With the exception of truly custom, top-of-the-line RVs, most campers, travel trailers and motorhomes have a “campy” feel to them. Even those that are in excellent, road worthy condition are less than inspiring when it comes to a living space you want to spend more time in. Without breaking the bank, what can you do to liven up your mobile home in a meaningful way? Here’s five ideas to get you started.
1. Add a backsplash
Michael and Sarah added a custom backsplash to their pop up camper (bet you didn’t think that was possible!). Trailer or camper backsplashes usually use peel and stick tiles rather than the full-blown (and heavy) mortar tiles like in a residential home.
2. Think “home”
Part of the problem is the mindset. Most RV owners think of it as their “RV” and their home as home. Several of the stories we have shared here in recent months described the RV as the family’s “vacation home”. This subtle shift in how they talk about their recreational vehicle is typically accompanied by a better than average interior design scheme.
Some things to consider:
- Incorporate real furniture and accessories whenever possible. Things built for RVs almost always look like it.
- Disguise distinctly “RV” components, from mechanical items to seams in the walls. These details draw a lot of attention and make the space feel less than luxurious.
- Decorate like you would at home. Don’t skimp on details, and this doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money.
New curtains, table cloth, throw pillows and staged fruit – yes this is a pop up trailer!
3. Fabrics are cheap
Fun colors and patterns give this camper a lot of life.
One thing that is often distinctively “RV” in many campers and motorhomes is the long-wearing, but less-than-attractive upholstery and other soft goods. Here are some areas that fabrics will help in remodeling a camper:
- Dining bench upholstery. Replacing it with bright colors or friendly contemporary patterns.
- Curtains and valances. This is one area where RV owners often forego fashion in favor of light blocking fabrics. Dress it up! Layers, just like on a home window, make a window dressing more impressive.
- Area rugs and “pops” of color. Area rugs, throw pillows, towels on the rack and even bedding can go a long way toward adding a homey touch and tying your décor together.
A wider view of the same camper, featuring great fabrics in a cool color scheme.
4. Upgrade the cabinetry
Typical RV cabinetry, with faux wood finish and ugly pulls.
This may be the biggest offender when it comes to that “RV” feel. Of course cabinets needs to be light weight and utilitarian, but that’s no excuse for them to be ugly. By adding more detail, you can take them from “camper” to “wow”.
- Switch out the pulls. This is the fastest and easy upgrade you can make. They don’t cost a lot, but they can make a huge difference.
- Add trim. Crown molding along the top or a better backsplash can make a big difference. Add a trim “frame” to door fronts for a home cabinetry feel.
- Switch out the cabinets altogether. Use small furniture pieces or cut down home cabinets to fit for a more custom feel.
Same cabinet with a coat of paint and some new pulls – it’s like magic!
5. Paint everything
Popup camper featuring “wood grain” finishes, before paint.
Almost any surface can be painted if it is primed and prepped properly. Not sure what type of paint to use? Visit a local paint store and describe your project for some great advice and suggestions.
- Walls, ceilings, even floors can be painted. Choose the right paint for the job and choose your color palette before you start.
- Cleaning, sanding and priming, depending on the surface, make all the difference. Take the time to properly prepare the surface for best results.
The same camper, with painted cabinets and new curtains.
These five “focus areas” seem to have a big impact on the overall feel of a pop up camper renovation. If you could change only one thing about your RV, what would it be?