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When buying an RV, many first-time owners wonder if they should buy new or used. Clearly, buying used will save money, but is an old camper remodel worth the time and effort? Is saving money that big of a deal when you can buy a brand new rig that’s “move-in ready?”
If you’re willing to put in the time and some more money for a renovation budget, you can take an old camper and make it exactly what you want for your adventures. Let’s look at three old camper remodels that will inspire you to get going on your DIY projects!
What Is an Old Camper Remodel?
If you’re looking to buy an RV but need to save money, one way to do this is to buy an old camper. Many people on a tight budget will buy old campers and then make some changes to modernize the space. As with any remodel, your budget will determine how many projects you can tackle.
How Do You Modernize an Old Camper?
If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, painting the cabinets or walls will completely change the interior of an old RV. Get rid of all the brown and lighten up the space with white.
Use an accent color throughout the space to add a pop of color. Paint the cabinetry, walls, trim, wooden furniture, and bed frame. Your old camper won’t feel old when the space is brighter.
This is probably one of the most time-consuming projects, so if you’re looking for a quick old camper remodel, you may have to pick and choose areas to paint.
You can also change out the hardware. Pick out a fun leather strap handle, or make your space sparkle with a clear, diamond-like knob. Replace the old hardware on the cabinetry with new hardware, and you’ll quickly move from outdated to modern.
Furniture in an old camper also makes it feel outdated. You can cheaply make changes by putting a slipcover on a sofa or painting dinette chairs. Or, you can spend a bit more money on custom furniture with additional storage that also fits your family’s needs. If that U-shaped dinette isn’t going to be functional, tear out the benches and build your own to create an eating area that will function better.
Pro Tip: Is a total RV renovation too big of a project for you but you still want a new look? Then you have to read 15 Unique RV Decorating Ideas Anyone Can Do.
Old Camper Remodels That Will Blow You Away
If you need inspiration, check out these three videos of old camper remodels. They’ll help you see your space through the creative lens of a designer so that you can choose which DIY projects to take on. Maybe you can’t afford a complete old camper remodel, but you’ll get some good ideas.
RV Renovation on a Budget
Liz Fenwick posts two DIY videos each week. In this video, she shares how she and her husband, Chris, renovated their RV. With over 369,000 views, her step-by-step guide has helped thousands of RV owners in their old camper remodel projects.
Liz and her husband purchased a used Class C motorhome. It needed cosmetic updates but was in good mechanical condition. They made changes which included reconfiguring the bedroom to put in a king bed.
Liz purchased a paint sprayer for easy painting. This is usually the most time-consuming old camper remodel project, but it’s not very costly and makes the biggest impact. They chose to use white and gray throughout the motorhome.
Another improvement was to the lighting and window fixtures. Liz made sure to have a knob or pull chain for all the light fixtures. She chose a fun bamboo shade for the front window and added curtain panels from Target in the rear windows.
Instead of changing out the couch, Liz chose to put a slipcover on the existing couch since it fit so well in the space. Finally, she added artwork and cozy touches to help make the space feel like home.
Best Features of This Remodel
Liz’s husband created a matching dinette bench seat since the previous owners ripped out the second seat to put in recliners. This provided an additional sleeping space, seating area, and storage bench.
In the bathroom, Liz added peel-and-stick subway tile and wallpaper to a couple of wall panels. These wall accents make a significant impact in small spaces. After ripping up the carpet, the laminate wood floors were easy to install, and they look beautiful.
One of the changes Liz enjoyed the most in this old camper remodel project was painting the two entry stairs. She then used more peel-and-stick tiles to accent the area and stained wooden boards to replace the old ones. It’s an eye-catching yet simple project and immediately makes the space feel open when they open the door.
Tiny Home RV Camper Remodel
Adaline Zook takes viewers on a tour of her tiny home, a Fleetwood Terry LE 320DB. A Pennsylvania transport, she moved to Raleigh, N.C., with her three girls. Adaline posts YouTube videos weekly to her Vlog channel, cooking channel, and cleaning channel.
Adaline completely renovated her RV and removed almost all the furniture. The new dinette is simple and provides bench seating for her girls. The rear bunkroom had four bunks, but with only three children, Adaline took out one of the bottom bunks to provide added storage and a larger play area.
She used marble rolls of contact paper on the countertops, a cheap option for easy DIY projects. Replacing faucets and cabinet handles is another easy way to update the look. Like Liz (above), Adaline painted the entire space white, making the RV feel brighter and cozier.
Best Features of This Remodel
Adaline took out the couch and replaced it with the bunk-size mattress from the rear of the RV. This provided additional sleeping space and lounge space for her and her daughters. The added half-wall partition separated the living space and dining space.
The bunkhouse renovation is also one of the best features as it better accommodates her girls with comfortable sleeping spaces for each child and ample storage for their clothes and toys.
DIY Trailer Remodel
Nat and Cole Wood renovated an old trailer in just a week. They had never done anything like this before. As a result, they learned on the fly and shared their experience with others to encourage RVers to revamp their own spaces, too.
Their 2005 Thor toy hauler got outfitted with new decor from Amazon and Target, two stores easily accessible by most RVers. The bathroom and kitchen were updated with purely cosmetic changes and no construction. The only construction was to make the sink opening a bit bigger in the kitchen to fit the new sink.
The most significant old camper remodel project to the toy hauler was the white paint. It makes the trailer seem larger and appears brighter than the original drab brown.
Nat bought new hardware for the kitchen cabinets to match the black appliances. The original fridge also remained; they painted the brown panels white for an updated look. They also applied tic-tac tile blocks for a new backsplash. Like Adaline (above), Nat used cheap contact paper to cover the countertops to make them look brand new.
Best Features of This Remodel
The fluid design makes the space feel connected. By using the same contact paper on both the kitchen countertops and bathroom countertop and the same backsplash, the overall space flows together nicely.
They also kept the original appliances which saved a lot of money.
By painting the wood panels on the refrigerator and painting all of the cabinetry white, the black appliances really stand out and look brand new against the white backdrop. With the addition of the black hardware, new bathroom faucet, and black spray-painted kitchen faucet, the two spaces have a simple design but clean lines for a modern look.
How Much Does It Cost to Restore a Vintage Camper?
There is no set cost when renovating. This is true for any type of old camper remodel, whether you’re restoring an old cottage, gutting a school bus to make a home on wheels, or just making a few changes to your outdoor living space. Your cost will be determined by the quality of materials you use and the type of projects you complete.
For example, renovating an RV bathroom by putting peel-and-stick tiles on the floor, replacing the faucet, installing a backsplash, and painting the cabinetry will cost $100 to $200 because RV bathrooms are tiny spaces.
But when you extend the painting to include the entire RV, install new wood flooring, change living room furniture, and build custom bench seating for the dining area, the renovation will cost thousands of dollars. Usually, you can plan to spend anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars up to $10,000 depending on how much work you do.
Is Renovating an RV Worth It?
If you want to make your RV feel like yours, you’re going to have to take on an old camper remodel project. When you’re on a tight budget, making small changes like putting up curtains, finding a fun floor rug, and changing out the hardware on the cabinetry will make a big impact without breaking the bank.
Painting will have a massive impact on a tiny space. However, make sure you have time to finish. Projects such as painting cabinetry, walls, kitchen islands, and furniture will take several days.
So is taking on a renovation project worth it? You’ll have to decide for yourself. But if you watch videos of other RVers, they’ll probably inspire you to start at least a few DIY projects. Making your RV feel personal is important, whether you’re just going out for a couple of weekends a year, taking one long cross-country trip, or moving in full-time.
Which old camper remodel idea do you want to tackle first?