RV Remodel with Ergonomic Workspace: Before & After 

Thursday 9th July 2020 
by Matt 
 
RV Remodel with Ergonomic Workspace: Before & After

After living full-time in our RV for 2 years, it was time to remodel. We embarked on a big project to remodel our RV and build the ultimate ergonomic workspace.

Remodeling your RV can be exciting but also daunting. Especially if, like us, you live in your RV then it's not a project for the faint of heart.

It's something we had been talking about doing for a while, and eventually, we decided to jump in feet first. While there were plenty of challenges, we couldn't be happier with the final result!

Travel Trailer RV Remodel Before and After
The RV is now so much brighter and more functional - we love it!

In this blog post, we'll walk through why we decided to remodel our RV, and step through all the changes we made and why. Many of the changes are small and independent so maybe they'll offer you some ideas - alternatively, if you're also thinking about doing a major remodel of your RV then it might give you some tips too!

If you want to get a feel for what it was like to live in the RV while remodeling it, then check out our blog post about that.

Every Day We're Shuffling

The past week and a half in our RV has been vaguely organized chaos as we've been remodeling our RV - demoing furniture, painting walls and building furniture!

Every Day We're Shuffling

Throughout, I'll try to link to all the products we used as well. I don't profess to be an expert, but we can share what worked for us.

Why did we remodel our RV?

We bought our RV in April 2018 and in July of that year we moved out of our house and into the RV full-time. It took almost 2 years of research to get to that point, and our focus was on utility - finding a well-built travel trailer of the size we wanted with good insulation, the capability to take it down some rough roads, and large holding tanks.

Having settled on the brand Outdoors RV, we found a floor-plan that worked for the two of us - the 21RBS. Its big draw was the large dinette in the slide-out, giving us a large working space and bringing lots of light into the RV.

We weren't enamored by the interior decor - particularly the brown walls and brown fabrics chosen. However, we've always very much been people who favor function over form, and we bought the RV confident that it had the functionality we needed.

Outdoors RV 21RBS
The Outdoors RV 21RBS has an open floor plan with a large dinette - perfect for a couple like us to live and work full-time in the RV.

Our research paid off, and the trailer has been great! But over time it became apparent that the dinette table and bench seats weren't very comfortable for long days spent working in the RV - important to us since we both work full-time on the road.

We needed something better. We needed a much more ergonomic workspace.

We spent a lot of time talking about options, but it wasn't until we saw the work done by some fellow Outdoors RV owners, Nathan and Danny, that we decided to bite the bullet and come up with a plan.

As always, we started by being clear on what we wanted to get out of the remodel, not just to control the scope of the project but also so we were on the same page. Some of our guiding principles were:

  1. We wanted a functional workspace where we could work comfortably for hours on our laptops in ergonomic office chairs;
  2. We didn't want to lose the valuable storage space that we had under the existing dinette bench seats - both in the drawers and the storage space behind;
  3. We wanted to brighten up the RV overall, bringing as much light as possible into the small space to make it feel larger;
  4. We wanted the RV to work for us - this is our home and we're not planning on selling it any time soon, so we weren't too concerned about resale value;
  5. On a similar point, we wanted it to feel a little more residential and homey - we're not casual campers, this is our full-time home;
  6. Lastly, we set ourselves a budget of $2,500 for the remodel, although it ended up costing right around $3,000 - almost half of that going on the new blinds and office chairs.

We were happy (and actually preferred) to do all the work ourselves, but that's easier said than done. It's our full-time home and we have no other home base - where and when would we find ourselves somewhere with the tools necessary to do this work?

As a result of COVID-19, our travel plans changed. After considering our options, we decided to take up our friend Cortni on her offer to stay with her for a while. Cortni runs an RV renovation business (The Flipping Nomad), and she offered us full use of her shop to do our remodel - perfect.

How has COVID-19 changed our plans?

The world seems a very different place compared to just 2 weeks ago - things have changed, and so must we.

How has COVID-19 changed our plans?

It's no exaggeration to say this remodel would have been impossible without such facilities available to us. Thank you, Cortni!

So now you know why and how we were going to remodel, let's jump right into what we did!

