Small House Big World


The Dream of the 90s is Alive in This RV

Anna Edgren • May 12, 2015

When Kelly and I made the leap and bought our RV, we had a number of concerns about it. One doesn’t simply buy a well-used 1993 RV for $6,500 without losing a few nights of sleep wondering whether or not one is crazy. Common worries include: “Is it going to run for 200 miles and crap out on us?” and “Will the wheels fall off and kill us all in a fiery blaze?” These sorts of things. 

Since moving in, our primary activities have revolved around making sure the RV actually works and runs and is not a death trap (so far so good). In the back of our minds, however, have lurked thoughts of renovation. Maybe switching out some of the furniture, painting, and revamping some of the out-dated pieces.  Because let’s be real: 

It looks like the 90’s in here.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever encountered this particular shade of gray/purple/beige. There isn’t a name for it. There isn’t a place for it on the color wheel. It’s such an odd shade. Gurple? We have to come up with a new color just to encompass the weirdness. And it’s everywhere. Apparently in the 90’s they didn’t believe in color contrast. The carpet, the walls, the couch, the chairs, the dinette booth, the bedroom valances, ALL OF IT falls within this unpalatable spectrum. 

2014-12-06 14.08.14

Gurple Couch. Gurple Carpet.

So it’s not perfect, no. But it’s functional. It runs, it drives, it moves us from place to place. It has all the necessary amenities – A kitchen, a bathroom, a comfortable bed. Heck, it even has some BONUS amenities – a pull-out sleeper sofa, oodles of storage, a nice-sized double-wide kitchen sink.

Because we have so little money invested in this thing, we figure it is a great place to try out some wacky DIY home renovations. Because, what’s the worst that could happen? We make something uglier? I guess that’s technically POSSIBLE, but it’s not a great concern. As long as the basic parts stay functional, we have a little room to play around with it.  So over the past couple of weeks, we decided to try out some improvement ideas: 

1) Remove the icemaker and send it back to hell where it belongs. If you recall, the damned icemaker was the source of our plumbing issues about a month back. Since we disconnected its water hookup, keeping it the RV was like hauling around heavy useless trash that happens to be bolted to the floor. And that just seems silly. So the miraculous and ever-impressive Kelly took the bull by the horns and ripped it out, while I sat on the couch grimacing in horror and anticipation, praying that he wouldn’t accidentally tear our the wall and leave a big gaping hole to the outside world (I worry). Miracle of miracles: He didn’t destroy anything! The icemaker came out after about 45 minutes of swearing and pulling and using various tools to remove long-stripped screws.

The culprit. Concealed uner this lovely and innocent table.

Before: The wood-grained culprit. Concealed under this lovely and innocent table.

And when it was gone… WOW. What a difference. We knew it was taking up space, but we didn’t realize what a glorious opening would be left in its absence. It was a game-changer. The RV stopped looking like a cluttered mess and started looking like a spacious living room. The table you see in the picture folds down along the side wall of the RV, so if you stow that away as well, we practically have room for gymnastics. Which brings me to our next amazing discovery:

The driver’s side chair swivels. Maybe this seems like something that should have been obvious to us, but it was not. When we purchased the RV, we tried to swivel the front seat, but it didn’t work and we quickly gave up. It’s one of those things where we figured that perhaps in 1993 they hadn’t discovered swivelling chairs yet. Like how for the longest time no one ever had a radio in their car and then all of a sudden – HEY WAIT A MINUTE! Kind of like that. We figured 1993 was just pre swiveling-chair-epiphany.

It was only a couple weeks later when Kelly was looking through the manual for an unrelated item that he came upon a diagram of the RV that showed THE FRONT SEAT TURNED AROUND.

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It was like uncovering ancient archeological evidence from a long-lost civilization.

It turns out we couldn’t get the seat to swivel because it probably just hadn’t been swiveled in a long time – it was stiff and creaky. But we loosened it up and twirled it around and NOW, with our new found leg-room, plus pull-out table AND swivel chair, Kelly officially has a new desk. It really makes all the difference in the world. We have a whole new useable area. 

It might not look like much – but in the context of the whole living space, it has made a huge difference. Before, the whole right quadrant of the RV was an area we just stored things and forgot about them. Now, it is a whole new area to exist in, which with our limited space and resources is a precious precious thing.  

We have SO MANY ANIMALS THEY ARE ALWAYS EVERYWHERE. Note the conspicuous hole where the icemaker used to be - now occupied by Kelly's feet.

We have SO MANY ANIMALS THEY ARE ALWAYS EVERYWHERE. Also note the conspicuous hole where the icemaker used to be – now occupied by Kelly’s feet.

So our first modification, though relatively simple, was a huge success! It has definitely given us the confidence to attack some additional projects. 

DIY RVremoving RV furnitureswivel chair RV

Anna Edgren • May 12, 2015

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  1. Evan McBroom May 12, 2015 - 10:10 am Reply

    Hey Kelly and Anna! Great to see you learning and rolling down the road. So fun to meet you in Southern Indiana. A quick note on renovations that I learned from a friend of mine who is VERY familiar with RV construction. The cabinetry and sometimes the built in furniture, is not just functional for holding stuff, but it is often actually important to the structural integrity of the RV. Often times, the thing that looks like a cabinet is actually the structure that keeps the walls at right angles to each other, and if you take the cabinets out, over time, the whole structure will loose it’s ability to stay upright, square and true. He advises that people be really careful before they tear out a nasty looking TV hutch with the idea of replacing it with something cool looking from IKEA, because that old TV hutch (or wardrobe, or cabinet, or storage space) may actually be all that’s keeping all four exterior walls firmly together. From one newbie to another,

    • Kelly Reid May 12, 2015 - 11:23 am Reply

      Great point, and we’ve heard that before. In the case of the ice maker, it had nothing to do with the actual structure of the RV whatsoever.

  2. Kristina May 12, 2015 - 11:13 am Reply

    What is that thing in the window?

    • Kelly Reid May 12, 2015 - 11:21 am Reply

      In the desk pic? A tiny stuffed tiger cub from when I was very young!

  3. Rachel Levine May 13, 2015 - 6:42 pm Reply


  4. Wade May 14, 2015 - 12:59 pm Reply

    We bought our 1995 Dolphin about six years ago. We paid double what you paid. We flew to Idaho to retrieve it and drive it home. I remember the first two nights…pretty much sleepless nights, lying awake in near panic attack mode thinking, “what in the hell have we done here?” We only bought it for camping trips too. Not to live in it. I can imagine what y’all are feeling, but man… So brave. 🙂

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