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It all started when I was perusing Craigslist one day. Every so often an R.V. popped up and would catch my eye. I’d mindlessly click on it and take a gander at the layout. I really had no intention of getting an R.V. but somehow I kept finding myself clicking on the dang links! Without even knowing it, I had formed strong opinions on what layouts I liked. Then one day, I found myself actively looking for an R.V. with all the features I wanted. Naturally, the R.V.s that hosted my entire “want list” were ridiculously expensive. What’s a DIY gal to do?! Haha, what a silly question. I started looking for the perfect fixer upper. It needed to have a front master, and a bunkhouse in the back. The other tricky detail, was it needed to be a “Lite” R.V. to accommodate my truck’s towing capacity.
Then LATE one fateful evening I came across THE R.V. I had been searching for. I set up an appointment to look at it first thing in the morning… by that afternoon this is what my front yard looked like…
Bringing Her (The R.V.) Home
We had struck a deal and brought this “beauty” home with us. We got a decent deal on it, but it WAS DISGUSTING!!! I knew I had my work cut out for me, so I partnered up with a great team over at DAP to help me bring this R.V. new life!
Without any further ado, let me show you what I was working with. It may not look awful in the images… but look at the sofa… now imagine how that might smell. Yeah, it was BAD! Everything reeked. The “gentlemen” who sold us the R.V. must have set off a scent bomb before he showed it to us, because we honestly couldn’t smell anything that would set off red flags. By the next afternoon we could smell the inside of the camper when outside of it! It was then and there that I decided to take EVERYTHING out. EVERYTHING.
I thought I would work with the original dinette set… that quickly changed when my sense of smell started calling the shots. All of the carpet that was under it needed to come out, and honestly I just got really carried away. I could have probably made it work, but I knew I could make something that I liked even more. So out it came. Same applied to the couch. When originally looking I had full intention of reupholstering and going from there. Again, I got super aggressive and decided I would figure something else out, honestly the thought of folding chairs was more inviting than the original couch.
It all came out! Honestly, just having it emptied out improved my outlook on life that day. ( I was having some serious second guesses as the smell started gaining strength.)
Prepping for Paint
Once all the furniture was out, I started to get everything prepped for paint.PREPPING FOR PAINT IS ALWAYS SUPER TIME CONSUMING, BUT IT IS ESSENTIAL!!! Take heart, I know it is not really visually rewarding, but it’s important!!!
The first step in this case would be filling all the holes I had just uncovered when I removed everything! So I grabbed my handy Plastic Wood by DAP. It works great in this application and dries hard like a plastic, and it sandable and paintable.
Once all the holes are filled, allow the Plastic Wood to dry. At this point I would suggest sanding all your surfaces at the same time! When prepping for primer on a shiny surface you need to scuff up all the surfaces even if the primer claims you don’t need to. I have learned the hard way, and I have never regretted spending a little bit of extra time prepping. (Keep reading to hear about my experience.) Once all the surfaces were sanded I then washed all the surfaces thoroughly. This CAN be done with T.S.P. or just soapy water, regardless of the mixture make sure you rinse the surface really well!
After the surfaces were prepped for paint I taped off everything! Again, this is another situation where you will never regret putting in the little bit of extra time and money. I have always been a huge fan of FrogTape (Full Disclaimer: They are one of my great sponsor I choose to work with!) Their tape is a sure fire way to get a great seal and perfect lines. I taped off everything that I didn’t want painted.
I don’t feel like I can emphasize this ENOUGH, when in doubt prep some more. When I first started priming it didn’t seem to be bonding properly. Once it dried I tested it, it was not adhering the way primer typically does. (I have used plenty of different primers and still swear by Zinnser.) I was freaking out and tried painting it to see if it made a difference. It just peeled off, it was the weirdest thing ever! I tried a couple different things before I committed to a technique. The walls themselves seemed to do just fine, it was the panelling on the cabinets (not the cabinet doors themselves) that did not like the paint. Typically when priming I only have to scuff of the surface I am prepping for paint. Believe me, I have painted a ton of laminate surfaces in the past with ZERO problems. So as a precaution I sanded it past the top layer on the paneling. It took me several passes of sanding (with a sander) to get it to properly adhere.
I had done my research and MANY folks who have completed R.V. makeovers had ZERO problems having the primer adhere. I honestly believe that my camper is an anomaly. During the trial and error phase I did have one thought… after I had prepped the walls I did set off a series of “bug bombs”. I kept finding bugs and they were freaking me out! While 1 maybe 2 bug bombs would have been sufficient, I figured 9 would be best… yeah I don’t like creepy things. My only thought is that maybe with the massive amount of chemicals it emits MAYBE it coated the the walls, and the paneling that is already a tricky thing to paint didn’t handle it well. That is the ONLY think I can hypothesize, I have done my research and I can’t find one instance of this happening. I honestly was torn to share this experience, I don’t want my bad experience to scare you away from doing this project, (like I said I have researched this and have seen hundreds of camper remodels completed without a hitch! However I feel it is something to consider before moving forward. Try out a test spot to ensure you won’t be back tracking.
Once all the prep work was FINALLY done for priming, things started looking different REALLY FAST! When priming I used Zinnser Oil-Based primer for tough projects. (I did try Zinnser water-based primer as well in the testing phase and both responded the same. Both are great products, and I continue to use them.) I have read of people using sprayers in their R.V. makeovers and it probably would have been faster, but I think I was so anxious to start painting that I just grabbed a roller and went to town. I don’t regret this. You can either spend a more time prepping to spray or more time rolling. I opted for rolling this time around. It’s all a matter of preference.
