The Ultimate Guide to RV Renovation
Looking to rehab your RV? Or are you just wanting to spruce up your own rig? Harvest Hosts has tips, tricks, and thought processes to help you navigate this season of your RV life.
RV renovation can lead to a variety of thoughts and feelings. You could be sensing a feeling of relief because you’ve finally decided it’s time. It could be a sense of being overwhelmed by all of the options. And of course, it might be the start of your RVing journey.
Regardless of which person you identify with, this is your guide to you renovating your RV. Below we will cover different spaces inside your RV, some outside ideas, and of course plenty of renovation options for you to consider along the way.
Every Good Project Starts with a Dream
Surely, you’ve seen hundreds—if not thousands—of pictures that have inspired your desire to remodel your RV. Check this one out! There are some amazing RV rehabs out to be seen and perhaps it is your time. So what do you need to get started?
You need a good vision, the skills to accomplish the vision, and of course a plan of attack.
A Good Vision
Are you just looking to spruce up your RV? Perhaps, you have a minimalistic budget and are trying to find ways to get this done on the cheap. Maybe, this is going to be your new home on wheels and you need to make sure it is 100% good to go, so you’re planning on tearing it down to the studs. Or are you trying to catch a vision before you buy your rehab project.
A good vision goes beyond the look of your RV too. It takes a look at the way you’ll use your rig. Are you wanting to spend a lot of time boondocking? How many Harvest Hosts locations are you visiting in a year? Are you staying in one location, traveling from Key West to Alaska, or somewhere in between?
All of the ways you’ll use your RV should impact the renovation plan. Regardless of your reason for this endeavor, we’ve got you covered and will help you along the way.
Don’t over complicate the process
Some personalities tend to overcomplicate things. You can find yourself getting paralyzed just trying to think through the process and make decisions.
Choose a style that is adaptable and affordable
There are certain styles that give you tons of freedom in your new vagabond life. If you are currently in the southeast United States right now, you might find pieces in the desert southwest that you want to incorporate during your travels. By choosing a style that is open, you’ll have the chance to add pieces along the way.
Sometimes the easiest option is the best option
Painting cabinets is great—but labor intensive. Can you deal with the color of your cabinets if you change other things? Are there ways to decorate around or tweak to bring about your desired change? Afterall, you are doing this to get on the road. So why not skip the most complicated projects and just incorporate them?
Gather the Skills Necessary
Do you have the skills to accomplish the vision? Maybe not, or maybe not yet. Or maybe you don’t think you ever could. There is good news regardless of how you feel about your current skill set.
First, information is free during the age of the internet. There are ways to locate the right information and develop skills without costing a ton of money. Tutorial videos are fantastic and there are some amazing teachers online.
Second, you don’t need to do everything yourself. Leverage your relationships. Who do you know that is willing to offer good advice? Who are the experts in your life? Who would be willing to get some calluses on their hands? Who has the tools available? Or simply put, who loves you and is excited for the journey you are on?
Plan of Attack
You’ve surely seen videos or watched TV shows that make you believe timelines for all DIY projects are 30 minutes—including commercial breaks. That’s just not true. For every video you’ve seen like that, there are probably 10 renovation project videos that will tell you it took six to nine months longer than they had anticipated.
Create a timeline, but leave plenty of margin. Having a good plan with the materials, the skills, and the tools in one location will help you stay on target—but still leave margin for things to not go as planned.
Your Most Visual Impacts
There are certain parts of a remodel that make the biggest differences. By focusing on these things, you can get a big visual change. Let’s take a look.
One of the main ways most people like to remodel their living space—including their RVs—is by replacing the old, outdated flooring with some newer, more stylish, and more durable.
Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP) and Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT) are probably the most popular flooring options for DIY RV remodels. LVP and LVT are the same materials. The only difference is the style—LVP are long, narrow pieces of flooring like hardwood floors. LVT comes in standard tile variations.
