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.
Want more remodel tips?
Here’s an awesome RV remodel our friends did to their fifth-wheel!
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out our RV resources page.
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Hi! Newbie here! We’re about to embark on the full-time RV lifestyle with a family of four: myself and the hubbs, our 2 children (12yo girl & 10yo boy), a 10lb kitty, and a 30+ lb Aussiedoodle 😳😬. We plan to do this for at least 2-3 years. We’re excited, but intimidated also. Your recap of cosmetic touches that make it feel more homey eases my nerves at least a bit. One question: how is having carpet under the dining table? We’re considering pulling our carpet from under the living and dining area furniture in the slides and adding vinyl… Read more »
Hi Brittany, thank you for writing us and congrats on your decision to embark on your full time RV journey! How exciting 🙂 I think carpet is always a personal choice… some people are really against it and others like the way it can make things feel “homey”. We never had a problem with the carpet and it was easy enough to vacuum to keep clean. My advise would be that if you want the vinyl flooring for the aesthetic and to make it easy to sweep/mop rather than needed a vacuum, then go for it. Many people have done… Read more »
can you remodel bathroom and have
tub no shower????
I think it could be somewhat difficult, but dont see why not. Ive seen it done on other renovations before and actually just saw a brand new RV with a tub offering.
I love how this turned out! We will be remodeling our Cougar 5th wheel this summer and I can’t wait to share our updates! Thanks for all of the tips.. definitely saving for later ❣️
Awesome! Best of luck with the Reno – it makes such a huge difference!
Can you tell me where you got your bedspread?
It was just a bed in a bag set that we picked up somewhere – believe it was TJ Maxx. Sorry not more help!
We’re looking at buying a 2000 RV. Bcuz RV walls are so thin, renovating a RV isn’t like a house. I want to change the dinette to a u-shaped and rip up the carpet to add vinel flooring. How do we find out about riping things out and whats behind it. (We haven’t talked the bathroom yet.)
Thank you for writing us and we wish you the best in your RV renovation. Unfortunately, we don’t really know how to answer your question as our updates were mostly cosmetic. I recommend that you check out https://rvinspiration.com/ – this site has TONS of information on RV renos.
I like your recommendation to paint the chairs to make the camper seem more like home. My wife and I have considered buying a fifth wheel for our summer vacations with the family. We also may consider buying a used one and then renovating it.
Much thanks to you for sharing background and thoughts!
I like the helpful info you supply for your articles. Best of luck with the following!
This is awesome, looks definitely homie and inviting!
Thanks we appreciate that so much!
How do you guys keep the furniture from falling over when you’re driving? I love the look but I can just imagine all the chairs falling over, etc.
We’d flip the chairs over and place them on top of the sofa. Then we’d strap them down to the RV so they wouldn’t go anywhere during travel. The original furniture worked the exact same way so there was already straps bolted into the floor that we were able to continue using with the new furniture. To protect the chairs and the sofa from getting damaged during transit, we cut some pool noodles to place on corners and areas where the chairs and couch made contact with each other – worked out great!
Wow. What a nice output and if your looking for some rv windows that is safe and durable we have some. Thanks for your posts had a interesting time reading this!
Thank you for sharing! We are trying to update our rv by doing little things also. I appreciate you sharing your faith. Every life has its detours.
Thanks Carol for your kind comment! Would love to hear about and see your updates on your RV – good luck!
I just finished one with a built in three person sauna and an 80” screen mini movie theater I’d love to share with people to see 😃
Where did you get the Huge United States ?
Hi Danna, we actually got the map at Walmart for around $10 bucks! It’s a wall sticker and I think we found it by the paint section.
I used extra strength velcro strips for pictures and clock. Never have had a problem with falling off.
Love this article – what a big bang for your buck! Such good ideas and beautiful results! Especially the painted furniture; I have contemplated painting our chairs and table but am holding off for now…planning to just reupholster the seats. I am amazed at how good your beige wallpaper looks in combination with all your other updates! The white cabinets make such a difference!
Did you happen to redo the shower/tub? The one we have is so SMALL every time my husband showers it sounds like he’s tearing the shower walls down!! He’s a broad shouldered, thick body guy and really has a hard time!! We would have room I think to enlarge if I could find a small tub and build a smaller sink cabinet! Any information you may have I’d be grateful for!!
Hello, unfortunately, no we didn’t do anything to the shower. Our shower is actually a pretty good size. I have a stocky build and it has never been a problem for us so we don’t know anything about redoing the shower/sink. Sorry we can’t be more helpful for you 🙁 Good luck!
Where can I find a 5th Wheel that’s in decent condition that’s not brand new and won’t cost a fortune? I’m wanting to do this as a tiny house. I want to find a piece of land and permanently set one up to live in more cheaply than owning my home.
RVTrader is a great resource. We found ours on Craigslist but that can be tough sometimes with how many scams there are now days. Check Facebook Marketplace too, I’ve seen a few posts on there. Good luck to you!!! Let us know when you find one!
I found mine on FB Marketplace, it took me 2 months but I finally got one. I’m just getting started on the remodel and I’ve taken your advice on both the chairs and the futon. The RV was filthy when I got it, and it scared me but I think with a professional carpet clean and upholstery clean on the dinette chairs and a good scrubbing I should be ok. I won’t be starting the painting until I’m actually already living in it, so that should be interesting. Thank you for your ideals though it’s given me inspiration and hope.
I went to a local used-car/used-rv dealer a few years ago and described what I was looking for. I was friendly and soon had the interest of both the owner and his daughter/office manager. I was straight up about what I was looking for, though it changed over the years–I wanted something inexpensive! This fall he had a few really nice ones–but he called me when he lowered the price on one he knew I liked–I got my 2005 PERFECTLY kept Jayco Jayflight 28.5 RL for 3000 bucks under the lowest NADA price. Networking is a great resource–my friends were… Read more »
After looking at the picture’s and reading your info I am so amazed at what you have done. Your new home is absolutely beautiful. I love all the colors and how you fixed it up. You two have done an awesome job. Now I’m going back up to snoop around some more. Thanks for sharing this. Be safe.
Thank you so much, that is so nice of you to say! We’ve been really happy with how it turned out, even if we wanted to cry at times while we were fixing it up! 🙂
Looks great! Just a note on replacing furniture with “real” furniture. If the placement is something in a slideout, you can cause future failures in the slideout if the weight of the new piece is significantly different from the old. They are made very specifically to align and operate based on original specs. Also, if a remodel is a motor home v.s. a tow behind camper, the ability to strap down all furniture when you are on the move is essential in case of an accident. Everything is a potential projectile that can cause serious injury to passengers or driver.… Read more »
Thanks Jules! You’re totally right, you need to think about being able to secure whatever furniture you choose to put in your rig! Luckily for us, the fifth wheel has a place where you strap down all of the furniture that worked perfectly with the new furniture!
You didn’t mention painting the cabinets, so I’m assuming you didn’t.
Ours came already white so no, we didn’t have to paint them. Which was a definite bonus!!
Where did you find the USA map that is over the bed?
Walmart! I think it’s still there too!
Did less than $500 include the furniture?
Yes $500 total. Like we said in the post, we got the futon used from an app called OfferUp. So that helped tremendously. A lot of the wall decor we already had too.
It’s so homey. Great job.
Thank you so much 🙂
So the floor was already like that? And the paint? Stellar! Great tips!
Yes! We got super lucky! Thanks dear!