So, you’ve been to the big RV Super Shows. What did you think? I’m sure they all had gorgeous new RV paint schemes, new floor plans, cool tech options, state of the art lighting, amazing new fixtures, etc. But what did you think about the RVs’ interior design?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice the one thing all RVs have in common. All of the interior colors are brown, tan and bland. In other words, they are blah, blah and more blah, right? In addition, they have awful outdated tapestry fabric window treatments and dark cabinets. I mean, who THINKS this is a good idea for such small space living?
However, not taking sides but really, do you think manufacturers will be able to please every decorating preference?
Please don’t misunderstand me; some are awesomely beautiful and our manufacturer (Heartland RVs) did an exceptionally beautiful job in the Landmark 365’s, however, it’s just NOT US.
Here are some ‘before pics’.
They are SO BROWN, DARK and look like Rockefeller’s personal library, don’t you think?
RV Manufacturer’s Design Departments will want to take some notes.
Though I’m not a highly educated ‘Interior Designer’, I surely know that browns and tans get boring quickly and well, it’s just isn’t typically a chosen color. Being an artist,craftsman and am gifted with an eye for detail and design, I do know how the color wheel works, how to incorporate fabric, hardware, flooring and other elements into the pretty or handsome package. Also, living full-time in an RV, I know what works and doesn’t work for wear and tear.
Oh, and just because most of us don’t have a piece of paper with letters at the ends of our names, it doesn’t preclude any of us coming to the conclusion that RV interior colors…well…just…plain…SUCK! (sorry RV manufacturers, nothing personal, just being truthful *wink*).
So, with much ado, here’s our result!
WOW, what a difference, huh?
So allow me to give you some insight of how we accomplished our design goals.
Pinterest, Planning and Palette…
When we bought our brand new 5th wheel in December of 2016, it didn’t take me long to start perusing the Pinterest boards to get ideas. However, all I was seeing is the ‘white trend’; cabinetry, walls, mouldings, furniture, etc. Even the bedding and throw pillows are white. White, white, white…everywhere.
DUDE! Do these people LIVE full-time in these? Do they not camp in the dusty desert or muddy midwest? Do they not have pets or children? Do they not cook like a Swedish Chef of red sauce splatters, etc.?
While yes, hands down, they were beautiful. However, in a practicality sense, ‘oh hell no!’.
So, we went COM-PLETELY the other end of the spectrum. We searched for splashes of color…lots and lots of color and I’m not talking pastels. Since we couldn’t find what we were looking for on the Pinterest boards, we just fell of the deep end and started to create our own. I had the vision of a ‘Key West Cottage’ for our interior.
Funny, it all started with a simple 99 cent dish I picked up at WalMart. I loved the pattern and the colors were bold, bright and cheery. They spoke to me. The colors danced before my eyes doing the Cha Cha and Tango.
Those silly plates picked my palette for me. So, four plates and four bowls danced their way right into my shopping bag and off I went.
When I got home, I excitedly unpacked those plates and bowls and held them up in front of Dan (my soon-to-be Grunt Man) not saying a word. He asked, “what am I looking at?” I responded, “our new RV interior”. Like any typical man-guy, he rolled his eyes and trotted outside muttering “whatever dear”. I took that as my cue that he was okay with it (not like I ever have to ‘ask permission’).
Excitedly, a couple days later, I started our PROJECT FOLDER to hold all of our paint chips, fabric swatches, floor sample, catalog photos, order sheets, and receipts. It was important to have all of our stuff together in one place because in an RV, things tend to get lost. (They really do!!) Additionally, I figured when I went shopping, I would look like a professional interior designer guru Joanna Gaines of RVs and knew what the heck I was doing. OY!
Okay, so let’s get on with the PLANNING
and the GRUNT WORK…
As with any interior modification, whether its in a S&B or an RV, we had to do some prep work and this involved a crap-ton of caulk…four tubes, in fact! Dan, my Grunt Man (he loves me for that!), took an entire day caulking every cranny, crevice and crack (except his own!). If this doesn’t spell out the reason why RV manufacturers use dark woods for their cabinets and mouldings, well, I don’t know what does. Those dark accents hide gaps and shadows from gaps…and believe me when I tell you, there’s a crap-ton (there’s that word again!).
This is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of painting RV interior walls is you will NEED a paint primer. Learning from Landmark Adventures
, David and Cheryl, we used the same primer they used.
