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We Bought a Used RV!: Our RV Reno Experience

We decided to hop on the Vanlife bandwagon! Except we’re living in an RV so we have a little more room. Live vicariously through us or get some tips for your own RV Reno.

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rv reno demolition

The Details: Our RV and Our Timeline

We bought an Ex-Cruise America Rental. It’s a 2018 Thor Majestic 23A. It’s 25 feet long.

It came fully equipped with a full bathroom (shower, toilet, and sink), kitchen with microwave, stovetop and refrigerator, multiple beds and a dinette. 

We bought this baby back in December of 2022 and worked on it constantly after work during the week and every weekend. We ended up getting on the road the end of May 2023. It took us about six months to get it travel ready.

Even after all that time renovating, we still have a small list of running projects and improvements. It’s like home ownership. The projects seem to never end! 

Pre-Reno: Original Condition

The inside as you can see below was very dark. All dark wood and dark ugly wallpaper. It’s definitely deceptive how much dirt the dark interior hid because it was filthy!

The pictures below are the interior in it’s original condition right after we bought it. 

rv reno
rv reno

After we bought this baby, we were very excited to get going and started demo the day after we brought it home. A lot of work had to be done!

RV Reno: Demolition

Dinette and Useless Chair

Our main demolition areas were the dinette and chair next to the door. 

For the dinette area, we envisioned some sort of comfortable couch/lounge/work area. As for the chair, we knew we didn’t want it there, we just weren’t sure what to put there after we ripped the useless chair out! That took a lot of brainstorming. 

These two spots were the biggest projects because it involved ripping everything out entirely and rebuilding from the ground up. 

useless chair rv reno
bye, bye useless chair!
no more dinette!
couch rv reno
new couch

We ripped the chair entirely out, so all that was left was some small ugly holes from the metal frame. 
For the dinette, we couldn’t rip out everything entirely because we had the 30amp box and all the electrical underneath. So we had to work around all of that when we built the new couch. 

Kitchen and Bathroom

Demolition in the bathroom was not as crazy. It didn’t involve any serious building. 

We ripped out the microwave, vent hood and old stovetop in the kitchen. The old stovetop was this small little two burner thing, so we replaced it with a better three burner Suburban cooktop.

Since we don’t have an oven, we used the old microwave space as a spot for our Breville toaster oven.

Both the kitchen and bathroom faucets were replaced and we revamped the sinks. We spray painted them both white using Rustoleum Tub & Tile to give it a more rustic farmhouse look. 

kitchen rv reno
new stovetop and no more microwave!
bathroom rv reno
bye bye ugly sink!

Bedroom and Above Drivers Cab Area

We decided to use the bed area next to the bathroom as our bedroom. We replaced the mattress because I was not using some used up old mattress to sleep on, ew!

As for the bed cushions above the driver’s area, we just trashed those and we turned that space into storage. 

Our front seats in the driver’s area were gross so those had to get deep cleaned. We would have loved to replace them entirely, but this was a budget build! So a deep cleaning and seat covers was our solution. 

bye bye nasty old mattress!

RV Reno: Wallpaper, Paint, Stain and Tile

Every speck of the old wallpaper was covered up and replaced. I chose white shiplap wallpaper for the majority of the RV. For the bathroom I went with a watercolor leafy design and the bathroom vanity area has a stone look wallpaper

For inside the cabinets, I put a cheaper white shiplap just to cover up the old wallpaper and make it brighter inside.

We painted every wood-look surface in the RV white. Basically all the cabinets. This involved sanding down everything and doing three coats of paint (one primer, two paint). I never want to sand anything ever again! 

For all the countertops, we put down a butcherblock-look contact paper. This was the more cost and weight efficient route, although we would have loved some real butcher block. 

For kitchen backsplash and the refrigerator door, we used a peel and stick tile from wayfair. It was cheap, so it involved some super glue to keep all corners secured, but it does the job and looks beautiful.

Lastly, for the couch, we went simple and stained it a dark walnut color. 

prepping for paint rv reno
Prepping for paint plus new fridge door!
Old vs New Wallpaper

RV Reno: Budget

We chose not to go expensive on this renovation. This was our first RV reno, so function and cost efficiency were our priorities. 

Examples of choosing the cheaper option would be that we painted the sinks instead of replacing them entirely and choosing contact paper instead of getting new countertops. 

We also built out the couch and cabinet ourselves and kept the original light fixtures, cabinets, and drivers chairs. 

I sewed new curtains myself and we had a family friend who sewed the couch cushions for us which helped us save a lot of money as well. 

As for the mattress, a custom would have been $800+, so we opted for a fiberglass free foam mattress ($200) that we cut to the shape we needed. 

I couldn’t tell you exactly how much money we saved, but the cost efficient choices we made definitely helped us save a decent amount of money in the long run. 

Van Life RV Tour Raleigh North Carolina

RV Reno: New Interior Reveal

You have to wait a little bit longer to see the new interior! The big reveal will be in my post next week. You’ll get an in depth tour of our beautiful tiny home on wheels! 

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Robert Harney

    Everything is awesome Melissa!
    Great job on the Reno. Can’t wait to see more of your journey unfold! 👍💙

    1. Melissa

      Thank you so much! We are very excited to see what else this journey has in store for us 🙂

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