Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memory Weekend

Or shall I call it, "starting to LOSE my memory weekend" as I turned one year older on Saturday, I sat back to reflect on the last year and thought....well, who am I kidding, I sat back and thought about the last seven weeks of owning Louis and how much pleasure it has brought me. Before I head out on my maiden voyage on Friday with Joe's stepmother (the only person that will go with me...she's taking her pop up, I'll be in Louis) I proud of the work I've done for the (relatively) little money I've had to do it with. So, before I forget, here are the totals thus far on the work I've done on Louis, my great little Scotty:
Purchase Price: $500.00
NY Registration/Title Fee: $125.00 (yes, I passed out on the floor upon hearing that one!)
Aluminum for inside ceiling and repair walls: $145
Rustoleum paint for exterior (three colors): $55.00
Insulation from Home Depot: $27.50
Retro Aqua and Grey wallpaper from Amazon: $64.50
Canvas to use as fabric for dinette seats: $12.50
Aluminum tape for seams and roof: $5.50
New tires and bearings: $218.00
TOTALS (Minus purchase price and registration fee) $528.00
My goal was to spend no more than $500 in this first round of restorations, so I think I'm pretty close. Now, obviously I haven't included the thousands of great things SCOTTY I've found on ebay and elsewhere, like the smudge pots photographed here on my astroturf (6x8 astroturf rug was $18.50 on Amazon, smudge pots were $25 at Plow & Hearth and keep the bugs away while looking cool and retro), my solar lights from Ikea, etc. What I learned this weekend is that this entire process is energizing and fun AND, while I didn't camp this weekend, I had just as fun making my own party in our backyard. Of course, I'm headed out to the trailer soon to push ahead with my bathroom project and many, many more so keep coming back for stories from this little guy doing a little trailer reno!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Oh Sh*t!

Well, it finally happened. I've been storing my tools in the bathroom of Louis and finally got brave enough to open the door, remove the tools and figure this room out. Why I'm so perplexed by this area is still beyond me. Maybe it's the thought that people have used this for more than thirty years and how do I actually CLEAN thirty years of junk out of my trailer. Or, more likely, it's just the practicality of this room. Quite honestly, I most likely won't ever use it if I'm at a camp ground unless nature calls in the middle of the night. I certainly won't ever use the shower (because, of course, I like long, hot showers) but the designer in me wants to maintain the integrity of my Scotty, so I've decided to redo this room and started by reaching out to both Scotty trailer groups to figure out where to start. What a wealth of information that was! So, here goes...check back for after pics. In the meantime...here's what I learned this week:
1.) humidity hit the east coast this week and the inside of Louis sweat just as much as I did! So, I hooked up our LG dehumidifier (purchased at Home Depot for $250, which usually lives in our basement in the summer months) and let it go. LESSON LEARNED: Don't do this on a hot day, wait to do it at night and crack a window. My newly laid wood floors buckled and so did I! However, I quickly re-glued them, placed heavy weights on them and today they're back to normal.
2.) Aluminum siding tape (from the Home Depot for $5.50 a roll) is the best thing since sliced bread. For whatever my caulk didn't dry before a storm passed through earlier in the week and the back right light leaked once again. Desperate for it to STOP, I placed aluminum tape around it and WOWZAH, problem solved!
3.) I usually hate anything scented (candles, etc.) but Home Depot and Lowe's both sell a great room deodorizer (actually absorbs smelly odors) for $3, which works like a charm.
4.) My best purchase yet for Louis: solar powered outdoor indoor lights. Lasted all week inside and create great light on their own and..
5.) I purchased an 8x10 astorturf rug on Amazon.com for $15 and battery operated fan for $5.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Stars and Stripes

I've taken a break from posting because it has rained for what feels like months, making it slightly difficult to work on Louis. Saturday, however, the sun finally came out, so I grabbed my bag of tricks and headed outside to enjoy the sun and get some work done! As I creep closer to my budget ceiling (I told myself I wouldn't spend more than $500 on the renovation), I have to be careful where I spend and what I can salvage. Take the curtain rods, for example. The originals were gold and one of the first things I ripped out and tossed into the garbage, which ironically, are the first things I've pulled out. I initially thought I would use fishing wire, pulled tight, as rods then realized I was being wasteful by throwing out the rods, so I dug them out and spray painted them with a Rustoleum silver paint I had left over from another project. Another subtle add I made, was to continue the aqua stripe around the wheel well and down the side of the trailer. Two fairly simple projects, both free (I used left over aqua paint as well) that take Louis one step closer to camp and road-ready!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Behind Curtain #1