I will say this my outlook on life dramatically changed when I walked into the R.V. and it looked light and bright and the odor was starting to dissipate. Hallelujah!
As I was finishing up the priming portion of the project I decided prime and paint the ceiling while I had the supplies out. The smell was still fairly strong and I decided that EVERY surface needed to be coated, and that included the ceiling. I suggest using “Yellow Frogtape” if you are needing to tape up freshly painted projects. It is intended to grip the surface but gentle enough that it will not rip a new coat of paint.
After everything was prepped I was ready to paint! After playing around with color schemes for a few days I settled on Sherwin Williams “Repose Gray” lightened 25%.
I could not be more HAPPY with the color! ” Repose Gray” is definitely a designer favorite. It is a great “Greige” that is neutral and seems to look great with all colors. I chose to lighten it because the R.V. is such a small space and I didn’t want it looking too much like a cave .
For the cabinets I opted for white upper cabinets and dark lower cabinets. For the uppers I used Behr “Ultra Pure White” in a semi-gloss. I also used this for all the trim in the R.V. as well. For the lower cabinets I used “Peppercorn”by Sherwin Willliams. (I have to give a shout-out to my friend Holly that got me hooked on this color! I can see this being a reoccurring trend from now on!) If you are looking for more in-depth details in regards to painting cabinets I have a full tutorial available here.
Then of course the MOST rewarding part of paint, pulling back that FrogTape to reveal perfect crisp lines! Ahhh.
The last thing in the R.V. that I needed to paint was some of the trim work. Most of it was in decent condition, but the two pieces of trim on the bump-out seemed to have a lot of wear. So I used a piece of “finger board” from The Home Depot”. I planed it down to eliminate as much weight as possible. Then I used “DAP DynaGrip” for an instant firm hold. (This stuff is AWESOME for shiplap as well, it acts as a second set of hands!)
Once the trim that was in disrepair was replaced I started caulking joints. The tricky part of remodeling an R.V. is that it is mobile. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but when it travels down the road it does shift and sway. All the joints can come apart. So when selecting your caulk make sure you use something EXTREMELY flexible or you are at risk of tearing your joints and/or your paint. I used DAP EXTREME Stretch . It is extremely flexible and paintable. It worked great to cover unsightly gaps in the original trip and gave me seamless joints where I added new trim.
While I was in the process of painting the interior of the R.V. I kept things moving in the shop getting the cabinets doors prepped and painted. I prepped and primed them the same way I did the interior of the R.V. (Again if you would like to read more about the process I use to paint cabinets without a sprayer you can read all about it here. )
The only thing different about these cabinets is that some of them had a hideous textured glass panel. I was NOT a fan, so I found a way around it. Instead of starting from scratch with a new door, I recycled the frame from the old doors. All you need to do is cut out the existing glass frame, cut 1/2″ paneling to fit and then use “DAP Extreme Stretch” to adhere the paneling to the face frame. Again, these doors move and sway so some extra flex is always a good thing!
One other trick I HIGHLY recommend when painting cabinet doors, is to run a bead of caulk around the frame and the face of your doors, it makes a WORLD of a difference. See what I mean? Makes a huge difference, and once painted it looks great!
Next step was adding flooring. I am not going to go too in-depth concerning the process. It is the same as laying floor anywhere else. It is just on a smaller scale. The one thing that is different in regards to flooring in a R.V. over a home is the weight! I specifically searched a flooring that was extremely light weight and a low profile. I had originally planned on using a peel and stick tile, but I was honestly concerned that the tiles would eventually pop up. Normally this would not be a concern, because there are a TON of great peel and stick options that are great quality, but based solely on the fact the R.V. moves I was afraid it would take its toll on the flooring. So I picked a cork backed flooring. Not only were they light weight, but they had a low profile so that the bump out would not hit the flooring in the main portion.
If you want to see a little more about how I tackled the flooring in the bump out I would direct you to my Instagram account. I have saved some of the process to my “highlights” in the “R.V.” file.
Once the flooring was in, it was really beginning to feel like a new camper. The smell was almost entirely gone, and I was ecstatic!
I knew I wanted to add a little bit of character to the R.V. and I loved the idea of a subtle design. The platform bed seemed like a great place to add some fun detailing, ( and getting the base of the bed sanded properly was a little tricky considering the placement of the media cabinet). Enter “Faux Shiplap” to the rescue!
I wanted to carry the same look to the back of the R.V. as well, so I added it to the base of the bunk beds!This is cheap and simple way to add a little “oomph” to any space. If you want to add some character to your space I have a full tutorial available here. Now that it is in place I have full plans to pull the look into the dinette set!
The last thing I needed to do to complete “Phase 1” was add the floor trim. I truly have a LOVE/HATE relationship with trim work. I HATE doing it, but LOVE how it completely finishes an entire space.
So without further ado, I give you the completion of “Phase1”
I know you are probably eyeing that pretty backsplash, don’t worry I have more details coming “Phase 2”
Well what do you think? Do you love it? I am LOVING how it looks, but I still have BIG plans, you are going to want to stay tuned and follow along in my Instagram stories to see all the fun stuff coming next!