Travel Trailer Turned into a Cottage on Wheels
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Ashley Mann spent three years living full time in a 38-foot, 5th-wheel RV with her husband Josiah and their cat, Kitty. Her favorite thing about RV life is the challenge of finding the perfect way to organize a space, and she loves seeing all the creative and clever ways people come up with to customize their RVs.
DIY enthusiast Tina has a knack for giving new life to things that are old and outdated. She says, “I have a passion for taking something ugly and making it pretty again.” If you scroll through her Instagram profile, you can see examples of her work, including beautifully restored furniture and rustic, country-chic decor.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Tina and her husband decided to sell their home and live in an RV to cut down on costs and simplify their lifestyle, so they sold their first RV, a 1967 Terry travel trailer, and purchased a larger 2007 Thor Freedom Spirit travel trailer, which their family lived in for 9 months. Tina says she actually worked on renovating the camper while under going treatments. She says, “It was therapy for me, and helped get my mind off everything going on.”
Thankfully Tina is now cancer free, and says the camper has now taken on a new role as a getaway for her family, and “a reminder every time we take it out of what's important in life.” Tina and her family enjoy camping in their home state of Georgia, and hope to take some longer trips this summer. She calls this camper her “home away from home” and loves that it gives her “all the luxuries of home while enjoying the great outdoors”.
Before the renovation
Here's what the travel trailer looked like when Tina and her husband bought it. As you can see, this RV was definitely in need of a style update!
(Click the images to view larger)
After the project was completed
Below are Tina's answers to some questions I asked her about the renovation process:
Q: How long did the project take?
A: We finished everything but the master bedroom in about 2 months. We just recently completed the master and exterior for probably a total of 4 months total.
Q: Where did you purchase the materials for the project?
A: Most items we purchased off Amazon. It made it easier to purchase items that we would have had to spend days driving around to find. Our flooring came from Home Depot (TrafficMASTER Grey oak 6 in. x 36 in. peel-and-stick vinyl plank). The peel and stick tiles for the backsplash came from Amazon.
Q: What kind of paint did you use?
A: Behr Marquee Paint-and-Primer-in-One. We used flat white on the walls and the same kind in semi-gloss on the cabinets.
(For RV painting tips, check out this article.)
Q: What did you use on the wall behind your bed?
A: The planks behind the bed are actually the flooring, and we also used that on the steps next to the night stands. We attached it with Xtra glue and a nail gun.
Q: About how much did the project cost?
A: With decor and everything I would say about about $3,000. I'm a very frugal shopper so most all decor was purchased on clearance.
Q: What did you use to make the plank wall in your bathroom?
A: The bathroom wall was a packaged kit at Home Depot we found in the trim section. I'm pretty sure one box did that wall. They are wood planks.
Q: What about the bathroom floor?
A: The flooring I also purchased from Amazon. I was able to find it there much cheaper than other places. (It's actually floor tile decals – you can view them here.)
Q: What prior skills and experience did this RV renovation require?
A: We learned a lot renovating our 1967 but, with the years difference there were definitely learning curves. One in particular was lighting. I wanted to replace all the lighting like we did in our '67. I learned quickly you could do this, but regular light bulbs did not work like they did in our Terry.
(Note: For a guide to replacing light fixtures in an RV, check out this guide.)
Q: Did you paint the exterior of your RV?
A: Luckily we did not have to paint the white. We were able to remove the decals with a heat gun and then any excess with Goo Gone. But the heat gun removed most very cleanly.
Q: What did you use to paint your front door?
A: I used a black oil paint from Home Depot to paint door and trim. I believe it was Rust-oleum.
Q: What advice would you give to other RV owners who are considering an RV makeover like this?
A: Take your time and shop around. Pinterest and Instagram were great sources of inspiration for me.
Check out Tina's Instagram to see more photos and ask her any other questions you may have about her RV renovation process!
Amazing! Love the transformation! Tina is very talented!
You go Tina! That is an awsome RV flip!!
where did you get the couch & chairs?
Hi Ami, I actually don’t own this RV, but you can contact the owner though her Instagram page: Instagram.com/diyrestoreandmore
I’m so curious to know how you attach everything so it doesn’t move around when you are traveling, like dining chairs, coffee tables???
Hi Vickie, I don’t own this RV, but in mine I just used the same furniture straps that came with the original furniture to tie down the furniture I added. I also used bungee cords to hold some things in place. If your camper doesn’t come with enough of the furniture straps, you can buy them online (they attach to D rings which you screw into the floor).
This is unconventional, Australia’s, I saw an episode on tiny living and the gal used clear bra straps for shelf items and a type of stick and stay clay for little plants and whatnots.. hope this helps.
Did you just paint over the cabinets ? Any crazy prep work? Special paint?
Hi Meredith, yes, you can paint RV cabinets, but you need to follow a process that is appropriate for the type of material they’re made from when it comes to prep work and the type of paint or primer you use. For cabinets made of real wood, you would need to sand or strip them to remove the varnish, then paint first with a primer before the paint. Most RV cabinets are not solid wood, however, but are made from some type of composite wood covered with a plastic veneer. For this type of surface you can’t sand, so you need to prime them with a bonding primer or use a type of paint designed to adhere to any surface. I go into more detail about all this, including which brands of primer and paint work best, in my Ultimate Guide to Painting Your RV Interior.
Hi! Love the renovation. The faucet in the bathroom, did you purchase that or diy it?
Hi Renata, I’m Ashley, who wrote this article about Tina and her travel trailer renovation. Looking at the picture, I believe the bathroom faucet is original to the camper.