Post Summary: Everything you need to know about doing a camper renovation, including how to do a camper remodel on a budget, DIY hacks, and how much it costs.
Have you been thinking about doing a camper renovation and wondering if it’s something you can pull off? A quick breeze through Instagram or Pinterest, and you can be sure to find a farmhouse camper remodel that might convince you to take up a new fixer-upper project on the weekend.
That’s what happened to us.
In the summer of 2020, We bought a 1979 Dodge Sportsman American Clipper motorhome camper for $3500. With not much experience (by not much, I mean absolutely none), we spent several months, off and on, tackling a vintage camper remodel. We had big plans of living full time in it on a 3-month cross-country road trip, so we needed our camper reno to be stylish, functional, and most importantly….affordable.
And we did it! To say we’re proud of our camper remodel is an understatement. It was a labor of love and it was 100% worth it. If you’re thinking about a vintage camper renovation and wondering if you can do it…you can!!
This post will go into the gritty details of what it takes to renovate a camper, including what worked (and what didn’t) after 3 months of full-time living in our camper. And I’ll tell you this, there are some things that I would do differently if I had to do it again.
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RENOVATING A CAMPER FAQ’s
How much does it cost to renovate a camper?
The cost of renovating a camper can vary depending on how much you want to do. You can do a simple camper renovation where you only paint and add new floors for as little as $100-300. Or you can take it a step further and do a mid-tier renovation (like we did) and add extra embellishments for about $700-1500. Lastly, you can shell out for a more top-tier renovation where you change the configuration of your RV, put in a new sink, add high end fixtures, etc. and now you’re looking at a minimum of $1000 to $10,000.
How do you renovate a camper on a budget?
The best way to renovate a camper on a budget is to do as much as you can yourself and keep the redesign simple. A few small changes can make a BIG difference. Reconfiguring the layout and putting in a new sink with butcher block countertops is going to be more expensive.
Decide what’s important to you and how you’re actually going to use your camper. For instance, I do not like our tiny kitchen sink. It’s a pain to wash dishes and have water splash everywhere. If we were going to live full-time in our camper for 365 days a year, I would absolutely invest in a chic new matte black sink. Since we don’t live full time in our camper, it wasn’t worth buying a new sink and reconfiguring our kitchen layout for a camper that is primarily for travel and recreation.
Is it hard to remodel a camper?
It doesn’t have to be difficult to remodel a camper, but it will take time and a lot of “figure it out” mentality. It also depends on the initial state of your camper. Our vintage camper was more difficult than an average camper remodel. The physical labor involved in ripping out old floors, carpet, and ceilings was quite a challenge. If you don’t have a lot of practice working with your hands it might be difficult and you might feel like giving up, but plenty of people who have no experience (like us) can remodel a camper. The good news is there’s a wealth of information to be tapped into that is completely FREE. Look on Youtube for how to install new flooring, search for a tutorial about making faux shiplap, or even find out how to paint your camper walls. Anything you want to know is availble for you. And if you still need help, you can always reach out to us!
I will say if you don’t have experience with renovating or won’t have someone helping you with a contracting background, I would stick to smaller updates that don’t require as much experience or skill. Anything can be learned, but it would be a shame to cause unnecessary or costly damage to your camper because you got yourself deeper into a task than you thought. Always do your research.
CAMPER RENOVATION BEFORE AND AFTER
Here’s a sneak peak at what our camper looked like when we bought her and what we were able to accomplish on a modest budget. For more before and after photos of our camper renovation, you can scroll down to the bottom where I do a gallery of photos.
HOW TO REMODEL A CAMPER (START TO FINISH)
Okay, buckle up, we’re going to go into everything we did, step-by-step, to complete our camper renovation. This post is primarily about how to remodel the interior of a camper. We won’t be going into the nuts and bolts of buying a used camper or how to fix the mechanical issues. But believe me, it’s very important!