The original ceiling was the same beige wallpaper as what was on the walls so we decided to paint the ceilings, including the wood-grain light fixture thingies (whatever they’re called), that ‘OMG racetrack’ and the ceilings in each of the slides. To get the optimum color we wanted and a cleaner appearance, we took one of the ceiling louvered vent covers with us to color match so they blended right into the ceiling color. Wasn’t that genius?!
Painting the ceiling immediately brightened up the room without even putting any color on the walls yet. We were off to a wonderful start, except Dan had a stiff neck and shoulders for a couple days from looking up. He surely earned his ration of grog and hot tub evenings at the RV Resort we were at.
WOW! Look, no more brown wood accents on the ceiling! It now looks like a custom craftsman cottage ceiling. Isn’t it AMAZING! (Psssst, don’t cheat by looking at those paint colors just yet!)
Total Cost: $100 for all paint and primer and painting supplies.
We bought our textile fabrics for our window cornice boards (window valances) BEFORE selecting our wall colors and purchased our paint. Why, you ask?
“It’s easier to match paint color to fabric
than it is to match fabric to paint color.”
So, I dragged my poor Grunt Man to one of his least favorite stores; Joann Fabrics. Usually, he sits on the man-bench outside the store catching up on hockey scores on his phone while I shop for what seemingly is DAYS for him (he exaggerates, doesn’t he?) However, this time, I wanted him to be a part of this process because *gasp* well…he lives in our home on wheels too. Oh, and I told him if he was good, I’d treat him to ice cream later. It was probably the ONLY time he was receptive to even accompanying me in a fabric store.
See, Dan has decorating sense about the size of a pencil eraser. Now, I’m not dissing him; just showing interior design is not his strong suit or forte. But, keep reading because Grunt Man’s work comes later.
Anyway, after about an hour of perusing different fabrics, we finally agreed on three different fabrics for our cornice boards based on the ‘3 method’; one bold pattern, one single-color pin stripe and one single-color textured. We wanted everything in our coach to be cheery, fun, eye-catching, interesting and un-boring, if that’s even a word. By choosing three different fabrics helped us achieve my design objective.
I planned for extra; just in case something went terribly wrong; overstretching, ripping, hole poking, printing flaws, or maybe a pair of snazzy pajama pants for my Grunt Man. But seriously, my intention was to take some of the fabric into our sleeping quarters later….for window treatments, that is!
When we brought the fabric home, before stowing it, I snipped off a small squares from each to carry in my wallet and another set for our project folder to match paint colors and accessorize.
Getting the cart ahead of the horse here in this post, even though I’m talking about recovering our cornice boards ‘now’, please know that we didn’t actually cover them until AFTER Grunt Man finished painting the walls.
We had seven cornice boards to recover…TO-GETHER. It was like a marital retreat assignment. It was a two person job; especially for the longer cornices. While one of us would stretch and hold the fabric, the other would staple. By the grace of God and a miracle, there were no horrible name-calling, stapled fingers, blood spatter and we are still married! (Yay US!)
Total Cost: $120 (fabric) We already had scissors, measuring tape, staple gun and other tools. Part of this cost will be distributed also in the bedroom and bathroom.
Interior Wall Paint…
With fabric swatches in hand, I trekked off to Lowe’s and The Home Depot to collect paint chips. I just grabbed a huge stack of lime greens, sunny yellows, aquas, turquoises, melon oranges, poppy reds, and whites. I think I collected about the thickness of my King James Bible. I know those stores hate that but whatever…
Once I got back to our 350 square foot tiny house on wheels, I laid them all out on the galley counter and turned on the lights to get a better look. All those paint colors looked quite different than under the store lighting. Soon, my stack dwindled to about the thickness of my cell phone. I made paper airplanes out of the others for our nomad cats. You should have seen it! Paint chips paper airplanes everywhere!
Anyway, I stuck the paint chips that I kept everywhere on the walls in our galley and living room/den area. I wedged them under edges, behind mouldings and where the slides met the bulkheads. Needless to say, it looked like a toddler had a hay day all over the inside of our coach. Leaving them up for a week, I took notes of how they looked throughout the day in the sun, on cloudy days, when one set of lights on and when all the lights were on. The amazing thing about these two colors is they changed hues under different times of the day and daylight or indoor lighting. They were perfect!
And here’s our end results..
Total Cost: $80 Wall paint – Frolic Top Coat, Cooled Blue Top Coat (painting supplies already calculated and bought in preceding section) Part of this cost will be distributed also in the bedroom and bathroom.
