Easy RV Upgrades and Modifications

             Give your RV a classy 'Face-lift'!

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RV Living in the 21st Century 

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         It happens to all of us eventually, everything in our RV 's becomes dull and drab from dust, dirt and extended usage. It's not that we as RVers lack good housekeeping skills, these units simply need a complete facelift now and then. This becomes even more evident after a visit to an RV show or dealer Open House. It is so easy to fall in love with a pristine dream machine simply because it glistens. However your older reliable home away from home can look equally as impressive with a few simple upgrades.

         Don't fret; even if creativity is not your strong point, it is not difficult to add a fresh face to your present home on wheels. A little imagination along with some inexpensive pretty fabric and basic sewing skills can easily transform a tired RV into a show place. A sewing machine may also help some but in many cases it is not necessary. Depending on the degree of upgrade, cost can be under a few hundred dollars.




            When I decide to modify I begin with a visit to fabric stores to peruse up-to-date curtain ideas in search for suggestions, many ready made styles are available. Let's begin with the BEDROOM by adding a fresh covering to the valences. Frequently this may be as little as covering existing decor with new fabric. Pleating the corners using an iron and simply fastening the fabric with hidden straight pins works well--on the underside of course. I have at times attached the fabric to a thin cardboard base using an 'iron-on' medium.  With the addition of new blinds or lacy cafe style curtains the room takes on a cozy bright expression. Coordinated sheets and quilted throws completes the transformation. Thanks to the little girl in me I usually add a stuffed animal or two or three as a final touch. Colour matched pillows can highlight a new look.

           When I can't find quality inexpensive fabric on sale I sometimes use king or queen size sheets. This way I have ‘mucho’ fabric to work with, plus it's easier to balance colours. Our present coach decor has an olive green/gold hue and since the valences are in good shape so I simply mounted vibrant silk ivy/floral arrangements to each living room valence for a dramatic transition. By the way the ‘s’ style curtain hooks with one sharp end work wonders to hang flowers and decorative touches to all cloth or padded areas.

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The BATHROOM too can undergo a simple uplift by adding ‘lampshade aprons’ (these too can be pinned in place) to camouflage tired shades and by making a washable toilet seat cover from the same fabric—finished size approximately 15” high x 14”wide. Another option is to sew each side of a folded hand towel, angle the top corners of the lid for fitted effect. Simply slip the cover over the lid; add a coordinated rug from the dollar store. and the commode takes on a pristine look. Fresh silk floral arrangement completes the transformation. Voila, your bathroom too now has a classy touch. Above the toilet we mounted a plexi-glass shelf with a heat-curled edge on brass wall brackets. With the addition of a few fancy things sitting on small pieces of non-slip plastic mesh along with a plant and your bathroom too sports an elaborate image.


In the KITCHEN John and I wall papered directly over the plastic covered wallboard. To accomplish this in an RV; wallpaper as normal but add an extra covering of vinyl-to-vinyl glue designed to attach borders before attaching the wallpaper. 

Last winter, I added self stick floor tiles to the wall behind the couch and again behind the stove.  I sprayed some tiles with an adhesive spray, but the glue I used with the wallpaper above also works. The techs at Lowe's ((USA) suggested I prep the wall before adding the tiles.  The finished walls look absolutely outstanding, 

NOTE: It is much more time-consuming to cut around corners when wallpapering the small areas in an RV. 


Recently we found a neat brass wall HANGERS with two small nails at the back. These hangers only make small holes in the wall, yet they are very strong. They also look so good it is easier to leave them in place when you sell your unit than it is to plug holes where hangers once were. Liquid paper and wood coloured stains will cover most nail holes if you don't have the hooks to cover the holes.

Use the same techniques to modify VALENCES in the bedroom, kitchen and living areas. Instead of removing what is in place try dressing it up with a new covering or by adding floral displays. The addition of preformed lace café style curtains complete with rod holes on the hanging edge helps to add a homey touch to the living room decor. We attached our café curtain rod brackets to the screws on our window frames—no extra bracket holes were necessary. In our kitchen, we hang sleeves to hold garbage bags (14”x18”—with elastic casing top and bottom) on each side of the window; a valence in the same fabric frames the window with interesting dressing.