We did an RV renovation on a budget because we knew we would have to put money into fixing up the mechanical issues, which are bound to arise with a vintage camper.
1. PLAN YOUR CAMPER RENOVATION AESTHETIC
For a smooth camper renovation, it’s best to know what kind of look you’re going for. The sky’s the limit with this one. Midcentury modern camper? Bohemian camper? Tiki hut camper? Our camper is on the smaller end, so we knew we would go simple with our design to not overwhelm the space.
We chose to go almost all white in the interior to help our small space feel bigger. For us, we wanted to achieve the look of a subtle modern farmhouse renovation which would mean black and white interiors with thoughtful decoration to help warm up the space.
If you’re just beginning, read and scan through Pinterest and Instagram to get some great camper makeover ideas.
2. WEATHER PROOFING
This isn’t part of the RV interior renovation, but we think it’s important to include for anyone who’s doing a motorhome renovation on an older rig.
Make sure to weather seal the roof and all windows. Check for leaks and test all utilities. This part is crucial because water WILL find its way into your camper. It always does. Be thorough and look everywhere you think that water might get in because it probably already has or it will.
For this, I used Flex Seal. That’s right, the “as seen on tv” rubber seal product. It is surprisingly effective, by which I mean it works. We used the gallon size for the roof and the squeeze tube for the windows and appliances.
Granted, we are in a vintage camper, and we still get some (a lot of) leaks around our rooftop AC Unit and our front windows, but none of this was preventable with the Flex Seal product we used because the issues were in the hardware.
TIP: Be sure to know where and when to use the sealant products, and when to professionally fix a roof or window in your camper.
Okay, now it’s time to start your demo and remove all old wallpaper, wood, light fixtures, unnecessary storage features, stained carpet, flooring, furnishings, or appliances.
I removed all window coverings (from 1979), textured wallpaper, and light fixtures, as well as the original burnt orange shag carpets – which proved to be quite an arduous task.
The carpet was stapled to the plywood subfloor with thousands (I kid you not) THOUSANDS of staples. For this task, I used needle-nosed pliers and a screwdriver to act as a leverage anchor point while I grabbed the staples with the pliers and rolled them back overtop the screwdriver to release the staples. This project alone took me 2 full days, and by the end, my hands were sore and tired.
I also took down all the old and yellowed light fixtures that used power-thirsty light bulbs. But, before you do this, be sure to either turn off the breakers or unplug the battery. I unplugged the battery since it needed replacing anyway, but turning off the breaker would have the same effect. And although I do love the brown wire magazine holders on the walls, I decided to get rid of those as well.
Remember, if you want to reuse any of the old material from your camper, you’ll need to store it or hang on to it somewhere while you finish the interior demo work. I used a lot of the old wood from the original design in other places on the camper. For example, the wooden inserts in the old retractable window coverings were transformed into new drawer trims for the kitchen drawers. Repurposing materials from the camper can save you a lot of money.
If you want to redesign your camper’s flow or floorplan, now is the time. We stayed with the original floorplan in our 1979 American Clipper but removed 2 old (also burnt orange) circular backed chairs in exchange for a more spacious and comfortable loveseat. (It was one of the best/most transformational things we did in the renovation.)
Our goal for this camper renovation was to spend as little money as possible remodeling and to use or repurpose as much from the original design materials as we could.
We purchased painter’s cloth to reupholster the dinette cushions. Since we purchased a new gel memory foam mattress to replace the old one, we used the old mattress foam to make cushions for the new loveseat/couch. I reused the wooden retractable roller window supports as well as the drawers from the old cafe set. It was also during this phase that I replaced some water-damaged panels in the ceiling.
Once everything is cleared out and you have an idea of where you want to go with your design, start painting. Now, you may have heard this before, but painting is all about preparation. This means prepping the space so that you won’t ruin anything you don’t want to get paint on, or making sure that your tape is firmly applied so that your lines come out sharp upon removal.
