By: SelaLuna

29 Beautiful RV Makeovers with Unpainted Cabinets

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Can you give your RV a beautiful makeover with unpainted cabinets?

One of the most common RV update ideas you see online is to paint the RV cabinets and walls.

But painting RV cabinets is A LOT of work if you do it right. The best way to achieve quality results is to do a thorough sanding of any solid wood followed by a coat of bonding primer over everything and two coats of paint after that.

So, what if you want to give your RV a makeover but don’t want to do that much work?

Or what if you like the look of your wood cabinets, but just don’t love the overall effect?

Regardless of why you don’t want to paint your wood RV cabinets, in this article, you’ll see that you can give your RV interior a makeover WITHOUT painting all of the cabinets!

Idea 1: Clean and polish your cabinets.

I know this sounds super basic, but you might be surprised at the difference this simple step can make.

A friend of mine who was considering painting the oak cabinets in her kitchen ended up loving them after she thoroughly cleaned them with Old English Wood Polish & Restorer.

This trusted product has been around for decades. It blends in scratches and restores the shine to make wood cabinets look new again. It comes in a version for light wood and one for dark wood, so make sure to order the right color.

Idea 2: Add modern decor.

Some decorative touches will go a long way toward updating your RV interior. These can include new window treatments, recovering dining booth benches, replacing furniture, and adding plants and wall decor.

RV interior updates with Boho decor by Kelly Burns O'Brien
RV interior updates with Boho decor by Kelly Burns O’Brien

Bold decor can give an RV a total makeover with no permanent changes. The above RV owner’s boho-style updates include:

The RV is a Class C motorhome that has been modified for full-time living with the addition of a pull-out desk, extra storage, and a flip-down countertop extension. The decor includes a:

The owner of this RV used painter’s dropcloth fabric to make new covers for the dining booth seats as well as the window cornices/valances. Just covering outdated upholstery fabric can go a long way!

My favorite way to decorate is with plants. This isn’t practical for someone who only uses their RV occasionally, but is a popular was for full-timers to make their RV feel more homey.

For tips on growing plants inside an RV—like what to do when the RV is in motion and information on bringing them across state lines—read 9 Mobile Gardening Ideas for Full Time RVers.

Here’s another photo that shows what a dramatic difference tasteful decor can make! Decorative elements in this RV include:

Idea 3: Add a trendy kitchen backsplash.

Peel and tick subway tile backsplash in a motorhome
Photo by Morgan Conner

White subway tile can brighten and modernize oak or maple cabinets, making a dark kitchen seem lighter. RV owner Morgan Conner used peel-and-stick subway tile in her RV kitchen, pictured above.

I’ve also known quite a few RV owners who installed a real tile backsplash, like the one below by RV owner Patricia Pradmore. Flexible grout (available at most home improvement stores) is recommended due to the motion of the vehicle.

RV with oak cabinets and white subway tile backsplash
by Patricia Pradmore

Of course, you don’t have to use white tiles, like this dark gray peel-and-stick subway tile backsplash.

Dark gray peel-and-stick subway tiles in an RV
by Rene Bahner-Yonkie

Other popular choices with RVers include geometric or multi-colored mosaic tile backsplashes. Smart Tiles and Tic-Tac-Tiles are two brands that seem to deliver good results in RVs.

SMART TILES Peel and Stick Backsplash - 4 Sheets of 10.06' x 10' - 3D Adhesive Peel and Stick Tile Backsplash for Kitchen, Bathroom, Wall Tile
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SMART TILES Peel and Stick Backsplash - 4 Sheets of 10.06" x 10" - 3D Adhesive Peel and Stick Tile Backsplash for Kitchen, Bathroom, Wall Tile
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A mosaic-style backsplash is also a great way to make an RV feel more like a residential home.

See More: 27 RV Backsplash Ideas for Your Camper’s Kitchen and Bathroom

neutral SmartTiles
An RV kitchen updated with a mosaic tile backsplash – Photo by Lisa Dondrea

Idea 4: Replace the cabinet hardware.

You would be amazed at how much of a difference it can make to replace dated cabinet handles with modern-looking cabinet hardware.