Next, we chose not to replace our dining chairs because there was nothing wrong with them other than the ugly-to-me tapestry pattern. Instead, we purchased two IKEA HENRIKSDAL Chair Covers in Orrsta Light Gray. It was massive savings; each cover costing only $20 each! Dan just tacked them in place on the underside of the chairs to keep them from shifting. He just LOVES that staple gun!
They look awesome, don’t they?
Lastly, I needed to find covers for our existing two throw pillows that essentially became seat cushions for our two desk chairs (I’ll talk about those later in the furniture section below)
. We found these awesome teal and white chevron pillow covers in the home decorating department of Hobby Lobby
. They coordinated perfectly and added a splash of extra bold color and design.
To finish off with the big textiles, I bought a simple 5’ x 7’ rag rug on Amazon that had tropical blues and greens to coordinate with the wall colors. I chose a rag rug because it’s easy to stow when we pack up, easy to shake out and we can flip it over to hide a stain before we can get to a washer. Oh, and for $60, it’s not a ton of money if I want to change it.
Total Cost: $120 (pillow covers, chair covers and rag rug).
THIS is our favorite part of our makeover!!
Our original backsplash behind our cooktop in the galley was the same material and blah-blah color as the Corian countertops. Since the backsplash is the first thing we or guests see when entering our interior, we wanted it to be welcoming and inviting.
At The Home Depot, we found Fasade Decorative Thermoplastic Panels
that resembled the old textured metal ceiling tiles builders used in the early 1900’s. The design we chose came in a brushed antique nickel. There were other designs but since I was vying for a ‘cottage’ look, so the tile pattern was perfect.
We purchased three panels and a roll of the double-sided tape made precisely for this product by the same manufacturer. Grunt Man measured, cut and dry fit to ensure proper alignment.
We (yes, WE) then primed the surface with inexpensive spray primer. After drying completely, we roll-painted with Glidden ‘Orange Slice’. It took two coats; allowing time between coats to dry thoroughly. We then allowed the paint to thoroughly dry 24 hours.
The next day, we distressed them and sprayed them with a light coat of polyurethane. We allowed them to dry thoroughly before assembling.
On day three, he installed the panels as he had previously dry fitted.
Ready to see the end result??
TA DAAAAAAAAA!!!! As you will notice, you can’t see any seams!
We think it’s absolutely AMAZING and get tons of compliments on it. That bold splash of orangey-peach color behind all the wood and stainless appliances was just the ticket.
Total Cost: $100 (3 panels, adhesive, paint, primer)
The flooring was the last of our remodel project. We chose ALLURE GRIPSTRIP RESILIENT PLANK FLOORING “White Maple” #97011 for our flooring to replace the existing carpet and linoleum. Because it’s not a stock item in The Home Depot, we had to order our specified quantity. It took approximately three weeks for us to take delivery, so we had to plan accordingly per our planned stay.
While waiting for the flooring to come in, Grunt Man Dan removed the carpet and all staples, lumps and bumps that may cause the flooring to bubble or leave a bump. He then swept it thoroughly. However, he did not remove the pre-existing linoleum in the kitchen area. It would have been a lot of unnecessary work. The underlayment took care of the slight transition from where the linoleum and the carpet once met perfectly.
Two days later, my Grunt Man started the actual installment by laying the underlayment first. Then he laid the Allure GripStick planks…
The planks were easy to cut with a simple sharp razor knife and metal flat ruler and easy to install. he rolled all of the seams firmly and thoroughly to ensure proper adhesion. Oh and knee pads are a must! Buy them…or lots of Advil and earplugs (for you).
An important side note…
This is a floating floor which means, there is no adhesion to the subfloor. This enables the floor to contract or expand with temperature variances. As well, it will subtly flex with the the existing subfloor as the coach moves down the road.
We couldn’t be happier with our new floor. It helps lighten the room by radiating the light from the ceiling. Oh and even though it’s light in color, it doesn’t show dirt or hair because it resembles white-washed planking.
Helpful Hint: We bought three small carpets that we slide under the slide when pulling them in. This insures that the slide wheels won’t mar, dent or scratch the new flooring. It works.
Note: This particular product was recommended by other RVers we’ve networked with who had great success from ease of installation to wear and tear in their RVs. Just an FYI, the box will say something like ‘not recommended for RVs’. We used it anyways based on its durability and ease of installation. Our results may differ from others based on installation process, how we use our coach and care of the product. If you are storing or using your RV or camper in extreme temperatures (below 32 degrees), we highly recommend you do extensive research before purchase and/or installation of any flooring.
Total Cost: $575 (underlayment and Allure GripStick Plank Flooring)
Now came some of the real fun stuff!
