I know we’ve touched on it on the bottom of the “About” page, but in case you haven’t read that, here’s a little bit about our motorhome. She is a 2006 Damon Intruder. Damon was purchased by Thor somewhere along the way, so you won’t find any new Damons – just used ones! We named her Trudy from the Intruder model name. She is 38 feet long and is gas-powered.
When we bought her, she had some minor cosmetic improvements already done. The people we bought her from had a new couch and chair installed, and they also re-did the window coverings. Although it made it look better (they took the curtains from blood-red to blue/green/white – yay!) it still wasn’t quite to our taste. It was very, very BROWN. Like ten different shades of brown/tan. We’ve found this is a common theme in the RV industry, even in the new ones. If we were just planning on using Trudy on the weekends, I don’t think we would have bothered renovating her. But since Trudy was going to be our home on wheels, we decided to do some major improvements.
After re-doing the flooring and window coverings (we will have to write separate posts on those – Tim would be the person to write about the floors, and I want to interview Tim’s mom, an amazing seamstress who worked tirelessly to create our beautiful bright white window coverings, for a post), Trudy was kind of a blank slate in the living area.
First, let me share a couple things with you that we did NOT change: Our captain’s chairs. These sit in the front of the RV, and are used as the driver and passenger seat. They swivel around so that they can also be used for relaxation once the motorhome is parked. We don’t find them to be very relaxing, however. They may look cushy and plush, and they are, but they also have no support! So as much as we’d like to swap these out, they aren’t bad enough for us to do anything about, and they will likely be staying.
Here are some before pics. First of all, this area in this picture where the recliner is – that area was reserved for a safer car seat situation for Calla. We ended up installing a bench seat from a Ford Transit van so that Calla could rear-face. With the previous setup, we would have had to strap her into the couch, which would have meant she was side-facing. We felt more comfortable having her rear-facing. The downside is that we lost the space where the recliner was to a bench seat, so in a way, we lost some seating space. A bench seat from a van is nowhere near as comfortable as a recliner! A lot of these pictures were taken with really dark lighting, so I had to lighten them up so you could see better, hence the strange colors. I ended up quickly selling the recliner + tan couch on Facebook marketplace to someone who was re-doing his motorhome, too! I set the old dining room table and chairs on the curb at my brother’s house and someone picked them up within 5 minutes.
Here’s a picture from during the renovation. A lot of things are only half done in this picture, but as you can see, once all the old furniture + carpet were out and the new floors were in, we had blank space to work with. Looks better already.
After taking measurements and considering where electrical outlets were and weren’t, we concluded that we had to keep the same layout. It just didn’t make sense to switch the location of the couch and the dining room table, so we kept the location the same.One thing I can’t stress enough is how careful we had to be with our measurements. As we shopped for a table and a couch, we had to make sure that they would both fit within the small portion you see in the picture above. We had some close calls with tables, especially. We thought they’d fit, but then it turns out, it might fit, but then you couldn’t access the one side because it would be up against the couch completely. We knew we needed that side for Calla’s highchair, so we had to leave some wiggle room. By the way, this hook on highchair that we got has been an amazing space saver. For awhile we were considering using our big high chair from the house, but we have commented multiple times how thankful we are that we didn’t. This compact high chair stays out of the way and we can unhook it and use it outside on a picnic table, too.
To make a long story short, after lots of research and shopping, we ended up buying a couch and dining room table from Ikea. In general, we are not fans of Ikea. We don’t think the quality is that great, we hate the store experience, and we don’t like the assembly. However, in this case, the whole “assembly” piece became the reason why Ikea furniture worked so well for our situation. Because it’s in a million little pieces, we could actually fit it through our little RV door, and assemble it inside. Most couches we researched would have never fit in the door. So I guess the self-assembly piece was actually a pro instead of a con for once?
One possibly unexpected con of putting different/residential furniture in an RV is that you also need to figure out how to securely attach it to the RV frame. You don’t want it moving around while driving the motorhome! And, heaven forbid, if there would be an accident, things need to be as secure as possible so they don’t become projectiles.
Right after putting together our new couch, Tim had the drilled four holes through the frame, strengthened the area with steel plating, and secured the couch to the frame with the highest strength cable, eyelets, and eye bolts available (each can withstand several thousand pounds of force). The table is also secured to the frame through its main structure via 6,000 lb rated strapping, eye bolts, and 6,000 lb rated carabiners. Funny thing – the table and the RV-specific couch and recliner that the previous owner paid a dealership to install? Yeah, they weren’t secured at all. They literally just carried them up the stairs and set them on the floor.
We chose this Ikea gateleg table because we liked that we could make the table smaller if we wanted to. Times we have actually made the table smaller? Zero. So I don’t think that feature was necessary by any means, but some things can only be learned as you live in a small space. There is only so much you can anticipate ahead of time!
So far, we are decently pleased with our Kivik sofa, but the dark cover shows dirt REALLY easily, which is hard with a toddler. The good thing is that it is machine washable. We also bought a coffee table from Ikea, but we never use it. Turns out, in a limited space, a coffee table becomes nothing but a sharp corner for a toddler to bang her head on. If it was just Tim and I, we’d constantly use the table. But it takes up a lot of space that Calla needs for running around. Currently we store it in the back of our bedroom, but we are looking to sell it soon.
Since these pictures were
taken, we’ve added white curtains, some decorations, and 2 dining room chairs which we bought from Costco. We also added more modern light fixtures between the couch and the table and above the table. We are happy with the new furniture and think it freshens things up a bit. It was tricky to find furniture that could work in a small space AND be assembled in the space instead of come pre-assembled.
One last thing we did in the living room was remove this cabinet in an attempt to open the space up and add more light:
I think it looks a lot better and more modern, but I still have a long way to go with decorating the wall. I bought a print from Etsy that I really like, but we aren’t sure how a frame would hold on the wall going down the road – things rattle and fall off very easily. I also need wall accents other than just the print because it’s too small to be the only thing on the wall. Ugh, decorating is not my thing. In my next life I’m going to hire an interior designer because it’s not something I enjoy. Do I appreciate a well decorated space? YES. Probably more than most people. I’m just not very good at creating it myself. Creative block, maybe. Any suggestions for my white brick wall?!
There you have it – a peek into our living room both before and after renovating!