Also, this means prepping the surfaces that need painting. Is your surface covered in a material that won’t hold your paint? Maybe you need to sand your surfaces in preparation for your paint? Maybe you need to use a primer on your surface? All of these things need to be taken into account. Then, and only then, you can start painting.
I used this Glidden Premium Semi-Gloss Interior Paint plus Primer in Pure White. I’ve used this paint for years, for various projects around the house and have always loved the results. I used the combo paint plus primer because I just found it easier. It removed one extra step for me, but you may find that you need to prime your surface.
Some reasons might be that it’s a very dark color, or you’re not sure if it will hold your paint. I used a small and medium paint roller as well as these brushes. You’ll need to use several coats of paint to be sure that you completely cover your surfaces.
I did four full coats and some areas could have even used more. It all depends on the surfaces you’ll be painting. I can’t stress this enough. And remember, if you are going to cover over certain areas with things like shiplap, or other design elements, you will still need to paint the area but perhaps not as thoroughly. The reason for this is you won’t want to see the the old paint or wallpaper color in between the shiplap boards or other design elements. Believe me, you will see it.
TIP: If you have a fridge, sink, or tub that has turned yellow from age, you might want to take the time to spray paint it with Appliance Epoxy. The stuff works wonders and can make your appliances look bright white (or black) again. We bought the stuff intending to use it but ultimately didn’t have the time to tackle this project before our roadtrip. It’s a great choice for anyone who will be using their camper a lot or living in it full time. If you’re going to use this product, do it BEFORE you paint the camper. It’s an undertaking, and you don’t want to mess up your beautiful new painted camper.
At this point, it’s a good idea to do any spray paint work. You could opt to do spray paint work before you paint, but we found it easier to touch up the white paint with a paintbrush for any overspray.
We decided to paint the rusted oven hood with Rust-Oleum high heat black with a satin finish and used the same spray paint on the retractable stove cover backsplash. It’s a nice-looking product and is often used for engine parts or metals that are in direct contact with heat. We loved the matte black look!
5. REPAIR AND REMODEL
Now you can start the remodeling and repair process. During this step, you’ll be doing all of the measurements, cutting, repurposing, and building that you’ll need to do to accomplish the new look, flow, and feel of the camper that you want.
At this point, I started cutting and installing trim board and faux shiplap. But, hold off on installing your baseboard trims until after you’ve installed your new flooring. Your baseboards will sit atop the new luxury vinyl planks against the wall, so it will be much easier to install the flooring if you wait on the baseboard trims.
I made the faux shiplap from 1/4 inch plywood boards. I pre-measured all of the places I wanted to shiplap (cabinets, main bed ceiling, kitchen peninsula, etc.) and decided that 4-inch planks would be best. I then cut each sheet of the 1/4” plywood (which I bought in 2ft by 4ft sheets, but also come in 4ft by 8ft) into 4-inch wide plank boards, then cut each board into their specific lengths for each application.
When applying the boards to the wall or ceilings, I used two nickels to help with even spacing. I used a brad nailer and finishing gun to complete this task. I use this one from KIMO because it’s cordless, rechargeable, powerful, and affordable. It’s also the same tool I used to install the trims.
For the trim pieces, I purchased actual trim boards from Home Depot that already come in white color. Again, this eliminated one step for me, so that’s why I did it, but you can buy trim in natural wood color and paint it afterward if you prefer. If you buy white trim, don’t forget to fill and paint your nail holes when you finish. I put trim pieces on nearly every wall to add some texture and cover some imperfections under windows or over old nail or screw holes. I even put a wainscoting trim piece on most of the walls to add detail.
Some of the trim and all of the shiplap still needed to be painted over, but I wanted to have a base layer of paint underneath my detail work and then also paint over the nail or screw holes. Once I installed all of the faux shiplap and trims, I painted everything to either match or I white-washed it.