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Painting & Redecorating

While the focus of the remodel was the workspace, we decided to paint all the walls inside the RV and generally update the decor.

Painting

In most RVs, painting the walls can be a challenge - and ours was no different. Unlike drywall in a house, the walls in our RV were covered in a vinyl-like wallpaper. It's designed to be scuff-resistant and easy-to-clean - the same properties that make it hard to paint!

I'll do a separate blog post later with more detail on how we painted the walls in our RV - the process is straightforward but time consuming. Once we had cleared everything out of the RV, we cleaned all the walls with TSP (it's pretty nasty stuff so check out the TSP substitutes too) and rinsed them down with a clean sponge. Then we masked off everything (windows, trim, etc), which took us most of a day!

Masking RV Shower
It took us almost an entire day to mark everything off but the result was nice clean paint lines.

We then rolled on three coats of PPG Gripper - a powerful bonding primer - followed by 2 coats of Confident White satin-finish Behr Ultra paint from Home Depot. It was probably more coats than necessary but we wanted to be sure we had good and even coverage.

PPG Gripper RV Walls
This is after 1 coat of primer - it took me 2 more coats to get nice, even coverage.

Our original plan had been to go with pure white for the walls, but we chose not to paint the ceilings, and instead chose the match the wall color to the ceiling as closely as we could. I'm so pleased we went this route - not only does it stop the ceiling looking yellowish against pure white walls, but the slightly off-white Confident White paint gives the RV a slightly warmer feel.

Confident White RV Walls
The Confident White paint matched the ceiling color really closely!

We painted all visible wall sections in the RV - the only areas we skipped were inside the cabinets. While for completeness these should have been done, it would have been a lot of extra work, and it just didn't feel worthwhile to us.

I think the white walls have made a huge difference in the look and feel of the RV. It feels much more homey and residential - less like a camping trailer. It's also brightened up the whole RV enormously, and I think the contrast with the cabinets is great - more on that later!

Corner Trim

Our RV had a piece of wooden corner trim all along the side walls between the wall and ceiling. These were held in with brads so we removed these, sanded them and the primed & painted them the same color as the walls. We later reattached them with a brad nailer.

However, there was also a brown plastic edging strip in several places too. We didn't think the paint would adhere to it well, so we removed it wherever it would be a brown line between two white surfaces - either two sections of wall or the wall and ceiling. We cut it out with a knife and later replaced it with a simple quarter-round that we cut, primed and painted.

Rather than attempting any fancy joins on these pieces (I lacked both the tools and skills!), we used some paintable elastic silicone caulking to make the joins less visible. This was somewhat successful - having seen Cortni do the same much more successfully, it was definitely just my lack of skill!

Blinds

I'm just going to come out and say it - we didn't like the fabric blinds in our RV. The brown concertina fabric looked dated, they blocked about as much light as tissue paper, and the deep valences and side trims made them feel heavy and imposing in the compact RV.

RV Blinds
The old blinds were dark and bulky - they had to go!

We decided to replace them all!

After shopping around, we eventually settled on simple grey roller shades made by Bali. You can find these at Home Depot but we bought them cheaper through Costco. Our custom-sized blinds took about 2 weeks to arrive.

The Bali roller shades are truly light blocking, and although we didn't reinstall side trim, we oversized the blinds by 3-4 inches on each side and they do a great job of blocking the light! We also skipped the valences, mainly due to cost - it would have added about $70 to each of the 5 blinds. We can always add these later should we choose.

Bali Roller Shades in an RV
This photo was taken in the middle of the day and other than a little bit of bleed around the edges, the Bali roller shade does a great job of blocking the light.

I also upgraded the blind on the skylight with a Duoform Plastics skylight shade. It's better than the original one in that it blocks light from escaping out of the sides much better, but I'm not convinced it lived up to its claims.

Duoform Plastics RV Skylight Shade
This was a test in the middle of the day - it's better than the old one, but only just!

Door Valence

Above our main door was a brown "pleather" valence - designed, one assumes, to stop people taller than ourselves from hitting their heads on the door frame.

We removed it from the wall and recovered it with some grey fabric we picked up from Joann Fabric and Crafts. While it wasn't a perfect color match to the blinds, it's close enough for us and looks a lot better than the old brown one!

