It’s no secret that RV bathrooms are tiny. When space is at a premium there’s no need to devote extra square footage to a room where, let’s face it, you’ll be spending a very small amount of time in.
But does that mean it needs to be ugly? I have seen so many RVs with hideous bathrooms. Usually they’re decorated in a dull décor, white walls and beige counter tops. Or they’re over the top with patterned wallpaper embellished by a border of swans and topped off with a pink sink.
Is it really too much to ask to design an RV bathroom with a simple, clean, and modern look?
Since the RV manufacturers don’t seem to want to help me out, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Here’s the story of my most recent bathroom remodel.
Before we begin I have a confession to make. This is actually our second go-round renovating our RV bathroom.
We have a 1999 Airstream Safari that we bought used and have lived in full-time for the past three years. Before we moved in, the bathroom got a pretty big remodel. We replaced the counter top, the sink, the faucet, the floor, the backsplash, and the toilet. We also painted over the gold leaf patterned wallpaper (who thought that was a good idea?) and installed some much needed towel hooks.
In this photo you can see the original bathroom on the right and the first remodel on the left.
Everything has held up very well except for the back splash. In an effort to copy the look of more modern Airstreams, we installed a sheet of aluminum behind the sink. It looked great for a few months. Then the raw aluminum began to tarnish and develop water spots that no amount of cleaning would remove. After seemingly trying everything, we decided the best course of action was to simply cover it up with a new backsplash. While we were at it, I figured why not add a fresh coat of paint and some new accessories?
So yes, this is the story of my bathroom remodel for under $100, but it’s also the story of a bathroom remodel after a bathroom renovation. Hopefully, this will be the last chapter in the story of my tiny RV bathroom.
Step 1: New Paint
- 1 quart Behr Premium zero VOC paint in Eggshell finish: $13.00
- Small roller: $5.00
- Paintbrush (no cost – already owned)
- Paint tray (no cost – borrowed)
We prepped the bathroom by taking down the two upper cabinets and removing the towel racks. In this photo you can see the lovely gold patterned wall paper behind the removed cabinet. The bathroom was originally covered with this pattern!
The wall space in the bathroom is minimal, but there were lots of edges and surfaces to cut around. I didn’t bother taping off anything, but I did spend extra time making sure I didn’t get paint on the counter, ceiling, or white moulding around the edge of the backsplash.
It took about an hour to paint the first coat. By the time I was done the first wall was dry and I was able to go back and give it a quick second coat.
Step 2: New Backsplash
- 8 Smart Tile Peel & Stick Backsplash Tiles: $52
- Straight edge & Utility Knife (no cost – already had)
Peel and stick tiles are a great choice for an RV. Not only are they easy and mess-free to install, but they’re also extremely lightweight.
I had seen other RVs with the Smart Tile brand peel and stick tiles and knew that I liked the look. From a distance they are reminiscent of glass tiles, only they require no mortar and no grout. They also add only a tiny bit of extra weight, and there’s no need to worry about breakage as the RV shifts while driving down the road.
Home Depot carries this brand of tile, but after mulling over the wider selection on the Smart Tile website I decided to order them direct. I did have to pay a $10 shipping charge. But since the tiles I picked were discounted from $8 per piece to $5.25 per piece it ended up being a savings over buying them from Home Depot. As a bonus I got the exact pattern and color that I wanted.
The installation of the tiles couldn’t have been simpler. Since we were starting with a clean, flat surface there was no need to prep the existing back splash any farther.
We simply lined the first tile up with the wall and counter and slowly peeled off the back paper while pressing on the front to make sure it adhered properly.
Each tile has a white “grout line” border. The manufacturer’s instructions say to overlap the border between tiles. This proved to be fairly easy and before we knew it we had reached the end of the first row.
We had to cut one tile at the end of the row to make it fit. We simply measured the amount to be cut off, marked the tile, lined up the mark with a straight edge, and cut the tile with a utility knife. It couldn’t have been simpler.
The second level proved no more difficult from the first, and soon we had the entire backsplash finished.
Step 3: Accessories
- Towels (2 bath & 1 hand towel): on sale at Target: $18.00
- Toothbrush holder: $5.00
To complete the new look I purchased some new towels and a new toothbrush holder. I found the perfect towels on sale at Target. They had a grey background to match the walls and an attractive yellow pattern that added a pop of color. Finally, I placed a giant sea shell that we recently found on the beach in the corner of the counter for decoration.
Final Thoughts on Our Airstream Bathroom Remodel
The grand total for the entire remodel was $93.00. Altogether we spent two hours painting and installing the backsplash. Not bad!
It’s only been a week, but so far the stick-on backsplash is holding up very nicely and I’m thrilled by how easy it is wipe clean. I love my new bathroom!