RV remodel ideas and tips that will help make your RV renovation go smooth! Build your own affordable luxury RV using these easy DIY projects.
RVs are great for weekend camping trips, traveling across the country, or even full time living if you’re a little crazy like us.
We really wanted to try out RV life and tiny living, but brand new RVs, like large 5th wheels and motorhomes were so expensive! We wanted a RV that was customized to all of our specific needs, so we bought a used 2005 Damon Bayridge trailer to remodel.
After fulling gutting and renovating the camper, we lived in and loved our little RV for almost two years. Next, we ended up needing something newer and more roadworthy so we could travel the country!
We settled on upgrading to a 2017 Open Range Roamer, mid-bunk style 5th wheel. Before moving in (yup, you guessed it) we gutted it and did a full remodel!
These projects, and remodel ideas are what we learned along the way.
We’re excited to share our best RV remodel ideas and tips in this blog post! These ideas are the RV remodel projects that made the biggest impact.
1. Remove Window Valances & Blinds
Removing window valances and blinds is the quickest and easiest way to make a big impact in a RV.
I’m not quite sure why the RV industry is stuck in the 1980’s with their window valance patterns. It seems like every RV – new or old – has ugly window coverings. Even ultra expensive luxury trailers and motorhomes use ugly valances!
This RV project idea is an easy one! It can be accomplished in less than 5 minutes per window and only requires basic hand tools (or a power drill).
Each window valance in our RV was fastened to the wall using small Phillips head wood screws. We made quick work of removing them with our trusty DeWalt 20v drill (Amazon). Removing the blinds was equally easy. They were also fastened to the wall with small Phillips head wood screws. After removing the two screw holding up each side, they pulled right off the wall easily.
Install Shades & Curtains
After you’ve removed the old window coverings and blinds, you can either upgrade to something that looks better, or simply leave the window bare.
In our RV remodel, we chose to add full length floor to ceiling curtains with decorative curtain rods as well as woven natural bamboo shades. This gives the trailer a classy, residential look and adds texture to the walls. In some areas of the RV, we installed basic cheap blackout roller shades – in plain white – for more of a minimalist look.
To install the woven natural bamboo shades, we used small Phillips head wood screws to fasten the shade brackets directly to the window frame. We were able to install the brackets in almost the exact spot as the blinds used to be, so the old holes were hidden perfectly.
The curtain rod needed to be installed near the ceiling of the trailer to achieve the full floor to ceiling look. After finding the wood studs in the wall (using our favorite magnetic stud finder from Amazon) we installed the curtain rod brackets using the screws that were included with the curtain rod kit.
If you only do one RV renovation project, upgrading the window treatments is a good choice. This project RV will make the biggest impact with the least amount of work.
To take your RV remodel a little bit further, painting is the next idea. Paint can make a huge impact in any space, especially in an RV.
My Related Articles: Why We Chose To Live In An RV (AGAIN!)
2. Paint Your Interior Walls
Painting the interior walls of an RV is not as quick or easy as upgrading window trims, but paint is cheap and makes big impact. Paint can make all the difference between a dark, dated looking RV, and a light bright modern vibe.
Prep work is the key to painting like a pro. If you don’t prep the walls properly, paint will not adhere. Using the right paint is equally important.
The following painting information is a condensed version of the full step-by-step tutorial I wrote called ‘How To Paint RV Walls. In the tutorial, I go into even more detail with tons of pictures.
How To Paint RV Interior Walls
Being meticulous with prep work is important for painting a RV interior successfully. The interior walls in recreational vehicles are usually made from thin plywood panels and have a special vinyl coating. The special covering is similar to wall paper.
Plywood RV wall panels come in 48″ widths, which means there is a seam between panels every 4 feet. To hide the seam, RV manufacturers use vinyl tape. The walls are not really meant to be painted which makes the job more difficult.
Before you get started on the painting project, make sure to take everything that you can out of the trailer. Remove all the furniture, and demo any unwanted cabinetry, as well as window valances and blinds.
Recommended Painting Supplies:
Start by using TSP Heavy Duty Cleaner to wash all the walls (Amazon). TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) is a special degreaser that breaks down oil and grime. It’s designed specifically to clean surfaces in preparation for painting, and it works amazing!
Next, tape off all the doors and windows, as well as any other fixtures or cabinetry that you don’t want painted. Remove electrical cover plates, or cover them with tape. Painting the cabinetry the same color as the walls can simplify the process if you plan to paint the cabinets.
