Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Toy Hauler Can Be More Than A Garage! Build A Full Time RV Crafter's Room!





An article showing us converting a Toy Hauler Garage into an office space crafting area and sun room.

After removing the NSF shelving that held our business for the past three years we were left with a 14 foot by 8 foot area.

Thankfully, we had taken the time when we had built the shelving, (see previous post), to line the walls with Masonite to protect the walls from our cargo shifting while in transit, which we now set about taking off the walls to reveal windows and allowing us to open the pass through door between the living quarters and the garage.

Once the Masonite was removed I gave the rubber diamond plate flooring a good scrubbing down. It was a challenge, but having a washable rugged surface had served us well and would also serve us well when we started making a mess while crafting.

Note the large roll down screen at the back ramp entrance, we played with the idea of leaving the back open so we could use the ramp as a deck, (see ramp as deck in picture 3), but in the end we decided to close off the back door to make room for more storage type furniture to hide all of our crafting tools and supplies.

Picture 3 shows the initial layout of the main crafting table on the left making the most use of the usable space and still keeping the side screen door accessible.

We played with various layouts until we came up with picture 4. I went on Craigslist and found the wicker dresser and wardrobe for $60, they threw in a twin sized bed and a large dresser mirror to boot.

I re listed the mirror on craigslist for $25 and we used the bed in our new cargo fifth wheel in the loft for us to sleep on when we needed it on the road.

I used a plastic kitchen table for my crafting desk temporarily, I was stunned at how much crafting tables and sewing tables were going for, even on the net. No way was I going to pay three hundred dollars for a particle board table with drawers, I had to find another solution.

The plan called for two crafting areas actually, a crafting desk to make jewelry and to work on watches and also a crafting table that I could lay out leather or material on for patterning and also a place to set up my sewing head.

We found the best of both world in a drop leaf dining table I found on Craigslist for $65, that was solid cherry wood and had the ability to fold down when not in use, or fold out when laying out projects.

Below we have the finished area, we added a lighted bamboo lighted showcase for $70, it has storage below and was a bit frivolous, but it looked perfect for our area and we just had to add it. Doyle's Dobsonian Telescope takes up the back left corner, it acts as a futuristic piece of sculpture in between star scanning sessions. I had the suitcases on top of the wardrobe for ages and they fit the space perfectly, I also dug out my antique wind up mantle clock I have had for 40 years and set it ticking and chiming away on the wicker dresser. The large mirror is temporary, it's on the net for sale and it just fits there for now. All of the other accessories I had in storage here and there in the rest of the RV, had fun digging them out and putting them to use, including the cute little shell lamp on the dresser.
Finished Room. It's wonderful to have an area I can work and enjoy myself in!
Here is the empty garage before removing the masonite and scrubbing the floor, seriously, this is a lot of room to work with!

I have to admit I toyed with the idea of keeping it a garage and keeping a golf cart in it, but we decided we would be better off with more living space and crafting area.

After removing the masonite we were able to open up the pass through door that had been sealed shut since the day we had bought our Road Warrior three years ago.

Also, I have to say I got a big kick out of the BIG windows that Heartland was wise enough to install giving us lots of light and a great view!

Note the open cabinet next to the door, it's all wired up for a flat screen TV, which we will be adding later...to the right of that is a large storage cabinet that we had removed the doors of so the shelving would fit flush against the bulk head. These will be added back on when we get our storage moved down from Wisconsin.
 Also the blinds for the windows and other sundry hardware  are languishing up north in storage for the time being, so I'm not going to worry about window treatments for now, just having the space re purposed is good enough for me for now!

Next is a picture of a "Trial Fitting" of various furniture configurations using spare furniture we had on hand. We jocking these items around a few times to get a good feel of the flow and usefulness of various items.

 Finally we came up with this layout, I found a 70's black lacquer and brass office desk for $50 on Craigslist that features a plate glass top and a velvet swivel rocking desk chair. So instead of paying $300 for a generic, sterile crafting cube with no seating, I have a very stylish desk with plenty of drawer storage for tools and supplies that has a classy look that ties in the black theme of the living area through the door nicely.

The cherry wood table also matches the cabinetry of the entire trailer, which is also solid Cherry. Very classy. The two white wicker swivel chairs were a leftover from another plan we had for our screen house in the yard, they were great placeholders for now, I have thrown them on the net for what I paid for them and they will be replaced by the backless saddle stools you can see stashed under the table for now, they will be more practical and save space, I paid $5 bucks for the set of three.

When I have my sewing head set up on the drop leaf table I will just roll my desk chair over to use when I am doing intensive sewing projects, otherwise the stools will be fine for those small, short lived projects.

What's also nice about this layout is that my husband Doyle will be able to utilize the drop leaf table for his projects also, he prefers to work outside since most of his shell carving involves dust and such, but for the finer and more delicate carving on rainy days, he will be able to use this area without interfering with my jewelry making, etc.

This are also makes a great sun room, we find ourselves gravitating to this area in the morning for our am coffee, it's open, airy look and the ability to open windows and doors to let the breeze play through make this the ideal four season room in Florida.

So Crafty Folks, this is why a Toy Hauler can be a Crafter's best friend, not all garages have to have "Toys" in them. you can make it the best living space in your house!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Our New RV Toy Hauler Fifth Wheel Rebuild and Fifth Wheel Cargo Rebuild into an RV

With our lifestyle changing we had to rethink our Trailer design. I was trying to make jewelry and crafts in the same 9 square feet that I eat, relaxed, cruised the net and socialized in. If I wanted to do one thing, I had to put away ten others first, if I got immersed in creativity there would be drifts of supplies surrounding my desk area that made daily duties and relaxation a challenge, to say the least. Not to say it couldn't be done, it was just getting to be daunting.

