlighting ATOMIC D team members and their creative pursuits — we spoke with Angeline about the inspiration behind her RV renovations, gutting and rebuilding the outdated camper into luxury living, and subsequent travels to visit friends and family that couldn’t attend their nuptial celebrations.
Now, let’s shift into gear and get this rig moving. First stop: the search for the perfect vehicle.
Finding a camper
You’ve got to go through a lot of citrus to make that lemonade. This was definitely the case with Angeline’s hunt.
They encountered several lemons along their search, hoping to strike the perfect balance between “needs some love” and “at the right price,” but they persisted.
“There are a lot of trailers just rotting on a lot of properties in California,” Angeline said.
After months of scouring Craigslist, they found their diamond in the rough: a 28.5’ 2002 Skyline Aljo Scout 275 fifth-wheel trailer. It was well-kept — but 20 years old — so a few updates, upgrades and additions were in order.
After a successful inspection and purchase, the camper was delivered with love and care to their home on Valentine’s Day weekend. That meant less than two months to finish renovations before what would become their 4-3-’21 launch date.
So they set to the task of tearing down the interior and building it back up, something that would consume their every waking moment between work and sleep.
The most important first step to any decent renovation? “A good Pinterest board, of course,” said Angeline. “I had 627 pins going into mine, infinitely sourced knowledge from others.”
These pins provided answers to questions like, “How can I open up the space, make it less boxy, more timeless?”
Now, we get to the fun part
If you ask Angeline what her favorite aspects of the experience were, first — and without hesitation — is Demo Day. The second, we’ll get to in a bit.
There’s something special about that first swing of a sledgehammer.
After that, the demo took longer than expected… weeks in fact. Floors were torn out, a dinette removed, window dressings sacked, and everything sanded down to expose the woodgrain below.
Next, they prepped to paint. Taping took forever, a labor of love. “I had fun bringing it back to life,” Angeline said. Aiming for a Whimsical-Boho-Celestial-Greece look and feel, the color palette included a mix of bright white, deep blues, and the occasional pop of teal to warm things up.
The kitchen was given a bright white coat of paint. Wooden countertops were added and extended in length. The dinette was upgraded to a convertible sleeper. Vinyl tiles and new flooring added throughout. And, since they planned to work while traveling, the couple added two separate workspaces, so they could each take calls and concentrate.
Two months of nurturing their baby home on wheels to life passed like a breeze …a hot, sweaty labor-intensive wind.
On the road
April arrived and they departed. The entirety of the continental United States beyond California awaited them. The road rolled smoothly below their wheels, until it didn’t. On the very first day of travel, the dually 2001 Ford F-350 Lariat they’d purchased to tow the fifth-wheeler overheated and, on Easter Sunday, required a tow.
Recognizing this as a foundational tool for the journey ahead, Angeline and Ned quickly decided they needed a more reliable truck to carry them forward. So after gently coaxing their dying steed over the hoover dam with 10,000lbs in tow,, they bought a 2015 Ford F-250 Super Duty 4x4 with an 8” lift, and were back on their way …again. Though this definitely wasn’t the head start they were hoping for, it is still something they look back on with fondness, mostly for the kind stranger who helped them get towed, sorted, and showed them how to check for various risks before towing.
Other unexpected delights: Walmart parking lots, which allowed vehicles to remain without fear of towing for up to 48 hours. “This was a lifesaver on the road,” said Angeline.
It wasn’t all fun, as the two had to work throughout the journey at their respective day jobs. Living in such a small place with another person made remote work a challenge. High-quality headsets and desks set at opposite ends of the trailer made all the difference.
But, when it came time to play, they packed their time with stops at landmarks throughout the trip. One spot in particular topped Angeline’s list. “Zion National Park was just crazy gorgeous, great food, hiking through it, so much nature. I just loved it,” she said.
Now, although Angie and Ned were not able to hold the big shebang they’d planned on …twice, they pulled off a quick ceremony with local family and friends in Oakland. Those that couldn’t attend, they planned to visit during their travels.
Next on the horizon
Once they returned, Angeline and Ned set to the bittersweet task of passing the torch to a new owner in need of the RV. Their serious renovations meant they made a healthy profit, and they plan to use the money to purchase a home down the line.
Does that mean their fifth wheeling days are over? Perhaps not, and they have plenty of ideas from the first time around of how they would do it differently.
“If I could do it again, I’d do a smaller trailer, because we won’t need to work remote — something more leisure,” Angeline said. “But it was perfect for what we needed.”
They’d also rearrange the interior design to improve comfort over aesthetics.
What they wouldn’t change is documenting the entirety of their process and journey on Instagram. Through the process, they shared their experiences — good and bad — with others, providing inspiration to those dabbling in creating their own recreational home on wheels.
You can find the entire journey chronicled at @gettin.hitched.