If you haven’t fell down the rabbit hole of RV Renovation on Instagram yet, you’re missing out. Last year during the beginning of the ‘rona, I spent much of my time daydreaming about escaping and adventuring. Kyle and I had begun this plan of selling the house and moving out to Colorado so we’d be able to explore the west for a few years. As the year went on and we started to realize the profit we could make off the house, the trip evolved and turned into a road trip!
We started debating styles of RVs that would work for us and came to the conclusion that a tow-behind toy hauler would be best for the phase of life that we are in. When we stumbled on our dear 2008 Keystone Outback Kargoroo, we knew she was perfect for us. Drove up, checked her out and bought her all within 24 hours. What we liked about her was the limited amount of work that she would need done to really make her aesthetically pleasing but as an interior designer I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to renovate her at LEAST a little. So here we are with the completed results of Roo’s Reno!
A Little About Roo
Roo is a 28′ travel trailer with the unique design of the toy hauler in the front. We have a queen size bed that pulls out the back of the trailer, a jackknife couch, full u-shape dinette, solid kitchen, a tiny little bathroom and a garage large enough for our dirt bike and four-wheeler. There is limited storage but it has worked out to be enough for us. The camper is also considered a 4-season camper because the underside of the camper is all insulated and covered and the heat runs through the floors.
Most campers are designed with dark features and dark wood but this paticular camper by Keystone came with a light interior and white cabinets already which we loved. Since it’s a 2008, the wallpaper border, valances and fabrics were less than to be desired but the vinyl wood-look floor was perfect and actually really popular today. It gave us a good starting point to do the renovation on a budget.
The First Half of the RV Renovation
The moment we got the camper, I took down the hideous curtains but we didn’t really start taking things down until January in Florida. I removed all the valances, the privacy curtain for the bed, the ugly fabric headboard, and the broken blinds. Then I set to work with the heat gun removing the wallpaper border that went around the perimeter of the camper. It was a challenge to apply the right amount of heat without damaging the wallpaper finish below but worked out alright.
Since I pulled out all the blinds, I had to create some sort of window covering quickly before our Everglades camping trip so I created some super cheap and easy curtains out of drop cloths that we still love today. The only supplies we needed were screw in hooks, stained wooden dowels, clip on rings from Target, drop cloth and some no-sew hem tape! Quick, cheap and easy.
We had an unexpected turn of events in life that forced us to get it ‘livable condition’ quick so I purchased a few finishing touch items to pull it together just in case we had to change plans and sell it.
The first thing I did was add some self-adhesive wallpaper to create a shiplap look around the bathroom and the inside of the bed slide out. The space was previously SO beige so adding even this small hint of white, really made the space pop.
The second project was to install peel and stick backsplash around the kitchen area from a company called Nomad Tiles. They designed these foam tiles to work specifically in campers that need to be able to flex. I had just enough leftover to do a few rows in the bathroom as well as a special touch.
Second Half of the RV Renovation
After spending the first half of the year in Massachusetts with family, I’m back reunited with Kyle and our Roo and we hit the ground running with the renovations. With just a week of time to work with, we started with the two projects that would have the biggest impact: painting walls and staining trim.
We decided to just go with a simple white because our budget was tight and we knew that there wasn’t a ton of wall space that would actually be seen. After a couple quick coats of a “problem surface sealer” to reduce the sticky residue from the wallpaper border, we started painting. The entire project required a primer coat and then two coats of finish paint. We were able to get by with just quarts instead of gallons because we opted out of painting the bathroom and the garage area.
While I did a lot of the cutting and priming, Kyle took the trim boards outside and sanded off the layers of yellow stain and lacquer. He helped me finish up the painting and then we set to work on the trim boards. We were able to use the same stain as we had for the window curtain dowels and they ended up matching our floors perfectly. Two coats of the stain to make it as dark as possible and then we hung them back up and enjoyed the view!
We’re really happy with how the camper looks now with just those few renovation projects that we opted to do.
The Finishing Touches
What really turns this space from a house-on-wheels to a home-on-wheels are all the finishing touches and added storage features. Here are some of our favorite finishing touches that we added to Roo! We’ll start from front to back…
Ikea Rod, pocket and hooks
In an effort to avoid dumping our belongings on our very few surfaces, we found this Nereby rod at Ikea with a canvas pocket and hooks for things like keys, wallets, sunglasses, masks and other quick grab-and-go items.
Hanging Shelves and Space Savers
I don’t think we TRULY realized how little storage space we have until we got ourselves packed because it took some major downsizing to get our clothes to fit. Things like these space saver hangers and this hanging shelf organizer are a huge help in maximizing the storage space.
Extend-a-Shower & Shower Head
We didn’t make many upgrades to the bathroom but the two that we did will make a big difference. Our shower is TINY so this “extend-a-shower” rotates out to give your more elbow room and then tucks away when not in use. The shower head helps us to conserve water so we can boondock as long as possible.
We didn’t have front access to our dinette storage but this was really the only good place for us to store shoes so rather than opening up the dinette constantly, Kyle cut the front panels, added velcro to the sides and a handle to assist! It was a cheap and easy upgrade that’ll make a night and day difference.
Hanging Storage Caddies
Found these little cool hanging storage caddies on Amazon! We hung one on the side of the kitchen cabinets for produce and then the other two next to the couch so we can tuck things away that we use regularly like iPads, books, maps, devices, etc.
Magnetic Spice Tins
If you know Kyle at all, you’ll know he’s a big fan of grilling and smoking meat. We had more spices than we knew what to do with so we got these magnetic spice containers to assist in the storage of some of our most regularly used spices. The rest of the more special spices got tucked away in a space we don’t access as regularly.
Paper Towel Holder
Prior to now, we had our paper towels strung across a bungee cord on our curtain rod so this under cabinet mounted paper towel holder was another huge upgrade. We struggled deciding what would be the best place to mount it since it was just slightly longer than the underside of the cabinets but this will work well for us!
Wood Cutting Board
Another issue with small kitchens is lack of counter space. By adding in this little wooden cutting board that grips to the stove, it gives us another foot of prep space since we’ll do MOST of our cooking outside. Target find!
Curtain for Bed
The camper came with a curtain across the bed but it was hideous and needed replaced. In our experiences so far, we only needed a small bit of fabric to block a bright light here and there depending on where we camped so we came up with a simple solution. Target had a plain white shorter curtain with a loop for a pole to go through. We just made slits in the top to slip onto the small hooks and then trimmed the bottom so the length was right. Can’t even tell it’s a hack job!
Tissue Holder and Drill Hole
Last little upgrade we made was a hole cut through the side of the shelf over the bed so that we could slip a power cord up to plug in to the random outlet on the ceiling. And since we did that, we found a tissue box mounting bracket that we could hide behind that panel and not get in the way of the power cord. Perfect!
I haven’t added up the total cost yet but all-in-all, it probably cost us under $1000 to do. We spent more on things like a new awning and all the typical RV gear you need but those were essential costs outside of the renovation costs. Regardless, we’re SO happy with how it came out and excited to start our journey next week in our new and improved home-on-wheels!
Wishing you could hit the road in an RV? Ever wanted to test it out and see if it’s a good fit for you? Check out InMotion Adventures and let’s chat about planning a road trip that fits your needs! And until next time…