The original valence used buttons that would clip onto the screws to cover the screw-heads. We bought a button covering kit and tried to create new, grey buttons but the fabric we had chosen was too thick and we couldn't make it work. For now we've left the screws uncovered and because they're silver on the grey fabric, I think it looks OK!

Recovering RV Door Valence
Our recovered door valence - the white gadget on the right is a sensor, part of our Smart RV system.

Cabinets

Unlike many travel trailers that have cheap, veneered cabinets, Outdoors RV uses solid wood in all their cabinet doors and drawers. The knotted wood gives some depth and warmth to the RV.

Painting

So the big question - should we paint the cabinets?

We went back and forth on this several times. White cabinet would brighten the RV significantly, but would also be a huge undertaking. Not only are cabinets difficult to paint as they take a lot of sanding, but we had a lot of brown wood in the RV! As well as the cabinets, there is wooden paneling under the bed, all throughout the kitchen and elsewhere.

After considering the options, we chose not to paint the cabinets. We figured if we really hated the final look, we could always paint them later.

I'm really pleased we didn't paint the cabinets. The contrast with the light-colored walls works really well and the solid wood adds character and warmth to the RV. While the "all-white" color scheme is increasingly popular in other remodels, I think that can sometimes feel a little clinical.

Painting RV Cabinets
We chose not to paint the cabinets, but I think they look really good with the white walls.

Also, one criticism of white cabinets, especially lower cabinets, is that they show up marks and scuffs. I can well believe that's true as ours had several light marks and chips in them from 2 years of use - something we also addressed during the remodel with some furniture markers.

Hardware

However, there was one change that I insisted we do during the remodel - switch out the old cabinet door handles and drawer pulls. Previously we had rubbed bronze bar-style handles which we liked the look of and were functional - easy to hang things on the vertical handles near the door, for example.

However, I have long since lost count of the number of times they've snagged my cargo shorts as I walked past! The bars had to go.

RV Cabinet Handles
No more snagging my shorts on the door handles!

Since they use a standard 3-inch spacing on the screws, it was simple to replace them with new hardware we found at Home Depot. We kept the rubbed bronze color as we didn't want to worry about swapping out all the hinges too. It's a minor aesthetic change overall, but my shorts are much happier!

Ergonomic Office Workspace

OK, this is the big one: our ergonomic workspace.

I'm going to caveat this whole section - I've done some basic woodworking in the past, but I'm not a cabinet-maker and this is my first time doing anything as complicated and "finished" as this.

We quickly came up with a concept for the overall design - a T-shaped desk that would allow Diana and I to work opposite one another (as we had at the dinette), but offering additional desk space on top of cabinets placed along the outside wall of the slide.

After hours spent researching online, we couldn't find anything that would perfectly fit the space we had available, and we wanted to make the most of every inch of our precious space. Time to get custom!

Custom Designing the Workspace

I have something of an addiction to DIY and woodworking YouTube channels, and I had seen many of them use SketchUp to successfully design their builds.

My previous experience with SketchUp was having opened it, trying to design a nightstand, failing and giving up. Time to try again.

After learning the basics, the workspace design started coming together pretty quickly. In hindsight, using SketchUp to design the workspace was one of the best decisions I made. It allowed us to iterate on ideas really quickly - and all done in software so no wasted material.

We set ourselves a few goals with the workspace, specifically that it should have:

  1. A large desk that would give us plenty of room to each work;
  2. Cabinets that would fit our preferred style of storage bins with minimal wasted space;
  3. Integrated power and cable management so we didn't have wires trailing everywhere.
SketchUp RV Desk
I went through many iterations, tweaking the dimensions until I was happy with the result.

It was also important to us that the desk should be as light as possible. Once we had a design we were happy with, I shared it with Outdoors RV to see if they had any concerns with it, specifically regarding the weight. They gave us the green light!

Cabinets

We settled on two cabinets - one on each side of the slide. Each cabinet would have a drawer at the top and two doors below which open to reveal two shelves.

RV Desk Cabinet
I built the cabinet carcasses standalone - here's the first test-fit inside the RV.

