Before and After: A 2004 RV Bought “As-Is” Undergoes an Unbelievable 30-Day Transformation

published May 24, 2022
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About this before & after
Home Type
RVs and Mobile
Project Type
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Before: retro booth with matching couch

In summer of 2021, Ashanti and SonJe Young-Joiner (@livinouttabounds) decided to give life on the road a try.

“We decided to change the game and break out of the system,” Ashanti writes on the travel and lifestyle blog she runs with SonJe. “We sold our luxury vehicles, sold our home, our kids were already being homeschooled because we took them out when the pandemic hit, and we bought a Class C RV. We gutted it out and renovated it. “

They bought the 31-foot RV in cash “as-is.” “There were under 60,000 miles on the odometer, and all of the furniture and decor was from the original manufacturer,” Ashanti says.

The 2004 RV was covered in brown wood cabinetry with rusting metal handles, and it still had its original carpet, dated patterned furniture and valances — plus gray wallpaper and a floral border. The plastic in the refrigerator, shower, sinks, ceiling vents, and air conditioner were stained yellow, Ashanti remembers.

“The unit was seriously outdated and needed a serious makeover,” she says. “We knew that we would never take a shower or feel a sense of peace if we didn’t make major changes. Neither my wife nor I had ever completed a DIY project of this magnitude, but our goal was to create a modern-inspired tiny home on wheels.”

Ashanti and SonJe spent about $10,000 and 30 days totally transforming the space. The footprint remains the same, but the RV now has a bright and calming white color palette thanks to the removal of carpet, the addition of contact paper, and new accessories and furniture throughout.

“We ran into an issue where some of the bolts on the underbelly of the RV were so rusted and worn that we had to pry them off in order to remove the carpet,” Ashanti remembers. “There were plenty of moments where we wanted to give up because we couldn’t see the progress, but we relied on each other for support and motivation.”

In the kitchen area, Ashanti and SonJe painted the cabinets white and covered the old counters with contact paper. The microwave and oven remain the same, but Ashanti and SonJe installed a residential refrigerator which they converted to run in the RV.

Small space dwellers, take note: Ashanti and SonJe also added an over-the-sink drying rack, which Ashanti says also acts as extra counter space when needed. They also swapped out the faucet at the sink.

In the seating area, they removed the old sleeper sofa and added a new faux leather one, and they cleaned and re-covered the cushions for the dining area’s bench seating. The table and benches were revamped with contact paper.

A couple tips and tricks to steal from this side of the RV? The geometric light fixtures above the seating areas are actually switch-operated light bulbs with decorative metal containers around them (a totally renter-friendly way to add light), and Ashanti and SonJe store kid’s clothing underneath the leather sofa (a great storage spot for any small space).

Ashanti and SonJe installed a curtain rod and curtain in front of the kid’s sleeping area for some privacy and to help create distinct zones. They also spruced up this area with a new comforter and a stick-on faux shiplap wall covering.

Toward the back of the RV, in the bathroom, Ashanti and SonJe installed a new tile backsplash and added a peel-and-stick wallpaper in a different pattern but the same color scheme to add more visual interest. They used the existing mirrors in the space.

“Our favorite area thus far is the bathroom because this is probably the area that took the longest to complete due to trial and error of different design elements,” Ashanti says. For instance, they first went with a black and white tile behind the sink, but they realized that made the windowless space too dark.

Lastly, in the primary bedroom, Ashanti and SonJe painted the existing brown cabinets white and made the walls a pinkish off-white. They used their mattress from their old house in the space, but they had to cut the foam to make it a bit shorter as most RV beds are shortened queens.

In the bedroom, there’s room enough for clothing and bathroom storage, plants, plus a small fold-down desk on the right side of the bed to boot.

“With such a small space, it was important for us to be very intentional about what we added to the space in order to not feel crowded,” Ashanti says.

Whether you’re looking for inspiration for life on the road or just looking to maximize the square footage you have in a more permanent abode, Ashanti and SonJe’s overhaul is one for the inspiration books. “We absolutely love how the entire renovation turned out and we were so proud of all of our hard work,” Ashanti says. “It’s really rewarding to see a DIY project from start to finish.”