Updated: Feb 16, 2021
My sister and I are both adopted from Children’s Home Society of Greensboro, NC. Our stories are a little different than most kiddos, but one thing that was very special for us growing up were the nicknames our father gave us. Dad chose Rainbow for me and when my sister came along, he deemed her Sunshine. We lost him in 2007 in a motor accident at the young age of 59, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t smile thinking of my sweet poppy. He loved being a master handyman aka “Mr. Fix It” so I know he would’ve enjoyed working on this project with me. With that in mind, I decided to combine those 2 special nicknames for this “venture.”
HOW IT ALL BEGAN:
For those who want to skip right to the renovation details, please do; it will not hurt my feelings. Everyone has a story, but not everyone likes to listen to the commercials as my partner always says (typically about me). I’m more of a to the point girl myself, but for those who are interested, here’s how I caught the travel bug which led me to tiny living at its finest.
My ex-husband and I bought a used 2013 travel trailer in early 2016. We were both huge Nascar fans, and had been renting RVs to stay in the infield of the racetracks we frequented for years. But now we had our very own camper and I was beside myself. I spent weeks researching RV parks and resorts up and down the East Coast. I couldn’t wait to travel more, and I believed he wanted the same. I wanted to go to the beach, the mountains, anywhere to see the beauty this world has to offer. But work & life always seemed to get in the way. Our marriage started to fall apart for many reasons, but honestly, that was one of my biggest frustrations. I’ll spare you all the details, but we separated at the end of 2018.
Per the divorce settlement, he bought me out of the camper & the house we shared. A corner lot with a pool in a beautiful backyard. A 5 bedroom house with close to 4,000 square feet. I took the money from the camper and in February of 2020, bought a 2003 Holiday Rambler Presidential 5th wheel. She is a big girl at 36’ with 3 slide-outs including a super slide. And so many windows. I love having lots of light! Her bones were in pretty good shape, but yuck, the original décor had to go.
I had some big decisions to make first though. My lease on my apartment was up in May, and I didn’t want to throw any more money away on rent. I had the cash to put a down payment on a house. But I was stressed about being house poor. I also didn’t miss cleaning that big ole house I had left behind and had already started to simplify my life. I didn’t want all those material things I once thought I needed. And, I’ve always had a love of small (yet open) spaces. Swiss Family Robinson was one of my favorite movies growing up. I loved how they had to figure out how to make the most of what they had. Tiny living was beginning to sound like it suited me.
I convinced my new partner to help me a little with the renovations on the camper to make it a real home. One that we could not only travel in, but live in full-time. He was pretty skeptical at first, but once the paint dried, & the floors were down, he started coming around.
The renovations took a little longer than I expected. Especially the big things like installing a new water heater, furnace, and a second AC in the bedroom. I ended up staying in the apartment a few months past my lease, and moved into the camper the first week of September. There was still quite a bit to do, but at least it was livable.
We moved to our “permanent” site at a RV and campground resort close to our hometown in NC on October 30. It’s still a work in progress, but it feels more like home every day. I say “permanent” because it’s our place to come home to when we’re not traveling. The plan is to take a week each month to go somewhere new and do some exploring. I’ve basically lived in the same city my whole life, and have been fortunate to take some amazing trips, but the idea of being able to hook our home to the back of our truck and go wherever we want is a dream come true.
So far, we are loving this lifestyle, meeting other campers and “full timers,” and hearing their stories. It’s definitely a different way of life, but really, it’s not that different. We still have all the comforts of home no matter where we go, and we are finding more & more people like us that just wanted to simplify their lives and have more adventures. As my dad always said, it’s the journey, not the destination.
Before I get started, I want to say this because I’ve had a lot of questions about weight & towing. My partner, Eric, has a 2011 GMC 2500 that we pull our camper with. It’s a mean truck that can handle more weight than this camper can hold. Eric is a very experienced driver and tower as well. He worked for numerous Nascar teams for years as an engineer and fabricator, and drove quite a few haulers cross-country. You should see the look on people’s faces when he parks our camper. He is spot on the first time, every time.
