RVs are incredible vehicles capable of providing all the amenities of home-packed efficiently into a small box and supplied by rolling tanks of water. Made and maintained correctly, a single RV can last for decades, often passed down from owner to owner as people have the time and money to take the cozy vehicle out camping. But let’s face it, no matter how comfortable and fun they are, not all RVs are beautiful on the inside. Especially if they’re a few generations old with a sense of style and age of material to match. From yellowing plastic trim to garishly decorated kitchens, there are many older RVs that might be the perfect price and design for your family though you might not care for the decor.
The good news is that RVs are fairly small on the inside and remarkably easy to redecorate even with everything emplaced as it is. All you need is the right materials and mindset to get the job done without worrying about overdoing it.
1. Contact Paper the Cabinets
The kitchen takes up a significant portion of any RV and the cabinetry is usually reflected in many other surfaces, including the bathroom. This means that if you don’t like the color or wood grain of the cabinets and accent wood (or faux wood), then you probably won’t be as happy in your RV as you’d like to be. An interesting solution is contact paper, available in a wide variety of other faux materials like marble, tile, metal, and other colors of faux wood. Working with a selection of contact paper gives you the opportunity to completely change the appearance of your cabinets while leaving the structure alone. You can even ‘upgrade’ your appliances with faux stainless steel.
2. Create Washable Cushion Covers
One of the biggest issues with any older RV is the built-in couch. These are often worn and even if the cushions are still comfortable, often the upholstery is rough and threadbare by the time an RV sees its fifth year or second owner. While you could get the cushions completely replaced or professionally reupholstered if you prefer the DIY approach, why not simply make yourself some removable, washable, and much sturdier cushion covers? In fact, you can make a colorful variety of covers so that you can quickly redecorate your RV for holidays or just for fun.
3. Slipcover the Couch
Speaking of ways to perk up the couch (and make it more pet-friendly), many RV couches don’t strip all the way down to the frame, they will have built-in pads instead. Whether the couch is still nice or has also become a bit worn down, a soft and very washable slipcover is the perfect way to protect the couch, make your RV much easier to clean and provide a quick way to redecorate. In fact, you can make matching sets of slipcovers and cushion colors then mix them up to get festive.
4. Steam-Clean the Carpets
Are your RV carpets ailing? This is no surprise, as the carpets installed by the manufacturers are seldom high quality or sometimes they’re not even well installed. If you don’t want to get serious about this wave of redecoration, try using a steam cleaner to breathe some life back into the carpets. The hot solution will loosen up any embedded dirt and sticky grime and then the wet-vacuum function will suck it all up. Don’t stop steam cleaning until the discharge tank comes back mostly white and soapy instead of dark gray and grimy.
5. DIY Vinyl and Carpet Tiles
Of course, if you’re really fed up with your RV carpets or are simply ready for a major change, it’s not that difficult to completely switch out your floors. All you need is tidy replacement materials and some DIY determination. Carpet tiles are a great way to easily restore and redecorate your living areas while a fresh layer of attractive vinyl will do well cut to fit your kitchen and bathroom.
6. Install New Plumbing Fixtures
Once you have changed the appearance of the cabinets, couch, and floors, you might not be surprised to learn how much of a difference new plumbing features can make. Head over to the hardware store or look around online for a few faucets and handle designs you might like for the kitchen and bathroom. These can change the entire impression of the rooms from manufacturer-neutral to elegant and personalized by choosing a style that makes you happy.
7. Put Up Curtains and Drapes
One literally ancient method of quick and easy redecoration is to throw up curtains and draperies. Not only can you put up your style of curtains over the windows, but it’s also important to remember that curtains can go along blank walls as well. You can even hang curtains from the ceiling and drape them toward the walls to completely reshape the inside of your RV cabin.
8. Repaint the Walls
Of course, if you don’t want 10% curtains and do want to change the color of your walls, a little paint will always do the trick. Color choice is your first important decision, as you want something that will complement the rest of the RV. After that, you’ll want to make sure that your final coat is a glossy seal that cleans easily. This way, you’ll be able to scrub up spills or splattered camping mud easily without worrying about the paint coming away on the sponge.
9. String Up Colored Lights
To completely transform the appearance of a room is to literally look at it in a different light. By using colored bulbs and decorative strung-up lights, you can change the interplay of light and shadow and the colors the decor reflects in the lights. This can create a beautiful, almost magical effect. Just remember that you’ll still see it in the normal color spectrum when you turn on the overhead lights or open the windows.
An alternative to string lights that has only recently become an option is something called EL wire. Capable of running on outlets or batteries, these plastic strands glow heatlessly in a wide variety of colors. You can hang, loop, and wrap them around things or you can use a little bit of adhesive for a cool TRON tech look by lining your cabinets, windows, and wall edges with the gently glowing wires.
10. Hang a Few Mirrors
There are two things RVs notoriously lack: good lighting at night and space. Mirrors can actually help with both of these issues and provide a lovely way to decorate. By fitting mirrors into your cabinet doors and on the open sections of the wall in appealing ways, you can enhance the feeling of spaciousness in your RV and reflect the light you have into those dark corners.
11. Small Lamps
Speaking of illumination, RV built-in lights are almost never sufficient for actually finding anything, but they do come with an outlet. One great way to brighten up your RV and add a little homey decor is with a small tabletop or even hanging and wall-mounted lamps. In all cases, you’ll want to secure them and we suggest Command strips, either beneath standing lamps or securing hooks for mounted lamps.
12. Curtains Over Doorways, Nooks, and Cabinets
If you like the look of draperies, there’s no rule that says they can only go over windows. Rather than simply installing a few short utilitarian curtains, consider getting matching or color-coordinated drapes to cover a variety of surfaces. You can use a curtain to cover your closet and any other nooks, a curtain for your bedroom and bathroom doors, and even get a shower curtain that matches. You can also use long drapes for windows on otherwise blank walls to further the elegant effect.
13. Get Artistic with RV
Finally, it may help to remember that you don’t have to use conventional methods at all. If you want to cover the walls in art, seashells, or small antique clocks, that is entirely your prerogative. After all, your RV is your personal way to escape the stresses of everyday life and go camping without even having to worry about the basic amenities. We encourage you to get artistic, try creative ideas, take advice from your kids, and decorate your RV any way you want. Then take pictures and share because the friendly online RV community loves that sort of thing.
Whether you’re a first-time traveler or a battle-hardened road warrior, the way your RV looks should reflect who you are, not the manufacturer, the previous owner, or the years of comfortable occupation. No matter how new or old your model, or how long it’s had that carpet of suspiciously indeterminate color. With a few quick DIY techniques and an artistic vision of how you want to camp, you can transform your RV’s interior decor without ripping out anything but the carpets.
If you’d like more tips, news, or information about RV travel or the full-time RV lifestyle, we would love to hear from you! Please contact us today and feel free to explore our website!