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FRONT DRAPES too can receive a colourful upgrade by adding an overlay instead of doing the curtains from scratch. However this may be a bit advanced for the basic seamstress. Since we have two dachshunds, furniture cover-ups are really a necessity, but keeping them in place was always a challenge. In the past I designed special slipcovers that I could easily remove for washing, yet with the help of elastic straps they always stayed put. Two years ago I discovered a dark-coloured CHENILE THROW from Wal*Mart is perfect as a couch cover. Simply because it clings to fabric, it stays put for days on end.



Our COUCH IN KASTLE #2 had one long lift-up cushion with loose back cushions. To add Firmness we place a 1/4" piece of plywood underneath the couch portion. If your couch has no end cushion, place a piece of thin plywood covered with fabric into the end frame of the couch. You then have a perfect place to toss large throw pillows.

        CHAIR SEAT COVERS are fitted in front and then neatly tucked in and around the back and the sides of the seat. Upper portions of the chairs I leave as is. These covers provide an easy changeable yet professional finish. Since I can't move RV furniture, by changing things periodically our RV always looks new.



      In our Kastle #2 we added a favourite semi-permanent modification...we REMOVED THE DINETTE and replaced it with a breakfast bar/computer station. Our dinette seats were always a catchall; to sit four people for dinner resulted in a major pre-clean-up and since our coach is our 'fulltime' home we're always searching for a way to extend space. By redesigning the dinette area we gained 20 inches of kitchen hallway floor space. The end result was I now had a six-foot table for crafts, ironing or my COMPUTER DESK. During meals John and I ate facing a large picture window, when guests dines with us, two sat at a folding table in the living room...more than four, buffet meals were in. many RVers  modify areas of their units to accommodate their computers.  Simply use your imagination to come up with something that suits you.

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       Before trading our first "Kruisin' Kastle", a 10 year old Pace Arrow unit, it received a COMPLETE PICTURESQUE FACELIFT including a mahogany sub floor covered with vinyl that resembled giant patio stones. We asked for help in this task since it was a bit much for us. Caulking the vinyl edge was a big problem. Soft caulking gathered dirt and hard caulking cracked as we moved from place to place. While searching for a solution I discovered 'Do-it Centres' sell a bendable plastic molding which not only looks like fine wood trim; it comes in all wood colours. By applying soft caulking under the plastic molding, it added a professional leak proof touch to this versatile floor. Coordinated carpet runners provided the finishing touch. Until living with a washable floor, I had no idea how much dirt we tracked inside.



Our first update on that unit was to replace her out-dated brown '80s STYLE UPHOSTERY. We found a talented 'Ma and Pa' operation who even recovered her cloth wall panels. Of course adding aesthetic throw pillows, new curtains, valences and bedspreads carried the decor front to back. Wallpapering the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen walls provided a perfect backdrop. I even went so far as to add wallpaper to the inside yellowed air condition covers, however you may wish to forego this tedious task. The final upgrade included hanging silk plants and decorative accessories plus a change in towel colour. Hand painting the bath mat added one more little touch. Once again with a little work and imagination, old became new again.



        As a final step, we coated all the wood with a generous dose of LEMON OIL. On the outside, John routinely gave the outside a concentrated clean and polish and we're ready to hit the road with a sparkling coach from the tires to the roof --- inside and out. If  oxidation is present , boat products help remove it. Look for these cleaners in marinas and boat stores. There are many brands on the market, but  for years we used Meguiar's Heavy Duty Oxidation Remover #44 or #49 followed with cleaner/wax #50. THIS DOES NOT WORK WELL ON ANY CLEAR COAT FINISH.  For an alternative detailing option see our shimmering shiny new coach. I have to admit updating our Pace spanned two years...we had fun making her ready for her new owners whoever they were.  

Whether your makeover is a touch-up or an extensive facelift for yourself or getting her ready for a sale, spending the time to give your trusty home on wheels an update is always worthwhile. Driving a 'like-new' unit adds zest to your travels. BEST OF ALL JUST HAVE FUN!!!!.

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