I am fortunate that Eric has a large body shop in Archdale, NC where I was able to park the camper during the remodel. Having the shop right there with every tool imaginable has been a huge blessing.
The camper didn’t have too much furniture that was bolted down, thankfully. We removed the futon, kitchen table and chairs that the previous owner had been using & went straight into the demo.
Click here for a full list of materials and decor.
FLOOR REMOVAL: The first thing I did was rip up the filthy carpet and the kitchen “tile” floor. I used a straight floor scraper for the tougher parts and sometimes had a little extra muscle come in for help. I used a straight edge to cut around the edges and a dremel to remove those pesky staples and the leftover carpet that the RV manufacturers sandwich under the walls.
DEMO: I tore out the entertainment center and desk in the living room slide-out. I had never really demoed anything that big and was a little scared I might rip out part of the wall or ceiling. I took out all the screws first, some of which were near impossible to get to, and started tugging. I managed not to destroy anything, and got the hang of using a sledgehammer pretty quickly.
Next up was the kitchen sink & cabinets. I had one of those corner sinks that typically comes with older campers. That just wasn’t going to work for me. After turning off the water & unhooking all the plumbing, we pulled it out along with most of the countertop (which was fine because we weren’t keeping it anyway). I took off all the cabinet drawers and doors to paint later. My partner, Eric (aka the extra muscle, ha), built a new frame and cabinet doors for the much larger farmhouse sink I had already purchased. Not having a dishwasher, the farmhouse sink was a must. There was a full size residential fridge that hung out a foot over the stairs that the previous owner had installed. That had to go! So, we removed all the appliances i.e. stove, microwave and refrigerator.
Then it was time to take down those hideous valances and some lovely curtains the previous owner had installed. It’s pretty simple. Just find all the screws, remove them, and those bad boys should come right out. Of course, they leave you with lots of little holes to patch, but that’s easy work. I also cut out all the lighting I didn’t want with a pair of wire cutters.
Moving into the bathroom, we unhooked all the plumbing, and again, took out the countertop and sink. We decided to cut down the trashcan compartment since we wouldn’t be using it (for that) which opened up the walkway to the bedroom and gave us a little more floor space by the vanity. We took out the upper cabinets completely. I had already purchased a glass vessel bathroom sink, drain, and faucet. Since the sink would sit on top of the counter with a taller waterfall faucet, we had to shorten the cabinets to make everything fit. Luckily, all we had to cut off were the decorative open cubbies from the bottom. We ended up priming and painting them before we put them back up.
Removing the glass shower seemed fairly daunting to me, but actually turned out to be pretty easy. The door itself was missing when we bought the camper. They had been using a shower curtain for a door. Although my color palette has gold in it, it does not include gaudy old brass which was what the shower frame was made of. At the time, I planned on replacing the whole shower so we unscrewed the frame, and tossed out each panel. We also removed the toilet to clean it thoroughly and didn’t put it back until the bathroom floor was finished.
SANDING and PRIMING: Then it was time for paint. I don’t know about you all, but when I think of painting, I think easy peasy, but I guess I had forgotten how it had taken months to do my home kitchen all those years ago. So many steps! But trust me when I say, when it comes to painting your RV, prep is imperative; it won’t turn out well without it. Fortunately, I did the painting in the summer and was able to remove almost all the windows to keep them from overspray. The ones that wouldn’t come out, I covered and taped up. Note: while the windows were out, we pressure washed them and cleaned them up. We also used the big back window opening to remove the old residential fridge and bring in the new one. I’d recommend backing a truck with an empty bed up as close to the rig as possible for that sort of job.
