6 Simple RV Renovation Ideas

In the past decade, RV ownership has risen a tremendous amount. From people living and traveling in RVs full-time to people who own RVs and travel for vacations and weekends, the RV camping lifestyle has captured the attention of millions. The call of the open road beckons many to escape their traditional life and seek out adventure, exploration and freedom, even if only for a short while. After all, traveling in a vacation home that can go anywhere is rather alluring and convenient. However, RV interiors are often known for being rather outdated, leaving many wanting to customize their RVs. For this reason, RV renovation has risen in popularity, as many look to make their RVs their own.

The world of RV customization and renovation is vast and varied. Some people gut and build out their own homes on wheels, starting with a Sprinter van, bus, or work vehicle as a shell. Others remodel a motorhome or fifth wheel, leaving the layout the same but changing much of the decor and color scheme. While the renovation possibilities are endless, there are some fairly simple things you can do to leave your RV interior feeling more homey and custom. Some of these are fairly simple, and others require more of a time commitment. No matter what you plan to do with your home on wheels, these simple suggestions are a great place to start!

“We wanted a space that felt like home instead of a standard RV. With a little bit of elbow grease, it all came together! All of the small finishing touches really brings our space together.” – Shi Delgrosso, @lifewithjoey_rv

1. Decorate your RV.

Decorations are one of the most basic things you can update in your RV. Changing out simple things like window treatments and bedding can really improve the overall look of your space. In addition, you can add wall hangings, throw pillows, and area rugs throughout to create a personal and homey feel as soon as you walk through the door. Consider decorating with cute finds from your travels, or bring along your favorite pieces from your sticks and bricks home to travel along with you. Whatever you do, be sure to keep it simple! A little goes a long way in a small space.

Complete remodel of interior bedroom walls – Darla Clark

 

“I loved the dark mahogany wood and low ceiling of my RV but after 6 years, it was just too dark. I decided to paint walls, cabinets, take down beige cornice and headboard. Now I have a bright cheery room.” – Louise Turner, @geritolgypsy

2. Replace furniture.

One of the things that leaves many RVs looking so stock is the furniture. Depending on the age of the RV, some of the furniture may be covered in floral or tropical prints, or checkered/striped patterns. Adding in some new furniture is a fairly simple option that really helps to update the space. Futons are a great replacement for couches, and Ikea has an awesome selection geared towards small spaces. Dinette bench cushions can be covered rather simply, as well. Any furniture swapping you do will have your RV on the way to feeling more personalized in no time.

“Complete makeover. I upgraded to a residential refrigerator and replaced booth dinette with custom built buffet with scaffolding tubes and a table with pets painted on the top. I then finished the project with a new light fixture and valences to match the new palette.” – John Schroeder

 

“We painted every inch. New floors, removed dinette, new blinds, furniture, hardware, etc!”- Stacy Dinkel, @stacydinkel

3. Add a backsplash.

Backsplashes are fairly easy to install and can really improve the overall look of your bathroom or kitchen. Traditional ceramic backsplashes are not typically recommended in a moving vehicle. However, peel-and-stick tile backsplashes are user-friendly, inexpensive, and perfect for RVs. There are so many styles to choose from, and they can quickly add a personal feel to your RV and minimize stains that can occur while cooking. Be sure to read instructions and use a heat-resistant backsplash if you plan to install yours near the stove.

“I added glass tile in our bathroom above the sink.” – Robert Novella

 

“We had just a plain sprinter van that got converted into our tiny home on wheels for a family of 3! We have a full bathroom, solar, pull out-pantry, all custom woodwork and a big closet.” – Gianna Bachowski, @ourvanquest

4. Add details throughout.

Changing small details throughout your RV can also make a big difference. Things like drawer and cabinet pulls, faucets, light switch covers, light fixtures, and curtains are fairly simple to swap, yet add lots of personality to your space. Adding a wallpaper accent wall is also an excellent choice. Little by little, customizing these basic interior features will add homeyness to your RV renovation, making it more your own.

“I have a powder room/toilet area that is about the size of a wall-in closet, and I needed something that would make me smile. I found a door vinyl decal that makes me smile. Now I sit on the dock of the bay.” – Louise Turner, @geritolgypsy

 

“Rescued an ambulance which was going to be sold for scrap, brought it back from the brink and converter it in to an off grid campervan!” – Marrick Mills, @northern_campers

5. Paint!

Painting an RV interior is no small task. However, this is one thing you can do that will change the entire look of the interior renovation. White is a popular color, as it can make a small space feel much larger. Many other colors are also quite popular and may stay cleaner-looking over time.

When painting, one must decide if they plan to do the walls only or the walls and the cabinets. It is always recommended to lightly sand everything first. RV wallpaper and cabinets are typically covered in a laminate-type material which paint may struggle to adhere to. Many recommend painting with primer first before painting with the final color. Painting may take up to an entire week to complete and is a very big element of renovation. However, the results are so worth it to create a space that is lighter, brighter, and more modern.

