Travel Trailer Renovation: Stripp’er down

by andrewodom on May 2, 2014 · 8 comments


I would venture to say that 98% of all those living in a travel trailer/RV/camper are relatively happy with the decor and design of their home on wheels. And what isn’t to love? Who can resist the faux marbled walls, the sophisticated vineyard style of the curiously high border, the houndstooth and leatherette combo of jackknife sofas and dining banquettes, and the crinkling of the aluminum blinds? Certainly we could not. That is why within 48 hours of purchasing our “new to us” Aruba travel trailer we were busy removing border, wallpaper, and cornice boards!

To this point we had little experience. Sure, we had done a minor renovation to our old Jayco pop-up trailer back in 2012 (which included adding an AC/Heater), studying up on the Janssen clan, and….oh, building a 240 sq.ft. tiny house! We had also watched a bit of HGTV, read a few blog posts, and convinced ourselves we could do the reno just by asking, “how hard could it be?” Turns out, not that hard.

Our first task was to remove the cornice boards. Now traditionally speaking a cornice board is a window treatment ranging from the simple to the extravagant that is designed to mask the upper portion of a shade or curtain and give the illusion of taller ceilings. You can see a fine example of ours in the photo below. Everytime I have seen cornice boards in campers I have felt like they do quite the opposite. They seem to overpower the room (mostly for sheer number of windows) and ultimately make the ceiling feel as if it were closing in on you. And with our Aruba having only 8’2″ ceilings we needed all the height we could get. The boards had to beat it!

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How-To Remove Cornice Boards In Your RV

  1. Remove the draperies. Turns out that the draperies on the sides of each window that act only as decoration and serve no real function are held in place by velcro at the top and little plastic brackets at the bottom. Pull the velcro loose from the top. Allow the draperies to fall down. This will reveal the bottoms where the brackets are. Simply slide the draperies off the brackets. Set the draperies aside.
  2. Take down the aluminum blinds. Most blind sets are held in place only by two metal fastening brackets at the top of the set. This is subsequently why the blinds make the *clank clank* noise whenever your trailer shakes even slightly. The screws are screwed in to the top of the cornice board with small, phillips head screws in a sort of holder box (see photo). Ours has two on each side making for 4 screws total. First you have to open a hinged portion of the holder box and slide the blind set out. At that point you simply unscrew the screws and gently take down the holder boxes. This will now free up your cornice board.
  3. Unscrew the cornice boards. The cornice boards in our Aruba were held in place by two ‘L’ brackets that connected to the wall and then the cornice board. The two longer cornice boards (48″ each) actually had 3 ‘L’ brackets. Unscrew the small phillips head screws from both the wall and the cornice board and then lower the board from the wall. You now have a semi-naked window area.
  4. Remove plastic drapery bracket. The last piece before your windows are FREE are the plastic drapery brackets. These are held in by just a couple of screws each. Unscrew them and drop the plastic pieces to the floor.

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At this point you are left with a naked window waiting for its next dressing. For us we were left with 9 naked windows, 9 cornice boards, 9 aluminum blinds, and a whole lot of hardware we labeled and placed in to plastic baggies.

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Next up? Goodbye border.

  • DebH

    I would like suggestions on how to remove the dinette in the slide-out, and make a cabinet/sewing table/storage on one side and space for a comfy chair.

  • http://onajourney.blogspot.com Bj Thomas

    GET and I are among the 2% who are absolutely NEVER satisfied with the decor etc in the RV’s we’ve owned. (I’m thinking your 98% is a little skewed) Every one of the 10 RV’s we’ve owned have undergone changes. Our Escalade 5th wheel pretty much has nothing that it started with! (And we ordered it new!) And yes, that border was being removed almost as soon as we left the lot after moving in. I was lucky because it peeled off quite easily. “Drapes” off immediately however the cornices are another story. The day/night shades (which we like) are installed attached to the cornice which makes for a huge project so the swags remain except for the bedroom which we tackled. Enjoying your new adventure…keep sharing!

  • dental257 .

    Can someone please tell me if it is possible to remove a king sized (queen?) bed from an 5th Wheel Fleetwood Avion that takes up all serviceable space? I would like to remove. I def don’t require this much room for sleeping and would like to free up the space for other uses. Office and a twin? Will be living here for the next year and tho it is comfy, it is unnecessary, and confining ~ Please reply to: dental257@gmail

  • Sunny Florida

    So curious, if ordering these new why not custom like building a home?

    • http://www.tinyrevolution.us/ anotherkindofdrew

      I have no idea. I have never ordered one new and really don’t ever intend to so I can’t truly answer that question. I have heard of folks purchasing custom RVs though that are almost bare on the inside.

  • Sunny Florida

    I bought used 3x and I know how you fee but this last one has grape leaf border and I need to know if easier to pull of fir lay on over? Please help I can live with the cornices in living area but in the bedroom is hideous along with the grape leaf border

    • http://www.tinyrevolution.us/ anotherkindofdrew

      I would suggest trying to pull of a very small area of the border to see what you are up against. If it seems too daunting then perhaps just cover it with some Kilz Gripper primer and then paint the walls. You will still see the raised area of the border but at least it won’t be hideous grapes!

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