Banish The Beige - Before and After Pictures of Our Airstream Upgrades
Many RV's have a certain look about them. Think Grandma's retirement home or an old country diner called Golden Pancakes. Swirly upholstery, brass touches, intricate window cornices, all in cream and beige. Lots and lots of beige.
Some are better than others and one of the main reasons we chose an Airstream to live and travel in was their contemporary design inside and out. But even Airstream with the International trim we selected still had some remnants of grungy beige. It has taken more than two years but finally we have completed the project we started when we first picked our RV up to banish the beige!
Here's a summary of the projects we recently finished to improve the look of our traveling home.
Dinette & Sitting Area
New Drapes - The original ones were cream (not quite beige) but were quite flimsy and had suffered from a blueberry pancake incident a while back which no amount of washing could recover. We swapped them out for higher quality fabric with a modern geometric pattern and black out linings. All expertly produced for us by the wonderful Carey at AirDrapes. We made the same change at the bedroom end.
New Lights - Our over dinette lights were too bright to be used and unlike the main cabin lights cannot be dimmed. We added some gels to soften them a little but found a huge improvement when we added shades. These EZClipse shades made in Canada are magnetic and clip right over the existing lights.
New Dinette Table - This is my favorite upgrade. The original table was a beige, mottled laminate. The laminate itself was not too much of a problem but the beige swirls were ugly. We decided if we were going to switch it out why not go for something that made a statement and looked like a real dining table. I searched for custom tabletops and came across an artist on Etsy based in Oakland, California. Dave Marcoullier had a cool coffee table made of walnut with a resin inlay. We loved the modern geometric design so I contacted him and asked if he would custom make it to our size. He said yes and we arranged to pick it up from his studio when we were passing through in a few weeks time. We took the hardware off the original and swapped it onto the top he custom made for us. The new table only weighs about 7lbs more than the laminate and it looks fantastic.
Our main change here was the counter-top. The upper cabinets in our Airstream are white and it has always mystified me why the Corian counter-top in our model didn't match it. Instead of the bright white design we have seen in many other Airstreams, including the super cool ones we saw in the UK , we had - yes you guessed it - beige. Having replacement counter-tops made was a real challenge for us. The main problem being that we are not in one place for a long enough period of time to have them measured and the material ordered and fabricated. We planned on removal and installation ourselves so it was fabrication lead time that was becoming a real problem.
We couldn't find many places that would work with us, given it was such a small job. Even Home Depot and Lowe's wouldn't work with us between multiple stores. Then we found Vern's Countertops in Fort Collins. We called them a week or two in advance of arriving in their area and they seemed very happy to help us. We took the Airstream to their location, they measured up, we looked through their materials, including remnants for the bathroom and nightstands and they ordered everything for us.
We removed our existing counter-tops a week later and dropped them at their shop for use as templates. It took about three days to have all four pieces fabricated, which was a minor pain as we had no way to cook in our trailer in the meantime. We managed to survive eating out and getting caffeinated at coffee shops. Iain installed the new ones with no problem. For the kitchen we chose a bright white solid surface / Corian and it looks awesome. It matches the upper cabinets and looks much more contemporary than the previous one. It also looks great with two earlier mods; a new faucet that has better functionality and looks cooler, and a wooden sink cover.
We didn't have a lot to change here. Firstly the drapes that I mentioned in the dinette where also added to the panoramic windows at this end too. The nightstand counter-tops were the same beige mottled laminate as our dinette table. We decided that we really didn't need Corian at the nightstands as they don't get wear and tear like the kitchen, so we just switched it out for a white colored laminate with a grey fleck through it. At Vern's Counter-tops they actually didn't cut new pieces of ply wood, they just recovered the existing ones with the new patterned laminate. So no problems with fitting.
The other modification in the bedroom was the 12V outlets. We dry camp a lot and the outlets we have at our bedside are not on the inverter circuit. That means we have no way to charge our phones overnight when we sleep. Our friend Vinnie at Vinnie's North Bay Airstream Repair fitted a 12 volt outlet at each side of the bed. Now we plug our phones in overnight and rest assured we'll be fully charged by morning.
Our last counter-top replacement was in the bathroom, again the mottled beige was the original surface. We went for replacement laminate here too but this time though we chose a dark surface because we decided to swap out our old stainless sink for an above counter syle. We decided a dark grey surface was a better contrast for the new surface mount white sink. This time Vern's Countertops could not use the original plywood because we would need a smaller hole for the new sink so they fabricated a new one.
We bought the counter top sink came from Amazon which is significantly larger than the original stainless sink, is easier to keep clean and looks much better. It needed a new faucet which we also got from Amazon. The Airstream came with a mix of brushed a polished chrome in the bathroom so with the new faucet and new towel rails and hooks we made sure everything was complimentary.
While having the Airstream washed and polished with a clay protective finish at Vinnie's we used the opportunity to have him install an outdoor LED strip underneath the awning. We no longer have to fiddle with clipping lights to the awning and hurriedly bringing them back in again when a storm is looming. We also bought some heavy duty tethers for the awning so we can have a little more security when it's out on a breezy day. We also bought a new outdoor rug that is much more lightweight and is the full length of the Airstream. Our outdoor transformation is almost complete but we have been on the lookout for chairs that are comfortable, pack flat and are still stylish. The last point is the elusive feature we have yet to find in any outdoor chairs. Any suggestions?
We'd love to see your RV mods, and how you have managed to banish the beige in your rig.