As we touched on in our last blog post, we did some camper renovations to our Winnebago 1801 FB while we were back in MN this summer. Now, if you are like most folks, you’re probably asking why we bought a brand new camper and then ripped it apart and remodeled. Trust me, we asked ourselves that same question quite a few times before executing.
The Before Pictures
The idea initially started out as simply modifying the stock table top because it stuck out just a little too far into the narrow walkway that we did have (if we had a slide out, this wouldn’t have been an issue). However, as we really started to settle into our RV life we found ourselves getting frustrated with more than just the table top. Since the dinette was a booth style, the backs of the seats were high, cutting you off from getting things into the camper right from the door; and it created a separation next to the bed. As you can imagine, having a 24-inch space in which to crawl in and out of bed was not super pleasant in the middle of the night for the person (me) who slept next to the wall and had to crawl out over the other person. Ha! And then, there was the garbage can. Since there isn’t a ton of cupboard space and most garbage cans worth having are larger than the size of a tissue box, we found ourselves needing to improvise where it would go. We landed on creating a makeshift shelf under the table (on top of the wheel well) and securing it with eye hooks and rope. Lastly, we just needed to brighten the place up. Since the stock wood finish is a darker finish and the fabric Winnebago uses is also dark (I assume to hide dirt and wear and tear) it just didn’t feel like “us” when we were in the camper.
The Chaos – Demolition and Construction
Keep in mind that neither of us had ever really done any RV’ing so we didn’t have a huge sense of what would and wouldn’t work for us. But, we knew that we loved the size and quality of our new little home on wheels so like anything else, we just made a few modifications to make it fit our needs. Between daydreaming about what the new layout and design would look like and actually executing the final plan, I’m pretty sure we went through 10 different iterations, thankfully Chris and Shea knew what they were doing and super flexible along the way.
The most obvious change we made was the bench itself. We tore out the whole dinette set (carefully) and started by rebuilding the wheel well cover which would be a layer of storage underneath the bench for us. From there, a million measurements were taken and construction began. We knew that we wanted to keep it simple and create seating with just as much (or more) storage as before. The guys ended up building out the frame and creating seats on gas springs that allow the seats to stay open which is way better than before. I was able to fit a ton of shoes into one side and all the miscellaneous stuff into the other side with even more storage space than before. Everything is easy to access and is far more organized (even for an OCD organization freak like myself) than the first loop out on the road. As an added bonus, I can now reach both sets of upper cupboards without crawling onto anything making cooking and laundry so much easier.
And, we desperately needed to find a solution to the garbage can situation and we did just that. Since there was ample space between the drawers and where the bench would begin (because it was hidden by the old bench before) Chris was able to create a little cubby that would fit not only the garbage can, but a yoga mat, foam roller and much more – I love it!
Overall everything is brighter and looks more spacious due to a few, simple, decorative changes. I forced Shea to come pick out fabrics with me since it is his home too and we accidentally spent about two and a half hours at Joann’s. We found some great fabric that would brighten the space up without being overly distracting and tie in nicely with the floors and countertops. While I originally wanted to go super bohemian in style, we chose to tone it back since it is such a small space. However, I got my pops of Moroccan flare with the quilt that I stumbled upon and these great little accent pieces we found on clearance while picking out fabric. We covered the dark valances and created a new seatback cushion with all the new prints and even created darkening curtains for those parking lot boondocking nights. But, the most tedious part that made the biggest impact was painting the bench, drawers/bed and upper cupboards a light color to create an accent piece effect. We absolutely love how this turned out, and with the addition of a mirror on the bathroom door, our space really feels so much larger.
We are so thankful to Chris for tackling this crazy fun project with us and to my folks for putting up with our construction mess in their garage and certainly their neighbors for listening to saws buzzing – we really can’t thank you all enough!