The walls had that old, yucky vinyl wallpaper so I used a 6” DA sander with 220 grit to even it out. I used the same sander and paper on all the cabinets and doors (make sure to get those holes you patched when sanding). Next up, cleaning the walls, ugh. I used gloves, TSP, a large bucket filled with warm water and a sponge. Then I went back over the walls with fresh warm water and a sponge to rinse. The following day, I started priming everything with a spray gun and Kilz. The previous owner had smoked inside the RV so it was essential for me to Kilz everything to get the smell out. That included the ceiling. I started with the basic (oil-based) Kilz. Thankfully, I found the water-based Kilz on Amazon when I ran out of the first can which saved me a ton of time and headache with the spray gun clogging and the mess that comes along with oil-based paint. There’s a tip if you’re going to use Kilz. Go with water-based. Seriously. You’ll thank me later. Note: Click here for a full list of materials and decor.
INTERIOR DESIGNER: I should stop here to say that I had a wonderful family friend, Millie Ronemus, who is a very accomplished interior decorator guide me through the choices I had to make in the beginning of my remodel. First, she met with me at my apartment to see what furniture and decor I wanted to use in the RV. We went from there. She gave me several paint options to choose from for the walls and cabinets. She went with me on my first big shopping trip to Lowe’s and helped me pick out the living room flooring and the mini subway tile backsplash for the kitchen. We looked at sink options, talked about grout colors for my kitchen and bathroom backsplashes and so much more. Really, she steered me in the right direction and gave me the tools I needed to start this project. She’s the best!
PAINT: It took just over a week to get all the painting done. I started by using Pure White (satin, water base) by Sherwin Williams on the cabinets and ceiling. I didn’t worry about taping off the walls because I was going to paint them later when everything else was dry. I took the cabinet doors outside (that I had already primed) and stood them on a large piece of plastic and hit them with the spray gun. Then, I did the interior. Everything got 2-3 coats depending on what it needed. At this point, you might as well not “half ass” it, right? I gave it a day or two to dry, then taped off the ceiling and cabinets and moved onto the walls (Sherwin Williams City Loft).
HANDLES & HINGES: My color palette for the camper was white and gold with touches of teals and navy. I looked for brushed gold handles for the cabinet doors online. I found a bunch of nice ones on Etsy for $$$. I reluctantly went to Lowes to see what they had, and although they had a very small selection of gold knobs and handles, they had just what I was looking for and for a lot less. I bought everything they had which was the exact number I needed. I looked for matching hinges, but couldn’t find the right size. I would’ve had to drill all new holes for the ones I liked adding more money. So instead, I bought a can of spray paint as close as I could get to the handles, & went for it. They turned out great and are holding up quite well. After replacing all the handles, I put all the hinges and cabinet doors back up.
FLOORS: Next up were the “hardwood” floors. Who am I kidding, it’s a 2003 camper and we have 3 big dogs. I found a pretty vinyl self-adhesive plank at Lowe’s as I said above. Now this was a project I was excited about. This was a simple task or so I thought and I knew how much it would transform the space. I knew I wanted them staggered, and it actually turned out to be pretty easy. Yep, I was a pro when I got done. My planks were 3’. So to stagger them, I started at the back right center of the camper. I put a 3’ down, then to the right of it, I cut one down to 2’, and the next, I cut down to 1’. I used a T-square to measure and mark each plank and the biggest pair of scissors (by Bulldog aka hand shears) you’ve ever seen out of my partners shop to make the cuts. Then I started over with another 3’,2’,1’. After that, it’s pretty easy to lay them row by row. Just make sure you are placing them perfectly flush against the plank already laid and they should stay straight. The only tricky part is when you get to an obstacle like the counter or the other end of the room. You have to measure very carefully (or at an angle) to make sure those little pieces fit just right. Note: I took the whole bed and frame out to do the bedroom floors. I ran the floors the opposite direction of the living room.
Eric came up with the idea to put the flooring up around the bottoms of the cabinets in the kitchen. After he cut and put the molding down, this little detail really stood out to me and I love it. He also was the one that figured out how to smooth edge the floors in the slide-outs. I’m kind of clumsy so I’d be the first person to trip over a lip of any sort. And, although that was what I had seen in the majority of camper remodels, that wasn’t going to be a good option for us. We used a heat gun and a couple 3/8” staples to ensure that each board would stay in place. The heat gun helped warp and curve the boards from the slide-outs to lay flush with the main living floor. We used a 1/2" piece of velcro (soft side) on the bottom of the curved boards to keep them from scratching the main living floor when pulling the slides in. It’s a pretty seamless transition and I’m so happy our little experiment worked.