I personally love the look of a whitewashed wood surface. It still feels very natural but can also blend in with your other white-painted surfaces. So, I whitewashed the ceiling and the kitchen peninsula walls. It’s very easy to accomplish this look, in fact much easier than painting for full coverage.
All you do is lightly dab your brush (you must use a brush for this look) in paint and work the brush back and forth continuously on your surface until the white paint becomes almost translucent. Keep doing this in different areas of your surface until it looks even and until you have achieved the level of color on your surface that you like. Just like that, one coat, and you’re done.
6. NEW FLOORS
Next up for our camper renovation-installing new floors. For the main living area (kitchen, living, dining, bedrooms) I used these Traffic Master Rigid Core Vinyl Plank Flooring in Edwards Oak. You can get a similar look off of Amazon here.
We ultimately chose this because we thought it looked the best between the other two colors that we bought to test out. We bought 3 total and looked at them with everything else in the camper and returned the ones we didn’t like. I ended up using only 2 boxes of flooring and got a great deal at Home Depot. At $38 per box, we had brand new floors for only $76. Between the floors and the paint, it looked like a completely different camper, and it only cost a little over $100.
When you install new flooring, you have the option to use an underlayment like this to help insulate better, keep moisture out, and soften your step when you walk. It is not absolutely necessary, but I would recommend it. Between the underlayment and the seam tape, it cost a total of $37.
Installing these floors is incredibly easy and just takes a bit of labor and time. They are usually built to click-lock into each other so that they will stay together. You may want to pick up a flooring installation kit (if you don’t already have one) to make your life easier, but you can get by without it. You’ll need a mallet and block to help lock the planks into place. For any angled edges, you’ll need a retractable utility blade to score the vinyl plank before bending it off to break it. It’s much more simple than it may sound. You can check out any number of videos on Youtube for instructions.
In the bathroom, where there was also burnt orange shag carpet, I used these Peel & Stick Floor Tile Decals. They are adhesive and work fine for what we needed. Like the luxury vinyl flooring, we bought two other tile decals (this one and this one) to test them out and returned what we didn’t like.
The tiles didn’t stick to our wood floor very well, so I used a brad nailer gun to nail them in place, in addition to the adhesive. We haven’t had any problems with them, and the difference is amazing.
Once you’ve finished your floors, take a moment to appreciate your work. At this point, I could really see the progress being made and got more inspired to finish the renovation.
TIP: When you’re figuring out what design elements you want to use, take advantage of the generous return policy from Amazon. We have an Amazon Prime account, so we would buy a few options knowing we would return what we didn’t like. Just don’t go overboard with this perk. Amazon will penalize you if you do too many returns in a short window. If you don’t have an Amazon Prime account you can try it out free for 30 days.
7. NEW LIGHTING
Next up in our camper renovation was replacing the old light fixtures with some efficient and highly effective LED camper lights. I replaced every fixture with a new LED fixture or wall sconce.
On the central overhead light in the middle of the dining/living area, I used a shallow basket that I picked up from Walmart for less than $10 and I whitewashed it. Then I installed the light on top of it, creating a cool and cheap DIY farmhouse lampshade. We love how it turned out.
The LED fixtures can be found here and the wall sconces here. Follow the instructions well for this step, and be sure to have the breaker turned off or disconnect from the battery completely.
After the lighting, it was time to tackle the 70’s era dinette cushions and the new loveseat cushions. I’m going to be honest; I looked into having someone else do this for me since it seemed like it would be very time-consuming, and I’ve never reupholstered anything before. But, guess how much I was quoted?
I had no choice but to do it myself. And I’ll tell you what, I’m glad I did. It came out amazing! It looks so good, and it has lasted fantastically for us living in the camper full-time for 3 months.
I wasn’t sure how to start, so I just began removing all of the old brown and orange striped upholstery from 1979. Underneath, the cushions looked surprisingly good for being 41 years old! I decided to use Poly-backed Painters Canvas Dropcloth, which I picked up for relatively cheap at Home Depot. You can also find it on Amazon for maybe a bit cheaper.
