This 180-Square-Foot Renovated 1970s RV Is the Coziest Home on Wheels

published Oct 20, 2020

This 180-Square-Foot Renovated 1970s RV Is the Coziest Home on Wheels

published Oct 20, 2020
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Name: Bree Contreras, Guilly, dogs Zeus and Apollo
Location: Texas, for now
Size: 180 square feet
Type of Home: Hottie is a Class C RV but I prefer to call her a not-van.
Years Lived In: It will be 1 full year in December, owned

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Credit: Apartment Therapy

Stuck inside for most of 2020, I’ve found myself fantasizing about dream houses. I’m extraordinarily lucky to live in a lovely New Orleans duplex, but my thoughts still drift to other romantic home types. Dream homes can mean a lot of different things to different people, and this week we’re touring all kinds, from an A-frame to an RV to living abroad and off the grid.

Who hasn’t dreamed of running away from it all when things get tough? In a year of bad news after bad news, I know I’ve wondered what it might be like to throw my mortgage and responsibilities out of the window and hit the road to see more of the world. When each day in quarantine is a carbon copy of the day before and the next, the fantasy of experiencing new sights is almost impossible to resist. But as a Taurus (and a home design fanatic), the thought of being away from home for long feels too taxing. It’s why the rise of #vanlife has been so appealing to me: Having new adventures AND always having your home with you is a dreamy thought!

“I’m a firm believer that human beings are meant to live full, happy lives, as opposed to waking up, going to work and paying bills until we die with maybe two days off a week. I remember as a kid seeing my parent come home on Friday nights exhausted and ready for a weekend of sleeping in and lounging about while I was full of energy for the weekend thinking, ‘what good is a weekend if you’re too tired to have fun?'”

Bree Contreras, Life With Bree

Bree Contreras also finds the ability to travel and take your home with you very appealing, and completely renovated this 1970s Class C RV they named “Hottie.” For Bree, an RV was also a way to get out of “years paying exorbitant rent to live close to my bougie ass corporate job (that I hated),” they wrote on their blog, Life With Bree

“I lived out of bags for a couple of years before I bought Hottie. At first it was fun. I was always traveling; I took six weeks to do a solo backpacking trip in Europe, and then I was always on the road for college extra-curriculars. Then I was bouncing around friends’ houses after I first graduated college during a period of houselessness. I loved adventure and traveling and tried to take it all in stride, but there comes a point where feeling like you have no place to land starts to wear on you in a really unhealthy way. It erodes your sense of self-worth because we as a collective tie so much shame to not having a place to call your own,” explains Bree.

“I knew I loved traveling and wanted to keep doing it, but I also knew I wanted a place to unpack. A place that felt safe to decorate and make my home because I wouldn’t be leaving in six months or a year. I wanted a place that felt comfortable and that, more than that, felt comforting. But I also knew I wasn’t (and am not) ready to settle down in one spot yet. There’s a lot to be said about the juxtaposition of the feeling of stability that comes from always being home and the sense of adventure that comes from living on the road, and that is something that before Hottie, I could only dream of. I call Hottie the vehicle to my wildest dreams a lot, because that’s exactly what she is. I not only get to live and dream and exist in this space that I built for myself with my own hands, but I get to move her and take her with me wherever my dreams take me, and that is absolutely the definition of a dream home to me.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I think my style is definitely very minimal and modern, but cozy and homey as well. I’m not sure if there’s a name for it honestly but I watch a lot of HGTV and Apartment Therapy home tours and have somehow managed to bring all of my favorite aspects of farmhouse, industrial, and modern design styles into my very tiny home.

Inspiration: This house was inspired by my house plants and the one and only Joanna Gaines. Haha, no but really, I watch a TON of HGTV and love Joanna’s ability to open up a space using whites, woods, and black accents. The simplicity of her designs makes me feel at home. I really wanted to do something like that in the rig, and I also knew that I always wanted to feel like I was surrounded by life without it being overwhelming. Half of the fun of living on the road is that I get to take my home into the middle of the woods, or on the shore of a beach, and I didn’t want that feeling of being surrounded by life and things bigger than myself to go away once I closed the door to the rig.

Favorite Element: I actually have a few favorite elements in Hottie. The first being the bedroom. It was originally a dinette situation that turned into a table, so it’s surrounded on all sides by these giant windows. Truth be told, that was actually the biggest sell for me when I went to look at Hottie in the first place. I knew that I wanted to wake up and see the world out of those windows every day for the foreseeable future and so I built my bed right into that little nook. I almost always park so that the sun creeps in the windows first and it makes waking up so so pleasant and yes, the views are every bit as amazing as I imagined.

My second favorite element is the loft. It was absolutely disgusting when I bought it. There was so much water damage and the entire bottom of it needed to be ripped out to the aluminum and replaced with new framing and materials. Throughout the build I kept imagining it as this really cool spot to hang out and chill to read or stargaze at night. I’m glad I saved it for last because the plans for that space sort of grew and morphed on their own as time went on and quite frankly the finished product is much better than I anticipated. One of my favorite things to do is curl up in there with a book and read until I fall asleep.

