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Affordable RV Interior Makeover Ideas

| Updated Dec 5, 2023

Call it a Rolling RV Renovation but we have some very affordable RV Interior Makeover Ideas to share that can really revitalize your camper's interior vibe.

Our guest on Episode 475 of the RV Podcast is Cortni Armstrong, otherwise known as “The Flipping Nomad.” Cortni is an RV makeover expert and our conversation is all about remodeling your RV interior on a budget. Now's the time to upgrade the look while waiting for the spring travel season.

You can watch the video version from our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel by clicking the player below.

If you prefer an audio-only podcast, you can hear us through your favorite podcast app or listen now through the player below.

Cortni's RV Interior Makeover Ideas

We regularly hear from RVers who want to personalize their RV, freshen it up, and give it a new look without breaking the bank.

Maybe you are in that category – you've had your RV for a couple of years and love it, but the interior could use a little updating.

Or maybe your RV is brand new to you, and it just isn't quite your taste. To help us with several fun, easy, and inexpensive ways to give your RV a facelift, we have as our guest today Cortni Armstrong of The Flippin' Nomad.

Cortni specializes in renovating RVs and has a wealth of ideas we think you will find very helpful. 

Here's an edited transcript:

Cortni Armstrong of The Flippin' Nomad.
Cortni Armstrong of The Flippin' Nomad.

Mike and Jennifer Wendland
Well, Cortni joins us right now. It's always good to see you. You have been a busy woman these past several months.

Cortni
I have been, it never ends around here.

Mike and Jennifer Wendland
Today I want to talk about the average RVer who wants to do a refresh or a makeover, an RV interior makeover. Is this possible for the average person to do at an affordable rate and does it affect the value of the RV? Give us some ideas of what's possible.

Cortni
Yeah, well, I've got a lot of experience doing this. You know, I started the business about six or seven years ago. And so I've coached hundreds of people through how to kind of DIY a refresh of their own rig.

We're kind of most commonly known for these big over-the-top overhauls, but you don't have to do a big over-the-top, extremely expensive, very labor-intensive overhaul to get your rig feeling like your own. What I always tell students is there is a refresh for any type of budget that's out there. So even if you've got basically next to nothing, there's a few things that you can do to refresh your rig.

Some things that are really easy to implement for low budget or even no budget would be things like, window valances that are in RVs. You know, they're kind of like the big boxes that trim out windows like this. And a lot of people think that those have to be there for the structural integrity of the roller shade that is mounted to them, but that's actually not the case.

The only reason the manufacturers mount the roller shade to that valance is because it's an efficiency thing for when the rig is on the assembly line. That roller shade does not need the valance to operate. So you can take that valance box down and then just reattach that roller shade to your wall.

You get rid of those big clunky boxes around your window. So that's something that you can do that's super easy and is free.

Mike and Jennifer Wendland
I see part of your window treatment with none of those big ugly valences. It looks really nice. Yeah.

Cortni
Right. Yeah, so it just has regular roller shades and then we just added curtains just to kind of soften the space up.

Mike and Jennifer Wendland
Now, what are some of the other things that people can do because so many of these RVs are so dated in their decor. Even the new ones..

Cortni
Another easy swap that people can do is swap out the hardware. So that would be like the cabinet knobs and the pulls that are on your cabinetry. All of our experience has been that the size of the cabinetry that the RV manufacturers use are residential sizes. So it's not some kind of special hardware that they use.

So 99% of the time, you're going to be able to find hardware, either like online, on Amazon, you know, to swap out your hardware or go to the local hardware store, like, you know, a Lowe's or a Home Depot. That's something that's really easy to do.

You can use a drill if you have a drill, but even if somebody does not have a drill, you can use something like a butter knife even, you know, to like use that screw or to undo the screw on the back of the cabinet. So it's a really simple, easy thing to do.

Mike and Jennifer Wendland
What about the fabrics, the upholstery, the textiles that are used? Is that easily changed too?

Affordable RV Interior Makeover Ideas 1

Cortni
Yeah, it can be. The way that I approach design and a way that, you know, these listeners here can think about design is it comes down to three things. It's about color, texture, and pattern. And so if somebody's walking into their space and they're kind of feeling overwhelmed, trying to figure out why the space doesn't feel right or what they don't like about it.