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goldenwarm 10 Pack 5 Inch Black Cabinet Handles Matte Black Drawer Pulls Stainless Steel Cabinet Hardware Square Bar Modern Cabinet Handles for Kitchen Bathroom Cupboard
6,637 Reviews
goldenwarm 10 Pack 5 Inch Black Cabinet Handles Matte Black Drawer Pulls Stainless Steel Cabinet Hardware Square Bar Modern Cabinet Handles for Kitchen Bathroom Cupboard
  • MATERIAL:Black cabinet handles made of high quality Stainless Steel,they are hollow construction,lightweight but durable and anti-corrosive,can be used for many years.

You can find packages of handles and pulls (usually in packs of 10) on Amazon. They generally cost $1-$3 per handle in a package versus $10+ per handle when you buy individually at Home Depot. We always buy packs from Amazon to replace cabinet handles and love them. (Currently loving these!)

A Tip to Skip: Spray Painting Cabinet Hardware

You might be tempted to spray paint your old cabinet hardware to freshen it up, but I would advise against that. It is a very cheap makeover, however, the constant use means the paint ends up chipping after a while.

Plus, often it’s the shape rather than the color that makes cabinet hardware seem dated.

Idea 5: Makeover your RV cabinet doors.

If you’re just looking for a way to reduce the amount of wood or add a little color to your RV, one way to do that is with the cabinet doors.

One RV owner who didn’t care for the frosted glass inserts in her RV cabinets scraped all of the “frost” off the back of the glass and put pretty fabric behind the glass instead.

Don’t have glass inserts in your cabinet doors? The owner of this RV added sheets of imitation black leather contact paper to the wood panels of her cabinet doors. Chalkboard contact paper or wallpaper could be used for this look as well.

RV cabinet door makeover
Photo by Kathy Bross

Another RV owner did something similar in her RV bedroom using wood plank wallpaper:

RV cabinets with faux wood plank wallpaper
Photo by Ashley Pitre

Cane webbing is another popular way to add dimension and texture to the panels of your cabinet doors. Check out these 14 Ways to Update Your RV Cabinets to see more ways to decorate your cabinets.

Idea 6: Decorate with wallpaper.

One way to give your RV a total makeover without a drop of paint is by using wallpaper to create some accent walls in your RV.

Wallpaper can be tricky in an RV due to fluctuating temperatures. Check out our guide to hanging RV wallpaper for details on how to properly install wallpaper in your RV.

Here the RV owner used shiplap wallpaper along with some new curtains made from pillowcases to update her wood cabinets.

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What I love about the brown pineapple wallpaper in this next RV decorated by interior designer Staci is how well it matches the original cabinets.

Embracing the cabinets as they are and choosing decor to match creates a more unified feel while still getting away from the hotel-like look of the original factory decor.

This RV was decorated using this wallpaper along with some vertical subway tiles. These wall updates easily brighten up the RV even with extra dark cabinets. You can see more photos of this camper’s interior on the owner’s Instagram page @rad.ronda.rv.

HAOKHOME 96033 Peel and Stick Wallpaper Abstract Rainbow Black/White Removable contactpaper for Home Bathroom Decorations 17.7in x 9.8ft
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HAOKHOME 96033 Peel and Stick Wallpaper Abstract Rainbow Black/White Removable contactpaper for Home Bathroom Decorations 17.7in x 9.8ft
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Idea 7: Paint the walls—but not the cabinets

I know you came here looking for ideas that don’t involve painting. But I want to show you how painting the walls inside your RV can make such a big difference without the trouble of painting cabinets.

My RV with Gray Walls and Unpainted Maple Cabinets

First up is a photo of my own fifth wheel.

When we first moved in, I had a hard time convincing my husband that renovating the interior was a good idea, so we compromised by painting the walls a light gray color (a Benjamin Moore color called “Into the Gloaming”) to complement the maple cabinetry.

Living room of fifth wheel RV camper with painted walls and unpainted cabinets
Living room of our RV

Over time, I came to love the look and was glad I didn’t paint over our solid maple cabinets. I think it looks nicer and more unique than it would have if we had painted all of the trim and cabinetry white.

