RV Life

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 However, RV interiors are often known for being rather outdated, leaving many wanting to customize their RVs.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!

Sam Leash

Sam is a seasoned traveler and RVer of 4+ years. She loves adventures of all kinds and spends as much time on the road as she can. When not exploring in her RV or writing about her travels, you can find her reading a good book, cooking a delicious meal, caring for her plants, or hiking with her dogs.

View Comments

  • Thank you so much for sharing these sweet ideas! We are kind of stumped on what to do next for our RV. We finished refinishing our cabinets and know that something is missing, but we just can't quite put our finger on it. We're going to take a closer look at the floor and see if we can't replace it now. Thanks again!

    • I seen on RVtrader a few months ago an older travel trailer that had been 100% gutted, and remodeled...and looked fantastic. It was posted 2 days before I saw it. The next day I went to show it to my wife....

      and it was already sold. :-(

    • This is highly debatable and depends on the buyer and the area in which you're selling. Some folks may only want to buy RVs in their original condition, but there is certainly large market for modified/customized/modernized RVs. Hope this helps!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

    • 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!

  • 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!!

    • 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!

  • 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.

    • 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!

  • 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!

    • 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!

  • 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!!!

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