Wednesday, May 10, 2017

RV Update Reveal

We bought our 1984 Coachman Motor Home almost two months ago on March 14th.  After nine weeks of hard work we are done updating it.  It is ready to be our home this summer while I work in Yellowstone.

I'm so excited to take you on a little tour of our new home and show you all the changes. I'm also going to share some of our tricks for updating an RV on a budget.  

First up we have the outside.  There aren't many obvious changes here.  If we had more time and funding we might have tried re-painting the outside to get rid of the Breaking Bad color scheme, but for now it stays.  You can tell that we updated all the curtains in the windows.  My husband replaced the fenders on the back wheels.  He also discovered that the bottom back panel had rotten wood under it so he replaced the wood there.  
Now let's take a look inside. Here's what the kitchen and dinette area look like now. At first I wanted to paint all the walls white to give everything a fresh, clean, modern look.  But after spending a few days in the RV with my kids I realized that the wood paneling does a great job of hiding all their little dirty hand prints. So the brown wood is staying for now.
Here's a comparison to what the area looked like before. The obvious changes are the updated fabric on the cushions and the new curtains. My husband also installed cork-boards and white boards on the cupboards.
I covered the cushions on the dinette with material from two top sheets I bought at a thrift store.  I sewed the covers similar to a pillow sham with a large flap on the bottom.  That will make it easy to take the covers off when they need to be washed.  The old covers were still in good shape - aside from being ugly.  So I just washed them in the washer and then put them back over the foam. The old covers will help protect the foam since the new covers are made of thin material.  
The arm rests of the dinette also needed their fabric updated.  My husband took them off for me and then I stapled new fabric over the existing fabric.  I just happened to have an ripped top sheet in an exact shade of blue that matched other details in the RV.  It's like I planned it all along. 
Here's the before and after comparison of the dinette.  It's much fresher looking in there now. 
The dinette converts to a bed.  We thought that this is where our son would sleep.  But we changed our minds after everyone slept in the RV one night.  Our son was still sleeping when the other kids wanted breakfast. So now he gets the couch and my husband and I will share this bed.  It's more comfortable anyway.
The little kitchen area got a few updates as well as you can see here. 
One of my favorite changes was the fridge.  It had wood paneling on it, and I wanted to get rid of at least some of the brown color in the RV.  I saw on Pinterest that you can recover appliances with contact paper that looks like stainless steel.  So I bought a roll of that and recovered the fridge.  I'm in love with how it turned out.
The kitchen is ridiculously tiny.  There is absolutely no counter space.  Pinterest came to the rescue again though.  I got an idea to make a removable counter to go over the stove top.  My husband put it together and I covered it with contact paper.  This cover has already been such a nice update.  We don't have to worry about things falling down around the stove top burners.
There is a large cupboard behind the dinette.  Originally it was just one large empty space.  We need all the storage we can get so, my husband built shelves in the cupboard. I covered them with contact paper. I had a lot of trouble locating this paper. I wanted something colorful and fun. The designs at Walmart and Lowes were not what I was looking for.  I finally found this design at Smith's MarketPlace.  I picked it because the blue dots matched the rest of the blue in the RV. 
The bathroom is located in the very back of the RV.  It's pretty tricky to get a good picture of that area because it's pretty cramped. The biggest update to the bathroom was new curtains.  These match the curtains in the loft at the front of the RV.  My daughter suggested we put some contact paper in the bathroom so you can see that on the sloped ceiling in the shelves. 
We also took out the old, brown shower curtain and put in a new white one.  And my husband re-caulked all the edges in the shower area.
Okay, let's flip around and look at the front half of the RV.  Here's the living room.  At first we thought about replacing the carpet with linoleum or something else that would be easy to sweep.  But that's too big of a project for now.  The carpet is still in pretty good shape so it seems pointless to take it up anyway.  Instead we decided to cover it with a rug.  I checked a bunch of thrift stores to try to find a good rug.  But I couldn't find any good sized rugs for a low price. I realized I already had a rug that would work perfect.  This was our dining room rug in our home in Alabama. I found this for $30 at Goodwill. My husband got it out of the garage and it looks great.  It's a little too large, but we just folded it up the wall. 
Here' the before and after picture of the living room.  This room has changed the most. Taking out the two extra chairs was definitely a good idea. We plan to put a dresser up against the wall, but it's still being used inside the house so we wont move it out to the RV until we are just about ready to leave for Yellowstone.
