ATTICA — Lauren Nelson, who has a passion for American Girl dolls and interior design, was watching YouTube videos when she came across a “Volkswagen Surf Bus” that was for American Girl Joss. The plastic toy was selling for $650. She approached her father, Paul Nelson, and asked if she could buy the toy.
Paul replied: “Lauren, you could probably buy a real camper for that price.”
Her father’s words piqued Lauren’s interest. She started looking for pop-up campers everywhere she went.
She eventually found one and, using her dual passions, has created a stunningly beautiful, DIY, remodeled camper that is parked on her family’s front lawn.
Lauren became more motivated to find a camper after learning her neighbor had recently scored a small, pop-up camper for $500. She kept looking.
Soon, a house down the street was sold to a new owner. Included in the sale was a 1988 20-foot Sunline Sunray Camper, which sat on the lawn.
Lauren approached the new owner and asked if the camper was for sale and how much he wanted for it.
The new homeowner said he would sell it for $500. Lauren offered him $400 — which was money she earned and saved — and the man accepted her offer.
The camper was sold and Lauren became the new owner of her future clubhouse.
“She squealed the whole way home, she was so excited,” said Aimee Nelson, Lauren’s mother.
With the help of a neighbor, the camper was hooked up to a tractor and towed down the road to its new home.
Inspired by the Facebook page, DIY Boho Décor and Pinterest, Lauren and her family began to make her vision a reality.
“I can pick out colors really fast,” Lauren said. “We went to Home Depot and I picked out turquoise, white, and teal paint. We started in the kitchen and painted the cabinets turquoise and the walls white. Then we moved to the bedroom.”
Lauren purchased the camper with money she earned selling eggs from her chickens and money she saved from holiday gifts she received from family members.
Her parents had planned to pay to send her to 4-H camp this year, but couldn’t because it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, they elected to use that money and spent it on supplies to help Lauren create her piece of paradise.
“I never dreamed we would ever have a camper sitting on our property,” Aimee said. “But then along came COVID-19, everything changed, and now many things in our lives look or are very different.
“The camper was a positive outcome to us being stuck at home,” she continued. “It gave us a reason to want to be home and something to look forward to everyday. It helped to keep Lauren’s mind off of all of the things she could not do this summer like soccer, 4-H camp, park rec, Darien Lake, etc. And the kids love sleeping in it at night or playing with their dolls during the day.
“She is very creative,” Aimee said. “She’s really artistic. She would really like to be a designer and she thinks out of the box. She’s also thrifty like me.”
Lauren kept décor costs down by collecting items from her parents’ house and garage sales. A friend sent her Boho pillows and a macramé shelf to help her complete the look.
“It’s our clubhouse,” Lauren said with excitement. “You should really make your dreams come true and do what you want.”
Lauren has future plans to launch a DIY camper makeover business because she loved the project so much.