The shelves would give us plenty of storage space, with the spacing designed to fit the IKEA KUGGIS storage bins we like to use. Meanwhile the drawer would offer each of us space to store commonly used items - cables, hard drives, camera equipment, etc.

Custom RV Cabinets
A small lip on the front of each shelf stops things falling out during travel.

We chose to mimic the original shaker-style doors in the rest of the RV for the cabinets, and kept the shaker-style for the drawer fronts too, rather than the flat drawer fronts used elsewhere in the RV. I've never made shaker-style cabinetry before and it was a good test of my table saw skills - I'm really pleased with how they came out.

For a while we considered staining them to match the dark wood in the rest of the RV, but after some research and testing it quickly became apparent that getting a dark stain, let alone one to perfectly match the existing cabinetry would be almost impossible for us. So instead we painted them with semi-gloss Confident White Behr Ultra paint and used brushed nickel hardware.

Custom RV Cabinets
I'm happy with the end result of my first ever cabinetry project - everything fits just like it should.

Seeing the finished result, I think this has worked really well - not only do they blend into the walls nicely, but it makes the office feel like a distinct room in the RV.

Lastly, the space between the cabinets is the perfect size to fit two 15-gallon Sterilite storage totes - something we designed from the start - as well as Diana's yoga mat and foam roller. Overall, between the cabinets and storage totes in the center, we've substantially increased the available storage!

Desk

We considered so many options for the desktop itself - from laminated particle board to butcher block, clear-coated plywood to buying one custom-made.

In the end we decided to make it ourselves from plywood and paint it. We used 3/4" plywood for the main surface, and added a second layer around the edges and at key strategic locations for strengthening ribs underneath. This gives it the appearance of being 1-1/2" thick and makes it super strong, but keeping the weight down. While plywood is more expensive than MDF or particle board, it's also lighter which is why we chose that.

Custom RV Plywood Desk
The SketchUp model made it easy for me to decided where to place the reinforcement ribs.

The design of the desk incorporates a cut-out at the back - more on that in a minute.

After cutting the plywood to shape, gluing and nailing the reinforcement ribs underneath and ensuring the edges were all smooth, I added an edging strip made of 1x2 red oak all the way around. I routed a relatively small 1/8" round-over on all exposed edges to take the sharpness off, and it's very comfortable to rest your arms on now - plus no danger of injury if you walk into a corner!

Red Oak 1x2 with a 1/8" roundover gives the desk a nice finished edge - shown here before the roundover was routed.

We primed and painted the entire desktop with a semi-gloss Behr Alkyd Enamel paint in a light, neutral color - Great Graphite - and left it to cure for a full 3 days. This is supposedly one of the most durable paints that you can buy for an application like this.

Painting RV Desk
Cortni let us use her paint booth to paint the desk in a dust free environment.

We love the color, but time will tell how durable the finish turns out to be. There are already a few spots we've had to touch up on the edges where the chairs knock into it. But we're very happy with it overall, and it's a much better workspace than we had before!

The finished result - stylish but above all, practical!

Electrical

The decision to integrate power into the desk turned out to complicate things significantly. While the electrical work itself isn't too complex, routing wires through the desk made the design much more intricate!

The specific features of the desk with regards to power are:

  1. A cable trough at the back of the desk by the window used to keep wires tidy and allow the blind to drop down behind the desk;
  2. Double USB ports in each corner of the desk - mainly for battery chargers, etc;
  3. A power panel in the center, underneath the desk including two double AC outlets and three 12V outlets, with "shelves" either side leading to cutouts in the back so cables can run through into the cable trough.

Power comes into the slide in the lower corner - it came from the factory with 110V power here and I added 12V in a previous mod. I had to make some changes to accommodate the new light, but again, more on that later.

Installing 12V Outlets in our Slide Out

Adding 12V outlets in our slide to make our dinette area even more usable.

Installing 12V Outlets in our Slide Out

To keep the wires protected I used split loom and PVC conduit to route the 110V and 12V wires to the power panel in the center of the desk. Here, the 110V wires were connected to the outlets, while the 12V runs to a dedicated DC fuse block.