If they can kind of analyze the space in those three categories, color, texture, and pattern, that kind of helps them break it down what they're not really liking. So I'll give it to manufacturers that they're trying to kind of, you know, refresh and get some more modern interiors, but they've kind of taken a pretty bland approach.

So even though they're kind of toning down the really funky patterns, it's still just kind of beige on beige on beige, or it might be light gray on light gray on light gray. They're trying, but they still have to play it safe.

So when you break it down in that way, if you've got an interior that's just kind of a pretty bland color palette, it's really easy to add some interest and some interior design pizzazz to the space if you add in some color.

And you can do that by doing things like throw pillows or like a throw blanket, you can see sitting on my couch here for people that are watching on video. And this blanket down here is a good example too because it's like a faux fur, so that's adding some texture to the space too. So color, texture, and pattern. So rugs, that's another great way to add those elements in. Super simple to do.

And then blankets and pillows. And those are items that can be sourced anywhere. You know, IKEA, Target, thrift stores, wherever you would buy something for your house.

Mike and Jennifer Wendland
Now, regular listeners of the podcast and viewers will know that we worked with you last year and you did an update on our fifth wheel and you did some really cool things. But one of the things that I was amazed that a little Cortni secret was the throw pillows and your karate chop.

Cortni
No, it's not a secret, everybody knows it. I'll grab a pillow so we can demonstrate. So here's one like this. So with throw pillows, there's kind of an art form to them where it's kind of a 50-50 shot of if you get a good insert at the store.

So sometimes the inserts can just be like blocks of foam and there's like no movement to them really. The kind that I like are the kind that are like, you know, squeezable like this.

And if you get so this pillow cover did not have the type of insert that I liked, but that was okay, because it had a zipper on it. So I just swapped out and use the insert that I like. And so Ikea has some good ones, or you can get them online too.

They're a down alternative. And down, you know, down feathers, I don't love how those are sourced. It's a pretty yucky process. But there's down alternative out there that you can get that gives you this type of mobility and the secret that we were just talking about is you set it up on the pillow or on the couch rather.

Let me that was the zipper that's not going to do us justice. And then you karate chop the middle of it. So then it kind of gives you that like a designer, you know, look a little bit, and adds a little bit of extra interest to the couch.

Mike and Jennifer Wendland
I was amazed at just adding that fuller, poofier insert and your karate shop, how much that made, everything looked different in our unit and different colors.

There's something else you did with ours that I thought was really nice is we needed some workspace and you put in, you sourced a desk, I think it was from Ikea. And even a couple of chairs, we replaced the chairs that we had, the standard old wooden chairs with spindles.

In fact, those two chairs, by the way, I'm now using them in our broadcast studio because yeah, they're so comfortable. But the idea of finding stuff and replacing the factory installed is very doable. I always worried about weight, but maybe you could share some talks about the weight of this stuff that you might be bringing in.

Cortni
What we did in your fifth wheel, you had a little built-in dining bench with a table that wasn't really the correct configuration for how you and Jen were using it. So we took that dining bench out, took the table out, and then like you said, we just got a desk at IKEA and mounted it to the wall and then got two desk chairs from Ikea as well.

And so if somebody does not have any carpentry experience and they're like, I don't know how to build a desk, you can just get, you know, source something where you would online. And then you do have to kind of figure out how to get it mounted for travel days, but there's ways around that.

So it's a lot easier to make those kind of like furniture adjustments than some people might think. But as far as weight goes, weight is always at the top of our minds during these renovations because, you know, weight is the name of the game with RVs, but you would be surprised at how heavy some of the manufacturer's furniture is. It can be just as heavy as residential.

So typically with furniture as you're shopping, if people can maybe look at what the weight is, that will kind of give them a gauge for what recliners way or what, you know, big sofas way or whatever. But by and large, as long as it's not like crazy heavy, you're pretty much okay to swap out furniture where weight can really sneak up on you is actually flooring.

So manufacturers tend to use a sheet vinyl flooring. It's thin, it's lightweight. When people I've seen people renovate their own RVs and use plank flooring. And plank flooring, it is a nicer flooring, I will say that, but it's much thicker and therefore it's much heavier.

So you're adding hundreds and hundreds of pounds sometimes by going with plank flooring. So it kind of depends on what section of the RV we're talking about, which determines when we really have to get concerned about weight.

Mike and Jennifer Wendland
That's awesome. You've given us so many great tips. You actually have a course for all this. Why don't you tell our audience how they can reach you and find out and you can even walk them through with this awesome course that the Flipping Nomad has set up. Give us some ideas how to find that and what that's all about.