SEALING THE ROOF and ADDING A SECOND AC IN THE BEDROOM: Just as I got the floors done, we had about a week of heavy rain in NC. I guess it was better to find out then rather than after we moved in that we had a few pretty bad leaks. I found a local RV company that was willing to take the camper over the weekend and add a second AC in the bedroom before sealing the roof. I was afraid I would need to replace the slide out seals & buy new covers, but luckily, I haven’t had any problems since sealing the roof. Thank God! Water damage isn’t good for anything, especially a camper.
KITCHEN COUNTERTOPS: The next step in our kitchen remodel was to decide what we wanted for a countertop. We knew we wanted something nice & weight wasn’t a huge concern, but it was something we had to consider. We looked at the usual places, but couldn’t find anything we liked that would work in the camper. We talked with a couple countertop specialists, but none of them were very knowledgeable when it came to RVs. We ended up working with a local place called Carolina Custom Surfaces. We made a pattern for the new countertop to incorporate the farmhouse sink. Eric had already built a new frame for the farmhouse sink along with new cabinets to go underneath. We added two pop-up extensions for the countertop as part of our pattern. One of the pop-ups would go on the back side of the sink for bar stool seating & the other would go to the left of the sink adding space for chopping veggies and other things. We were able to pick out a Corian countertop that wasn’t exactly what I had imagined, but turned out beautifully. It resembles marble in look and thickness with half the weight. And it’s got a little flex to it for bouncing down the road.
WALLPAPER TRIM: While I was waiting (2 weeks) for them to pour the countertop, I worked on some of the smaller details. First, I had seen this beautiful tile in a shower of a house we had done some work for during a remodel. We built a large hood for their commercial grade gas range (see Appliances). While we were there installing the hood, I had to check out the renovations. This place was gorgeous, and one of the upstairs showers took my breath. I found the project specifications booklet and got the info for the tile. Turned out it was a very expensive concrete tile. So that wasn’t an option money or weight wise.
I had found a site months earlier that had the cutest prints. Not your traditional wallpaper to say the least. It’s made from high quality, self-adhesive poly-woven fabric. At the time, I wasn’t in need of any wallpaper, but as I went back to their website, this time hoping to find something for the camper, I saw it! The same design as the concrete tile from the shower that I loved so much and in paper form!! I couldn’t click fast enough. I wasn’t sure what I would use it for yet, but it had to be mine.
I decided I wanted to use the wallpaper either on the stairs or the door to the bed and bath. I chose to do the stairs as I knew it would be easier than the door with all its grooves, and I thought doing the whole door might be too much for the transition to the bathroom décor. I also wanted to use the wallpaper in the slide out trim. So, with a measuring tape, a 6’ straight edge ruler, a box cutter, and a framing square, I went to work. I decided what part of the wallpaper I wanted to use based on the design and what would look best in the trim and on the stairs. I measured the slide out inlays, and used the framing square to mark the paper on the backside. Then, I lined up the straight edge ruler with my marks, held it down with my hand and knee, and cut against the ruler with the box cutter. All that was left was to line up the design as it would look best in the slides, and use a small squeegee to guide it, and keep the air bubbles out. The paper is peel and stick, but I recommend a little extra glue (E6000 from Hobby Lobby) to make sure it sticks.
I had a hard time finding a coffee table I liked that was functional (with a lift top for snacking and/or working), but also the right size for the camper. Instead of spending hundreds on one, I settled for a basic white table from Walmart for around $80. I was pretty disappointed with it once I put it together. It was so plain. I had some scraps of the wallpaper leftover so I decided to use them to liven up the table which made it fit in much better with the rest of the RV. I also added some cute little geometric knobs and some gold paint to spruce it up a bit more (see Coffee Table makeover).
