RV Renovation: Before & After (with pictures!) 5th Wheel with DIY Paint and Wallpaper

We're so excited to have Melissa Moore from Vermont sharing her 38-foot 5th wheel renovation. Her and her husband are transitioning to living in their RV full-time and with only paint, wallpaper, and fabric, she's been able to make some DIY transformational changes.

When starting a camper remodel, it’s inspiring to see what others have done. We came across Melissa’s photos and were immediately drawn to her use of color, transforming her RV to have a bright and comfortable feel.

Many travel trailer renovations end up with a mostly white interior, as it does brighten the space. What makes Melissa’s so unique is her non-white cabinets. Her kitchen island has been painted and distressed into a beautiful tourquoise and her bedroom painted to be a fun purple.

We hope you enjoy her work as much as we do!


Before

After visiting an RV show, Melissa and her husband knew they wanted to upgrade to a larger fifth wheel. They knew they wanted one that wasn’t too dark and had room for full-time living.

After

Melissa was able to completely change the look of her RV’s kitchen, dinette, bathroom, and bedroom. Using paint, fabric, and wallpaper, she transformed her walls, bedroom and bathroom cabinets, kitchen island, and chairs.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am 52 years old and from Vermont where I have spent most of my life.  I raised 2 children who are now grown and on their own. 

I have always enjoyed decorating my home and am known to take on big projects when I am stressed or in a big life transition. As a young child, I rearranged my furniture constantly and as a teenager, I designed and redecorated my bedroom ( my first painting project). 

When my oldest child left for college, I redecorated our entire 2600 square foot home (except his bedroom, of course.)

In 2018, my husband and I retired and decided to travel in an RV.  I immediately pursued my dream to be an Airbnb host and rented out our home while we were gone. Within 6 months, we had obtained Super Host status.

Our first RV was a 32 ft 5th wheel and I immediately redecorated the bathroom. The bathroom was my first experiment with chalk paint and peel & stick wallpaper.

It came out great! So great that I followed the same theme into our next RV that we purchased only 6-months later.

In the second RV, I redid the bathroom in the first couple of months however I only painted the bottom cabinet. Next, we reupholstered the dinette chairs and painted the kitchen island.

In November of 2019, we accepted our very first work camper positions and began our jobs on the Activity Team at Pueblo El Mirage Golf & RV Resort in El Mirage, Arizona.  This has been an amazing experience and might be one of the best jobs I have ever had.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit we found ourselves out of jobs and stuck in our RV. It was the perfect time for me to take on another decorating project. I dove full force into the bedroom project and to finish the bathroom.

Now I’m sick of painting and we’re ready to head back to VT where we will sell our home and all of our belongings.

We love the RV lifestyle and are committed to traveling in our RV for the foreseeable future.  My next RV project will be to redecorate the main living space however I won’t have time to commit to it for another year.

Did you buy an RV to renovate or did you already own it? 

I knew nothing about renovating RVs when we bought our first camper.  Early into our travels, I started to learn about different RV decorating Facebook groups. 

I signed up for many of them and began learning about all the things that people were doing.  It didn’t take long for me to be inspired and to take on my first project.

Why did you decide to renovate instead of buy it already completed?

When we were looking for a camper we knew we wanted to purchase something used.  We were looking for something just a few years old, that had been lived in so that most of the warranty kinks were worked out, and that felt like a good “beginner” RV.

We looked at very few models and made our decision quickly.  Only 8-months later we were in Florida and went to the big Tampa RV show.  Wow! We came home and immediately knew that we needed something different and bigger. We went from 32ft to 38ft and it felt much better for full-time living. Again, we wanted a used camper and we saw very few that met our criteria that had a light-colored interior.

At this point I had done lots of research on RV remodels so I was ready to take on more projects. We spent our longest time-lapse in Bradenton, FL and I found myself with time on my hands (which my husband will say is never a good idea). 

I started the bathroom reno and painted the kitchen island.  I knew more painting was in my future.

Did you have a budget in mind before you started?

No, however, I only did small reno things like painting and wallpapering.  The cost really wasn’t too much. 

Do you travel with your RV or do you have it parked?

Our first year out, we moved about every 2-weeks.  This past winter we stayed parked in Arizona for 6 months as we were working as work campers.  Our future plan is to work camp in the winter and travel in the summer.

How long have you been RVing?

June 2018 to today but I have always done some form of camping.  As a kid, my family tent camped a lot.  As a teenager, I went on vacations every summer with my grandparents in their travel trailer.  When my children were young we tent camped and then when they were teenagers we built an off-the-grid camp in the woods.

We are outdoor people and love traveling.  

Was it easier or more difficult than you thought?

This has enabled us to meet up and spend time with lots of friends and family all over the country. We reupholstered the dinette chairs.

I thought it was no big deal. WRONG!

That was a huge project but we love them so it was worth the frustration.  Making the bed is a pain in the butt.  Doing laundry at the campground laundry mat is no big deal. 

The RV oven is awful! The first year was spent on the east coast and we did very little outdoor living either due to heat, dark, or bugs. This winter in AZ has been all about outdoor living and I love my patio (no bugs and great temps!)

Our first year due to moving approximately every 2 weeks we met very few people and formed almost no new relationships.  This past winter, while work camping for 6 months, we have formed an amazing community. 

We now know that we are happiest with a mix of short and long stays with some time in VT and with our kids. I miss my VT friends and family and particularly my children however, with my RV, I can now go to them.  

What was the most intimidating thing before you got started?

Pulling the camper! But you probably mean renovating. 🙂 

Learning how to use chalk paint and what brands work best was a pretty big learning curve.  I should have been intimidated by the chair re-upholstery but I didn’t know enough to be intimidated until we were way into the project.

What was the hardest part of the whole renovation?

Painting and painting and painting…  Most of the difficulty was my lack of patience.  I want it done today and have to really discipline myself to let the paint dry between coats.  And, reupholstering the dinette chairs.

We asked some friends to help us as we needed some tools we didn’t have. We went to their home in Florida and it took all 4 of us, plus their neighbor, all day.

None of us had ever upholstered anything. Thankfully they are still talking to us. 🙂

Would you do anything different if you started it again?

No. I enjoy the learning process.  My second wallpaper experience was better than my first and my third was even better.  I’m fine with that.

I purposely started renovating rooms other than the main living space so I could learn in rooms that few people see.  When I finally get to the main area, I’ll have learned so much, and hopefully, it will look great.  I haven’t convinced my husband to take on removing all the carpet in the RV but I haven’t given up on that yet.

I suspect I will regret that I didn’t convince him BEFORE I started painting and papering.

What is your favorite part?

Wallpapering!

I have always enjoyed it and now since it’s so much easier than painting, I really love it! And, of course, comparing the finished project with the beginning pics.

It is so rewarding to see the comparison and how much better it looks.

Any favorite materials that’d you’d recommend to someone who wanted to do it too?

Yes, I love the peel & stick wallpaper.  It works super in the RV, isn’t terribly expensive, and looks amazing!


A big thank you to Melissa for sharing her before and after pictures, her process, and story. We have found that the RV community is full of wonderful people who share a mutual love of travel, family, and friends.

If you want to connect with Melissa, find her on Facebook.

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