I love a nice view. This shot was taken a few months ago from our home, looking north at the Hudson River and West Point. I have yet to put anything on our windows, and probably won't, because in my humble opinion putting any coverings on the windows would distract from our view. This is usually the case with most interior design projects I tackle; for sleeping, I love black out shades, but during the day I prefer to have windows open, uncovered, making a room beautiful and bright. When it comes to my Scotty, however, I think I want a little privacy when camping, so today I'm tackling the project of window coverings. Now, I don't sew. I auditioned to host a show on the Discovery Channel a few years ago and in the middle of the audition the director said, "in the next set up you are going to sew curtains with the home owner." I turned bright red and almost wet my pants, to which the director asked, "you DO sew, don't you??" Lights, camera and NO action, because I had no clue how to turn on the sewing machine! If only I had my good friend Michael to help back then...Michael's arts and crap store, that is! I say crap, because boy oh boy are these craft stores full of it, but I sifted through the mounds of junk (actually just asked for help) and found iron on tape or double stick tape specifically designed for people who don't have the time or know how to sew. A few cuts of the fabric, a nice fold at the top for the rod to slip through, double stick tape and there you go! While they'll most likely be pulled open during the day so I can enjoy the view, they will be nice when I want a long, dark snooze!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Flash Back Wednesday

With flash flood warnings zipping across the bottom of our television this morning as I sipped a cup of coffee and tried to watch the top stories, the first thought that came to mind was, "that damn trailer better not leak!" I used to love the rain, but after buying Louis and spending countless hours trying to fix every leak only to spring one this weekend in the middle of a huge storm, to say I felt defeated and overwhelmed is an understatement. So, to feel better about my progress (and help out someone who asked about doing a reno from the inside without a full skin replacement) I thought I would look back at a few pictures of what Louis looked like four short weeks ago. What I did was remove one piece at a time and, where wood was rotted, replaced it with a new piece in the exact spot. When I talk to a client about a renovation project, to keep them calm, I remind them to look at the individual pieces that need attention, not the project as a whole. If you try to think of every step that must happen to finish any project, it might seem overwhelming. Start with the simple steps. With that advice in my head, I went outside, lifted the tarp and was determined to figure out where Louis had sprung a leak. FOUND IT. One of the lights in the back of the trailer on the roof had lost its rubber coating, causing water to seep in and, in turn, ruin my day. But, I simply grabbed a tarp and will wait for a dry day to fix it. One step at a time. At least I was finally able to narrow in on this annoying little leak.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

When it rains it pours right off!

I noticed a few questions on various trailer sites this weekend about painting the outside of a trailer, and here's what I did to make Louis shine when he was far from divine (if you've forgotten what he looked like when I brought him home, just scroll up and look at the lead photo on this site...yep, he was quite a sight to be seen!). Because I don't have the time or money to do a complete overhaul of Louis, I simply wanted to repaint him. The previous owners had painted the burgundy color with a paintbrush, with thick brush strokes present in the application. While remaining true to the Scotty heritage of trailers, with it's signature Aqua colors, I also wanted to make this trailer my own. So, the color scheme on my trailer is silver, aqua and white. I chose to use ALL Rustoleum paints, because in my many years of interior design and construction work, Rustoleum paints tend to stand the test of time on decks, outdoor sheds and fences, etc. So, I sanded the entire trailer down with a wire brush and started applying the paint. After two weeks of almost non-stop rain, one look at Louis and I can see how wise it was to use Rustoleum (if you look closely you can see the water bubbles and rolls down, just like it's supposed to do). Other paints, like outdoor house paint (which many people have tried on trailers) doesn't do the same thing. So, if you're looking to paint, look no further than the aisles of Walmart for Rustolem's collection. If you are color matching, Ace True Value also carries Rustoleum and will colormatch anything. (upon close examination you will also notice the Scotty emblem I picked up on ebay, clearly it isn't the proper one for the exterior but, until I find the right one this will have to do!)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Positive Setbacks

