Here it is, friends! Our home sweet home on wheels.
First, the backstory: We spent several months researching for hours on end, attending RV conventions and watching RV tours on YouTube after the kids went to bed, instead of Netflix (not even kidding, we are very cool), before we decided on a Winnebago Minnie Winnie 26A. Here were our big requirements:
1. A sleeping space for everyone.
2. A separate space for Mom and Dad for privacy (and sanity).
3. I really wanted an oven and a gas range.
4. A shorter length, preferably less than 28 feet, so we could easily stay at national parks should we choose to do so.
5. Decent cargo carrying capacity (aka, the total weight our rig can carry).
6. Decent tank capacities (aka how much fresh water we can hold, and how much our black and grey water tanks can hold before we have to dump them).
7. Good storage space.
8. Adequate seatbelt options for the kids.
There was a whole host of other reasons why we decided on a Class C motorhome, as well, but I’ll save that for another post. In short, we came across the Minnie Winnie sort of by accident, and decided within 48 hours, after being SO SURE we were going to buy a Winnebago View, to purchase a Minnie Winnie instead. So far, we love it. We have appreciated having all the above capabilities, but also being nimble in the way of having a shorter rig with a tow vehicle. All in all, we’re happy with our setup from a technical standpoint (though I’ll be honest: my heart still beats for an Airstream. Maybe someday!).
My biggest setback on the Minnie Winnie, as vain as this sounds, is that… well, it was pretty ugly on the inside coming right out of the factory (you can see some “before” pics in this post on my food blog!). Many RV owners share the lament that RV design is way outdated – for whatever reason, most models still haven’t joined the 21st century. Until they do, we are left to our own devices in terms of updating the space to feel more like home.
Between the months of April and June, I got to work on doing just that. Because we couldn’t keep our rig in our driveway long-term due to neighborhood rules, we had to store it at a facility about 20 minutes away. Every few weeks, we’d bring it to our house and park it in the driveway or on the street for a few days to complete a project.
The first project? Painting the walls. I employed my mother (with lots of hugs and “thank you!”s and also wine) to help me out with this. At first, I thought it would be a breezy project to get through, considering I only had a couple hundred square feet to work with. But as anyone who has ever painted the inside of an RV will tell you, that is far from the truth. Between prepping the walls, priming the walls and painting a couple coats of paint, and covering every single nook and cranny that needs painting, the project took several days. It was a pain, and I hated it, but I am so glad I did it because it really, really brightened the space. Here’s what I did to paint the walls:
1. Washed the walls with TSP.
2. Painted one coat of Kilz Max primer.
3. Painted two coats of Behr Ultra Pure White (aka, the white that comes straight out of the can, which isn’t tinted so it’s a clean, simple white) in satin finish.
Once the walls were painted, I took to the task of replacing the valances with blackout curtains. Since most blackout roller shades are affixed to those ugly valances, we had to take a more DIY route. I removed the valances and filled in the holes with spackle (all done before we painted), and once the paint was on, I installed curtain rods. From there, I bought a few blackout shades from Target, cut them to size on each window I was covering, and then folded over and fused the edges together with iron-on fusible web to create a hem. That’s it! It was so much easier to do than I expected (which almost made up for the stress induced by the painting project).
Next, I put on the wallpaper from Chasing Paper. What I love about Chasing Paper wallpaper is that it’s like a giant sticker and it’s removable. This is great because a) if I made a mistake, I could just remove it and re-stick it to the wall, and b) if we ever decide to remove it, it won’t damage the walls. We went with the Ever-So-Green pattern.
For the kitchen, I wanted it to look a little more separated from the rest of the space, so I spray painted all the hardware (in the entire RV, actually) a matte black and painted the cabinets with gray chalk paint. For more details on how that went, you can check out our Instagram story Highlights section: RV Reno. In short, it went fine, but it was a huge learning process on how chalk paint works and, more specifically, how it works on wood veneer. All in all, I’m happy with how it turned out, though we’re already seeing some wear and tear on the areas where I didn’t yet have a chance to paint the clear top coat (so I highly recommend painting that on if you’re working with chalk paint!). I’m planning to fix that in a month or two when we have longer stays with family.
The original countertops in the RV were OK, but not great, and definitely not within our aesthetic. So I did a little research and, at the suggestion of this awesome Instagram account that renovates RVs, I ordered marble contact paper from Amazon and put that on top of our kitchen counters, our table and our bathroom counters. I really love the way it looks and how well it brightens up the space, but I will say it’s not likely to be our permanent solution. It’s just not as professional-looking as I want (and the kids pick at any small nicks in the paper, therefore turning them into big nicks), so we are thinking of making a new table surface and MAYBE replacing the kitchen countertops down the road.
A few other details:
1. Our wardrobe in the bedroom holds all our family’s clothes. The only overflow we have on clothes is in the overhead cabinets above our bed, which holds Elliott’s and my pants and pajamas (plus extra bed sheets and some other random junk, ha). We don’t have a perfect organization solution for our clothes, though both Elliott and I curated capsule wardrobes for ourselves before we even headed out on the road, which was super helpful (and maybe worth discussing more in a future post, if you’re interested!).
2. We have storage under the bed which holds a lot of outdoor gear, since there is access to it from the outside and it’s the biggest space we have for storage. There is storage space under the dinette, as well, and that holds a bunch of random items that we don’t use all the time: extra paper towels/diapers/baby wipes, camping gear, beach towels, etc. It’s amazing, though – for as difficult as it initially was to find space for everything we own, we are now finding that we hardly use a lot of those things we “needed,” so we are planning for another purge soon. I’m shocked that we might actually end up having unused storage space in this tiny home of ours!
3. We are still planning/coming up with a way to make a barricade up on our daughter’s bunk so she doesn’t fall out (so far, she hasn’t even come close, as she’s a deep sleeper and we tuck her as far back into the corner as possible), but also because both girls like to hang up there and it would be great to have Mom and Dad be a little more hands-free instead of acting like goalies with our arms outstretched trying to catch any soccer balls a.k.a. projectile children.
Our house on wheels is small and cozy and far from perfect, but for now, it actually feels like home – maybe more than our house ever did, because we are in it together much more often. At the end of our long, busy days out in the sun, hiking and adventuring, it’s nice to come back to this space and feel comfortable. We’re still testing the waters on whether this RV will be our long-term rig, but so far, we have no real complaints.
Harvey, we love you. Thanks for being home to us on this grand adventure.