RV Desk Wiring
I took my time to make the wiring neat and tidy, even though it's behind an access panel where nobody will see it - I know it's there!

The fuse block provides power to the three 12V outlets on the power panel, as well as the USB ports in the corners of the desk. I also hardwired in a power cable for our AeroGarden Harvest Elite, and some special wiring for the light - keep reading for details....

AeroGarden Harvest Elite in our RV

Living in an RV, one of the things we miss is our garden, and fresh herbs. Fortunately, we've found a way!

AeroGarden Harvest Elite in our RV
AeroGarden Harvest Elite in RV
We've replanted our AeroGarden, now with its own connection directly to the fuse block.

Being able to plug our laptops in under the desk and run the cables out through the cable trough really helps to keep the desk neat and tidy. Plus, when the blind is closed, we measured it to just neatly drop into the trough which not only looks cool but helps to block light bleed from the bottom.

RV Desk Cable Management
The cable trough is about 5" deep and not only keeps wires tidy, but lets the desk surface sit higher than the window for better ergonomics.

The little shelves either side of the power panel are strong and large enough to support the size and weight of a power brick such as the one for Diana's video-editing laptop.

RV Desk Power
Plenty of 110V and 12V power to run all our devices while working.

While all this added a lot of complexity to the build, designing the desk in SketchUp ahead of time made the actual construction fairly straightforward. The end result is an incredibly versatile and functional workspace.

Chairs

As mentioned at the start, a big driver for this remodel was to replace the bench seats with ergonomic office chairs. While the bench seats were great because they could seat 4 people around the dinette comfortably, that was something we rarely needed - instead we wanted comfortable seating for two people working at the desk.

We test-sat at every office chair in Staples, eventually buying two Voxx Raynor Mesh Back Fabric Task Chairs. It's a fairly tight fit in the available space, but as long as we're somewhat careful then it's not an issue, and that's a small price to pay for the comfort they bring!

RV Desk
Diana working at the desk - plenty of light and lots of space for two of us to work opposite each other.

Interestingly, removing the bench seats has highlighted one small issue we hadn't considered. When the slide is brought in, the plywood base floats about 1/2" above the main trailer floor - that's by design. This was never an issue before - the bench seats extended right to the edge of the plywood, reinforcing it but also covering it so there was no chance of standing on it by mistake.

With the bench seats gone, we now have to remember not to stand on those corners when the slide is in. It's not a problem for us, and if we wanted to, I'm sure we could put some support under the slide when it was pulled in.

Carpet

Speaking of the slide floor, let's talk about that carpet.... This was another decision we had to make - do we keep it, replace it or remove it?

While some people hate carpet, neither of us have such a visceral reaction to it. Instead, we actually appreciate the warmth underfoot that it brings. Plus, the carpet does a nice job of smoothing the edge of the slide so there's no sharp ledge.

So we wanted carpet, but should we replace it? After 2 years, the carpet was showing signs of wear, but replacing it would have been a lot of extra work. We decided on balance that we would keep the existing carpet but rent a carpet cleaner to give it a really thorough shampoo.

RV Slide Carpet
After 2 years, we figured the carpet was in need of a good clean...

Renting the carpet cleaner cost us just $20 plus a little extra for the carpet cleaning solution, but it made a huge difference! We also cleaned our indoor door mat at the same time, and the dirty water from the carpet cleaner looked more like hot cocoa when we poured it out - ew!

RV Carpet Cleaning
...and we were right! The dirty water from the carpet cleaning machine was disgusting!

I think we'll be cleaning the carpet a little more often going forward! However, the carpet now looks almost new and the office chairs have no issue rolling on it, so for now, the carpet stays.

RV Slide Carpet Cleaning
It's almost impossible to see where the bench seats used to be - the carpet is so much cleaner!

If in future we decide to swap it out, we can easily do so - just cut around the edges of the cabinets and swap it out. It's a low priority for us though.

Light

I've mentioned the light above the old dinette a few times - let me explain.

We knew we wanted to replace it for a few reasons:

  1. The old fixture was rubbed bronze and the style didn't fit with the slightly more contemporary decor in the "office" now;
  2. We rarely used the old light since it put out so little light it was almost useless;
  3. The light was controlled by a switch on the fixture itself rather than a wall switch, making it a pain to reach up and turn on or off.