Well the interior Designer/perfectionist in me wants only to report on beautiful, creative, fun progress but, sadly, just as is the case in life, sometimes things are just crappy. After spending several days repairing leaks on Louis, the northeast battled a weekend of heavy rains. Sunday morning, after a night of heavy rain, I crept into Louis like an anxious parent checking on a kid. Front area below the rock guard (where we'd leaked before), CHECK, No water!! However, in the rear above my daybed was a blob of wet muck! My pillows, sheets, mattress and fabric wall were all soaking wet. Upon close examination, I realized I had left the window open. Oops. This morning, just a typical Monday, I headed out in the pouring rain with coffee in hand to check on Louis again (obsessive? yes, but I finally have my trailer and I'm thrilled!!!) to find him leaking like crazy in the back. Instead of throwing my coffee at a tree, stomping around like a child and pulling Louis into a ravine, I decided to look at the positive side of my progress. The other areas of the trailer were NOT leaking after several strong storms. So, I grabbed a ladder and headed off in search of the problem spot. One thing I did BEFORE reading advice from others, was to apply roof tar to the seams on the roof. This was, hands down, one of the dirtiest jobs I've ever done. And, aside from my Scotty, I've renovated my own homes, so I know what it's like to get down and dirty. Roof tar was a pain in the rump, took days to dry and (clearly) didn't work in all places. So, that lesson learned. Until the rain stops, I just covered up the back roof with a tarp, went inside Louis and enjoyed my cup of Joe. Sitting at the dinette, I admired my new cabinet. Another positive part of this project.
WHAT I DID: Walking the aisles of Lowe's searching for wood to rebuild the over sink cabinet (the original was rotted beyond repair), I noticed pre-made units for close to the cost of the materials I was using to build the cabinet. AND, the work was already done. So, in this instance, I decided to cheat a bit and used the Lowe's brand. Because I removed a heavy wall unit, I'm not adding anymore weight to my trailer. To be safe, I added extra supports in the wall behind the stove and sink and used metal "L" shaped support brackets on the top and bottom (similar to what is used in joints in homes). Of course, I added my own flare by placing wallpaper inserts in the middle of each door, which I will most likely replace with a metal mesh or stainless steel.
WHAT IT COST ME: $38 for this unfinished piece that fits perfectly above the stove and sink.
HOW DIFFICULT: I just took my time (something I rarely do) and made sure brace supports were in place, supported cabinet with pieces underneath so I could install it alone and it was a breeze!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Out of the box cooking

Today marked the six week point from when I pulled Louis in rain, snow and a heck of a lot of wind from his home in Pennsylvania to our place in the Hudson Valley. While I'm not totally finished with my renovation process (I still need a rear window, new tires and work on the lighting system) I decided to throw an impromptu cocktail party and light dinner in my trailer tonight. Why the heck not, I say! I invited a few friends who have never been inside a camper, much less camped in one. It was also a good way for me to try out a few things before I hit the road...how does that lighting work over there, how many more pillows do I need on the daybed to make it comfortable, do I need to reinforce the benches, etc. So, while my next blog will get back to my restoration pictures, I thought this one would take a little vacation from the nuts and bolts of the trailer and to something I will actually DO in the trailer. One of my friends asked if I would just eat "out of the box" when I camp, to which I glared at her and began to prepare my totally homemade, delicious (dare I say), easy to make Vinaigrette salad dressing. I keep old jelly jars because they are perfect for shaking things up at the campsite. Here's what I do:
Because this dressing can last up to four days (or more) I prepare it at home, so I don't have to bring all the extra ingredients to camp. In a measuring cup I prepare the following:
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard (I usually squeeze a bit more in as it makes it extra yummy)
2 minced garlic cloves (once I chop them, I add a little salt and smash together with the bottom of a spoon, then pour it in)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup of olive oil
I whisk all of this together until well blended, then dip the handle of my spoon in for a little taste. Pour the rest in the jar and I'm ready to go. Once we get to camp I shake it up and pour it on!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mirror, Mirror on my Trailer wall...

