While growing up in Lexington, Kentucky, Jill Evans learned the fine arts of needlework and quilting from her mother who had a needlepoint shop. She had no idea that her creative child play would turn into a lifelong passion and that her mother would become her role model, mentor and friend. Jill’s dad was also contributing heavily to her other passion, the outdoors. An avid fisherman who loved lake life and took the family shore camping on the lakes around Kentucky, planted in Jill a love for nature that has never left. Those happy childhood camping trips and sewing sessions would become Jill’s outlet for the creative drive that would lead her to open an antiques mall, restore a vintage trailer and create beautiful quilts for family and friends.
Roam Sweet Home
After graduating from college with a degree in advertising Jill took a dream travel job and became a flight attendant for Delta Airlines. When she and her high school sweetheart Ed married and settled down to raise their sons Clay and Beau, they moved back to Kentucky and the comfort of family. Ed grew a family automotive and parts business and Jill set out to create the memories for her children that she and her sister had received from theirs. Ed and Jill purchased a motorhome with their friends Chris and Jennifer who had six young daughters. As one big happy group they hiked, swam and camped the lakes all around Kentucky. Evenings were spent around the campfire toasting marshmallows and telling fish tales. As a group they made an annual pilgrimage to their favorite campground and their children looked forward to camping as much as the grownups did. Clay who is now a sophomore in college, is a collegiate fisherman at Murray State University. Beau, still in high school has a deep interest in boxing.
Jill was always a collector and enjoyed antiquing and refining her home with things “that make me happy.” She looked at the trends in Louisville and saw a gap in the way antiques malls operated. She knew that there were many dealers who would like to have a shop but worked full time and couldn’t shop sit. Jill, along with a partner, bought a large brick building in a resurging area and opened it to dealers with no commitment to work there. She and her partner kept the shop hours along with hired help. They filled the over 100 spaces and built a thriving business. Jill had first crack at all the antiques and collectibles that came through her door! She used these finds in her trailer to make the camper as inviting and comfortable as home. One of the things Jill loved about camping is that having the motorhome allowed her to travel and still be at “home.” She filled the trailer with quilts, board games and comfortable bedding and seating. Wherever they went they felt rooted.
Jill and her best friend Jennifer got wind of the Girl Camping movement and hatched the idea that they would find themselves vintage trailers to doll up just for them. Jill found a vintage Shasta in Milwaukee in very good condition. She named it Laverne!! Her BFF found one too and named hers Shirley. Once Laverne was deemed safe for the road she set to work on the outside removing all of the rusty screws and replacing them with new stainless steel ones. She also rewired and replaced the broken exterior lights. When the tough work was done she had it professionally painted. She then did something that would make most purists faint – she painted the original birch wood interior of the trailer all white and brought a modern mix of salvaged finds, new and vintage textiles and a boho chic design to the interior. I found her on Instagram and fell in love with her aesthetic. I was heartbroken when she sold Laverne but cheered up when she revealed that her boys want to continue camping with her and had outgrown the Shasta. She wanted a trailer that could hold all four members of the Evans family. Any mother with teenage boys who want to be with her would have done the same thing!!
Because she was raised in the 70’s she has a nostalgic affinity for all things from that era. She began the search for a 1970’s Airstream and hit pay dirt when she found one three hours from home. The owner had purchased it and restored all the mechanics of the trailer but had not touched the original interior. Perfect! All the safety things checked off and none of the design things addressed. She could get right to work making a home on wheels for fishing trips, hiking outings and hopefully some girl camping on her own. When all put together her new Airstream, named “Georgia,” is a place of respite for her, a gathering space for family game nights and big enough for the cross country family adventure they are planning for the summer of 2018.
Jill has some principles and rules she uses in design that give her projects a signature look. She loves starting with white walls and cabinets and the first thing she did was paint out the whole interior of the dark paneled trailer. From there she adds the things she loves but keeps them to a minimum for a clean look. Every interior she does whether trailer or home, includes new and old quilts. She has a love for textiles and uses them sparingly allowing them to make a statement. Life is changing for Jill. Her young men are almost out of the nest. She has sold her antiques business and is enjoying some down time and watching for her next opportunity. Jill plans to make her first solo girl camping trip this April in Texas. I have no doubt she will feel at home wherever she roams.
“Jill’s Design Tips” below can help any RV owner create a rolling home on wheels where adventure and the comforts of home and hearth go hand in hand.
- For me, my design must-haves are WHITE WALLS, because it opens the space up. I will break up the white by covering a door with wallpaper, upholstering cushions in color, or painting cabinet doors a different color. This will allow you to take the space in any direction. You can girl it up, or make it more appealing for the men that may be sharing it with you.
- I love to incorporate WOOD AND PLANTS in the camper for the obvious reason that they are natural elements that will surround you while camping. You are bringing the outdoors in! And again, this largely appeals to men but can be softened up for the gals!
- LIGHTING is an aspect I do not ignore. I want my camper to glow at night, not look like a spotlight. I only use soft white bulbs, no fluorescents. I have found some wonderful cloth wrapped electrical cord, so each space can have its own hanging light and the harsh overhead lighting does not have to be turned on. Don’t forget outdoor lighting-I go soft out there, also.
- GAMES are always a part of my camper decor. If it is rainy or cold, or while having morning coffee, we will play cards, dominos, backgammon, etc, so they are prominently displayed and used as a design element.
- My last must have: QUILTS! Quilts are comfort to me, whether I have made them or I found them at an antique mall. There are at least 10 quilts in my camper at all times!! Quilts=Love!
- Whatever objects bring you happiness, make it a part of your camper life!