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Rig-Buying Consideration #7 — Condition

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I agonized over the condition of the ones I could afford (falling apart) and the cost of the ones that were in any kind of decent shape (exorbitant) — it seemed that never the twain should meet.

As I mentioned, most of the decor in my Airstream was conveniently updated for me, in a way that suited my style beautifully. However, that bathroom left something to be desired! Gray and mauve printed wallpaper (even in the shower), ugly mauve carpet, and fixtures that hadn’t been updated since…ever! It was my personal crusade to revamp this bathroom and fast. Of course, I decided to start my project in the middle of July, 99-degree heat, 200% humidity (this is the D.C. area we’re talking about, and it’s a swamp in the summer) — and no air conditioning. That’s right — I only had a 15-amp plug while parked at our house, rather than the 30-amp required to run the air — so while I didn’t bleed or cry, I can say that a lot of sweat went into this bathroom!

Painting was the first chore — may I suggest that you not try to faux-paint something the size of a closet, unless you’re prepared to have paint in your hair and on odd parts of your body that you can’t see or reach (to clean) for several weeks? I began by prepping every square inch of wallpaper with 4 coats of “gripper primer.” The guy at the hardware store assured me that this would keep my paint job from peeling off, even in the shower — and by-Jove, he’s right! This is some awesome stuff — I never plan to paint wallpaper again, but if you decide to, I definitely recommend the gripper primer.Smile On top of white primer, I did a heavy coat of sponged red (not actually sponged — I used crumpled up plastic grocery bags for a more varied texture) and then a lighter coat of sponged-on-wiped-off gray. I painted the hanging cabinets that same light gray, painted the bottom cabinet under the sink black, and finished it off with brushed chrome handles from IKEA (can you tell that we love IKEA?) Some of my less tactful family members feel that our bathroom looks like a yuppie bordello (minus the whores) — but I think it’s pretty sharp, if I do say so myself!

I also replaced the crappy camper-looking commode with a real porcelain toilet. It’s still designed for RV-living — a bit smaller than a normal toilet with a foot-pedal for tank-less flushing — but it looks more like a real bathroom. I took down the broken folding shower door and put in an anti-mildew vinyl hanging curtain (I want to spend as little time as possible cleaning in the bathroom!) I installed a shower organizer with dispensers for soap and shampoo, and hooks for the scrubbies and razors. The old dribbly shower head was traded in for a “low-water-volume-high-pressure” sprayer — and man, does it do the job! Any concerns I might have had that taking a shower in our Airstream would be like standing under a cold leaky faucet were completely unfounded. You never have to worry whether all the shampoo will rinse out — and you have to be careful or the hot water will actually scald you!

A few finishing touches — nubby gray carpet, sheer curtains over the window, a rug on top of my toilet (I’ve never understood what purpose these things serve, but they do make your bathroom look more “finished”), a candle on the countertop, and matching towels. Aside from the size, it’s just like a real bathroom — and I’ve even had some friends who live in NYC tell me it’s bigger than their bathroom!

I tried not to get my hopes up too much — I knew that this trailer would probably need work. It was a 1989 model, for pete’s sake — at the very least, I would have to update the mauve-and-gray upholstery that was so popular during my senior year of high school. Wink

Our Airstream came with all sorts of upgrades that made it feel more homey from the beginning. We had Pergo flooring rather than crappy high-traffic carpet — easier to clean and much more attractive. We had solid oak cabinetry instead of junky melamine. We had two HDTVs for goodness sake (we only had one television in the house, and now two in about 1/10 the space!)

The previous owners had recovered the sofa in a cheery red fabric, put up black faux-leather wall accents, and installed a beaten tin backsplash in the kitchen. They mounted a large frameless mirror behind the entertainment center to make the living room seem bigger. They even provided us with accent pillows for the couch, a hip 50’s style wall clock, and a brushed chrome lamp for that modern-retro look. But we still had a few items to work out, to make it our own.

When I visited other full-timers, I always noted how dark people’s RVs were inside — everyone seemed to be hiding behind their curtains. Part of what I love about my Airstream is the fact that I have more windows per square foot of wall space than I did in the house (including a lovely little stained glass window) — as the hippies used to say, let the sun shine in! Doesn’t pulling the drapes shut sort of defeat the point? You park beside a lovely lake or in the mountains or at the beach — and then you can’t see the view from inside your home! I’ve always been the kind to keep our windows open and look out on the world. But when you’re parked 50 feet away from another RV, you surely don’t want the guy next door staring in — watching you eat breakfast or do sit-ups or put on your bra.

While my rooms came with “blackout” curtains that could be drawn over the windows to keep peeping Toms away, I didn’t want to spend my life with the drapes shut. So I went through the house and tied back the curtains, then hung sheers over every window. This way, I could have the sunshine and the view, while maintaining my privacy. Of course, with RV windows, I couldn’t use regular curtain rods — but IKEA carried (and may still carry) a great “Kavartal” system that attaches flat to the wall, allowing my curtains to slide back and forth on a track. It’s such a small touch, but anyone who visits my home comments on what a homey difference sheer window treatments make.

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