Tip: Sometimes it’s easier to temporarily remove light fixtures than it would be to tape them off.
Now that all the prep work is complete, it’s time for the fun part: painting! We recommend using an airless paint sprayer. Airless paint sprayers are fast, and make an even spray pattern. This saves a ton of time, and helps you make streak-free coats.
I was surprised at how cheap we were able to buy this Graco airless sprayer from the listing on Amazon. So far, it has worked extremely well for me, and we’ve used it for several projects. I recommend it to anyone with a painting project coming up.
We used Kilz Adhesion Bonding Primer (Amazon) which adheres to RV interior wall panels like super glue! RV wall panels are notoriously difficult to paint, so using the right primer is mandatory.
After one coat of primer, and two coats of Sherwin Williams Alabaster (SW 7008) white paint, the interior walls looked better than new! If you need help choosing the perfect color of white paint, checkout this article I wrote: How To Choose The Best White Paint Color – The Ultimate Guide.
Sample, Sample, Samplize!
To pick the perfect color, you really need to test out paint to see how it will look in your space.
After learning about Samplize a few years ago, I love recommending their peel-and-stick vinyl paint samples. I use them for every single one of my projects!
They make testing paint color samples SO EASY, and it saves you the hassle of painting test splotches on your walls. Check out their peel-and-stick vinyl paint sample in the image below.
We ended up choosing to paint the entire interior of our RV with the white paint color – Alabaster by Sherwin-Willaims. In the image below, you can see the freshly painted interior of our gutted trailer.
3. Install New Flooring
New flooring a necessity in most camper remodel projects. RV’s usually come with cheap linoleum and thin carpet. The low quality flooring doesn’t always look good, even when its brand new. It also tends to wears out quickly.
If you’re remodeling a trailer (especially if it’s at least a few years old), the floors are probably in need of some DIY elbow grease.
Installing flooring in an RV is similar to the installation process for floors in a residential home. If you’re a capable DIYer with basic tools, you can handle this project!
The most intimidating part of RV flooring is dealing with pop-outs. Don’t let this scare you off! It’s less difficult than it seems.
Begin by removing baseboard trim and in-floor heat registers, then remove all the old flooring. RV’s typically have an OSB plywood subfloor which is similar to what you find in houses.
We chose to use engineered stone core vinyl click-lock plank flooring from Urban Floor. This flooring is extremely durable, 100% waterproof, affordable and easy to install.
To install click-lock plank style flooring, start on one side of a room and work your way systematically across, making sure to stagger the seams as you go. When you get to a pop-out, end the flooring as if that was the edge of the room. This leaves a small seam between the edge of the flooring and the pop-out.
Next, install flooring in the pop-out separately, as if it was its own room. When you’ve finished, there will be a small gap between the flooring of the main room and the pop-out. You can make the seam less noticeable by covering it with a rug when the pop-out is extended.
4. Add New Furniture
Out with the old, in with the new! Let’s be honest: a lot of RV furniture is ugly, and uncomfortable. Adding new furniture is another great RV remodeling idea. Getting rid of the old couches, recliners, and table will give you a clean slate to work with from a design perspective.
You can completely revamp the design style of your RV with remodel projects like paint, flooring, window coverings, and decor. Why not complete the cohesive redesign with new furniture that perfectly matches the new style you’re going for.
Whether it’s: modern, bo-ho, rustic, coastal, or cabin style, you can to curate furniture to perfectly match the new style.
Don’t limit your search to RV specific furniture pieces. Depending on the size of the trailer you’re working with, you should be able to fit full size residential furniture, at least in a few places.
Our two favorite furniture pieces in the RV are: Article Sven leather sofa (our full review here) and Article Hira Natural Wool Pouf (our full review here). Can you tell we’re kind of obsessed with Article Furniture?
5. Build An Accent Wall
Accent walls add bold style to any room. We built a modern looking wood accent wall in the bedroom of our RV. Its natural wood colors add a pleasant contrast against the Sherwin-Williams Alabaster white walls.
The room is pretty small, so we designed the wood accent wall to double as a durable built in headboard wall for the bed!
We installed these vintage style industrial wall sconce light fixtures (Amazon) to add detail and functionality to the accent wall.
I wrote a full step-by-step tutorial detailing exactly How To Build A Modern Wood Accent Wall if you want to see the exact steps we used to build the accent wall.