Luxury Vinyl flooring has tons of color variations, styles, and install options. It is waterproof, durable, and isn’t impacted by humidity changes. It is the perfect option for a home that lives in varying climates.
When purchasing new flooring, you’ll want to focus on the “wear layer.” The wear layer is measured in mils—a thousandth of an inch. A common expectation is each mil is about a year of standard use—meaning 12 mil should equal 12 years in a house.
A few years ago everyone was moving away from laminate for the LVP. But laminate flooring has come a long way, and can be significantly cheaper than LVP. There are a lot of laminate floorings that have a 24 hour water guarantee, and a few that claim they are waterproof.
I like laminate for most people. It has a more authentic feel than other synthetic floorings. It is easy to install, and it’s good for most places in your home on wheels. However, it is more prone to humidity issues, and is susceptible to water damage, if standing water is ignored.
Nothing feels better on your feet than some soft, plush carpet—especially during those cold winter months. Having area rugs is more ideal than carpet installed, but this is a legitimate option for a portion of your coach. Carpet is not the easiest to install by a DIYer, but it can be done. With the right tools and planning, I am confident you can add this warm texture to your space.
This is an industrial strength flooring that you’ll often see in garages. However, this has become more popular in RVs for its durability. If you are someone who spends a lot of time outdoors—especially during hunting and fishing seasons—coin flooring could be a great option. This flooring is easy to install, requires virtually no maintenance, and is incredibly durable.
Walls and floors easily make up the most surface space. Therefore, changing the look of these two things alone creates the backdrop for everything else. The temptation is to overhaul every nook and cranny of your space, but just changing these will go a long, long way in your new vibe.
There are several options for new walls. Most people choose to paint everything they can, but there are other options too.
Shiplap is always nice
Adding shiplap can add a bit of warmth to your space. But that warmth comes at a significant increase in weight. It might be best to add shiplap as an accent in strategic locations.
Wall paneling is a lightweight option
Wall paneling comes in a variety of styles—not just those 1970s styles you’re thinking about. They come in sheets and can easily replace what is there. If you are needing to repair some water damage to your rig, this might be your best option moving forward. And while you have the wall open, consider electrical upgrades.
Painting is the most popular option
Painting your surfaces is the most affordable option, but there is more to it than you might think. You can check out this video for your reality check.
If you decide to paint, buy yourself a high quality paint and plan on doing two coats—regardless of what the can says. If you are going to paint and do the flooring, paint before the flooring—then touch up the nicks from installing the floor.
To get a more detailed explanation for your paint, you can request a renovation guide from the Harvest Hosts team.
Just like in houses, kitchens have become the focal point of the RV world style. Unique lighting, fun colored cabinets, and smart storage solutions are the rage. To spruce up your cabinets, you might do a couple simple things.
Paint your cabinets with a fresh coat of paint or try a fun color to get your RV some pop. Painting your cabinets takes a little extra work. Be sure to give a quick sanding and prime your cabinets before you paint.
For a more upscale finish, you can also upgrade your cabinets with soft-close hinges and gas struts to your cabinets. For under $100, you should be able to convert all of your cabinets to soft-close hinges. While that isn’t pocket change, it definitely adds a little something—and helps quiet the RV down from slamming doors.
Nothing spruces up the look of old cabinets like fresh paint and new—or refreshed—hardware. You can either buy new, or paint your hardware.
If you don’t like the style and just hate the color, you can easily buy a can of spray paint from the hardware store. Be sure to buy a finish that is forgiving—like a matte or satin—and it will help hide some of your inexperience in the process. Be sure to let them cure for at least 24 hours before reattaching.
To replace hardware, you can spend up to $10 a pull—about the cost of a can of spray paint. This will let you pick the color and style. But try to match up the holes in your cabinet to speed up the process.
The backsplash in RVs seems to be a nice focal point, and it help express your style. There are several great options here too.
One of the easiest and most affordable ways to add a pop to your kitchen is a vinyl wallpaper backsplash. You can purchase these in a lot of different places—including the most popular online retailer. There are plenty of options to fit your style, and they do a nice job.
