1985 Toyota RV Remodel: Meet Yoda, The Rolling Hippie Home of Our Dreams

After what seems like an eternity, the remodel of our 1985 Toyota RV is complete! For those of you have been following along, I'm so excited to share our finished product!

When we first bought Yoda (our 1985 Toyota Coachmen mini motorhome) ... I already had an idea of how I wanted to remodel the interior. I've always been a fan of bright colors and fun patterns - so I was pretty sure that we were going to end up with a colorful rolling home... but I really had no idea just how colorful she would turn out to be.

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I'll start out by sharing some "before" pictures of our Yoda. At first glance, she didn't look too bad. We thought that the makeover from the original 1985 interior meant that the previous owner took care of it. We were charmed by the "readiness" of the RV for travel. I was even a little bit bummed out I wouldn't have as much renovating to do since she came looking like a 10 for her age (except the bathroom... that was a horror show).

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Boy were we wrong! Don't let the paint and cute coca-cola ceiling fool you - this thing was in rough shape when we started taking it apart.

What we initially thought was going to be an easy cosmetic project, turned out to require an incredible amount of time and effort.

How We Became Toyota Motorhome Owners

We bought Yoda on October 28th (our 6 year anniversary, coincidentally!) for $2900. She's a 1985 Toyota Coachmen mini motorhome, who'd traveled 86,000 miles before she landed in our driveway.

Neither Tim or I have ever taken on a project like renovating an old camper, so we really had no idea how much work we were in for. Over a period of 6 months, we slowly worked through the entire RV to ensure that it was a functional rolling home that would be able to house us during our 6 month road trip around the United States.

Here's all the stuff we did to make it happen (in no particular order, because we did things a little unconventionally...)

1985 Toyota RV Remodel: A fresh coat of paint

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We painted all of the walls and cabinets white, using Kilz Premium primer and latex-based semi-gloss white paint from Ace Hardware (store brand). I'm typically not a fan of white, because it gets dirty so quickly... but it really brightened up the entire space which made it look and feel bigger!

After seeing the transformation caused by a few coats of white paint... I would 100% take on a project like this again, even though it was a little bit more complicated than painting normal walls. If you're interested in details on exactly how we prepped the walls so the paint would stay on - check out this post before you go any further.

1985 Toyota RV Remodel: Ceiling Repair & Replacement

What we found was a bunch of rotted and broken roof supports due to water damage over time and poor building materials that were not meant to last 30+ years.

What we found was a bunch of rotted and broken roof supports due to water damage over time and poor building materials that were not meant to last 30+ years.

One of the major issues we uncovered while we were renovating was that our roof was not exactly "structurally sound." The previous owner covered the ceiling with vinyl table cloths, which lead us to wonder "what's underneath?" - obviously we knew the answer wouldn't be anything good.

First, Tim replaced all of the old roof vents and installed a fan where the rooftop AC had been. Then he sistered some new roof supports to the existing ones, and then replaced the old, moldy insulation and luann with new.


Once the ceiling was repaired, we used a staple gun to cover it with patterned tapestries and then added white trim to cover up any frayed edges.

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1985 Toyota RV Remodel: Wet Bath Remodel


Yoda's bathroom was, by far, in the worst shape. It's a wet bath (or shoilet, as I like to call it) so the walls are supposed to be waterproof. When we picked it up, there were shower curtains stapled to the walls and an area rug on the floor. Behind those curtains were badly water damaged walls - one covered in plywood.

We had a hard time coming up with a quick, affordable option for remodeling the bathroom... so we took the previous owners' idea one step further - and used shower curtains as wallpaper (and added trim). We then replaced the toilet, shower head/hose and faucet - and spray painted everything gold! For more details on how we did it - check out this blog post. 

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1985 Toyota RV Remodel: Door Rebuild

One unexpected project was having to rebuild our door! One day, we went to open the door to the cabin and it cracked in half. Did you know camper doors are made of mostly styrofoam? I definitely didn't.

Tim rebuilt the door with wood, and added a new deadbolt. Then, we needed to find something to cover the inside of the door with.... so I picked up a rug from TJMaxx for $30, stapled it to the door, and used a razor to cut it to size.

1985 Toyota RV Renovation: Southwestern Bohemian RV Interior Makeover

Decorating the interior of our 1985 Toyota motorhome was a lot of fun. I started by reupholstering our ugly couch with Mexican blankets! This was the first design idea I had for the camper, and once it was done - I had a hard time slowing down on the colors.

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After the couch, I covered the chairs with round tapestries. The size and shape worked perfectly for our chairs, almost as though they were meant to be used as covers.

I also made tab-back curtains for all of the windows using batik material from Hobby Lobby and hung new curtain rods using command hooks.

1985 Toyota RV Remodel: The Finishing Touches

The floor was refinished using peel and stick flooring from Lowes.

We covered the countertops with peel and stick wallpaper from Amazon, and sealed it with water based polyacrylic (it's holding up well so far!).

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There was mold under the bed (due to leaks), so we removed and rebuilt the bed area. We replaced the original RV mattress with a full-size memory foam mattress.

We replaced the broken fridge with a new Dometic 2-way fridge (which hasn't worked properly since we installed it. Not happy, $800 later - thankful that Dometic has good customer service), and bought a stand-up AC unit for hot days.

All new interior and exterior LED lights were installed, as well as a new house battery and 80-watt solar panel to help us when we're off-grid.

Tim also spent countless days sealing the roof (5 coats of Kool Seal elastomeric paint), vents, seams and around every possible nook and cranny that water could get in. (Jokes on us!... we still have minor leaks.)

1985 Toyota RV Remodel: Takeaway Lessons

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I could honestly write a list that's a mile long... but these are the main things that went into building the rolling hippie home of our dreams. There were days where it seemed like a mistake, and more fights than I could possibly ever count. But it was all worth it. The feeling of waking up in a home you built, next to something new and beautiful every single day is indescribable.

Renovating an old camper was probably the last thing I ever would have expected to spend 2018 doing - but it taught us so many things.

Most of all, that you can really do anything if you put your mind to it. The minute that we saw this RV on craigslist, we knew it was going to be ours. We didn't know what exactly that entailed yet, or that she would break down an hour away from home when we finally hit the road.But for better, or for worse - Yoda is part of our family now! And I'm not sure if I'll ever tire of waking up in such a colorful, love filled place!

What do you think of our rolling hippie home?

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