I think we need to start this post by saying neither one of us have an eye for design. Decorating is not one of our strong suits. But with a little bit of effort, we were able to transform our Forest River Rockwood fifth wheel into our home for little effort, time, and money.
When we first began shopping for an older, used camper, we were a little intimidated by the amount of work we felt it was going to take to update the inside. While there are a ton of DIY tutorials out there, we’ve had a few too many Pinterest fails to feel confident in our skills. So when we found a camper that already had white cabinets and nice flooring, we were thrilled.
Even though our fifth-wheel already had a lot of great features, you can see from the before photos that it still needed a little TLC. So with a few easy changes, we feel we truly turned our camper into a home. With our success despite our lack of renovation and interior decorating experience, we know that anyone can do these simple updates. Best part was that it only took us 1 week before we were on the road! We were so anxious to become full-timers that we didn’t want to wait the amount of time it would take to do a complete overhaul on an RV.
Here are 6 SMALL projects we did that made a HUGE difference.
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1. New furniture
With old RVs come old furniture. While it depends on the amount of use and previous owner, most of the time you’ll find that the original furniture that comes with the RV is going to be stained, faded, and possibly even have tears. Oh and that hideous floral fabric on the sofa! No throw pillows, blankets, or sofa covers can fix that.
While the recliners weren’t awful, they were really heavy. Picking those big boys up and flipping them over on top of the sofa to strap down every time we traveled was just not attractive. Besides, we had better things to use our weight limit on (like all our favorite RV life gadgets and comforts from home that we discussed in our post with tips for packing an RV).
With IKEA in almost every major city now days, it’s not hard to find space saving and lightweight furniture. We replaced the recliners in the back of the RV with Poang Chairs from IKEA and 100% love and recommend them. We love them because they are SUPER comfortable but very lightweight and fit perfectly in the back of the fifth-wheel. There are different color options (both cushion color and chair color) and the cushions are machine washable. The foot rests are optional but fit nicely behind the chair when you aren’t using them, so they are out of the way.
We also replaced the jack-knife sofa with a futon. We wanted the ability to still turn the sofa into a bed in case we have guests, but also wanted the comfort of a couch to watch TV from. We found this Kodiak futon lounger used on OfferUp and got it for a fraction of the price, but you can buy it brand new on Amazon. We like this futon because its much smaller than the average futon, but still very functional.
Since the armrests adjust, its great for lounging and watching TV, especially when your TV is not mounted directly across from the sofa and you have to turn your body to view it. We’ve hosted guests in our RV and they felt very comfortable sleeping on it as well.
It also allows for storage underneath. We have an under-the-bed storage tub underneath there, as well as our Shark vacuum. It comes in 25 different prints and colors so you’re sure to find one that matches your decor. We’ve been very happy with the purchase and would highly recommend a futon for your RV. Amazon has a huge selection of futons to choose from.
Choosing multi functional furniture is a great way to give yourself extra space, as well as create extra storage! If you’re looking for more ideas for making the most of the small space in your RV, we highly recommend this book:
2. Removing floral wall paper border
That hideous floral pattern that was on the sofa that we ditched perfectly matched the wallpaper border that was right at eye level on every…single..wall! So obviously, that had to go too. This was the first thing we began ripping down once we got all the furniture out. We purchased Goo Gone and used this tutorial on YouTube.
Our wallpaper border didn’t pull off quite as easily as it did in the video. We learned that spraying the wallpaper and soaking it before pulling it off helped too. There were still spots that took a little more elbow grease too. We had to use a razor to cut the border around the windows as well. Overall, it wasn’t too difficult of a task and the Goo Gone helped tremendously.
3. Reupholstering some window valences and replacing others with curtains
Can you guess what fabric was on the valences above EVERY window in our fifth-wheel. Yep! The matching hideous floral pattern. Who ever thought that having a matching sofa, wallpaper, AND valences were a good idea? Who knows but we sure hated it.
Pulling the valences down was a piece of cake and just required unscrewing them from the walls and ceilings. We then purchased fabric and simply covered them by using a stable gun. Only took a few hours total! We chose to keep the valences in the main living area of the fifth-wheel instead of replacing them with curtains because we liked the blinds that came with the camper.
We did choose to replace the valences with black out curtains in the bedroom to add darkness for optimum sleeping conditions. It was tricky to find the length we needed so we hemmed them ourselves. But don’t worry if you don’t own a sewing machine…we don’t either. We used iron on adhesive hem tape and it worked great!
We cut the curtains to be the length we wanted while leaving about an inch extra to allow for space to hem.
Then we folded the fabric over the tape and pinned it in place.
Then we ironed over it, and viola! Easy, cheap, and quick solution!
The curtains definitely make the bedroom feel more cozy too.
I also used the iron on adhesive hem tape to recover throw pillows that came with the couch. Throw pillows can be pricey so this was a huge money saver! You can even sometimes find fabric remnants on sale for a great price.
To read our easy, no-sew DIY pillow covers instructions, you can click here. Or pin it for later by clicking the image below:
4. Painting the kitchen table and chairs
We were really happy that our 5th-wheel had an actual kitchen table and chairs, rather than the bench dinette. To us, it feels more like home and less like a camper. But of course, like most older RVs, it was oak, which just didn’t work for us since everything else was white.
In the past, I’ve hated painting furniture because of the amount of steps involved (sanding and priming before you can even begin painting). So when we heard about Amy Howard’s chalk paint, we were thrilled. No sanding or priming needed!
We didn’t want the entire table white, so we chose to stain the top a darker wood color. We love how it turned out! We used the espresso satin color by Minwax.
Painting your RV interior white is probably the most drastic improvement you can make. It can have a huge impact on the overall look and feel, and of course, can make the space feel much cleaner and bright. We didn’t have to paint the cabinetry in our RV since they were already white. But this guide is an incredible resource:
5. Adding back splash to the kitchen
We were amazed by how much the back splash added to the overall look of the kitchen. Best part is that it only took us about an hour to put it up! Would you believe us if we told you its not actually tile back splash but peel n’ stick sheets?
Most people who see them in person have to touch them to believe it. There are lots of different colors and patterns to match any color scheme. We haven’t had any problems with it peeling off the wall yet, so we’ve been super happy with the look and quality.
6. Adding wall and shelf decor
This is a “no brainer”. But we often see people skip this step while decorating their RV, mainly because they aren’t sure how to keep it from falling off or down when traveling. Well, we’re still figuring that out but have had some decent luck with command strips and mounting putty.
And yes, sometimes we get tired of taking down decor on the shelves and putting it back up every time we travel. However, it really helps improve the overall feel of our home on wheels. We love having inspirational phrases or just anything that makes us smile when we look at it. You can decide how much or how little decor you want to add, but we really recommend it because it allows you to put your special touch into making your RV feel like home.
We love the farmhouse style look that many RV owners are using to decorate their tiny homes. If you want some amazing inspiration for how to decorate your RV, check out this 75 page e-book that contains 13 different DIY projects:
Wondering how much all this cost us?
Less than $500!
Yep, that’s right. We transformed our RV into our cozy, tiny home for less than $500 with the tips above!
Check out the entire gallery of photos of our 2005 Forest River Rockwood Fifth Wheel:
We love how much our fifth wheel feels like home now with just a small amount of effort and without breaking the bank. If you’re like us and are too intimidated to do a complete overhaul on your RV, but want to make small changes that can transform it into your home, we know our tips will help. Thanks for reading and be sure to check out our RV resources page.
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