I used a different wallpaper print from the same site for the slide out over the bed & also on the wall above the counter that our TV sits on across from the bed. Waking up to that teal speckle print everyday makes me happy. Click here for a full list of materials and decor.
KITCHEN COUNTERTOP PART II and BACKSPLASH: Finally, the countertop was ready so we picked it up and brought it to the shop. The farmhouse sink was already in place, but we did have to drill a hole for the new faucet. After hooking the plumbing back up, we used liquid nails to glue down the countertop. Once it was on, I covered it with Kraft paper and taped it down to keep out any mess, and started on the kitchen backsplash. I used a mesh mounted mini subway tile I found at Lowe’s. I had never done any kind of tile work so this was my first test, and I passed…yay! It turned out to be fairly easy. I poured Thin-Set Mortar in a bucket, added water and used a mixing tool I attached to a drill to stir it. I used a 9-in Ground Steel Square Notch Trowel to spread the mortar on the wall eyeballing about how big each mesh sheet would be. I started in the corner and used a wet saw to cut each mesh sheet (as I went). I used spacers while they set so they wouldn't sag. I added a top row of separate tile to match and smooth the transition to the wall. Note: make sure to wipe each mesh sheet down as you go because once the mortar dries, it’s nearly impossible to get off the tiles. Also, add water and mortar as needed in the bucket to keep it from drying up.
The next day, I grouted the backsplash with a grout float. It was also fairly easy albeit messy, but it was my first time. You basically spread the grout over the backsplash & press it into the cracks until they are filled, and wipe the tiles down as you go. I let it sit for a day, then pulled the paper and tape from the countertops up and caulked the seam. I’m not going to lie, when I saw the finished product, I was pretty proud of myself. It looked better than I imagined.
LIGHTING: Ok, let’s talk about the easy part first. As much as I wanted to replace all the lights in this camper with pretty fixtures, that wasn’t practical (especially for travel). The main ceiling lights, I left alone except to paint the outside frames and switches gold to go with my color palette. I used the can of spray paint I had used to paint the hinges. I sprayed a little paint into the cap and used a small paint brush to do the frames (it will take a couple coats). If you don’t have a steady hand, putting a little painters tape on the ceiling around the frame is helpful. There were also 2 little can lights under the upper cabinets in the kitchen that I painted white to make them blend in with the cabinets. Sometimes the little details go a long way.
My sister found the gorgeous (Moravian star) lights I used above the back windows and kitchen sink. As I said in the Demo portion above, I had already cut the wires and removed the lights I wasn’t going to keep so it was just a matter of installing them. Let me be clear, I am not an electrician. And, I typically do not mess with electricity. Luckily for me, Eric has plenty of experience with it. He worked for Duke Power (our local power company) for many years. After he showed me how easy it was to match the wires and screw on the nuts that came with the lights, I was much more comfortable with simple electrical work. That being said, the lights came with no switches and there was no switch in the camper for the lights above the windows so you would have to open each lamp to screw in the bulb for them to come on. Not on Eric’s watch. He drilled into the cans of each light and added an on/off toggle switch and wired it from the inside. I found 12V warm white bulbs on Amazon that fit the 120V receptacles and the rest is history. With translucent and dreamy seeded glass, these lights give off a soft and welcoming glow to create a calming ambiance. They’re really something!
The lights I had cut from the super slide that are now on either side of the pull-out sofa were another story. I guess you would consider the old ones to be wall sconces. And that’s being kind. Originally, I wanted to patch the holes and move the wiring up into the cabinets above the sofa to put in some can lights. After hours, if not days of looking online for anything that struck my fancy, I came across these little wall lamps that had cut crystal globes. They were perfect and even better, less work since we wouldn’t have to move all that wiring. I am fortunate as a small business owner to have access to wholesale pricing through vendors I work with which is where I found these as well as the chandelier that hangs over the kitchen table (I’ll get to that later).
