Renovating: Lessons and Thoughts


The house I owned taught me a lot about how to NOT renovate your home. I don’t think I did a single

thing right with that place! I’ve been applying these lessons in tackling Miranda’s makeover:

1) The Structure Comes First

Before you do any cosmetic work whatsoever, including changing floor coverings, make sure your structure is sound. Address leaks, dry rot, mould, or anything else that needs attention.

2) Don’t Start a Project If You Don’t Have the Money to See It Through

Before starting on a project, I figure out what I’m going to need and then price everything, right down to the nails. Then I add 25% for contingency.

3) Don’t Rip Anything Apart Unless You Are Ready to Replace It Immediately

One of the things that slowed me down in doing the floors was having to stop to take things apart. It probably made people wonder why I didn’t gut everything last fall when I wasn’t busy. I didn’t want to do so until I knew for sure I would be able to complete the projects for which I was gutting. Living in a half-demolished house is one thing, traveling in a half-demolished RV is another!

4) Don’t Mix Up Renovating and Decorating, and Renovate First

Some folks will surely disagree with me on this one, but I consider a renovating project done even if it’s not painted or the hardware’s not on it. The makeover was planned in two stages. The first was making all the changes I needed to the layout. The second was to personalize the space and make it pretty. Imagine how much easier it is going to be to paint when all my projects are done and my stuff put away in its forever home.

5) Have a Vision and the Courage to See It Through

I lived in Miranda for a full year before I started to renovate her. That was more than enough time to think about what I wanted to change and how I was going to do it. Even when things were at their most chaotic, I knew exactly where I was going and this vision helped me weather many a crisis. It also kept me from listening to people who don’t live here and who aren’t me who had negative thoughts about my new floor plan and/or the fact that I was going to ‘rip apart’ a beautiful RV.


It’s pretty obvious by now that I like using ‘found’ materials in my renovations. It’s not just about the money, although that’s a nice perk. I like scrounging because 1) my reusing things makes up for what I throw away and 2) it inspires me. I think it was watching all that MacGyver during my formative years that taught me to love having a problem to solve and seeing what I have around me that I could use as a solution. Sometimes, the monetary savings are substantial and enable me to treat myself to nicer hardware or the like and sometimes making a silk purse out of the proverbial sow’s ear is reward enough.

The renovations have thus far cost me only cost me about $500 and the only super costly thing I’m missing is the trim. By the time I’m done, I’ll have spent less than $1,000, probably closer to $700, and this includes the new Allure throughout. Sure, I could have spent money on carpenters and solid oak panels and whatnot, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as satisfying. I especially like that I reused a lot of the materials from the bed bases and dinette benches and that Miranda is still Miranda, just a new form of herself. She is definitely no longer the RV I bought! Some would say I ‘ruined’ her, but I feel that I am simply making her even more perfect for ME.

Standing in the kitchen this evening making dinner–chopping veggies on the new counter, adding dishes to the dishwasher as I worked, grabbing things from the over fridge cabinet instead of having to walk the furthest overhead pantry cabinet–I really got a sense of how my life in this RV is going to change, of how I am going to start developing routines that will hold whether I am stopped for a few months or on the road for a few weeks, of how I am finally making a home here instead of living in someone else’s space. I’ve been living in this RV for a year and a half now and I feel as good about my purchase as I did back in August of 2008. Miranda isn’t perfect by far (dual pane windows and enclosed tanks would be awesome!), but she is without a doubt the best RV I could have bought within my budget. I could have had my pick of anything in North America and I am still convinced that Miranda would have been my final choice. I am renovating with a ten year ownership plan in mind and I am certain that when the time comes for me to move to a new RV, I will mourn my beloved Royal Classic.

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  • Good points! Especially about not doing the demolition until you know you can see the job thru. Wish my dear husband had this same attitude!

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  • Three years of living in a half-demolished house burned that lesson/attitude into my brain. 😀

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