One Room Challenge

Before and After: A Few Smart DIYs Go a Long Way in Brightening up This Dreary 1990s RV

published Dec 24, 2022
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About this before & after
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Before: a brown kitchen with wooden cabinets and a brown refrigerator
Credit: Christine Urbanek

When you live in a small space, atmosphere is particularly important. A dark, dated, and wholly uninspired aesthetic can quickly make it seem like the walls are closing in on you. On the other hand, a bright and airy modern space can make close quarters feel like a cozy haven.

Credit: Christine Urbanek

Take it from Christine Urbanek. When Christine purchased her RV as a place to retreat to whenever her Airbnb is rented, she knew she had some work to do. “I bought it to renovate,” she says. “I love interior design, and really wanted to make something cute and homey to stay in on my property. I also work for myself from home, so figured it would always be a nice office or guest house as well.”

Credit: Christine Urbanek

If Christine was looking for a project, she found one in this RV. While some pieces had been updated, like the floors, others were in their original, years-old state. There was plenty to do to transform the space into the retreat Christine envisioned — and she was able to do it in a few months. She had to hire a pro to replace a rotted wall in the kitchen area, but Christine took on the rest of this makeover herself as part of the One Room Challenge.

Credit: Christine Urbanek

The first step was removing all of the wallpaper borders and stickers in the kitchen so that Christine had a smooth surface to paint over with a bright white. “The surprisingly easier-than-I-thought thing was painting over the wallpaper,” she says. “The secret is using a good bonding primer.”

In place of the old wallpaper border, Christine chose a mini subway stick-on tile in white for the kitchen’s backsplash. The all-white color scheme makes the space between the lower and upper cabinets look bigger, and lets the black-framed windows pop, too.

Credit: Christine Urbanek

With the walls and cabinets looking brand new, it was time to decorate and bring the space to life. The main focal point in the living space is a cozy couch that Christine purchased from a home stager. Behind it, she added some warmth to the windows by scrapping the old shades and adding in budget-friendly DIY curtains instead. They’re actually tea towels Christine scored at TJMaxx, hung from dollar store curtain rods using basic curtain clips.

Credit: Christine Urbanek

There were a few additional DIY projects to help make the space more functional. The shelf under the TV, for instance, is mounted using a piano hinge so that it can fold down for the RV’s slide — or retractable extension — to be pulled in. Christine also made the coffee table herself using old plywood from her house’s kitchen cabinets and mid-century-style hairpin legs. Add in a cute two-person tulip table with a pair of woven chairs, plus some comfy throw pillows, and this once-dreary space is now unrecognizable.

“I love how bright and airy it is,” Christine says. “It feels very homey.” The ultimate goal!

This project was completed for the Fall 2022 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.