On a side note, as far as rain2shine ventures goes, we make all of our products in house by hand. We believe in being unique, and each one of our projects are made specifically for our clients. That being said, you can order these pieces through my other business, Alice’s Chic Boutique. The majority of what I sell from the boutique is also custom and handmade, but I incorporate pieces from my wholesale vendors as a buyer with good taste.
Now, here’s a little more about the dining chandelier. I had seen different styles of what I call a “dandelion” chandelier online. And man, they were expensive! I found different sizes from $400 up to $1500. I couldn’t justify (or afford) spending that much on a chandelier for a camper, especially not knowing if it would work or make it while we were on the road. But I loved them, and once I’ve set my mind on something, I usually can’t get it out of my head. And yes, we probably would have built our own, but at this point, I was on a time crunch to get the camper done, and we had client projects to tend to first. So, I started digging through my wholesale vendors, and found exactly what I was looking for, and I got the smallest one I could find. With a diameter of 15.75 inches, it’s a perfect fit over the kitchen table.
Onto the bathroom lighting. This was a tough find and not what I had in mind, but they have turned out to work wonderfully. Both sides of the cabinets only have a height of 4.5” between the mirrored doors and the ceiling so there weren’t many choices, much less pretty, decorative options. Trust me, try googling gold bathroom vanity lights with those measurements. It’s slim pickings. But I did manage to find what is considered “artwork” lighting that fits perfectly. And, being made for artwork, the lights are very bright which I prefer when I’m “putting my face on” in the mornings. Click here for a full list of materials and decor.
BATHROOM RENO: As I said above in the Demo portion, we cut down the upper cabinets in the bathroom to make room for the vessel sink and faucet as well as the trash can pullout which opened up the walkway to the bedroom and gave us more floor space around the vanity. Eric cut a new countertop for the vanity, and I picked out a Formica brand laminate sheet from Lowe’s as close to the kitchen countertop as I could find. He cut the laminate and tacked it to the new countertop. We drilled holes for the new sink and faucet, and installed the countertop. I covered the counter with Kraft paper and taped it down around the wall & got to work on the bathroom backsplash.
BACKSPLASH: I found a gorgeous porcelain mosaic wall tile at Overstock that I couldn’t live without. I know, peel and stick would’ve been much easier, but I had to have this tile. This backsplash along with the floor tile I picked out, make the bathroom pretty spectacular if I do say so myself. I poured Thin-Set Mortar in a bucket, added water and used a mixing tool I attached to a drill to stir it. I used a 9-in Ground Steel Square Notch Trowel to spread the mortar on the wall eyeballing about how big each mesh sheet would be. I started in the corner and used a wet saw to cut each mesh sheet (as I went). Note: make sure to wipe each sheet down as you go because once the mortar dries, it’s near impossible to get off the tiles. Also, add water and mortar as needed in the bucket to keep it from drying up.
The next day, I grouted the backsplash with a grout float. You basically spread the grout over the backsplash and press it into the cracks until they are filled, and wipe the tiles down as you go. I let it sit for a day, then pulled the paper and tape from the countertops up and caulked the seam. This will sound familiar if you read the kitchen backsplash how-to above.
SINK and FAUCET: It was time to install the new faucet and sink. The holes were already drilled so we placed each one, attached them, and hooked the plumbing back up. It’s funny because I took before and after photos that I posted when this part was done, and had numerous comments about the vessel sink. Most loved it, but some said they can be a pain. I was nervous after that, but having lived in the camper for almost 6 months now, I really don’t know what all the hubbub was about. It’s pretty and it works. Just wanted to put that out there for all the naysayers, haha.