Time for a fix!

After hours spent trawling Home Depot, Lowes and Amazon for a suitable light fixture, we eventually found one. The key was finding one that uses E12 bulbs.

110V to 12V Light Conversion
I wired this light fixture to run on 12V instead of the 110V it was designed to use.

Why? Well even though the light fixture is designed for 110V, you can buy E12 bulbs that use 12V meaning we could easily adapt the fixture to run from 12V - which is exactly what we did! While we chose the cool bulbs (6,000°K), you can also buy warm ones (3,000°K) too.

Then came the question of how to control it - since the old fixture had a switch on it, whereas our replacement does not. For this, I decided to leverage our home automation system and use a Sonoff SV connected to the 12V DC fuse block under the desk. This switches power to a wire that I spliced into the original light power wire. This is a slightly more complex process that I'll explain in more detail in a separate blog post.

However, the end result is that we can turn the office light on or off using a small button under the desk. And since it's integrated into our custom-designed Smart RV system, we can also control the light from our phones, laptops or even using voice via the Google Home Mini.

Mounting a Smart Speaker in your RV

Installing a Google Home Mini or Amazon Echo Dot in your RV adds a lot of capability, and hard-wiring it means no need to pack it away on moving day.

Mounting a Smart Speaker in your RV
Sonoff SV Button
This little button is connected to the Sonoff SV to turn the ceiling light on and off.

The light itself works great - we chose to go with cool, daylight bulbs since it's above the desk and we're really pleased with the result.

Overall, the whole office area has met all our goals and far exceeded what we had hoped for. We think it looks slick and modern, but more importantly it's provided us with the functionality and utility we needed.

RV Office
Our small but mighty office space!

Kitchen

We've always enjoyed cooking in the RV. We rarely eat out - partly because we aren't often camping near good places to eat, but mainly because we just enjoy cooking good quality, fresh, homemade meals.

The kitchen in our 21RBS is small, but functional. However, with the remodel we wanted to update it to make it a little more stylish and slightly more utilitarian too.

Outdoors RV 21RBS Kitchen
The kitchen just feels dated, even with the upgraded faucet. We wanted something more contemporary.

We had already upgraded our faucet from the rubbed bronze one that came with the RV to a brushed nickel one with an integrated drinking water filter. We decided to keep the white / grey color scheme from the rest of the remodel and apply that to the kitchen too.

Installing a Double Kitchen Faucet and Ultrapure RV Water Filter

Upgrading our kitchen faucet and adding a dedicated filtered water spout for the Ultrapure under-sink filter system.

Installing a Double Kitchen Faucet and Ultrapure RV Water Filter

Backsplash

The most obvious change in the kitchen is the walls. Instead of simply painting the walls, we chose instead to use a peel-and-stick backsplash. We went with the Milano Carrera style made by Smart Tiles - we bought them at Home Depot. A common concern with peel-and-stick backsplash in an RV is that it becomes peel-and-stick-and-peel due to swings in temperature and humidity.

We used Musselbound double-sided adhesive liner as a backing layer for the tiles. That stuff is insanely sticky! It made the installation much slower as it bonds permanently on contact so no second chances with positioning, but we're confident the backsplash is permanently adhered to the wall now!

RV Peel-and-Stick Tiles
Removing the fake marble backsplash and adding the peel-and-stick made a big difference.

Since we had to get it right first time, we took our time carefully aligning everything - in fact, it took us almost a full day just to do the kitchen!

Installing Magnetic Dry-Erase RV Fridge / Freezer Doors

In a small trailer like ours, everything must be multi-purpose. It was surprising to us therefore that the fridge and freezer doors should be made of heavy dark wood - sapping the light out of our small kitchen area and providing no utility! They had to go - and for under $27 we replaced them with magnetic dry-erase doors!

Installing Magnetic Dry-Erase RV Fridge / Freezer Doors

As well as the obvious cosmetic improvements, it's also much easier to wipe down than the plain wall we had before. Also, it's often not recommended to put the peel-and-stick tiles behind a stove but since our stove has a glass cover that folds up and protects the wall behind, we felt comfortable going ahead with it. It doesn't seem to get excessively warm there at all so I think we'll be fine.