I chose the poly-backed drop cloth because I wanted to have a waterproofing element to the cushions in case we spilled some juice or liquid on the cushions. And, knowing that we would be living in the camper full-time, it seemed like the smartest choice. I’m happy we did it this way since our son definitely had his fair share of cereal spills on the dining cushions.
I ended up getting a 9ft by 12ft sheet and a 5ft by 5ft sheet for a total of $40 and had some small cuts leftover. This was enough to cover all the cushions in the dinette set, the new love seat, two small armrest pillows, the over cab bed headboard, and the entry door overhead padding protector.
For the dining table seat cushions and the headboard, I wrapped the pad and pulled it tight, stapling the canvas drop cloth to the wooden support boards that the cushion is attached to. Other than some strategic pulling and folding, these were no doubt the easiest.
For all of the other cushions and pads, I had to lay out the drop cloth inside out on a large flat surface and place the cushion on top of it. I then folded the cloth around the cushion and cut each piece to size for the various cushion sizes, making sure to leave enough room for connecting the edges and corners to make a sleeve for the cushions. Be sure to work from the inside out on this step because once you attach the edges and corners, you will flip the upholstery sleeve inside out again, revealing the useable canvas side of the drop cloth and stuff your foam pads into the sleeve and close the ends.
For me, I didn’t want to use a needle and thread or do any sewing, so I came up with an effective and timely way to accomplish the same task. Staples and a hot glue gun. Yup, that’s right. I stapled all of my edges closed on three sides of each canvas sleeve, then used a hot glue gun to glue the material together at the seams. Once the glue was dry, which takes about 5 minutes, I flipped the sleeve inside out and stuffed it with the appropriate cushion pad. Then, once the pad was tightly inside the sleeve, I would fold the canvas, so it looked okay and then hot glue the 4th side closed. If the sleeve is too loose on the cushion, you can always take the cushion out before closing the last side, flip it inside out again, and tighten one of the other sides.
I will admit, it was a time-consuming process. All of the cushions probably took me about 2 days to complete, off and on. But, in the end, the result was so worth the time and the money it saved. Instead of spending $1700, I got great-looking cushions and couch pads for $40 total!
For the couch love seat, I had to pre-measure the cushions and cut the foam pieces from the old upper cab bed foam. As I mentioned, we replaced the bed with a very comfortable gel top memory foam mattress by Lucid (which we LOVE), so I used the old bed foam for the couch project. Because it was so large, we actually have some leftover craft foam that we can use for another project – foam is surprisingly expensive!
9. COUNTERS AND SURFACES
Next up, it’s time to address the countertops and table surfaces. We used this high density marble contact paper for the dining table, the kitchen, and the bathroom counters. Remember at the beginning of this behemoth post when I mentioned there were a few things I would have done differently? Well, this is one of them.
We love how this stuff looks, and it could be a great solution for someone in an area that is not highly trafficked or used. But, for us, it just didn’t cut the mustard. First, let me say this, we live in a climate that gets very cold in the winter, and when I did the counters, it was in snowy winter conditions. So why does this matter? Well, when you go from cold temperatures to hot temperatures, things expand and contract. With contact paper adhesives being pliable and temperature-sensitive, we found that upon application, they looked fine. As it got warmer, they expanded, which caused imperfections in the surface, bubbles in places, and rolled corners and edges.
Furthermore, when you live in your camper full-time, you tend to eat 3 meals a day inside the camper, and some of those meals are hot food, like soup. Whenever we set something hot on the table or countertops, it would almost melt the surface and create more imperfections. And, lastly, with a 3-year-old, things can get a little wild. We noticed that the contact paper would dent and tear when our son was playing rough.
Honestly, I wish it worked for us because I love how it looks. It is such a clean-looking surface and such an improvement from what it previously was (yup, more burnt orange). Either way, next time, I would replace the counters with a natural wood surface like butcher’s block. But, for now, it looks better than it did, it was cheap, and we’re happy enough with it.