“Complete renovation inside. New paint, refinished countertops, and new flooring. I replaced the dinette and couch and removed two bunks for more floorspace in the bunk room.” -Jeremy Huff

 

“We renovated this RV for full-time travel as a family of 5. Flooring, walls, custom couch, barn door, dining table and bunkhouse.” -Erin Meredith, @ourlivelytribe

6. Replace the flooring.

Flooring is another huge task that completely changes a space. Most RVs are carpeted, but wood-look floor can make the RV look much more modern. Tearing up carpet is a lot of work and requires removing tons of staples. But once this is complete, you may start laying flooring.

Real hardwood floors look beautiful, but they are often too heavy for RV weight limits. Laminate floors often look like wood at a fraction of the price and weight. Peel-and-stick and click-and-lock floors are the most popular options for RVs. Each has pros and cons, so be sure to do research and decide which is right for you before beginning a flooring swap.

“We converted a short bus into a fully off-grid cabin on wheels.” – Peter Kolsch @wandathewonderbus

These ideas are just some of many used to customize RVs. Options and possibilities are truly endless. Renovating an RV is a big decision and you should be prepared to do a lot of research before you begin. The entire process may be challenging, yet rewarding in making your RV feel more like a home. After all, enjoying your next campground or Harvest Host would be even more fun from a newly renovated RV.

“We purchased our trailer in October 2018 and renovated the entire inside to accommodate our family of 4 (including 10-month-old and 3 year old)! It is for our camping adventures as a family and we love it!” – Dana Bolster, @reimagined_rv

Have you completed an RV renovation? What was the process like? Feel free to share any tips, tricks or ideas you might have in the comments below!

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  1. Kathy B
    30th July, 2021

    If buying a older RV campers…light weight, more easily towable, with a plan to remodel the interior…on a very tight budget, what would you say is the main thing to look out for? I have been told the tires and rust, which I would assume could both be an issue. Tires can be replaced. Rust can be treated. Since this would be small and towable, no motor involved, don’t have to worry about that. (A friend bought an older small camper rv for less than $3k…remodeled for under $3k, replaced tires, painted and did most of the work herself. Lives in it full time now.

  2. Alicia Hursley
    25th June, 2021

    Thanks for sharing your tips. I have loved owning a fifth wheel, but I’ve definitely been struggling to really make it my own. I’m going to try to resurface the wood floor and replace the furniture. Hopefully that all helps.

  3. Nora mcconnell
    23rd May, 2021

    The paper on my walls in my RV are starting to come loose and dry out can I take that all off and then repaint or do I have to put some type of paper back up

    1. Sam Leash
      15th June, 2021

      I actually didn’t remove the wallpaper in my RV before painting, but I believe the walls are just plain behind it. If you are able to easily remove all of it, I don’t think you need to add more before painting. Alternatively, if you cut away the parts that are peeling, you could spackle to blend the parts without wallpaper, sand everything, then paint. I’ve heard this tip from other RVers before but never used it myself before, so it’s just a thought. Best of luck to you!

  4. Ashton
    11th May, 2021

    Hi, my husband and I purchased our first RV, a class A diesel pusher, that is slightly not “in style” but physically and mechanically sound. 🙂 We plan to renovate much of the inside!

    Curious how you would do shiplap and not break the integrity of the walls with nails or screws??

    Also curious about the rationale behind why people do not try to wallpaper over existing walls and instead sand & prime & paint (which all sounds like a big headache..)

    Any advice is helpful! Thank you!!

    1. Jo
      15th May, 2021

      I found that the wallpaper comes off of a year years. Have you used the peel and stick wallpaper

    2. Sam Leash
      15th June, 2021

      Hi Ashton, I also purchased an RV with an outdated interior (also a Class A) and renovated the entire interior. I believe some folks use a faux, peel-and-stick shiplap, while others have some interesting methods for adhering the boards, such as using more lightweight boards and such. I do also use plenty of screws and nails in the walls in my RV and haven’t had any issues with that.

      As far as sanding/painting instead of wallpaper-ing, I believe that painting may be less work in an RV. There are SO many nooks and crannies, corners, rounded areas, etc. Cutting and sizing the wallpaper for all of these spaces would, for me, be an absolute nightmare. I ended up painting my entire RV in white, including the cabinets, and it was time-consuming but turned out so nice. Best of luck to you, and happy renovating!

  5. Shawn
    8th May, 2021

    Hi, does anyone know where they sell RV window treatments? I have been looking all over for the side rails or curtains that will block the edge of roller shades.