The curtains are some of my favorite additions to the RV.  In another life they were a top sheet that someone donated to Savers.  Buying old sheets at thrift stores is one of my favorite tricks for finding unique fabric patterns.  When I saw this cheerful floral print I knew it would look great in the RV.  I cut the sheet into thirds and then down the middle.  The nice thing about using a sheet was that two of the sides were already hemmed.  I jut had to hem the middle and the top and the bottoms.  We really lucked out with the color of the fabric on the top of the window.  Blue is one of my favorite colors so I decided to leave it and use the color throughout the RV. 
I also love the cork boards and white boards that my husband installed on the cupboards.  This was another Pinterest inspired change.  My daughters love drawing on the white boards, and my son is already insisting that we hang some of his school art projects up in the RV.
I can't forget to mention the TV that we installed under one of the cupboards.  My husband bought an old computer monitor at the Weber State University surplus store for $15.  He mounted it upside down.  The monitor hooks up to a computer console that we previously bought from a friend for $40. It didn't have an operating system so my husband installed Ubuntu which is an open source operating system. When the computer turns on my husband has programmed it to flip the image on the screen so it appears right side up to us.  We use a wireless keyboard and a wireless mouse to control the TV.  And the sound comes out of a little portable speaker.  We've started having our weekly movie night in the RV, and everyone loves it. Oh and the monitor has a release button so we can remove it from the base and store it securely when we travel.
The RV came with this little wire shelf in the bathroom closet.  We brought it out and immediately started putting stuff on it.  I decided it would be a good place to store our shoes and the kids jackets.  Right now my husband keeps his tools on the bottom shelf, but that's where the shoes will go when we live in the RV.  I found the hooks at a yard sale for $1.  My husband secured them to the shelf.  He also put a back on it to make it more stable.
At first I thought that I would carefully recover the cushions on the couch.  But then I realized that a fitted sheet looks just as nice for a 100th of the effort. Plus it's much easier to remove when it needs to be washed.
The loft area of the RV is where my three girls will sleep.  I changed the curtains up there to be more fun. The rest of the loft doesn't look like it changed that much, but that's because you can't see what's under the cushion. 
When I pulled the cushion off to clean under it I discovered mildew!  Lots and lots of mildew.  The  bottom side of the cushion was covered with little black spots.  And the wood under it was wet and rotting. My husband inspected the wood and discovered that the seal on the bottom sides of the loft was cracked.  Water had been seeping in.  On further inspection he found that all the wooden supports for the loft were rotting.
This was very disheartening, but we went to work.  My biggest worry was that the foam in the cushion would be ruined.  Luckily there were two cushion covers.  The first one went into the wash with lots of vinegar and dawn dish soap.  It came out as good as new.  The second cover had a plastic bottom that had prevented the mildew from reaching the cushion.  Whew.  I cleaned that cushion cover off with more vinegar and Dawn dish soap.  Then the whole thing hung out in the RV kitchen while my husband replaced the wooden supports and wooden planking in the loft.
Within a few days he had everything replaced, waterproofed, and back together.  This man is amazing.
In addition to all the little cosmetic updates that I did, my husband had to do a lot of work to get all the systems working. Luckily my husband is a jack of all trades and an amazing handyman.  He fixed problems with the engine, the generator, and the electric system. The water, sewer, and propane systems didn't need any fixing, but still my husband had to test them to make sure they worked.  He was helped out by his dad and brother-in-law, but my husband did most of the work himself.

On Monday my husband took the RV to have it's State Safety and Emissions testing done. It passed both on the first try!  He'd already taken care of registering the RV, and received temporary license plates. After he passed the state tests he went to the DMV to pick up our permanent plates. I can't tell you how good those plates look on the RV.  Every time I look at them it's like they are saying, "your crazy idea is actually going to work!"

We are all really excited for this summer. We have two more weeks before we start driving to Yellowstone.  The big challenge now is how to pack all the clothes and food that we will need. Hopefully I'll have a chance to do a post showing some of our storage ideas.

Until then, thanks for reading.  And be sure to check out some of the other posts on this site. You might find the inspiration for your next adventure.

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I would love to hear what you think. Did I get it right, or was I dead wrong? What was your experience like?


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