If you don’t live in an area where temperatures fluctuate so much, and you don’t plan to be rough on your surfaces, this is probably a perfect choice. Just remember to take your real-life patterns into account, not just the wishful thinking or dreamer lifestyle. It will ultimately help you in the end.
For the kitchen walls, we used adhesive subway tiles. You can get the same look as real tile at a fraction of the cost. Plus, they’re super easy to clean, and they look great. We put it only around the stove area and then used Aegean Teal by Benjamin Moore to create an accent wall around the tiles. A simple but effective design element.
10. ODDS AND ENDS
At this point, you can do the odd jobs that haven’t been finished yet. For me, this meant finishing the window coverings, installing the new white floor register covers, putting up some adhesive wallpaper, and other small tasks.
- The window coverings were another DIY project because I couldn’t find retractable room darkening roller shades that were big enough to fit our old custom-sized windows in the camper. So, I took off the fabric from the old retractable shades and found cheap white room darkening retractable shades at Walmart that I customized to fit onto the old retractable fixtures.
Using a retractable utility blade, I cut the new shades to fit our windows and actually turned them sideways to fit on the older long window shade fixtures. Luckily, the width of the new product was just enough to fully cover our windows once they were pulled down. I stapled and taped the new material to the old retractable roller, which is completely covered when the shades are up and in use. It was another time-consuming project, but in the end, so worth it. You can’t even tell that they were handmade.
We added sheer white curtains that came with a small valance for a layered decorative look. We used the valance as a cover for one of the windows in the upper cabin. I purchased simple curtain rod frames that attach to the wall above the window and tied up the curtains with jute twine. In some places, like the bathroom, the window covering falls straight down, several inches away from the wall because of the angle of the camper walls. To remedy this issue, I added white tension rods in several places to help tuck the curtains and window coverings against the walls.
- I tossed the old floor registers and purchased these new affordable white registers to fit.
- We reused the magazine holder from the wall and placed it under the table for anyone sitting in the back while driving. I painted it white to keep everything cohesive. Also, extra storage is always a plus.
- I found some adhesive wallpaper that worked well for inside the main camper door and bathroom walls. There are tons of great options out there, but we got something similar to this one. We also used an adhesive chalkboard for the refrigerator, found here. The black chalkboard really helped to give it the farmhouse look we were going for. Also, it’s a great option if you have kids.
- On the entryway stairs, I purchased several floor mats from the 99 cent Store, which I cut to size and stapled in place. The result is excellent and only cost $2. I also used these same floor mats to line the inside of the closet on the shoe shelf.
- For the cabinet pull knobs, I purchased a few different types for testing out and returned what we didn’t use. We ended up liking the way that these gold knobs looked with the other design elements and colors. They’re super easy to install. Just use your drill to make a hole slightly larger than the screw on the knobs. Then, feed them through the hole, attach the nut to the other end, and tighten to your desired level.
- I removed the old burnt orange vinyl halfwall banister covering and replaced it with a simple piece of rounded oak for the half wall between the dining table and the kitchen. I picked up the wood from Lowes for less than $5 and used the remaining piece as a transitional threshold where the luxury vinyl plank flooring meets the adhesive bathroom floor tiles. This inexpensive update added some excellent natural wood details to the camper for minimal cost.
- To give the old kitchen drawers a little life, I decided to use some old leather I had to make handles. This project was free and added a huge amount of character to the drawers. I did the same leather handles on the couch/tv area drawers. I used old screws from the demo and cut the handles to size. Using a drill, I screwed the screws directly through the leather, leaving slack for the handle to bubble out slightly—a simple but striking design element. If you want to add some leather design, you can order leather scraps from Amazon at an affordable price.
- I screwed in two hooks on the bathroom wall and six hooks by the camper door. Having a place to hang your hat, purses, bags, towels are vital. It will go a long way to keeping the camper clean.