Also, painting the walls was not difficult. I used two coats of Valspar Signature Paint + Primer All-in-One from Lowe’s without any additional prep or primer. It turned out great and never scratched or peeled.

Related: A Complete Guide to Painting RV Walls

In addition to painting the walls, I also added a blue oriental rug, made curtains out of white bed sheets, added decor, replaced the sofa and other furniture, and made other little changes to make the space feel very homey.

RVs with Dark Cabinets and White Walls

White walls are even more popular than my grey ones!

RV renovation with white walls and unpainted cabinets
Photo credit: Instagram.com/thejacobtribe

This RV owner opted for white walls and a geometric peel-and-stick tile backsplash. They also added a DIY basket-turned light fixture and some greenery cascading down the side of one cabinet.

RV makeover with dark brown wood cabinets

The RV above is a 2014 Grand Design Solitude 369RL with the walls painted white. The owners also:

  • turned the living room into an office
  • replaced the pendant light fixtures over the island
  • updated the decor and window treatments in the bedroom
RV renovation with unpainted cabinets

This 2016 Coachmen Chaparral also has original flooring and cabinetry but has been given a Boho-style makeover that in addition to white walls includes the following:

They also painted the trim that goes along the ceiling, which helps open up the space. You can see more photos of this RV on the owners’ Instagram page @the.wanderpreneurs.

RV makeover with wood cabinets

Here’s an RV with white walls and dark cabinets that leans more toward modern farmhouse style with its cozy decor. I love the use of baskets under the couch for extra storage! The RV owner said on Instagram that the lace curtain is cleverly hiding their cats’ litter boxes.

Related: 7 RV litter box storage ideas

This next RV was renovated and sold to a family member by professional RV renovators and renovation consultants Shaun and Renee Tilby, known on Instagram as @TheFlippinTilbys.

RV renovation with stained wood cabinets

Some of the details I love about this Southwestern-themed makeover:

  • rattan webbing inserts on the cabinet doors
  • white curtains over wood blinds
  • window shades rolled up and fastened with leather straps
  • Southwestern print dinette cushions (I how the patterned fabric was used only for the backs and a neutral brown fabric was used for the seats.)
  • faux brick paneling (painted white)

RVs with Colorful Walls and Unpainted Cabinets

If you’re not a fan of all-white, here are a few colorful RV interiors where the cabinetry and woodwork were left unpainted but the walls were painted with color.

Colorful RV renovation with brown cabinets
Photo credit: Instagram.com/vdaigl2

In this first one, you can see these other decorative touches:

RV makeover without painting the cabinets
By Bobbi Gearhart

The owner of the RV shown above loves beach and mermaid-themed decor. She painted her walls a rich blue to match her bedspread.

RV with colorful walls and unpainted cabinets
Photo Credit: AlwaysOnLiberty.com

The colorful fifth wheel is owned by full-timers Dan and Lisa Brown. They hated their beige walls and decided to do a cheerful makeover. They covered the window cornices in addition to painting the walls in vibrant colors. You can read about all the details of their makeover in this blog post.

Interestingly, they ended up later trading in this RV. The dealer did have my friends repaint the walls a neutral color before accepting it for trade.

Idea 8: Paint the walls and some of the cabinets.

Another popular approach with RV owners is to paint just a few of the cabinets a bright accent color, which is what RV owners Ken and Steph did with their family’s camper.

RV with subway tile
Photo Credit: Instagram.com/PhillyJawnsGoOutdoors

Here’s a list of some of their updates:

The owners of this RV decided to paint their bathroom cabinets a pretty shade of teal to match the accent wall in their bedroom, but they left most of their cabinets unpainted.

They tied together the dark wood trim and cabinets and the teal color by creating teal wainscoting under their bunk bed.

I love this unique way of adding personality and style to their RV by only painting the bathroom cabinet!

In this RV the walls were painted white and the island was painted light green. A modern sputnik style light fixture adds to the effect.