SHOWER: My original plan was to replace the shower completely. But at this point, I had spent quite a bit of money on a few big ticket items, and wasn’t in the mood for spending more on a brand new shower. So I YouTubed some videos on how to remodel/restore a RV shower. This was probably my least favorite project after painting. But it was well worth it. I started by cleaning everything. There was some caulking and gunk leftover from where we had removed the frame. I used a scraper to get it off. Next, I puddied the cracks and holes from the screws and removed any leftover caulking. I used lacquer thinner to clean and eliminate any impurities. Then, the really not so fun part, scouring the whole surface with steel wool. Next, time to clean again. This time I used the TSP I had used to clean all the walls and surfaces before I painted. Make sure you don’t leave any fibers or residue behind, and tape off any drains and knobs before applying the epoxy. Stir (do not shake) the can of epoxy. I used a 3” brush to apply it. It’s very thin and dries quickly so make sure not to use too much & don’t let it run or drip. Don’t go back over it while it’s drying either. It will cause brush strokes. I’d recommend starting this project early in the day. You have to let the first coat dry for 3-6 hours, & immediately apply a second coat. Don’t wait more than 6 hours to do a second coat, and it will probably take at least 3 coats to get it right. But once it’s done, you’ll feel like you have a brand new shower. I promise.
As I said before, I started the renovation portion of this blog, I had owned and rented many different kinds of campers before so I had some experience with what I liked versus what I didn’t. One thing I don’t like in a camper is an unenclosed shower. But really, I don’t like open showers with a short base. The water tends to run out or off the curtain in my experience. Fortunately, our shower has a small tub for a base that comes up about knee deep. So instead of getting new glass cut to enclose it, I decided we would make a rod to attach to the top and hang a shower curtain. It’s kind of nice because you can hide/store things in it and shut the curtain and no one is the wiser.
BATHROOM FLOOR: And finally, my last big project. The bathroom floor…eek. My sister found the gorgeous tile I used from Floor & Décor. She saw it online so I went to our local store and purchased a box of the tiled mesh sheets. I’m not going to talk about how expensive this floor ended up being. But once I had seen it, there was no going back. And I definitely put it off until last. I was a nervous wreck that I would mess it up somehow. We put in a subfloor (1/4” Lauan) first for extra cushioning which is best. We used the same thin set mortar we used for the backsplashes underneath. Eric stapled the corners down as well just to be safe. Then, it had to sit for a day before we could put any weight on it.
The next day, we used more mortar on top of the lauan to put down a tile membrane. It came rolled up like a mat from Floor & Décor. We cut it piece by piece to fit each section of the floor. This would’ve been the perfect time to put in heating for the floor. We didn’t, but I wish we had. That tile gets very cold on your feet in the winter. Brr!
The following day, I started laying the tiled sheets out on the subfloor to see how they fit. This was not as simple as the backsplashes that came in square and rectangular shapes. These sheets were almost a star shape. So I laid as many whole pieces as I could fit, and then started taking measurements for the ones I had to cut with the wet saw. I laid the whole floor out as I cut them just to make sure they would all fit properly. Once the entire floor was laid out, I mixed up some thin set mortar and water in a bucket. I used the same 9-in Ground Steel Square Notch Trowel that I used for the backsplashes to spread the mortar. I did it section by section. Basically, I would pick up 3-4 pieces in a row at a time and move them out of the way. When I moved them to the side, I kept them in order while I laid the mortar. Then I placed each one back. This might sound a little complicated and it was, but this was the easy part. What I didn’t account for when purchasing this tile were the little runs between the vanity and shower, and on the other side of the vanity going up to the bedroom. They’re each only 3” wide. I ended up laying most of those runs piece by piece from the scraps of the sheets I had cut earlier. It wasn’t fun or easy, but luckily I’m pretty good at puzzles so I figured it out.
The following day, I grouted the bathroom floor and admired my work. It was beautiful, and even better, it was done. All that was left was for Eric to cut and place the molding.
BEDROOM: If you’re wondering why there isn’t a long, detailed section about the bedroom, that’s because it was by far the easiest room. We used the same sheet of Formica brand laminate from the bathroom countertop to cover the counter across from the bed where our TV sits. We painted the walls and cabinets (added new handles & painted the hinges) which I covered in the Sand, Clean, Prime, and Paint section above. We removed the bed and frame completely to make putting the new flooring in easier and put down molding. I added the speckle wallpaper trim to the slide out and the wall across from the bed. It was pretty simple.