Cortni

We have a pretty sizable social media following and that was generating a lot of questions of people wanting to know how to DIY their own RV renovations. And so we put together a course teaching people kind of the nuts and bolts and the A to Z of renovating. And so that's all on our website.

It's theflippingnomad.com. It'll walk you through everything from how to paint walls to how to do kitchen backsplashes and things of that nature.

And then we also discovered that when people are renovating their RV, that means they have an RV. And so therefore, they just have general questions of like, what's the maintenance like? And, you know, how do I know if my tires are aged out? And, you know, things of just basic RV questions. And so we have a different course for that called Beginner's Boot Camp that's also on our website. So theflippingnomenad.com.

Mike and Jennifer Wendland
Well, we will put the links in the description below. I know you will be at the Tampa RV show, as we will, and we'll see you then, but I'm assuming that you'll be available probably to people they can actually meet you in person, right?

Affordable RV Interior Makeover Ideas 2

Cortni
Yeah, I will be there in person. But actually, so we just finished building the Ultimate Fusion Toy Hauler, which I'm sitting in right now with Keystone and also with Lippert. It was kind of a threesome that we all kind of came together to get this rig built. And the Ultimate Fusion is actually going into the Tampa show, in Lippert's booth in the building.

But yeah, if anybody is going to be at the Tampa show and wants to see the Fusion in person, you'll have to make your way into the building and come see it.

Mike and Jennifer Wendland
All right, well, we look forward to seeing you there. And as always, thanks for giving us a quick idea on what we can do. And we'll see the flipping nomad on the road. Happy trails.

Social Media Buzz – Wendy Bowyer

Affordable RV Interior Makeover Ideas 3

Wendy Bowyer reports on the hot issues most talked about this past week on our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group:

Diane bought an RV water filter and didn't notice that the box said to refrigerate when not in use. She had stored it in her 2017 Coachman Clipper for 6-8 weeks and asked the RV Lifestyle Facebook Group if she had anything to worry about. 

Many said they also had missed the refrigeration directions on the box and this stirred quite the conversation – about 800 comments in all.

The bottom line is that if the filter is new and unused, you do not have to worry about refrigeration. After all, this is how the filters are typically sold.

But if it was used, bacteria could grow in it, so leaving it in your hot RV for a few weeks in between uses could cause health problems. One person compared it to putting food in the refrigerator – it slows growth. This was a very interesting thread.

Next, I'd like to tell you about Cheryl. She posted a picture of a semi pulling a toy hauler at her campground and said, “Now this is something”. Many people said they are seeing more and more semis pulling larger rigs while camping, too.

Apparently, you don't need a commercial license for a semi if you register it as an RV.

A member named Sanchez says the mileage is about the same for a semi as for a big pickup truck, and the braking system is better on a semi.

John said semis really make sense for those who want to haul a big rig from both a safety standpoint and a cost standpoint. Besides costing less than a pickup truck to purchase, insurance is typically cheaper for a semi too.

It was an interesting conversation.

And finally, I'd like to leave you with a post from Karley who wrote: Would love to see everyone’s “before” and “after” photos after remodeling the insides of their RVs! We had so many before and after posts shared!

DeeDee shared that her kitchen cabinets transformed from the usual RV brown to a crisp white, and the cream countertop was replaced with a clean black one, and wow! The difference was amazing.

Kyle also transformed his kitchen into a white and black color combination, adding they sanded, caulked, and primed before painting.

And I loved how Amanda changed her RV's bathroom from a very brown and beige color theme to a white tile wall accented by a bold turquoise wall. A mirror was added, and the whole room just really popped. It looked like a chic apartment.

There were so many impressive transformations in every room of the RV; when you finish listening to this podcast, you need to go check it out for yourself in the show notes.

RV NEWS OF THE WEEK

Affordable RV Interior Makeover Ideas 4

The National Park Service adds new free day to the 2024 calendar year

For those who like to plan ahead, take note: The 2024 free admission day for the National Parks Service is out!

In 2024, the NPS will waive admission fees for six days, adding a new free day: Juneteenth, which became a federal holiday in 2021. Juneteenth commemorates when enslaved people in Texas learned they were free in the aftermath of the Civil War.

About one-quarter of all national parks charge admission fees, and those fees can be about $35 a vehicle. Other fees, like camping fees, are still in place on free admission days.