The Google Blogger system has been down for a little over a day, so I'm catching up a bit. So, one of my finds while shopping for clients homes were these cool, retro round mirrors at Ikea for $19.99. They're simple, chic and totally perfect for the Scotty, so I wanted to put it somewhere. The front side of the bathroom wall proved to be a perfect spot because it gives the person sitting there the allusion that the space is bigger and not as cramped, and you can lean against the window wall and still see the action that's going on outside. To mount the mirror I headed to the hardware store and picked up metal mirror brackets, worried the plastic ones would be less sturdy. Took two seconds and I love the result!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ouch, and other lessons learned

The title of this blog, Aqua With Envy, kinda says it all. I haven't blogged in over a week because the perfectionist in me was embarrassed after cruising the Serro Scotty Enthusiasts website and reviewing the totally fantastic, PERFECT rebuilds of its members Scotty's. I'm envious of the drive, passion and love people have for these little gems. I wish I had the time, patience and money to completely restore Louis to his old glory, but I just don't. So my "paste it together and make it work" strategy often gets me down when I look at the sheer genius people have put into their trailers. But, I got over that last night when I sat in my Scotty, sipping a cheap glass of white wine and reviewing what I have done since my last post. Well, first things first. A painful lesson I learned in my Attention Deficit Haze of attacking ten projects at once, I zipped around the front of the trailer (the tongue) and boy did I ever get a tongue lashing! One quick hit to the shin, and I'll never do that again! To ensure I never make that mistake, I placed a bright orange cone infront of the trailer A.) so no one pulls too close and B.) so this distracted trailer buff doesn't smash my shin again! So, my find this week was Martha Stewart Storage bins at Home Depot for $5.95/each. I was planning on building an under bed storage area but didn't want to block my access to the side compartments or the rear trunk area, so these seemed like a great storage solution for towels, clothes and other camping essentials. Next up was my stove, and boy was it a mess!! In unscrewing the top, it revealed pieces of the wall that had fallen next to the burners, an old lighter (thank God I found that one!) and many other bits of junk and grime. I took a brillo pad and sandpaper to get rid of rust stains, and used my same can of Rustolieum spray paint in Aqua (Beach Blue) I picked up at Wal-Mart and a can of Rustoleum black appliance paint in mat finish I also found at Wal Mart for $2.77. For an inexpensive solution, I think I brightened up this dull stove in a few minutes!
WHAT I DID: Took the two screws out of the stove from the front, carefully pulled out the burner clips and burners, washed them thoroughly, painted them in open air with the appliance paint and reinstalled.
HOW LONG IT TOOK: About a half hour from start to dry time.
DIFFICULTY: Not at all!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


As a kid I mastered the fine art of forging my mother's signature to avoid the pain and grief of producing a substandard report card. My parents were not hard on us at all, don't get me wrong, it was the internal shame that beat the crap out of me. How could I be so stupid to fail math? Why don't I understand Biology or care one bit about History? Well, times have changed (sort of). I still don't understand the point of Calculus in my business (never used it in hosting a show or designing a room...), but WOW, history was made this weekend, wasn't it? Wherever you fall on the political fence, you must believe progress was made this weekend. Where it will take us, who knows. In our neck of the woods another bit of history was made, or remade as it was. Louis got a much needed interior makeover this weekend. If the real Louis were still alive, he would roll his eyes at the wallpaper, I'm sure, but say nothing but positive things about my progress. I'm creating a flashback interior to the 70's using this great wallpaper I found on Amazon (tempaper for $56) which I'm using to accent the aluminum and white interior. So it isn't too overwhelming, I am breaking up the aqua and sliver paper with white walls on the refrigerator wall and kitchen wall. I think it's looking pretty cool but I have a long, long way to go! If I were grading myself I'd give it about a B- so far and in the world of Serro Scotty Enthusiasts and what I've seen them do to their trailers, I'd give myself a C-.
WHAT I DID: The wallpaper I found is a waterproof, reusable paper called Tempaper, specifically created for designers who stage homes for the real estate market. Throw this paper on a wall, wait until the house sells then take it right off with no problems at all. If you want to keep it, it is moisture retardant and can survive just about anything. In Louis where the walls did not need total replacement yet, I created a few blemishes when removing the ceiling and other walls. To fix (or hide) those, I covered them with the paper. Now that I have a stainless backsplash, wood floors and aluminum ceilings, the paper is a nice way to give it a funky twist.
HOW MUCH IT COST ME: The aluminum ceiling cost $45 for a 4x8 panel, which took three to cover the entire roof. The wallpaper was $56, and the patience to do it all: priceless