RV Remodel Ideas & Tips | 9 Projects That Will Transform Your RV

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.

9 RV remodel project ideas

RVs are great for weekend camping trips, traveling across the country, or even full time living if you’re a little crazy like us. Brand new luxury RVs, especially large 5th wheels and motorhomes are extremely expensive! We wanted a RV that was customized to all of our specific needs, so we decided to buy a used 2005 Damon Bayridge trailer and do an RV Remodel.

Don’t Renovate An RV Before Doing These 9 Things First!

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We’re excited to share our best RV remodel ideas and tips in this blog post! These 9 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!

a RV window with valance and blinds

Before removing the RV window valance and blinds

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!)

A RV window with blackout roller shades and floor to ceiling curtains

RV window after installing new curtains

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.

an RV before the interior walls are painted

Before painting the RV interior walls

Recommended Painting Supplies:

use TSP cleaner to prep RV walls for paint kilz adhesion bonding primer for painting rv wallsairless paint sprayer perfect for painting an RV

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.

interior walls of an RV after painting

After painting the RV interior walls

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.

cheap RV flooring before the remodel

Before The Remodel: Ugly Cheap Floors!

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.

rv with new click-lock plank flooring

Don’t Renovate An RV Before Doing These 9 Things First!

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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.

Related: What’s Your Design Style? Take The Quiz!

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?

full size leather couch and pouf ottoman in an RV

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.

rv bedroom built in headboard wood accent wall

6. 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.

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

RV kitchen after a full remodel with residential appliances

7. 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.

rv kitchen backsplash

rv kitchen farmhouse sink with butcher block countertops

8. 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.

Next, we installed a new 18″ wide vanity (Amazon) with a cute copper vessel sink (Home Depot) to give the bathroom a finished look.

To learn more about this RV bathroom remodel, checkout the full bathroom remodel blog post I wrote.

rv bathroom remodel with walk-in shower

9. 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.

RV tankless propane water heater for unlimited hot water

Tankless Water Heater For Unlimited Hot Water

Bonus Idea: 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!

RV coffee bar ideas

I hope these RV remodel ideas have been helpful.  Good luck on your RV renovation!

Don’t Renovate An RV Before Doing These 9 Things First!

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Enter your name & email to get your FREE RV renovation checklist instantly!

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UP NEXT: Checkout all of our RV related posts here!

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!

RV Remodeling Ideas & Photos

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10 comments

Cynthia June 26, 2019 - 5:53 am

You do amazing! I love all of your decorating ideas and how you have added your own style to the RV. Thanks for allowing me to follow along and have access to your DIYs.

Reply
Ashley June 27, 2019 - 1:23 pm

Awe thank you Cynthia, that is so kind of you to say! I’m so happy to have you following along!

Reply
Christy July 5, 2019 - 5:47 am

Beautiful renovation! Did you have to be careful about weight? I know most RVs have to stay within a certain weight range. Did you use products meant for an RV or home grade? Thank for your time,

Reply
Ashley July 11, 2019 - 12:31 pm

Thanks so much! All of the products we used were residential grade. We removed a lot more cabinetry and framing during the remodel than we added back in. So even though the residential cabinetry and appliances weigh more in general, overall weight was not a big concern for us.

Reply
Marlee August 28, 2019 - 8:37 pm

Hi Ashley, I’m a 23 year old looking to reno a trailer with my partner to live in full time. Pinterest and Instagram lead me here because I love what you’ve done with your space. Can I ask what type of trailer you remodelled? and approximately how much money and time did you spent on renos? We can’t decide whether to gut a trailer and rebuild like you have or whether it’s easier/cheaper to paint cabniets, walls and redo floors in the layout that we buy it.
Thanks!

Reply
Ashley September 25, 2019 - 11:59 am

That is so exciting, Marlee, we love how our RV turned out! We remodeled a 2005 Daymon Bayridge park model trailer. The trailer cost $13,000 and the renovation (materials + labor) cost more than the purchase price, thus over doubling the total project cost. It was an extremely labor intensive process, but very rewarding. We loved being able to design the layout to perfectly suit our needs. Good luck with your project!

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Karla September 4, 2019 - 2:08 pm

Beautiful job. I love the overall makeover. You have given me some great ideas for when I retire. I do have a question though. Do you travel with your RV or is it pretty much sedintary? Just wondering how all the items ride going down the road as nothing is tacked down anymore.

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Ashley September 24, 2019 - 1:08 pm

Thanks so much Karla! We are stationary full time, so that was not a concern for us. However if we did move around more I would most likely just come up with a system to store loose items in bins during travel.

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Scott Johnson September 9, 2019 - 1:10 pm

Great blog site – I have a quick question that I hope you won’t mind answering. I just got our 2013 Kodiak travel trailer back from having the roof replaced (western US sun-destruction). The manufacturer didn’t install the front cap correctly at point of manufacture, so long story short, it is correct now, but the interior wall-panel behind our bedroom cabinets is screwy. I’m thinking the same way your write-up describes, why bother putting back the cheap garbage (?).

Quick question – what’s the process & best-approach for hanging overhead cabinets on the RV walls? The Kodiak is a fiberglass-over-aluminum frame type. Recommendations for sourcing the new cabinets? I noticed in your blog, what looks like vertical bedroom walls (the headboard), we have the “sloped-away” type – probably a 20 degree-off-vertical angle that I will have to contend with.

lastly, would love to link to some of your articles when my travel blog is done (early stages).

Reply
Ashley September 25, 2019 - 12:01 pm

Thanks Scott! One option would be to purchase pre-assembled residential cabinets from Lowes or Home Depot. You can use a cabinet designed to go above a microwave or refrigerator if the cabinets need to be shorter. The cabinets can be modified to work with your angled wall by cutting the back to match the 20 degree angle. The cabinets can be mounted directly to the studs in the wall using self-tapping screws.

New cabinets and a wood accent wall in your RV bedroom could look great, good luck with your project! And please share away – all I ask is that you provide proper credit with a link back to my original content. Thanks for asking!

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