Then there was my health. Suffice it to say I had become a "Trailer Wife" over the past two years, I would accompany my husband to Events and try to be involved, only to have a health setback and end up isolated in the trailer, often depressed and in considerable pain, not to mention the stress I caused my husband as he tried to make a living while being worried to death over my condition.

After a great deal of soul searching and a dose of reality about our situation, we decided we needed a stable home base that I could retreat to with health related facilities, (pool for water aerobics, heated spa for sore muscles, walking paths, regular aerobics, medical facilities nearby, etc...), and a place that would serve as a final retirement area when we became unable to travel. This plan always was in place for the distant future, but it became apparent that we had to move up our timeline and take action now.

New Fifth Wheel Cargo Trailer
Several months ago I began to build and stock etsy shops where I showcased both my husbands and my jewelry and crafts, we have had some success there and we have also looked into teaching at Historic Events instead of hauling our huge kitchen setup all around the country with a diminished capability to set it up and run it ourselves. We have also considered just selling our Root beer at different venues and setting up and selling our crafts at Art Fairs. All of these ideas involve less physical interaction on our part and a more creative lifestyle.


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Not that we won't miss the road and cooking in the kitchen, in fact, Doyle has obtained good help and will be still setting up at Events for some time yet, we plan on fulfilling our full schedule this season, as well as the next if everything goes well. The difference will be that, for the most part, I will remain in Florida at the RV Park in the Fifth Wheeler while Doyle takes a fifth wheel cargo trailer with living quarters on the road with one or two good people to help.

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To that end we found the idea trailer for our purposes on Craig's List, it's a 24" Fifth wheel trailer with 18,000lb. carrying capability. It has a completely open floor plan so we can at first just move everything from the Toy Hauler into the cargo hauler without having to rebuild our shelving system and then we will rebuild the front header into living quarters to make Doyle's, (and sometimes mine when I am well enough to travel), life more comfortable.

This will then allow us to open up the back garage area of the Toy Hauler and build it into a Crafts workshop for both Doyle and I to engage in our crafting activities and be able to make a mess as needed without compromising our living area.

We also will be able to look at getting a golf cart and kayaks if we so desire and have a place to house them when we commute.

When we are not attending Events, we will be able to store the cargo trailer at the RV park in their storage area for a nominal fee, or leave it up north and just travel back and forth in the truck, saving fuel and not having to constantly battle the traffic back and forth.

On one hand, it's wonderful to think we will be gaining so much more living and work space, on the other it is a mixed bag of sadness of my not being able to continue to contribute in a physically meaningful way to the endeavor we we built together and love so very much. But, successful survival depends on our ability to judge reality with certainty and then to adapt accordingly. We have lost too many friends as of late who just kept slogging along until the end, which perhaps was their choice and preferred way to expire, but for us, we would rather slow down and perhaps gain a few more precious years.

Stay tuned for Doyle's and My clever rebuild of both trailers!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

We Find a Home at Shell Creek Resort, Punta Gorda Florida

Our 2 year old Toy Hauler Still Looks Great!

Our New Lot, Plenty of room considering how large we are!
We have finally found the RV Park of our dreams at Shell Creek Campground in Punta Gorda Florida!

It's right on Shell Creek so we can indulge in our Kayaking adventures, close to the Gulf Beaches, (Nokomis, Captiva and Sanibel, and has a wonderful Pool and Hot Tub!

Doyle heads out for a swim...
I'm especially looking forward to the Craft get togethers and water aerobics classes, I haven't been able to work out for a long time and low impact water aerobics are the perfect way to build ones health back up slowly!

I'm sorry I have taken so long to post, I have been ill and I didn't want to write about it, suffice it to say I am on the mend now and living it up at Shell Creek, the perfect medicine for a weary Road Warrior.

The LOVELY Pool Area graced with Palms
Shell Creek is a "Carefree" RV Resort so it has all the amenities at a reasonable price. We are even tempted to buy a Park Model here, they have several available at good prices. but I'm not ready to move out of my Fifth Wheel yet, still holding up and still looking great, (Thanks to the Good Folks at Noble RV).


Before coming down this Fall, we stopped by and had them give the Old Girl a though going over and a good scrubbing, well worth the money to make sure she was ship shape and ready to roll to Florida!

Doyle tests the pool temp
We've taken the entire Winter off to try and build back up our health, we certainly have had our challenges health wise the last few years but we have never regretted living Full Time and it never kept us from enjoying our life of freedom.

We have met so many wonderful people on the road and in the many RV parks we have stayed at, we are excited to make new friends at this new place, many have stopped by to meet us and invite us to the many social functions that take place here.

We have spent the last 6 years looking for the perfect place to "Take root" and we think we have finally found it!

Doyle settles in...
One of the things that really sold this place to me was to go to the laundry area and find CLOTHES LINES. I love to hang my stuff out and usually RV parks prohibit "unsightly" laundry from being hung, this place encourages it! It tells you a lot about a place that thinks enough of you to allow laundry hanging!

The grounds are kept immaculate and there is very little traffic and noise, wildlife is everywhere!

Can you tell I LOVE this PLACE?
It's a bit off the beaten track for most people, the nearest "Big" store is 10 miles away, which is too far for some folks, but we don't mind the trade off at all!

I highly recommend this place to other Snow Birds and Full Timers, the long term rates are competitive with other RV Parks that offer much less for the money.

The Staff is wonderful, especially Judy, who runs this ship with an iron hand but with more grace and patience than a person is normally endowed with.


If you in the area, drop by and visit, (don't be surprised if we are out and about, we may be trying to do something about the Bluegill overpopulation on the Creek or swimming in the pool, but ask anyone and they'll probably be able to point out where we went....

Great to be back and posting, hope you and yours are doing well and are having a great time On The Road!


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