FURNITURE: I used as much of my previously owned furniture that I could in the camper. What I couldn’t fit or didn’t go with the color palette and style, I either sold or stored. I had two chairs that were a must for the RV. One is a printed accent chair from my apartment. The other is a chair I bought at a yardsale with my late father when I was in middle school. It needed a facelift though (see Wassily Chair makeover). I had a sunburst chest that fits perfectly in the dog nook slide out that I use for a pantry along with the cabinets above the pull out loveseat. The loveseat was available on Amazon and Wayfair, but has since sold out (I’ll try to find something similar for the list of décor and materials). I got the lift top coffee table from Walmart & spruced it up (see Coffee Table makeover for video and photos). The rug in the living room also came from my apartment. We built the kitchen table bench that doubles as a crate for our youngest pup. We have two cocktail chairs that go on the other side of the kitchen table from the bench that we also use for seating for the pop-up countertop. I had a little step stool from before so I painted the frame gold with the spray paint from the hinges and recovered the step to match the cushion of the kitchen bench. That little step stool has worked out great for getting to those super high cabinets in the kitchen. I haven’t been able to find a kitchen table that’s the right height for the bench as well as a good size for the camper so we’ve been using an old glass table there, but it’s out the door when we finish building our own new table and it’s going to be awesome!
DECORATIONS: I don’t have a list for every little trinket that adorns the camper, but I will share the main ones that really make this place a home. First, my favorite piece, the mosaic mirror that hangs to the right of the door as you enter. I got it at Pier 1 while I was living in the apartment. It was in a pile in the back corner of the store and had some damage which made it easy to negotiate a great price. It was missing some pieces in the mosaic surrounding the mirror. I found my own fragments to replace them. The inside and outside trim was silver so I painted over each with gold to go with my color palette. We drilled five holes around the outside & screwed that sucker into the wall. So far, it has held very well. I painted the screw heads gold to blend in with the mosaic. I added two gold shelves underneath the mirror. Since I have so many windows, there isn’t much wall space for hanging photos and decor. I did a lot of searching online to find shelves that weren’t too deep that I could use for picture frames & some of my trinkets. I found a couple more little shelves that have come in quite handy. I hung one next to the pull-out sofa between the two windows. The other is next to my side of the bed. I desperately needed something more than the little corner piece by the head of the bed to put things on at night. Above that shelf is a sunburst mirror that I also found at Pier 1. And last but not least, my sister gave me the cutest teal fish plates years ago that I hung on the last cabinet in the kitchen that faces the living room. We drilled holes through one of the white dots in the center of each plate, and screwed them to the cabinet with white screws that blend right in. They look great and I get lots of compliments on them. Click here for a full list of materials and decor.
RAIN2SHINE VENTURES: I truly hope this article helps anyone who is currently and/or considering remodeling. I know it’s a lot of reading, but I tried to cover every detail I could think of. This was my first camper renovation, and I am not going to pretend to be an expert. I’m not, but I am proud of the way it turned out, and I’m getting there. I am, however, an artist and designer so I understand that I have an eye that some do not. All the more reason I wanted to share this guide. And also to say, feel free to reach out to me. I have been wanting to expand my jewelry design and boutique for years. I just wasn’t sure how or what I wanted to expand it to. Little did I know when I bought this camper, it would lead me here. Feel free to check out the rest of the website. I’d love to hear what you think. I’m always open to suggestions especially if it helps others.
Right now, Eric and I are the ones running this show. We are very fortunate to have family and friends that have helped us along the way, and we are so grateful for them all. We are focusing on our custom home decor line for now, but if the right opportunity came along, we would do another remodel in a heartbeat. People jokingly make comments like, “come fix my home or camper.” Well, we’re not joking; we would love to! You never know what the future holds, and I have faith that we will be guided in the right direction. Trust the journey. Love and hugs ~Alice