The main objective to our remodel, other than to add color and definition, was to remove the sofa and create a workspace for me in the rear of our coach. After selling our sofa, we bought the IKEA BJURSTA Extendable Table
(stained clear lacquered ash veneer). With both leaf inserts, it extends almost the entire width of the back of our RV without interfering with the slide operation.
We chose the table over a desk so we can pull it out and seat 4-6 peeps for meals, games or puzzles or leave it tucked in the back to allow me ample room to spread my work out AND fit both little cat beds for our resident mousers. And yes, they nap in the while I work.
Oh and we secured the table to the back wall with hooks/straps so it doesn’t end up in the bathroom when we stop.
We chose two white IKEA SVENBERTIL Chairs. After a few days of him-hawing at the plain white color, we disassembled them and my Grunt Man spray painted the seat portion with Krylon Outdoor Decor Satin Finish ‘Poppy’ color. After drying, he reassembled them.
Finally, we already had a sweet looking cabinet full of storage baskets that we purchased from Hobby Lobby ($169) prior to any thought of remodel but we’ll include that in the cost of our remodel. We spray painted with three coats of RUST-OLEUM American Accents Satin
Total Cost: $450 (table, chairs, cabinet with baskets, spray paint)
While at IKEA, we also bought two tabletop faux seagrass plants and mini galvanized bucket planters to top our new desk-table.
I picked up a couple cheap photo frames at Hobby Lobby and painted them to compliment our colors and textile designs. I also picked up a few galvanized aluminum small planters with faux grass and a desk file organizer for the desk.
I purchased three small watercolor paintings from a another RV artist while we were in Pahrump, NV. They were perfect for our space. I painted the frames to coordinate with the colors in the paintings.
There’s a variety of machine-routered wood plank ‘coastal theme’ signs throughout our coach that we picked up at the Amish flea market in Shipshewana, Indiana. All were the right colors except for one. I hand-painted it to coordinate with our color palette.
I also picked up a few other pieces that made great accents to complete our tropical Key West theme.
Finally, our cabinetry hardware! We are so proud of these because it took several weeks to finally decide on which we liked. We replaced all our generic polished-nickel knobs with unique pieces from Hobby Lobby
. However, we did not apply the same exact knobs to every cabinet door in our galley and den space.
Over the desk cabinets, we wanted a little fun whimsical addition and installed four Red Crab Pewter Knobs.
Aren’t they just the cutest?
Over the recliners and on the television entertainment center cabinet doors, we opted for Light Yellow Small Colored Ceramic Knobs
which happen to be the same exact ‘Frolic’ green we used on the opposing walls. Since we couldn’t find matching drawer pulls (3), Dan spray-primed the ones we had and hand-painted them the ‘Frolic’ green wall paint and overcoated them with spray polyurethane. They matched perfectly!
For our galley/kitchen, we fell in love with these Hand Painted Pastel Flower Ceramic Knobs!
Again, we couldn’t find matching drawer pulls (5) so Dan spray painted them white. After the paint dried, I hand decorated them to match the knobs with Sharpie markers.
Total Cost: $400 (cabinet knobs, wood plank signs, artwork, frames, plants and planters, desk organizer, spray paint, Sharpies)
Interior Makeover Project complete!!
WHEW!! So, did you get all of that?
Let’s just get this all out now…this WAS NOT EASY, especially for my Grunt Man as he completed all the hard labor and I owe the man a bottle of Kentucky’s finest bourbon next time we are in the Bluegrass State.
This project required a vast amount of research, planning, ordering, labor, sore arms, hands and knees and countless trips to buy and return merchandise not to mention, keeping up with grog rations as his rewards at the end of the hard days. The manual labor part of this remodel, start to finish, took us…er…my Grunt Man, two months.
We chose to do the complete remodel in Pahrump, Nevada because of moderate climate and temperature with zero humidity. There was also The Home Depot a few miles away.
If you enjoyed this blog and would like to learn more…
Now for the legal garb because we ‘have to’…
No part of this interior makeover was donated nor were we compensated in any way by any of the product manufacturers I linked to or any retail outlets. Every bit of this interior upgrade came out of our pockets so those links used are simply to give you an idea of what we used and how.
Every part of this interior makeover is/was what worked for US in OUR RV based on our research, design strategy, capabilities, and our personal level of product wear and tear. Products, labor, installations, applications and results may differ from yours if you choose to use any of the products we showcased or the installation methods we used. We will not be held liable for any miscalculations, representations, product or installer ineptness and applications, including RVs. In other words, any and all of your purchases and installations are your own ‘buyer beware’.