Renovating Our RV
We chose our model of RV, the Open Range Roamer 376 FBH, because of the floor plan. This model is new to market, so I couldn't buy a cheaper, older model to fix up. So yes, I bought a brand new RV, gutted it, painted it, and made it unique for a full-time family.
- Rip Out the Furniture
- Prime, Prime, Paint, Paint, Paint
- Build a Kids' Room
- Make a Dining Room
1. Rip Out the Furniture
Even with a new model, most RVs are marketed to retirees. The decor seemed old and didn't match our younger, adventurer spirit...so it all had to go. The thick valances, the clunky couches, and wobbly tables it all went. Surprisingly, these staples to our home on wheels were only held in place with a few small screws. To disassemble the entire interior, all you need is a number 2 square bit and a drill. The inside was cleaned out within a few hours.
2. Prime, Prime, Paint, Paint, Paint
The walls in most RVs are covered with this textured, splotchy, brownish wall paper. And the cabinetry was a rich and dark wood that made the space feel even smaller than the 400 sq/ft. already did. My wife loves to paint, but I think this project may have broke her. She began with an oil-based primer, but when she applied the first coat, it began to shrink and separate. To her frustration she found that she had to apply two coats of primer to get proper coverage. Keep in mind that she painted the entire (not the counter tops) RV; walls, cabinets, doors, ugh. When she emerged from the RV, dripping with sweat and covered in paint streaks, she held the brush high in victory. She chose white for the main color and had a few accents walls painted in a nice grey. The lighter colors really opened the space up and made the older-decor look really chic and modern.
3. Build a Kid's Room
From the beginning, I intended on converting the front room to the kid's bedroom. I took out the two pull-out couches on the expanding slides and prepped the area for custom beds. My two boys would get a cool bunk bed on one side and my daughter would get a crib/changing table on the other side. I built one bunk that would sit inside cleats mounted to the slides three walls. I made sure to construct the bed out of light-weight materials but were structurally sound. To add stability, I added a climbing wall to the front to united the two bed and to act as a ladder to the top.
My daughters crib was a commercially available travel crib and I converted 3 IKEA bookshelves to fit the space so that a prefab table top could be placed on top. He slide was cute and feminine and extremely functional. It gave room for all of the kids' books, stored her diapers/wipes, and gave room for her changing pad. Adding the beds to the slides opened up the floor space in the middle and gave the kids plenty of room to play. I added a Lego table and some custom shelving to the closets and their room was ready!
4. Make a Dining Room
The RV came with a really long, uncomfortable couch with two pedestal tables. I wanted to create a corner booth with a custom table and add a real couch to the other side, creating two distinct areas. I was inspired by a corner booth the Jimmy Diresta made and I recreated it using, again, lightweight but sturdy materials. Making an empty space under the benches to save weight also allowed for additional storage space. The table was made out of a hollow plywood box with a central plywood pedestal with a larger footprint, making it more stable. I cut strips of walnut hardwood and wrapped the plywood table with them. This gave the illusion of a butcher block table while still being lightweight.
We Made a Beautiful Living Space
These renovations really changed the dynamic of the small space. It looked amazing and felt like living in a small apartment instead of a trailer. We've gotten so many compliments from people on how the RV looks and how it changes preconceived notions of RV living. Our RV was nicer (and bigger) than some people's "stick and brick" homes. The work was absolutely worth the effort and it made me really feel at home...on the road.