RV Kitchen Backsplash
It took Diana and me almost 8 hours to do this backsplash. It's possible I'm a bit OCD...

Blind

Our RV came with a white metal slat blind which was OK, but we didn't love. It didn't do a great job of blocking out the light, and the slats were so thin that it was almost impossible to clean without damaging the slats.

Hunter Douglas RV Blind
Our new Hunter Douglas kitchen blind blends seamlessly with the textured backsplash.

This is one area we decided to stretch the budget on, and we went with a metal slat blind from Hunter Douglas. It was custom-made and took about 3 weeks to arrive, but it's so much more durable than the old one! Plus, since it's over-sized, it does a much better job of blocking out the light, and the color not only blends in well with the backsplash but also ties in with the grey color scheme of the desk and blinds.

Lights

As a minor cosmetic change, I swapped out the LED bulbs in our stove hood and under-cabinet light for brighter, cooler LEDs. Not only do they provide significantly more light (always appreciated in the kitchen!) but the cooler light looks much nicer with the backsplash than the old, warm yellow bulbs.

RV Kitchen Remodel
The end result - it's no bigger, but it's much brighter!

Even without changing the countertop or cabinets, I think the backsplash and blind work nicely with the electric kettle and brushed nickel faucet to give the kitchen area a much brighter and more modern feel.

Bathroom

The bathroom is the only room in our RV separated by a door, but we still wanted to include it in the remodel.

RV Bathroom Remodel
We had originally planned to replace the sink and countertop but decided against it in the end.

Painting

We painted the bathroom walls in the exact same way as the rest of the RV - the paint is perfectly suitable for the high-humidity environment.

However, we did remove the medicine cabinet and shelving unit from the walls before we painted. This made it easier to paint in the small, tight space. We did consider painting the cabinets themselves but rejected the idea for the same reason we didn't paint other cabinets in the RV.

Painting RV Medicine Cabinet
We had to mask and paint the back panels on the shelving and medicine cabinet.

Furthermore, both the medicine cabinet and shelving unit attach to the wall with screws through the backing plate - a piece of board with the same covering as the walls, so we had to paint these too. Rather than removing the backing plate from each one, we just masked them off and painted.

Backsplash

We used the exact same backsplash in the bathroom that we used in the kitchen, electing to run the backsplash around the corner sink. It looks good and it's easier to clean.

RV Bathroom Backsplash
This simple backsplash makes a big difference, especially with the white walls.

For some inexplicable reason, the old towel holder was so low on the wall that even with a tiny hand towel, it would sit on the countertop. So when reinstalling this, we moved it higher up on the wall so the towel would rest against the backsplash.

Faucet

Having successfully replaced the faucet in our kitchen, we did the same in the bathroom. We wanted to keep the separate handles instead of a mixer as that gives us more control for low water flow when boondocking. We picked up a simple faucet from Home Depot and since the existing one used standard spacing for the mounting holes, installation was trivial.

RV Bathroom Faucet Replacement
Adding the new faucet was a very simple but effective change.

Not only does the new one look much better, but the higher spout is nicer and the anti-water-spot coating on the faucet works really well to keep it clean.

Caulking

The TSP we had used to clean the walls had also wiped off a lot of the existing caulking - particularly around the shower and sink.

We used clear sealant to caulk around the backsplash in both the bathroom and kitchen, as well as around the bathroom sink. While we had it out, we also dropped the kitchen sink and put a new bead of sealant on there too.

Painting RV Bathroom Walls
Our RV bathroom isn't large, and painting the walls white made a huge difference to how big the room feels.

In the bathroom, we used almond-colored sealant all around the shower, and again, while we had it out we replaced the caulking between the shower walls and shower tray. The almond color blended in really nicely with the walls.

Conclusion

So what do we think? Is it what we imagined? Was it worth it?

Neither of us would consider ourselves experts in interior decor, and we struggled to visualize what the end result might look like. Would the dark wood cabinets look too contrast-y against the white walls? Would the white walls look too yellow, or too clinical?