If you’re concerned about the floating shelves, I’ve asked some full-time RVers about this. They’ve told me they just take the stuff down and pack it in a box before traveling. Additionally, the decorative items could be left in place by sticking them to the shelf with acrylic mounting tape.

Or, if you need more storage space, build shelves inside your cabinets, as demonstrated in this video:

Idea 9: Update Your light fixtures

I’ve noted many light fixtures in this article, but they do wonders in modernizing wood cabinets. Check out these before-and-after photos:

Renovated RV with wood accents

Professional RV renovator Rachel of @RV.Family.Reno painted the walls white and added vinyl plank flooring. I particularly love the added hanging lights over the kitchen bar.

Must Read: How to Replace RV Light Fixtures in 7 Easy Steps

Painting the walls, ceiling, and slide-out trim bright white also makes everything feel light and spacious. Replacing the cabinet handles, kitchen faucet, and lighting gives the RV an updated look for a fraction of the work as painting!

Get More Lighting Inspiration: 24 Easy RV Interior Lighting Updates

RVs With Unpainted Cabinets

While everyone else is slaving over their paintbrushes, keep your cabinets their original color and vamp up the rest of your RV!

We think you’ll also love to tackle these DIY projects:

Tell us…Are you painting your cabinets?

Share your choice in the comments!

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26 Comments

  1. It’s good to see an article about ‘keeping the wood’. Thanks for the idea! Everyone is so intent on painting their campers white at the moment. I feel like it’s going to date quite badly in the long term.

    1. Well, many people aren’t too worried about “long term” with campers, but my philosophy is that you should decorate your camper however you like! If that means painting your interior white, then by all means go for it, but if you prefer natural wood or just don’t like the idea of taking on a giant painting project, then I think wood cabinets can look great too! 🙂

  2. I’ve been looking for ideas to cover/ replace glass panels in cabinets over headboard in bedroom of our camper. We painted the cupboards white. 2 doors have glass panels, frosted grayish with an outdated design. Any ideas? Thanks

    1. Hi Sara, I have seen people replace the glass with punched tin or beadboard paneling. I’ve also seen people cover it with fabric, peel-and-stick wallpaper, or decoupaged paper. Maybe someday I need to publish an article with ideas like that! 🙂

    2. I took the doors off, spackled the holes and then painted them and used them as open shelves on which I put small plants, books and knick knacs., pictures etc. Very nice!

  3. Thanks for your post on keeping the wood cabinets. I love seeing all the makeovers of others RVs but that’s just not for me. I personally I enjoy the rustic decor we’ve gone with and really enjoy not worrying about all the touch ups in the beautiful white interior. I worked in an automotive paint shop factory for 20 years so every spot would drive me insane.. We do look forward on our adventures to find nice pieces to add to the themes we have chosen. I did however remove the window valances from all the windows. They were just awful. Lol. Thanks for all your information and safe journeys

    1. You’re welcome! It’s been four years now since I wrote this article, and since then I’ve seen many more great examples of RV’s which were updated but with the wood cabinets left alone. That’s my personal preference as well actually. I have been meaning to update this article or write another one with more examples!

  4. I am 77 and painted my cabinets two tones of a lovely blue/green color.
    .Hardest part was taking off and replacing cabinet doors. So I had someone do that for me. Used small electric sander and two coats of paint ((hat included primer,). Then painted the walls with same paint but in white. Used peel and stick fake tin around backslash. Turned out beautiful. I get lots of compliments. Wish I knew how to post pics but I dont.

  5. Hello:
    What brand of peel and stick wallpaper will stay on cabinets of a motorhome stored outside in cold winter weather? Please tell me .Price is not an issue.

    Thank you,
    Ervin Parker

    1. Hi Ervin, I’m sorry but I don’t have an exact answer for you as I have not personally used wallpaper in my RV. Additionally, some brands may not stick on their own but may work if additional adhesive is used. You question does tell me that I should add a post on this to my list of future topics to research. My suggestion in the meantime would be find RV owners who have wallpapered inside their RV (maybe in an RV Renovations Facebook group or on Instagram) and ask them what brand they used. Best wishes!

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