With most summer activities canceled this year, many kids were struggling to find ways to keep busy. But one upstate girl used that downtime to complete a unique project: building a tiny house.
Lauren Nelson, 11, spent the last two months turning a rundown camper into a diminutive domicile after being inspired by an American Girl doll magazine.
“She showed us a $650 little VW bus that they sell. My husband was like, ‘That’s ridiculous, you could buy your own camper for that price,’ ” Aimee Nelson, her mother, told local news outlet WKBW.
So the preteen decided to give it a go. Lauren started saving some money while keeping an eye out for a camper she could buy. Opportunity struck when a neighbor put a “For Sale” sign on their RV. “She squealed the whole way home,” said her mother.
The young girl approached her neighbor, who said he was selling the 20-foot-long, beat-up camper for $500. Lauren had managed to save up $400 after selling items at garage sales and taking the funds she would have used to go to 4-H camp. She negotiated and struck a deal.
“It wasn’t very hard. He said ‘$500,’ and I said ‘$400,’ because that was the money I had in my bank account, and he said, ‘Sold,’ ” said Lauren.
With the camper in her possession, it was time for the renovating to begin. But given its condition, the first step was to clean it. “It was a process,” said her mother. “We brought home a family of mice. So there was a lot of deep cleaning.”
Despite the mess, Lauren was motivated because she wanted a place to hang out and call her own. With the help of family and friends and using inspiration from HGTV’s “Tiny House Hunters,” she transformed the dated space with a beachy boho vibe.
Basic drab wooden cabinetry became an airy, teal-hued working kitchen, while the rest of the camper features a sleek, all-white base with pops of color from key decor elements such as pillows, flowers and patterned sheets on the bunk beds. And a tiny pink and blue sign reads, “Lauren’s Lil Camper.”
Incredibly, the entire renovation only cost $400, as Lauren researched on Pinterest for frugal design ideas. It even has a bedroom and bathroom. “I was very motivated with this camper, I really wanted a place where I could hang out, like my own house,” said Lauren.
Upon completion, the design-savvy youngster dubbed her new hangout “Camp Hygge,” referring to the Scandinavian concept of coziness. She now spends the majority of her week in the camper. “She now says she’s part of the tiny home nation,” said her mother.
Not surprisingly, the family has received messages from other people who want to do the same thing. “If you’re looking to have some big plans in the future, you should go out and do it. Make it happen,” said Lauren.
She hopes to one day have a career in home renovation.