Before and After: Low-Budget, High-Impact Updates Make a 21-Year-Old RV Way Cozier

updated May 24, 2021
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About this before & after
Home Type
RVs and Mobile
Project Type
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Before: Bed with floral quilt beneath brown wooden cabinets
Credit: Lori Murphy

Throughout the pandemic, RVs and mobile homes have been great ways to see new sights while maintaining social distance and sticking to a small pod. Whether they’re just for road trips or for more full-time nomadic residence, this year, Apartment Therapy has seen no shortage of dreamy RVs, campers, vans, and even school buses that instantly fuel wanderlust.

Credit: Lori Murphy

Lori Murphy (@wildhairhome) and her husband, Wayne, bought a 2000 Wildwood RV for family vacations years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that Lori had the inkling to make it cozy and cute. “We wanted it to feel homey and fun,” Lori says.

Credit: Lori Murphy

The first thing on Lori’s revamp list was removing the bulky buffet in the RV because it took up nearly half of the kitchen space — and it was an eyesore. “The heavy laminated wood look of the entire space was dominating.” She also wanted to modernize the kitchen a bit — again, the laminate finishes just made the whole place feel dated. It was “blah and uninspiring,” Lori says.

Credit: Lori Murphy

Most importantly, Lori wanted to maximize functionality in the RV and allow plenty of room for her family to eat, sleep, and hang out comfortably.

“From gutting the banquet seating and all the window treatments, to paint and decor, the entire thing was quick and fairly painless,” Lori says. “I knew I wanted to bring lots of light, bright white, so that was an easy endeavor. My husband removed the banquet seating, and I set my mind to do the rest myself.”

Credit: Lori Murphy

In the kitchen, Lori painted the cabinets and backsplash and updated the hardware. She opted for white Behr paint on the cabinets (also in the living area) and primed them with Zinsser’s Bullseye 123 primer. Using a quality primer is an “absolute must,” Lori says. “Do not cut this step out.” However, if you are looking to speed things along in your project, you can borrow this cabinet-painting hack from Lori: Consider skipping paint on the insides. “No one ever sees it except me, and that was one way that I could keep everything hustling,” she said on her Instagram story recapping the project.

Lori created the cute feature wall in the kitchen using her discounted backsplash paint, leftover white paint, and a Dizzy Duck Designs stencil. To give the hardware a more contemporary look, she sprayed the pulls with Rust-Oleum glossy black spray paint. If she were to do the project over again, Lori says she might splurge for new hardware altogether. “I would spend a little more to get the look more polished without having to retouch yearly,” she says.

Credit: Lori Murphy

But overall, she’s proud of how light, bright, and pleasant the space is to hang out in. It’s now totally functional for her family. “Our camp trips have become more exciting because if it rains, we get to have a beautiful place to hang out when we can’t be outdoors,” she says.

Their new seating area is colorful and fun, and all of the wall decor is lightweight, so if it falls off the walls while on the road, it won’t be damaged. This space also doubles as a sleeping area for Lori’s daughter, so Lori keeps a sheet on the sofa at all times, and it folds out and fits perfectly in the corner at night.

Credit: Lori Murphy

And finally, another space that blends function and style is the refreshed dining area — with no more bulky dining booths. Instead, Lori opted for a light white and wooden table from IKEA that can be moved if necessary. Before, the dining area could only seat four comfortably, and now it can seat about six.

The entire glow-up took one week, and the curtains, new bedding, and new table rang in at just under $200.

Lori is looking forward to seating guests in the freshly revamped space. As soon as her project was complete, she and her family took it for a test drive. “The next week after it was complete, we were off on our first camping trip,” Lori says.