Man beginning work on his self made camper van

Everything You Need to Know About Renovating an RV

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Man beginning work on his self made camper van

A Home (on Wheels) Makeover

This article originally appeared on

Every home needs a little sprucing up every once in a while — even mobile homes. Perhaps you’re sticking by a reliable old antique camper that could use some extensive refinishing. Or maybe you simply need a new look for the interior of your modern rig. Either way, there are plenty of ways to DIY some ingenious renovations that’ll have your RV looking brand new and chic as can be in no time.

Not especially handy? Don’t worry. Many of these RV improvements are surprisingly easy to do. And even if you’re taking on a whole remodel and will require professional help at some point, it’s nice to be able to take care of some of the finishing touches yourself. Keep reading to discover some totally doable ways to renovate your camper — or at least give it a thorough makeover.

Related: 22 Important Things to Consider Before Buying an RV

DIY Do it Yourself – Home Improvement Still Life

Make a Plan

Before you begin digging into the fun stuff and planning actual upgrades, it’s important to make a plan as to how much time, energy, and money you want to spend on your RV renovation. This will depend on your personal budget and preferences — you could do as little as a simple paint job or do a complete, custom RV interior remodeling job, including brand new appliances in your kitchen and bathroom.

Related: 5 Renovated RVs That Will Have You Packing Your Bags

Used RV

Consider the Investment

One important thing to note: Unless your RV is of very good quality and you intend to either keep it indefinitely or turn it around and sell it for as much as possible, it might not be the wisest financial decision to sink too much cash into a remodeling job. After all, RVs are recreational vehicles, which means they depreciate in value — so you can’t guarantee you’ll get your investment back later if you decide to sell the rig.

Related: 14 Ways for Do-It-Yourselfers to Save on a Home Renovation

Calculator and a ruler

Anticipate the Costs (Realistically)

One reason it’s so appealing to perform RV remodels yourself is because of the high cost of having an RV professionally renovated. Even things you’ll soon discover are relatively easy to fix — such as installing new window coverings or updating your upholstery — could end up blowing your budget if you hire someone else to do it. But when you’re in charge of your own renovations, you have total control over the supplies, which means you have total control over the final costs. Your renovations could run you anywhere from a few bucks to several hundred, or even thousands, of dollars, depending on how much you plan to remodel.

Related: The One Question to Ask Before Getting an RV

Textile: Sewing Items Still Life

Easy RV Renovation Ideas

Ready to learn how to renovate a camper trailer? Let’s start out with some of the simplest ideas that anybody could do themselves — and which you might want to take on in even a brand new rig, just to change it up a little! For these upgrades, all you’ll need is some new fabric, possibly some thread, and a little bit of craftiness.

Related: 14 Ways for Do-It-Yourselfers to Save on a Home Renovation

folding bed inside the trailer. camper van interior. caravan trailer of large size, equipped with all necessary household appliances to ensure the comfort of the traveler
Казаков Анатолий Павлович/istockphoto

1. Hanging New Curtains (Or Other Window Treatments)

Sometimes, the easiest renovations have the biggest effect. Whether your RV comes equipped with pull-down shades alone or already has some kind of curtain system built in, changing around the fabric can make your interior feel brand new in a hurry — not to mention offer a better night’s sleep if your current window coverings don’t quite cut it.

You can create DIY fabric curtains relatively easily. In fact, if you follow these tips from Ditching Suburbia, you won’t even have to do any sewing. They used peel and stick tape to make the project even simpler. You could also consider adding blackout curtain fabric as a liner to make your space darker and better for catching those late-morning ZZZs.

Related: RV Shower Curtains – 4 Things You Need to Know

Inside of empty bed in camper van and the view through window with curtain on lakeside

2. Updating the Cornice Boards

If you do change up the curtains, don’t forget the cornices — otherwise, your RV’s interior might look mismatched! Fortunately, they’re pretty simple to replace and recover. Here’s an easy-to-follow tutorial from WheelingIt to get you started.

Related: 13 Surprisingly Simple Home Repairs You Can DIY to Save Big

Woman teleworking from her motorhome as a mobile office
Jose Prieto/istockphoto

3. Re-covering the Furniture Upholstery

Can’t stand the floral pattern on your dinette? Is that white, faux-leather couch a magnet for dirt and animal hair … not to mention a little boring? Re-covering your furniture’s existing upholstery is actually really easy to do, and it can instantly make your RV feel ten times homier. And if you feel overwhelmed even thinking about taking on a project like that one, don’t worry. There are tons of easy-to-follow tutorials available around web, and some especially helpful ones on YouTube for those of us who are visual learners.

You can find lots of reupholstery guides that don’t require even a sewing machine, too. Here’s a helpful one by In My Own Style and another by Jessica Perez. No matter which of these easy fabric renovations you take on, do be sure to take your time when choosing your actual fabric. The colors and patterns you choose will define how these easy fixes will upgrade your space, so be sure you choose fabrics you like, that are comfortable, and that go well together.

But then again, since these three ideas are so easy, I guess you could always just re-cover your upholstery again if you decided what you chose wasn’t for you!

interior view of a self-build camper van

DIY RV Renovation

If you’re a little handier, you can even take on some bigger RV renovation and remodeling projects yourself. Soon you'll have your rig looking like one of the most luxurious RVs that money can buy!

Installing laminated floor, detail on man hands holding wooden tile, over white foam base layer, small pile with more tiles background
Lubo Ivanko/istockphoto

4. Upgrading RV Flooring

Ever walk into a new-to-you rig to have your very first thought be, who on earth chose to put down this puke-green carpet? For whatever reason, it seems like RV interior designers may have a higher-than-average tendency towards color blindness. But fortunately, it’s actually possible to pull out the old flooring and lay down a new material, whether you go with better carpet or tile, linoleum, or wood laminate. It takes some technical skill and effort, sure … but it’s a lot better than shelling out thousands of dollars to have someone else do it!

Here’s a walkthrough on how to tackle the challenge by Mountain Modern Life. And if all of this sounds like kind of a lot to you, never underestimate the power (and affordability!) of a quality area rug.

Related: Replacing Flooring in a Travel Trailer: What You Need to Know

Space Will Be Limited

5. Refinishing Your RV’s Walls

Did you know that you can paint over wallpaper? And depending on how your rig’s walls are decked out, you may want to do just that. Here’s a great how-to guide from The Noshery. Bonus: If you choose a satin or glossy finish, you’ll even paint in easy cleanup for inevitable accidents and spills.

You can also look into fun wall decals and other ways to easily make your RV’s large interior walls more fashionable and exciting. Plus, check out our guide to mounting on your RV walls, whether you want to hang art, a new television, or something else.

Related: RV TV Mount – Don’t Buy One Until You Read This

VW Renovated RV

Ridin' in Style

Have fun exploring in your newly-decked-out rig — but don’t forget to get outside once you reach your destination. Be sure to check out one of these bucket list RV trips for 2021 for ideas for your first destination in your newly renovated rig. And if you don't have the time, energy or circumstances for a renovation, just rent a rig to explore new territory for the week (or longer)!