- Lastly, I added white adhesive corner guards to the cabinets and drawers. I cut each piece to size and stuck the adhesive backs to the edges of the cabinets and drawers for a clean and finished look. I also used the wooden inserts from the old retractable window shades to add a finished edge to the kitchen drawers. Another great way to add polish to the final product while repurposing old materials.
We’re in the final stretch of our camper renovation! In my opinion, decorating is what makes a motorhome renovation go from nice to one of a kind.
We got simple blue and white throw pillows from Target and love how they look and feel. Unfortunately, they’re no longer available, but you can find similar-looking pillows on Amazon.
We received several things in the camper as gifts, so they were free to us. That included the Pendleton Sherpa Fleece throw on our bed, the camouflage sherpa fleece blanket, and the adventure-themed dish towels.
Several items were Dollar Store scores like our rugs. They were between $3 and $5 and, honestly, are all we could have asked for the camper. Sure, a sheep shear rug would have felt amazing on our feet, but instead, we wear cozy slippers and enjoy our $8 rugs. We also bought placemats for the dining table—all for $1 a piece.
The last bits of decor were the plants. We used a mixture of real and fake plants that we found at Michael’s craft stores. You can find a variety of plants from any number of places, but I have always found that a pop of greenery adds volumes to a space, especially one that is painted all white. In addition, we used our macrame plant hangars to give the camper a bohemian look.
We didn’t bring any candles (a major hazard in a camper with a three-year-old), but I think flickering battery-operated candles add a lot of ambiance at night to the camper.
To bring some warm tones into the black and white aesthetic of the camper, we bought this herringbone bamboo cutting board and placed it on top of the stove cover. A small detail that added a rich layer of warmth.
Lastly, we purchased an affordable and extremely comfortable Lucid Gel Memory Foam Mattress. One reason we went with Lucid was the great reviews, but the main reason was that they were one of the only companies that offered a Full XL size, which was what we needed for our bed. You might want to add a pillow-top mattress cover for extra comfort. In the end, I’m so pleased that we chose this mattress. It’s not too thick which is perfect for anyone who needs a mattress for an over cab bed and it is so comfortable that I actually got excited to get into bed each night.
Another winning purchase was our 7 piece bedding set from Bare. It’s a great price and gives you everything you need. They are incredibly soft and comfortable, which just adds to the comfort level of our bed.
One concern that I had before we bought the memory foam mattress was mold. I had heard that they can develop mold over time if there is no air flow underneath the mattress. And, since our bed is above the cab in our camper, there is certainly zero air flow. So, I came up with a great hack that helped to eliminate moisture underneath the mattress, thus (hopefully) also eliminating the risk of mold. Moisture reducing Silica Gel packs.
Yup, the same things that fall out of every package that you get in the mail from Amazon. They are meant to absorb moisture in the air or any material they are touching, so I thought it would be perfect to use them underneath our mattress. So I bought a pack of 200 and put about 40 of them under the mattress between the wooden support board and the mattress itself.
I have periodically checked under the mattress for moisture or mold, and nothing. They’re working like a charm. They’ve been in place for about 7 months, and they should probably be changed every year or so. But, with the 200 pack, it should last 5 years before I have to purchase a new one. Not bad, and definitely worth the $16. You can find the ones we bought here.
MORE BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS
I know when you’re planning a camper renovation sometimes you just want to look at photos for inspiration. Here’s a gallery of our before and after photos. After this section, I go through everything we spent.