RV Office Remodel
Our RV is only 25ft from hitch to bumper, but it feels much more spacious now. Plus, we now have our own office!

We LOVE it!

OK, we might be slightly biased, but it's turned out far better than we imagined.

It may not be to your taste, and that's totally OK - as I said at the start, we were trying to design something that we liked and worked for us, not worrying about resale value.

But I think the slightly-off-white walls give it a bright and open feel without feeling like a doctor's waiting room. The grey, semi-gloss desk ties in nicely with the grey blinds and brushed nickel hardware and fixtures to complement the warmth of the solid wood cabinets.

In fact, one unintended side effect is that it's given the RV the feeling of having distinct rooms - the bedroom, office, kitchen and bathroom. But while each has its own feel, there are enough common elements to tie it all together.

RV Kitchen Remodel
The backsplash and blind tie in nicely with the faucet and kettle to make the kitchen feel more modern.

More important to us than the aesthetic changes are the improvements in utility and functionality. In this regard too, it's turned out better than we imagined. I used to find working at the dinette so uncomfortable that I'd often work on the bed instead. The ergonomic office chair and large desk have made a huge difference - not to mention the convenience of power to charge our laptops without wires trailing everywhere!

RV Office Makeover
No more brown walls, blinds and seats - lots of light for a very functional working space.

It's been a few weeks since we finished the remodel so it's too early to tell how everything will hold up to the rigors of RV use - the dirty and dusty places we camp in and daily / seasonal swings in temperature and humidity. We've driven over 500 miles with the RV since the remodel, and so far there are no signs of any problems - fingers crossed that continues!

Let us know in the comments below what you think about our remodel. If you work in the RV full-time, would you like a workspace like this one? So many of our friends work from the road, we hope RV manufacturers will take note and begin offering a workspace as an option alongside dinettes and recliners.

FAQs

How long did it all take?

We completed the remodel over the course of about 6 weeks, but we weren't working on it full-time by any means. We completed the masking, priming and painting in about 3-4 days, and the desk build probably took 2-3 days of work.

We wanted to make sure we allowed sufficient time between coats of primer and paint, as well as letting the paint cure. Plus, we were trying to work on our website and videos alongside it all!

At a guess, I'd say it probably all added up to about a week of actual work, and I'm sure someone more experienced could do it much faster.

What would we do differently next time?

For the most part we're incredibly happy with the end result, but there are a few details we might look at if we did it again.

The blinds sit just a little further from the wall than I'd like. While the 4" overhang is enough to block light pretty effectively, it could still be improved further. A custom bracket might help this.

We used big box store 3/4" plywood for the desk surface, and it's not as smooth as I hoped it might be. The expansive flat grey surface shows up all perfections. I might consider using a high-ply cabinetry grade plywood if I did it again.

Won't the white paint just show more dirt?

The simple answer is yes, it will. That's one of the reasons we chose not to paint the cabinets, especially the lower ones, which would show up more marks. So far, we've seen no marks appearing on the walls and the paint is durable enough that we should be able to wipe them clean if they do get marks. Plus, we've kept a small sample jar of each paint we've used so we can touch up areas if necessary.

It does really highlight why so many RV manufacturers choose to use textured wall coverings - they really help hide marks!

How do we secure things for travel?

We use a tie-down strap to secure the office chairs around the table leg. On the first few journeys so far, including some pretty rough roads, this has worked great. Plus, once the chairs are secured it stops the storage totes falling out - although they're heavy enough that there's been no sign of movement whatsoever!

Instead of the conventional door latches, we bought some Velcro cinches to secure the cabinet doors and drawers. When the RV is in one place, door latches are just frustrating and we only need them secured for travel. Putting the Velcro on takes just seconds and has worked really well so far.

Why didn't we replace the bedroom divider curtain?

We considered it, but the fabric doesn't seem to stand out too much with the new color scheme and it just seemed like more hassle and cost than it was worth. If we change our minds in future, it'll be something we can easily swap out so there was no real benefit to doing it now.

What is that thing that I can see in one of your photos?

Here are a few of the items you might be able to see in case you're interested:

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