[Tami & AJ Hampson]
Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by M.Schleif Photography
Adventure seekers, Tami & AJ Hampson are always up for a challenge, whether hiking through the mountains or planning an impromptu road trip in search of sun and sand. After purchasing a vintage camper, sight unseen, the whim sparked a camper flipping hobby that let the couple flex their design skills and get creative with small spaces. This month, we're revealing their first pop up camper flip that offers the ultimate "glamping" experience. If that wasn't enough, we'll give you a sneak peek inside their next flip on a 1969 travel trailer that's been patiently awaiting its overhaul.
By day, Tami Hampson is a dental hygienist, while her husband, AJ, scales some of the area's tallest structures as a co-owner in his family business, A&B Window Cleaning. When the weekend arrives, they pack up and head to the lakes, or hit the road for wherever adventure awaits.
On a visit to the Hampsons, they gave us a tour of their first finished camper flip, along with a quick sneak peek of their next endeavor. It all began on a whim with Tami, who had grown up with a love of camping in Northern Minnesota. She was ready to take the plunge and found a 1969 Forester travel trailer on Facebook Buy/Sell for $300. Sight unseen, she leaped at the idea of revamping a vintage trailer, despite AJ's hesitation. Bringing their camper home, the two gutted the existing interior, but eventually stopped working on it, leaving it as a project for a later date.
Fast forward to 2019, Tami's brother and his fiance bought a pop up camper and completed a quick flip on it. That was all the inspiration Tami needed, except she did not have their vintage camper in mind. A patient of hers had mentioned a pop up camper he had for sale, and once again, Tami's interest was piqued, urging her husband to reconsider this as their first flip.
Camper Flip #1: The Pop Up
Thankfully their 2007 Starcraft was practically new as the previous owners had only used it a handful of times. "It was in a good shape, so it was kind of a no-brainer to buy it," said AJ Hampson. "The outside had a little bit of weathering, so I resealed the caulking, but it mainly needed cosmetic changes. We just threw our style into it and made it more modern."
"The pop up took us maybe a week to flip, and it was actually pretty easy," said Tami Hampson. "We did a lot of Pinterest research and I really wanted this clean white, simple look with modern farmhouse touches to it. AJ made the table, using the original one and updating it with wood to make it look more like a mini picnic table. We also repainted the cabinetry and hardware. For the accessories, my go-to stores are HomeGoods, T.J. Maxx, Amazon, Hobby Lobby and JoAnn's Fabric. I only buy things if they're on sale."
"Tami is really good at doing projects on a budget. She's the creative visionary, and I do the things," laughed AJ Hampson. "I learn as I go; I didn't have carpentry skills growing up, but I put a lot of effort into projects, and YouTube's been a big help. The laminate flooring was probably the most challenging. There were a lot of really tight spaces to work around; we had to cut a piece every eight inches or so. The laminate is great; it's waterproof and really easy to clean. You'd think it'd be a breeze with such a small project, but we realized that the small details are much harder than your average home project."
"Our first camping trip with the pop up was at a place I had gone to as a little girl, R&D Resort by Park Rapids. It was a lot of fun and we had the perfect weekend for it," said Tami Hampson. "We've been married for 12 years in August and together for 14. We're young at heart and we still like to do our date nights and adventures."
"It's really the theme of who we are; you'll always catch us doing something different and adventurous," agreed AJ Hampson. "We love road trips and we travel a lot. We're known amongst our friends as the spur of the moment couple who are always looking for new adventures. We enjoy the unique challenges that something like this brings. We're beach people for sure, but we do like hiking and the mountains. Last summer we took our anniversary trip to the Black Hills and she surprised me with the whole trip. We've had a lot of fun, taking turns planning our trips."
Camper Flip #2: The Vintage Forester
With their hard work paying off, the Hampsons have recently sold the pop up. Before it had even made it to its new home, the couple we're laying out plans to finish the long-awaited project that started it all - a 12-foot 1969 Forester travel trailer. "At one point I was just done with the idea of flipping this camper, I was going to sell it; it was our Pinterest fail," laughed Tami Hampson. "I'm glad we are putting some hard work into it again."
"Like everyone during the pandemic, we got motivated to do some projects, so we thought we might as well finish what we started," said AJ Hampson. "We picked a color scheme and started rolling with it. You definitely have to do a lot more eyeballing because all of the construction in those old campers was kind of just slapped together."
By June, the couple plan to have the interior overhaul complete, then they will designate about two to three weeks to complete the exterior work and have it ready for its first camping trip at the end of June. "We're doing the best we can with it; redoing the caulking, adding shiplap and some unique rose gold details and a charcoal grey color inside," said AJ Hampson. With the eight-foot-wide interior, Tami plans to redo the cushions in a faux, camel-colored leather that will be easy to maintain and clean.
"For the outside, my dad is going to help paint it; he used to do airplane exteriors. I've taken out the old heater and I'll be doing some metal paneling over that, paint stripper, then doing an acidic wash on it. We're taking off all of the little badges and seals from the era, polishing them up and painting them," said AJ Hampson. "We're planning to take two weeks to strip the body down, get everything shining, then put some white and metallic on there. Everything's getting sandblasted and we'll have one day for the pearl white, then another for the darker color. I think it will have a nice, cohesive look to it.
The Flip Side
Catching the camper revamp bug, the Hampsons plan to keep the fun going. Their hobby has quickly turned into a side business, The Flip Side, using the catchy tagline, Revamping your Camping Since 2020. "We don't know exactly where it's going to go, but I know for sure we're going to keep buying campers, fixing them up and selling them," said AJ Hampson. "I'm hoping we can do one or two campers a year. We've even thought about renting them out for Airbnbs in the future," added Tami Hampson.
"We have some unique goals with our next one to three campers. We want to flip something in the 90s and eventually, we want to try and get an Airstream, but they're a little harder to come by," said AJ Hampson.
"I'd definitely like to work on something in the 80s or 90s, and something with good bones. For a future project, I'm thinking fun wallpaper, and maybe something a little more eccentric on the inside," said Tami Hampson. "I think projects like these are not just fun for camping, they would also make great she sheds for the ladies!
Keep Calm & Camp On!
Follow Midwest Nest's upcoming issue as we hitch a ride with the happy campers to reveal their second project, the vintage camper flip!
Midwest Nest loves the culture from the upper midwest, and we are excited to share stories from around the area.