CAMPER REMODEL ON A BUDGET
Okay, let’s talk about numbers. We’re going to show you what the camper renovation cost us along with links to all the items we used. *Please note that we only mention the prices that we paid for items, but the prices may have changed or could be different in a link.*
- White Paint – (already had it) $0
- Aegean Teal Paint – $4
- Rustoleum High Heat Spray Paint – $10
- Faux Shiplap Planks + Wood Accent Decor – $40.84
- Trim Boards – $38
- Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring – $76
- Peel + Stick Bathroom Floor Decals – $12.33
- LED Light Fixtures – $64.18
- 4 Wall Sconces – $33.98
- 2 Poly Backed Canvas Drop Cloth – $40.42
- Marble Contact Paper – $17.59
- Subway Tile Adhesives – $31
- Room Darkening Shades -$39.92
- Curtain Rod Frames – $8
- White Floor Registers – $7.18
- White Barnwood Wallpaper – $17
- Adhesive Chalkboard – $33.98
- Floor Mats For Stairs (bought at the dollar store) – $4
- Corner Guards – $22.50
- Memory Foam Mattress – $150
GRAND TOTAL: $650.92
DECORATING THE CAMPER
- Gold Ceramic Knobs – $17.98
- Leather Pull Knobs – (already owned it ) $0
- Throw Pillows – $20
- Adventure Themed Dish Towels – (gift) $0
- Fleece Blankets – (gift) $0
- Decor Floor Rugs (bought at the dollar store) $8
- Fake Plants – $9
- Macrame – (already owned) $0
- Place Mats (bought at the dollar store) $4
- Herringbone Cutting Board – $15
- Bedding Set – $60.41
- Jute Twine (already owned it )- $0
- Shower Curtain – $18
- Bathroom Wood Box -$5
- Coat Hooks – $10
- Silica Gel Packets – $10.99
GRAND TOTAL: $178.38
REMODELING A CAMPER: THE TOOLS
Here are all the tools we used to do our camper renovation. We didn’t include these in the costs of our camper remodel budget because, for the most part, we already had them. If you don’t have these already, you’ll have to factor in these costs when coming up with the overall price. If you don’t have these items already, this can cost you anywhere from $100-$400.
- Flex Seal Gallon and Squeeze Tube(weatherproofing exterior)
- Face mask (for spray painting and painting)
- Needle Nosed Pliers
- Paint Rollers
- Paint Brushes
- Brad Nailer
- Retractable Utility Knife
- Hot Glue Gun
- Flooring Underlayment
- Flooring Installation Kit
Lastly, when figuring out your camper renovation budget, it’s best to leave room for things that inevitably pop up. Also, don’t forget you have to furnish the thing! You might be able to use your own stuff, but it’s something to be aware of. You’ll need cookware, plates, toilet paper, a handheld vacuum, and so much more. You can check out our post on Camper Must Haves to get an idea of what else you might need for your camper.
CAMPER RENOVATION SUMMARY
Okay, here’s a summary of our camper renovation:
- Plan Your Aesthetic
- Demo and Rip Out Everything You Don’t Need
- Paint, Spray Paint, and Fix Yellow Tinted Appliances
- Add in New Elements Like Shiplap and Decorative Trim Pieces
- Install New Vinyl Floors and Adhesive Tile in Bathroom
- Replace All Old Lighting
- Reupholster Old Cushions and Build New Love Seat Configuration
- Contact Paper on Surfaces (dining table, kitchen, bathroom, drawer set)
- Replace Window Shade Coverings
- Put in Chalk Board Adhesive on Fridge
- Staple Floor Mats in Entrance
- Install Leather Pulls and Gold Knob Decoration Pieces
- Replace Old Floor Registers
That’s how we did it! It was a big undertaking, but all the work was worth it.
We hope our old camper remodel inspires you to start your own camper renovation.
Let us know if you have any questions below! We’re happy to help.
Pin It For Later
Love this!! We traveled the world to 48 countries much of it by camper for a decade, paused during the teen years and now as empty nesters ready to revamp our old camper in Barcelona and this is just what I need for inspiration!!
Wow! What an amazing adventure to travel in your camper for a decade. Best of luck on your next journey. We loved renovating our camper and every second of hard work was worth it.
Thank you for talking about reupholstering. We’re thinking about updating our family’s RV. This seems like a simple way to freshen up the space.