The free admission list for 2024 is:

  • Jan. 15 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • April 20 – First day of National Park Week
  • June 19 – Juneteenth
  • Aug. 4 – Great American Outdoors Day 
  • Sept. 28 – National Public Lands Day
  • Nov. 11 – Veterans Day

To see our list of 13 favorite national parks for RV camping click here.

Tesla's Cybertruck with tent option for campers unveiled

Did you see Tesla's Cybertruck Basecamp that was in the news last week?

This unusual looking pickup truck with a tent attachment is being billed as Tesla's official entry into the camper market. 

The funky-looking electric pickup truck can have accessories like cooktops and electric water heaters in the back, and now this tent attachment option is available for just under $3,000. 

The tent option is collapsible and self-contained and has an awning and poles. (See it here).

Can it tow a trailer, you ask?  A small one, probably. The latest specs say it can tow 11,000 pounds. That's down from the 14,000 Tesla touted in its pre-production news releases. It claims a 2,500-pound maximum payload.

That figure is the maximum weight the trailer and truck can have and would be gobbled up by the passengers, any pets, whatever gear is in the truck or in the trailer, food, clothing and supplies, water, and so on.

Those specs, by the way, are comparable to the RV truck competition, even a little better than the Ford Lightning and Chey Silverado EV…. though Chevy claims a more rugged EV Silverado is coming that can pull 20,000 pounds.

But, yes, there are a lot of ultralight trailers the Tesla Cybertruck could handle. Fifth wheels? Not so much. Maybe a couple of the new smaller ones on the market but certainly not most. 

Price for the Cybertruck is a tad under $80,000. Range on a full charge is said to be 340 miles, and if you hook it to a Tesla Supercharger, 15 minutes will give you about 130 miles. Figure a little over a half hour to fully charge.

The Tesla Cybertruck is expected to be available for purchase next year. And all those figures could change in that time. But so far, it looks pretty cool. I’d love to drive one for a review.

Man and woman overnighting at a Love's Travel Center in suburban Chicago die in RV fire

An Arkansas man and woman died last week after their RV caught on fire at a Love's Travel Center in suburban Chicago.

The fire started at around 3 am, and once the flames were put out, two bodies were discovered inside – that of a man and of a woman from Arkansas.

Love's Travel Centers have been reaching out to RVers, providing places to overnight while on long trips. 

The cause of this fire is still under investigation.

As temperatures drop, we thought it would be a good idea to share with you our story that provides fire safety tips for RVers.

Monarch Butterfly season is officially underway at Pismo Beach

Monarch buttery fans near California's Pismo Beach may want to head over to Pismo Beach State Park for prime butterfly viewing.

About 16,000 monarchs are wintering there in a grove of eucalyptus trees. Peek monarch viewing season is happening now, attracting visitors from all over the country.

The monarchs winter in the grove of trees along Highway 1 each year, flying from hundreds and even a thousand miles away.

Butterfly season runs through February.

RV APP OF THE WEEK

This week’s App of the Week is GoPetFriendly, a pet-friendly travel planning platform. It has a free mobile app and web versions and allows you to find places that welcome you and your pet… whether they be restaurants, hotels, or places where you and your pet can do thighs together.

You can search by destination or get ideas for pet vacations, find dog parks, beaches where you can take your pet, and National Park info on where you can and can’t take your pet.

You can even plan road trips and routes and send in your reviews to help others who travel with their pets.

The website is free to join.

Check it out at GoPetFriendly.com

RV QUESTION OF THE WEEK

QUESTION: Watched your video of your “new” home and of course in the end it turned out beautifully!  You are always honest so I thought I would ask:  any regrets (cost and time) of just knocking the old house down and build new??  I always wonder if people spend as much modifying an old house, which often takes way more time, versus tearing down and building new.  Just curious, if you had to do over.  I know you said that you thought you could just do some makeovers and move in, but somewhere that strategy changed? -Greg

ANSWER: We don't really know if it would have been cheaper to have started fresh, but knowing how hard it is to find contractors, subcontractors, and skilled tradespeople, we doubt whether it would have really saved time.

We would have needed an architect, and that introduces a whole new level of complexity.

So, if we had it to do over, I think we would have done it just as we did. It ended up costing twice as much as we expected but that was all on us because as we progressed, we kept seeing new possibilities and changed and expanded the project’s scope.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-12-06

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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