    1. Sam Leash
      15th June, 2021

      Hi Shawn! I just used regular shades and curtains found at Target and Lowe’s for my RV. I don’t think they need to be RV-specific, so long as they are the correct size for each window. Hope this helps!

  6. Joell Haley-Fence
    7th May, 2021

    How was the counter top in the very last photo done? Is it a contact paper The? The wood look with the dark colored base cabinet contrasted by the light backslash looks great!

    1. Sam Leash
      15th June, 2021

      Hey there! I tried to reach out to the person who provided the photo, but the link to their social media account shows the account is inactive. If I had to guess, I’d say it looks like real butcher blog that was varnished with a sheen. However, there is wood contact paper if that is what you are looking for. Best of luck to you!

  7. Mary
    17th April, 2021

    Loved reading everything! Just bought a used RV. Interior is in mint condition but totally dated. I’m going to paint interior and do backsplash in kitchen. Also ripping out carpet and putting in faux wood laminate. I’m so excited about this entire project!!! Retirement is grand!!!

    1. Sam Leash
      4th May, 2021

      That sounds like so much fun!! Best of luck to you and your new project. 🙂

  8. Ashley
    13th April, 2021

    I love the couch swap out and I would really like to do this. Do you have any plans or anything you could share for tha?

    1. Sam Leash
      4th May, 2021

      It was a pretty easy swap! I disassembled the previous couch, since it wouldn’t fit through the door fully assembled. Then I sold that one and bought the futon I wanted to replace it with. I brought the new futon home disassembled and in a box and assembled it in the RV. It’s been going strong for almost five years now. 🙂

  9. Carrie
    27th March, 2021

    How do you know where you can screw items into the wall?

    1. Sam Leash
      4th May, 2021

      Most of the wiring and such in my RV is behind the cabinets/in the ceiling, so I’ve never had an issue screwing anything into the walls. However, I do also use a lot of command strips and Velcro, which helps to cut down on having to screw in any decor. Hope this helps!

  10. Barb
    22nd March, 2021

    How do i update to very outdated RV wallpaper throughout my class A coach?

    1. Sam Leash
      24th March, 2021

      I painted over mine, which I believe is easier than adding new wallpaper, although still a fairly lengthy project. Others have added shiplap or other decorative wall designs. Best of luck to you!

  11. Marcia
    13th March, 2021

    We have a total brown out going. I am thinking that the significant backsplash area would definately add interest with some covering. Did you use real tile? If so, isn’t that weight you don’t want? Do you need to grout those squares of tile patterns already set up? Peel and stick? Or is it best to go with the fake tik-tak style? Would the wall need to be prepped with anything?

    1. Joyce Lemasters
      22nd March, 2021

      Peel and stick from WalMart. Got it on clearance for less than $20 a pack and it took 2 packs to do one row around my little kitchen area. So, so worth the time and effort because it looks so good! Our camper is 20 years old and everything was original. I won’t do any painting but plan to get sofa pillows and curtains for it in the near future.

      1. Sam Leash
        24th March, 2021

        Such a great idea! So glad you enjoyed your update. 🙂

    2. Sam Leash
      24th March, 2021

      Hey Marcia! I did use real tile plus grout for my backsplash. When I removed several banks of cabinets, older furniture, and my glass shower door, I decreased the RV’s weight by several hundred pounds, so I wasn’t too worried about the weight of the tiles, the entire project was maybe 10-12 lbs added weight. However, peel-and-stick tile is an equally great option. I believe most people clean well ahead of time to make sure it adheres well. Best of luck to you!

  12. Leigh
    28th February, 2021

    Title’s a misnomer. Changing furniture, flooring, and painting are not “easy.”

    1. Sam Leash
      5th March, 2021

      Hey Leigh! Anything that took me less than a day or so I included in the easy list, as opposed to tasks that took 3-5+ days, which I also completed in my RV. Hope this helps!

  13. Ed
    6th October, 2020

    Any RV “reno” folks in the DFW area you could recommend? Looking to update our 2016 class C… TY

    Reply moderated
  14. Krista Kronner
    27th August, 2020

    I’m in the process of renovating a Minnie for full time living not just small trips. I would love to take out the bed and put a futon in place of it but its also where the storage is from outside. Can anyone point me in the right direction of someone near Tampa FL that can help with details like this. I have concept of what i am trying for but thinking I may need help putting it in place. I dont mind the work just need help figuring out how to do it and right. Need to be able to still sleep at least 4 as I have 2 kids. Painting is not an issue most is already done and went with paint I already had and was able to tint to the shade i wanted. Practical Storage is also an issue. Also trying to figure out cat play area as we have 2

    Reply moderated
  15. Jan Cook
    23rd August, 2020

    We have a mid-bunk slide out that measures 48″ across. The previous owners removed the bunks and we’re having trouble brainstorming what to do with it. We were thinking of making it into a guest room, but there is little room across and it slides in. Any ideas?