6. Install New Light Fixtures
Installing new light fixtures in your RV is a great project to get started with, even if you aren’t committed to doing a full renovation.
Updating the light fixtures is a double bonus because not only will your trailer look better, but it can use less energy and improve your batteries performance!
Check out the YouTube video tutorial we made. It shows you exactly how to replace your RV light fixtures!
Get rid of your old bulky, ugly ceiling lights, and upgrade to these sleek, slim LED ceiling lights!
7. Hang Art or Decor on the walls
This RV renovation idea is simple, easy to accomplish, and makes such a big difference! Try hanging some simple art, a coat rack, or even shelves to beautify and personalize and customize your trailer.
Are you curious what is the best way to hang things in a RV? Check out our YouTube video that shows you exactly what to do!
8. Install Butcher Block Countertops In Your RV
Installing butcher block countertops is an easy, budget friendly remodel idea. It’s possible to install butcher block countertops in any RV, even if you don’t plan on doing a full gut job kitchen remodel.
The butcher block countertops were only a starting point for the kitchen remodel in our trailer; we went out with a completely new kitchen! We designed our RV to be full time living capable. To accomplish this, we opted to remove all the RV appliances and install new cabinetry as well as full-size residential appliances.
To learn more about butcher block countertops, check out the article I wrote – Everything You Need To Know About Butcher Block Countertops.
Appliances: 30″ Hammered Copper Farmhouse Sink (Home Depot) – Counter Depth French Door Refrigerator (Home Depot) – 18″ Dishwasher (Amazon) – 4 Burner Electric Induction Cooktop (Amazon) – Convection Oven / Microwave Combo (Home Depot)
These high quality appliances make kitchen highly functional and perfect for full time living. To learn more about the kitchen renovation in this trailer, including before and after pictures, check out the full RV Kitchen Makeover Reveal.
Our Related Articles: How To Install Soft Close Hinges In Any Cabinets
9. Add A Backsplash In the Kitchen
A kitchen remodel wouldn’t feel complete without a backsplash. This RV remodel idea is affordable, and adds some texture and complexity to the kitchen.
We installed a 1″ hex porcelain tile backsplash (Home Depot) using OMNIGrip premixed tile adhesive (Home Depot). OMNIGrip is similar to thinset mortar, but it’s better for use in RV’s because of its flexibility and strength. To finish off this the backsplash project, we grouted between the tiles with premixed grout in the color Alabaster (Home Depot) to perfectly matches the walls.
Tip: for an easier & cheaper way to DIY your RV kitchen backsplash, consider using these peel and stick subway tile backsplash sheets from Amazon.
10. Remodel The Bathroom
Next up on the list of RV remodel ideas: bathroom remodel! A cramped bathroom with a tiny shower will make any RV feel uninviting.
Although the bathroom in our RV is small, we were able to make some significant upgrades. First, we installed a much more functional shower complete with exposed copper piping and mixer valves. We swapped out the cheap plastic shower insert for a 40″ fiberglass shower base (Amazon) and installed wall panels to complete the walk-in shower.
To learn more about this RV bathroom remodel, checkout the full bathroom remodel blog post I wrote.
11. Install A Tankless Water Heater
After upgrading to the fancy walk-in shower, it quickly became apparent that 5 minutes worth of hot water for showers wasn’t going to cut it! No one likes running out of hot water in the shower, and waiting for a water heater to recover is a pain.
We got to work brainstorming ideas and researching. A larger tanked water heater could have worked, but space was a major concern. There was not anywhere to fit a larger tank.
That’s when we decided to install a RV tankless propane water heater (Amazon). The tankless water heater uses propane and 12v power so it can be used when boondocking, or when 120v shore power is not available.
12. Build A Coffee Bar
This RV remodel idea might not be for everyone, but all the coffee obsessed RVers will understand.
Check out the coffee bar we added to our RV kitchen! The coffee bar is installed where the pantry used to be. Between the upper and lower cabinets, it has roughly the same amount of storage as the old pantry, yet adds valuable counter space.
A Delonghi Eletta Cappuccino Machine (Amazon) is the star of the show! Yes, it’s expensive; but it saves us $5 every time we drink coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks!
I hope these RV remodel ideas have been helpful. Good luck on your RV renovation!
Do you plan on using any of these ideas? Do you have any other tips that we should know about? Please let us know in the comments below!