If you can remember buying your first RV, you’ll understand the joy (and fear) we felt when we bought our 1994 Coachmen Leprechaun Motorhome.
We knew we couldn’t afford a fancy, new motorhome. And the ready-to-drive used ones at dealerships were still a bit out of our price range.
Our only choice was a pre-owned fixer-upper from Craigslist. But we knew if we bought a used camper, we’d probably have a lot of updating to do to make it into something we’d be satisfied living in.
Grand Plans for this Honeymoon RV
Newly married and ready to set out on our honeymoon, our goal was to hit all forty-eight contiguous states, film our adventure, and even write a book about our travels.
We knew at some point that our trip would end and we’d head back to a semi-normal apartment-dwelling life, but for a good chunk of time we’d be “part-time full-timers.”
Since we’d be spending so much time in this hand-me-down RV, and it would serve as a home, workspace, storage unit, and film studio, we thought that a good cleaning and some DIY remodeling action would make our lives on the road a little bit more pleasant.
My husband found DoItYourselfRV.com and scoured every article on class C motorhome remodels to spark some ideas for our remodel.
With a 29-foot rig and no slide outs, we needed to choose colors and updates to make the motor home feel more spacious and homey.
We loved the Jayco redesign, so we used nearly all of their ideas – except for the lime green everywhere. 🙂 You might like the lime green, but I couldn’t take that much of it!
Before this remodel, my husband had never so much as painted a wall, but he was determined we could accomplish all of this on our own.
We finally purchased our motorhome a month before our wedding. After the ceremony, we planned on taking a seven-month road trip to the 48 contiguous states.
In the middle of wedding planning, mapping out our honeymoon road trip, and working, we gave ourselves exactly one week to complete our renovation. (You’re probably thinking that’s way too crazy, and we’d now agree with you!)
Here was our grand plan for the Coachmen Leprechaun:
- Remove table, chairs, couch, and mattress
- Remove, prime, and repaint cabinet doors
- Prime the interior of the RV
- Paint all interior walls Olympic paint “Aqua Chiffon”
- Paint overhead loft (My husband did this WITHOUT my permission)
- Remov all the carpet and replaced with laminate wood floors Shaw Resilient – Hickory
- Prime, paint, and seal kitchen table
- Spray paint all handles and hinges silver
- Re-install all removed cabinet doors, furniture, etc.
- Replace couch cover
- Sew curtains for windows
It Was a Cheap Renovation – But a Fun One!
We found all of our painting and flooring supplies easily at Lowe’s. All together, we spent about $500 to complete the renovation ourselves.
Our other ideas included replacing all of our lights with LED bulbs and mounting a television, but then we looked at pricing and gave up on those dreams for now.
Removing all of the furniture and cabinet doors was simple enough with the right power drills, but took nearly a whole day. We primed the walls and cabinets all with the same primer, which ended up taking an additional two full days.
You don’t realize how many nooks and crannies are in your RV until you take a paintbrush to them.
The aqua chiffon blue brightened our new mobile home even better than we could’ve imagined. Contrasted with the white cabinets, our tiny living area felt much bigger and happier, or as my husband says, “It feels like a traveling beach house.”
We quickly found that the small details in the renovation are the most important. Spray-painting all of the hinges and all of the handles silver wasn’t high on our priority list until we saw what 1994 shiny gold looked like…horrible.
After we finished painting all of the walls and cabinets, I needed to return to work, so I left the construction to my husband.
All he needed to do was paint the table, put the cabinet doors back on, and lay the new laminate. I’d installed laminate before, so I knew it was easy enough for him to handle. We already ripped out the carpet and planned to the lay the boards directly over the linoleum that was in our living area.
While I worked, he continued to renovate. He found shower curtains that perfectly matched our walls.
His mother lined and sewed them into curtains for our living area windows. She also found a tan slipcover to perfectly cover our hideous couch.
For dramatic effect, my husband decided to grand reveal the finished RV to me. I didn’t mind—that meant I didn’t have to help finish the construction!
When I walked in, I noticed our previously white overhead loft was suddenly a very dark shade of grey.
We had argued endlessly about whether or not to paint the loft, and finally had agreed not to – but he painted it anyway! He also tried to convince me to make the loft our permanent bed, while the real bedroom would be the office. But one night sleeping inches from the ceiling on the loft bed guaranteed that wouldn’t be happening.
We kept our remodel simple. Simply painting the walls and replacing the floors made a world of a difference. Our 20 year old model, affectionately known as “Franklin the Turtle” for his speed, looks a decade younger.
And here’s the finished product!
If two 23-year-olds can manage this overhaul – especially when one of them had never painted a day in his life – anyone can!
Here’s an interesting interview with Heath and Alyssa on the Good Sam blog.
7 thoughts on “Two Twenty-Somethings Transform Their 1994 Coachmen Leprechaun For a 48 State Honeymoon”
We did actually just paint right over the wallpaper too. The coats of paint certainly display where the wallpaper is bubbling (it was bubbling before we painted it). Only in one spot has our wall paper actually peeled from the wall, but that’s because I accidentally scraped it with the handle of a pan. It’s been about two months since we painted, but it still is holding up nicely! We’ll see if it can handle the next 6 months of full-time RV life! 🙂
Thank you Darlene! Yes, budgeting is key. I don’t know how we pulled off a wedding and a motorhome remodel all at once, but we are certainly penny pinching! I look forward to seeing pictures of your upcoming remodel on DIYRV soon 🙂
Thanks Susan! We couldn’t be happier about it 🙂
We’ll look into the wallpaper question, thanks for your comments.
What a great job! I can totally see this “new” honeymoon suite as a one of a kind experience for you two starting your lives together. Have fun and congratulations!
We have some older (67 – 70) friends who performed a similar remodel on their first, recently purchased, used class A. They applied faux paint over the vinyl wallpaper, and installed an inexpensive wood floor material. They sold it and upgraded before they really spent any time in it, so we don’t know how their work held up. I cut some of the flooring for them, and found is was of very poor quality and scratched easily. I still wonder what the correct method is for repairing, prepping, and painting vinyl (?) wall paper. If anyone has done that – successfully – I would sure like to hear the various steps that went into producing a finish that stood up to typical RV use!
Absolutely LOVE the colors and patterns you selected for your remodel. My husband and I are in the prep stages for going full-time, selling our businesses and our home, leaving the ‘rat race’ behind. We’re sticking to a budget as we search for the perfect motorhome, and reading your article has given me some great ideas for transforming our ride into our home. Congrats on your new marriage, and enjoy your honeymoon! I’m certain it will be the experience of a lifetime.
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