    1. Kim krier
      28th August, 2020

      When I thought about taking out the bunk in my 5th wheel I was gonna turn it into a closet and storage space or a pantry to store more dry goods. Just a thought.

    2. Sam Leash
      31st August, 2020

      Lots of folks replace unneeded bunks with all sorts of modifications. It all depends on what you need in your RV. Some people install a desk instead, while others add pet supplies, such as a cat area or dog crate(s). Best of luck to you!

  16. Carl whitehead
    28th July, 2020

    Need someone that knows what they are doing. Remove benches and table and replace with table and chairs

    1. Sam Leash
      11th August, 2020

      Yes, I would definitely say it’s important to know what you are doing before beginning a big renovation project. A table and chairs is a great upgrade in an RV!

  17. Judy SMITH
    13th June, 2020

    We need to have our dinette and couch reupholstered. Anyone know of a reputable person on central Florida?

    1. Sam Leash
      29th June, 2020

      I don’t personally know of anyone in the area, butt here are several online shops that will custom-make zippable covers for couch and dinette cushions!

      1. Kendra
        20th July, 2020

        We are hoping to purchase an RV tomorrow! Any chance you can send me the online resources for zippable cushions too? Thanks!

        1. Sam Leash
          11th August, 2020

          Hey Kendra! I found mine on Etsy. Just try searching “zippable RV dinette cushions,” as there are several great options. Best of luck to you!

      2. Kendra
        20th July, 2020

        One more thing! Do you know if the shiplap in your photos is peel and stick too, or is it that really thin wood? I’d love to do this in my RV!

        1. Sam Leash
          11th August, 2020

          The photo is peel-and-stick, but I have seen people use both real shiplap and peel-and-stick. Both turn out great!

  18. Terry
    17th May, 2020

    I’m in the process of renovating a travel trailer right now. I’ve wallpapered, painted and will soon do a back splash in the bathroom. It is definitely time consuming, but worth it. I’m using a product called beyond paint and am very happy with results so far.

    1. Sam Leash
      19th May, 2020

      That sounds lovely! Now is a great time to renovate. 🙂

      Reply moderated
    2. Deb
      17th June, 2020

      Can someone with little carpenter skills renovate an RV. I want to tackle it and have done tons of research, however I’m apprehensive.

      1. Sam Leash
        29th June, 2020

        I have few carpenter skills, and I have renovated two RVs. It’s totally doable! Just be sure to do plenty of research first.

  19. Shannon
    26th April, 2020

    If there is anyone in AZ that can renovate an RV. Has experience in doing so please reach out to me. Thank you

    1. Sam Leash
      19th May, 2020

      Hi Shannon! There is an excellent company in Phoenix called RV Fixer Upper. I recommend contacting her through their Facebook or Instagram page.

      1. Susanna lee
        22nd June, 2020

        Hi Sam! I’m looking to get RV but hasn’t been an easy step for me… perhaps lack of knowledge and in the midst of on going research.

        So many websites it can be overwhelming. Either case, would love your expert advice an what we insure you’d recommend.

        Get a used and renovate or purchase a renovated one?

        So many questions.. would love to connect. Thank you so much in advance!

        1. Sam Leash
          29th June, 2020

          Hey Susanna! Either of those options sound great. If you purchase a renovated RV, you may pay a higher price, but you will be saving yourself lots and lots of time and headache. However, if you purchase a used RV and renovate it, you will likely save some money, and you will have full control of how the remodel turns out. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  20. Todd
    18th November, 2019

    1990 airstream airliner 33ft
    Total roof and interior gut.
    3 months 2500 later
    Better than new but a vintage airstream

    1. Sam Leash
      6th December, 2019

      Wow, that sounds like an awesome renovation! Thanks for sharing, Todd! 🙂

  21. Bekah
    31st October, 2019

    I just bought a small vintage RV to renovate, it needs a complete overhaul with rebuilding of ceiling, roof, flooring, etc. I’m excited to do ALL of these things from your article in there though! I love the changes from before and afters.

    Reply moderated
    1. Sam Leash
      14th November, 2019

      Hey Bekah! Congrats on the new RV. Stoked to hear that you plan to renovate. Best wishes with your new project, hope it turns out great. 🙂

  22. Followgram
    26th July, 2019

    It s not easy to find cheap AND easy fifth wheel remodel projects out there, so we hope this post can help! I think we need to start though, by saying neither one of us have an eye for design. Decorating is not one of our strong suits. But with a little bit of effort, we were able to transform our Forest River Rockwood fifth wheel into our home for little effort, time, and money.

    Reply moderated
    1. Sam Leash
      23rd September, 2019

      Hey there! It’s great to hear that you were able to make your fifth wheel more homey. Hope this post helped give you some more ideas! 🙂