You can use wood or wall paneling here too. If you choose a shiplap look, make sure you put a nice sealant overtop for cleaning purposes. For wall paneling, you’ll want to use something with a smooth surface to prevent the need to dig into those nooks while cleaning.
Typical backsplash tiles are the most obvious choice here. These are great, but be sure to use an adhesive to the wall that has some give. When traveling down the highway at 60+ miles per hour, you put your kitchen through an earthquake. Your adhesive will need to be up to the test.
Accessories and Textures
This is the most fun part of the entire process. Adding different textures and dimensions to your space is what sets your rig apart, and makes it uniquely you.
If you have a green thumb, you might want to add hanging plants. If you enjoy cooking and have a green thumb, create a hanging herb garden. You can read more about caring for plants on the road here.
Fabrics and soft textures
Utilizing blankets, throws, area rugs, and more you’ll create that hygge feeling that is popular with the snowy mountain regions.
Woods and industrial
If you haven’t used woods or industrial metals, you can add these into the space to create some dimension and open up the possibilities for your future decor.
Lifestyle & Function
If there is something you’ll learn about your style in an RV, it is how to become functional and stylistic at the same time.
With more people living and working on the road, work stations have become increasingly popular. If you have a bunk room, you can hijack that space for your own workstation or transform your dinette into a great environment to work from.
Another popular location is taking the garage space of a toy hauler and designating that for work. By doing this, you are protecting your work and living space from one another to help create a better life-work balance.
Living Room Upgrades
Replacing furniture, adding an area rug, and plenty of varying textures goes a long way in making your living room space feel comfy, cozy. Here are some great steps to make it all happen.
Staying organized makes life better—especially in tiny spaces. Things like electric toothbrushes, hair accessories, and toiletries tend to clutter up bathrooms. Too many kitchen appliances destroy storage space and countertop space. Keeping this all organized matters.
Having everything organized can relieve stress, increase your carrying ability, and can add some decor if organized well. Plus, it speeds up your setup and tear down times for travel days.
These things aren’t as fun to talk about, but maybe more important than the previous items. Making sure your rig is in good running order is what makes an RV day stress-free. Let’s take a look at some potential items.
If you are someone who likes to be off grid for extended periods of time, you might want to replace your toilet. A composting toilet allows for longer times away from dumping stations and could be the perfect upgrade for your lifestyle.
Spruce Up Your Shower
If you get sick of those tiny showers, you might consider removing the door and adding a shower curtain instead. This will create a little more elbow room and help the space feel a little larger. This doesn’t cost much of anything and can save you a lot of money.
If you have a gold trim piece—because your RV is from the mid 2000’s or older—then you might consider taking a can of spray paint to it. Be sure to have plenty of ventilation and you give it the paint time to cure.
Hot Water Heater
There are a ton of hot water heaters out now. From tankless electric and gas, to hybrid, to traditional. It might be the perfect time to upgrade your hot water heater.
Most water issues come from not dealing with humidity or leaks from your roof. Before taking off on your next grand adventure, be sure to take care of your roof. Here are a ton of helpful tips on identifying and caring for your roof system.
Water Filtration System
When you are moving your home from place to place, you’ll encounter a lot of different types and qualities of water. Having a water filtration system that is adaptable is important. There are plenty of options out there to buy that are ready to go. Or you might want to create your own.
Have Your Vision, Gather Your Skills, Create Your Plan, and Get Started Today
There are some pluses and minuses in the RV life, but chasing your ideal situation isn’t up for debate. Whether you head south and enjoy some sun in Florida, or try to catch some fresh powder on the slopes, you can bet you aren’t ever very far from some great Harvest Hosts locations. But visiting one of the 4,000+ Harvest Hosts locations across North America in your newly renovated RV is even better.
Now get your RV renovated, show off those new renovations at any of the Harvest Hosts locations—be sure to tag us—and utilize that Harvest Hosts Membership.
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