The third is my kitchen. The cabinets. The sink. The fact that the original stove, oven, and refrigerator are still in perfect working order makes my heart so happy. I love cooking so the fact that the kitchen reno was actually the easiest thing to do in the entire rig was a really welcome break considering everything else I had to do.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge of renovating this entire rig was… probably that I had no idea what I was doing. Before I jumped into building Hottie I had a random smattering of building / DIY experience. I’d built an IKEA bed here and there, helped relatives fix things around their homes, and watched a couple uncles build a shed once. Nothing very hands on and nothing quite like this. I remember when I picked Hottie out, that was one of the things most of my friends and family were concerned about for me. She looked like (and was) a lot of work, but I knew she was worth it so I forced myself to figure it out. Luckily I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last rookie builder to jump into RV renovations so Youtube, blogs, and friendly folks on the internet full of information and helpful tips were never too far away. When all of that failed though, I just asked my grandpa and usually we were able to figure something out.

Proudest DIY: That BED. I’m serious. It’s amazing. I knew I wanted a raised bed for two reasons: first  so that I could be at eye level with the windows (for those epic morning views) and second so that my pups could have more space to sprawl out in the rig. I could not for the life of me figure out how to create a lofted bed in the space I’d been given though, so I asked my grandpa for some advice and together we ended up creating the masterpiece I have now. It is my favorite thing for so many reasons, but mostly because my grandpa and I put it together together. So I guess it’s more of a DIYWGH  (Do It Yourself With Grandpa’s Help) but it’s still my proudest.

Biggest Indulgence: LOL okay—the biggest indulgence was the $600 tankless water heater we installed and was it worth it? Yes. Except that it broke almost immediately after we hit the road because the installer goofed. I have a piece to replace before it’s up and running again but it was absolutely worth it for the six days we had hot water, haha. #RoadLife right?

How did you find this home? I found Hottie on Craigslist. I had been looking for a couple months, rather frantically actually because I was nearing the end of my apartment lease in Houston. I had been scouring Facebook marketplace, various RV dealers, and Craigslist looking for something that would fit me and my pups perfectly. I saw several pull-behind RVs before I decided I wanted a vehicle that would drive itself (and one that had a bathroom). I knew a van was too small, and a bus felt like too much work so I narrowed my searches to Class C RVs under $3,000 USD and after a few weeks I met Hottie. I knew immediately that she was the one, which is saying a lot. She was full of the previous owners’ belongings, had tons of water damage in the ceiling and loft and was in dire need of a complete tear down but I didn’t care. (See “before” photos of Bree’s RV!) I loved her and I had this idea that I was going to make her my home, so I went for it.

What was the biggest stumbling block on the road to your dream home? Oh man the biggest stumbling block was probably hanging the ceiling. I’ve realized now (having done it once) that there’s absolutely an easier way to do it but at the time I had no idea what I was doing and it took me, Guilly, and two of my uncles about four days to get it all cut and hung. It was the most ridiculous thing but like I said, I know better now.

What was your idea of a dream home when you were a little kid? How close is this home’s version to your childhood dream? I’ve always had a fascination with “weird” homes and especially homes with hidden nooks and crannies. When I was a kid I’d spend hours watching those travel channel shows where they show you people who have made floating homes or built their homes out of things like caves, castles, fire stations, hills, shipping containers, etc. and I used to dream about having a giant treehouse (or a castle lol). I found movies like “Casper” and “Harry Potter” fascinating because the idea of all the little spaces in those huge dwellings one could sneak off to and hide for hours seemed so cool. Apparently I never grew out of either of those things and it led to me building my loft nook behind the bookshelf that feels like a secret little hideout. I also keep tons of plants and counting in the rig to feel like I’m always, if not among the trees, among plants.  

What is your best advice for finding/creating a dream home? Listen to yourself. It’s your dream, not anyone else’s. What looks like too much work or too much trouble to someone else does not necessarily have to be true for you. If you’re willing to go for it, building your dream home is possible. It might take time; everything does, but it’s possible.





  • Chaise Pillow — Opal House by Target
  • Throw Pillows — Target
  • Blanket — Flea Market
  • Bookshelf — Custom Built in (painted oxford white)


  • Table — Custom Built in using scrap wood and Minwax Early American stain
  • Stools — IKEA Franklin folding stools
  • Storage Crates – IKEA
  • Table tray — Hearth and Hand with Magnolia Target
  • Rug — Hearth and Hand with Magnolia Target


  • Cabinets — Vine Leaf x Behr
  • Sink — Lordear 25×22 drop in sink
  • Stove — Original 1970s Magic Chef
  • Refrigerator — Original 1970s Dometic fridge
  • Dishware — REI (GSI Outdoors Camp set)
  • Kettle — IKEA
  • Cabinet pulls — Lowe’s
  • Hand Broom — June Broom by Morgan Raleigh


  • Curtains — Indoor/Outdoor fabric (Walmart)
  • Wall — Custom shiplap stained with Minwax Early American stain
  • Throw Pillows + Covers — IKEA
  • Duvet — Luna Weighted blanket (25 lbs)
  • Sheets/Pillowcases — Hearth and Hand by Magnolia for Target


Thanks Bree and Guilly!

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