Once Baton Rouge interior designer Becki Abercrombie saw a vintage camper converted to a children’s playhouse in a furniture showroom in High Point. N.C., she knew she had to find one for her grandchildren.
“I was charmed by the idea,” Abercrombie said.
She and her husband, Arthur, have a beach house in Bay St. Louis, Miss. They spend most holidays there with their children, Stewart and Sara Abercrombie and J.P. and Jane Abercrombie Runge, and their grandchildren, Will Abercrombie, 12, Claire Abercrombie, 9, and Arthur Runge, 19 months.
This is the second Abercrombie beach house in Bay St. Louis. Hurricane Katrina took the first house leaving the Abercrombies with a piece of a bicycle, a few buried dinner plates and many memories.
After Katrina, as she was riding her bicycle around the ravaged community, Becki Abercrombie saw a vintage camper on a vacant lot. Once again the idea of a playhouse came to her mind, but before she could inquire about the camper, it was gone.
“That’s when I began a two-year hunt for the camper whenever I was out and about,” Becki Abercrombie said.
Rather than rebuild their old house, the Abercrombies decided to buy and remodel a small house in Bay St. Louis’ Old Town.
They removed the interior walls of the original house, which was built in 1915, to create a large family room-kitchen combination. They also added a wing of bedrooms and bathrooms.
Then, in the middle of the remodeling project, Becki Abercrombie saw the camper in the backyard of a house.
She left a note at the home asking if the owners might be interested in selling the turquoise and white camper. Weeks passed without a response.
Finally Becki Abercrombie said she got up her nerve and called on the owners of the camper with her granddaughter, Claire.
The owners had found the camper on eBay and driven to Florida to pick it up.
“Their intention was to restore it and use it for travel,” Becki Abercrombie said, “but it was too small.”
It took a while, but Becki Abercrombie convinced the owners to sell her the camper for a playhouse.
Abercrombie and her grandchildren named the camper Sweet Pea and began washing and cleaning the small interior.
Inside is a drop-down table with bench seats that convert to a double bed.
They used vintage tablecloths to make curtains for the two windows and decorated the benches with vintage pillows.
“I looked for an old pencil sharpener, a chalkboard and a gumball machine,” she said. “We stocked the cabinets with puzzles and old-fashioned games, like checkers, dominos, Scrabble, jacks, marbles and pickup sticks.”
The camper is air conditioned and contains a refrigerator that Becki Abercrombie keeps filled with lemonade and root beer.
According to Douglas Heister, author of “Teardrops and Tiny Trailers,” camper trailers “have a long, rich history dating back to the Great Depression.”
After World War II, the trailers really became popular. The Abercrombies’ trailer is a Serro Scotty Sportsman in the style known as the “canned ham” because its shape resembles the metal tins in which hams were traditionally sold. Serro Scottys were first made in the 1950s.
“Sweet Pea is a work in progress,” Becki Abercrombie said.
However it will be making its formal debut in October, when Will and Claire Abercrombie will use it as their base of operations for a lemonade stand during Cruisin’ The Coast, a celebration of vintage vehicles.