That one time I built a couch, Part I

During our first demo phase, we tore out the built-in couch. It was the only way to get to those semi-rotted floors. Plus, it was uncomfortable to sleep on AND it was hideous (I haven’t learned to reupholster yet…especially when the cushions don’t come off). Because our walls are curved and we need to utilize every square inch of space carefully, I decided to build a new couch into the space. What?

Yes! It’s the only way to get exactly what you want, right? Well, it’s the only way if ya don’t wanna spend a fortune. Aaaand I don’t. So, for those of you thinking, “No way. There’s no way I can do that; I have little to no woodworking skills.” Welp, neither do I! And if I can do it, then you can do it!

Now, in my la la dream land I have a chop saw-you know, that thing that cuts nice pretty angles while keeping your boards all steady? Yeah no. In reality, I have a circular saw, a jigsaw, and a hacksaw. I asked for one for Christmas two years ago but it didn’t happen. And now, we have nowhere to store one anyway. But moving on…

The short version is that my boards were not perfectly equal to one another nor were they even level. Ahhhhh! But ya know what this OC(P)D girl learned? It didn’t actually matter in this particular case. I used pine 1x3s for the frame and 2x4s for the upright supports, then I used 3/4 inch plywood for the top. Here’s the frame…


After I had the frame, I added the boards that would support any weight on the couch. Then, it was time to cut those crazy curves into my plywood for the top. I’ll be having nightmares about that for a while.


There it is, y’all! Nothing was screwed into place at the time of this photo, in case you’re wondering why the support boards are all wonky. It was just a dry fit, but I got tickled all the same! There are 2 supports in the back that you can’t see and I added two more-one on either side of the converter-after this photo, making a total of 11 supports.

Yup, it’s sturdy! Oh and it has three metal supports underneath the plywood riveted into the wall (I reused them from the old couch.). You can see where I didn’t take them down to paint and I now need to go back and touch up those areas. I thought I’d just build the couch to that height but then the fuse box in the back wouldn’t have opened.

I decided to cut the top in half on the horizontal and hinge it to get to the storage space underneath more easily when necessary. This also helps in not having to lift practically an entire piece of thick, heavy plywood to get to some of the storage space. I’ll add pictures of that later.

I did NOT take photos of my steps when building this thing because I was figuring it out as I went…and it’s embarrassing how bad those cuts really were. You see those rounded edges? I actually ended up having to make those initially with my circular saw…and partially in the dark! Thank goodness I was able to get a new blade later and go back at it with the jigsaw…also in the dark. Anyway, I’ll be happy to describe my steps in detail via email if anyone decides they’re interested to know how I did this.

And for good measure, I’ll show you just how bad a couple of my cuts were. We are keeping it real here, after all…


It’s not that drastic now because I had to go back and shave some off of that straighter board so it wouldn’t rub the walls. But, great news. It’s all getting covered up with cushions! Yay!

I hope to have the cushions and back pillows made, the boards visible from the front painted, and some useful storage bins and curtain skirt made around the new year. Let’s hope together! We neeeeed somewhere to sit besides our beds! All of that will be Part II of that one time I built a couch. ; ) Cheers!



Floor Prep/Installation

On to the floors! This will likely be pretty boring for you non-camper fixer uppers…my apologies. The original floor covering was carpet that looked like this…


…except for the kitchen. It was this lovely adhesive vinyl sheet. Don’t mind the electrical tape. That’s me planning new floor plans.

Scott tore the dinette, overhead cabinets, couch, foldout tables, and carpet out and I got to work prepping the subfloor (aka pulling out a gajillion staples). Obviously, this was done before painting and the process woulda made more sense in the one original post but again, waaaay tooooo loooong and…ain’t nobody got time for that!

Anywho, remember that condensation I told you about in the paint post? Yeah, around the outer edges of the floor (under the windows) the particle board plywood was starting to rot and that is a VERY BAD THING! So, after drying it out with fans and running the dehumidifier to suck as much moisture out as possible, we used this super awesome stuff from Lowe’s called Elmer’s Rotted Wood Stabilizer Surface Repair.

It costs like $10 a bottle, and ideally, you want to replace sections of rotting floor in any situation. But to do that properly in an Airstream you have to detach the entire outer shell of the camper from its frame and put down a whole new subfoor onto the chassis. That also means the who thing has to be gutted first. We do NOT have the means to accomplish that!! Besides, we’re already living in here! So, we bought and used every bottle of stabilizer our local Lowe’s had (and needed more), but we also picked up some Elmer’s Wood Filler and used that for the rest. Fortunately, our floor was just beginning to show the signs of water damage. Yes, that’s me in denial because we have no other choice. : /

When Scott tore out the dinette, he found that there was a spot that had just about completely rotted through, so I came home that night to a 1×2 foot hole in the floor. Fun times! We cleaned everything up, filled the hole with spray insulation (bought 3 cans, needed 4) and then patched it with a piece of higher quality plywood and bolted it to the frame. Then we used the Elmers wood stabilizer and filler to take care of the small gaps around the patch. This took several days to dry but you don’t want to rush it.

Next, I painted the floors with the same Zinsser paint I used on the walls. If you asked my husband, he’d probably say it was overkill, but hello! I’d just scrubbed mold off my walls and repaired rotting wood. Why not add an extra layer of protection to the floors? Even if it was just for peace of [my] mind. Plus, I am allergic to just about everything: dust, mold, ragweed, pollen, etc. So yeah, I made sure I kilt it all! LOL


You can barely see the wood putty in the corners I was still waiting to dry for paint. Finally, it was almost time to lay new flooring. Unfortunately, we had quite an uneven floor going on due to all the various sections–subfloor, new subfloor patch, and old vinyl that I decided not to remove. So I used underlayment in various places to even everything up. It actually worked. I know, professionals would be scoffing right now!

Testing out the new flooring while putting down underlayment while shuffling everything around over and over.
We had a little fun with it.

After extensive research, I decided to go with Smartcore flooring, a luxury vinyl tile type flooring. It is 100% waterproof, floats well over uneven floors, is easy to install, and handles lots of movement…super important in a moving home. I was also able to cut it easily with a jigsaw, which is a really good thing when you have rounded walls. ; ) I bought it at Lowe’s.

First cut. Scott: “Where’s the rest of it?” Bahaha!
It’s coming right along!

So, we had a few issues as far as the not so even floor goes, but as long as we laid a few rows at a time, we were able to work all the kinks out and now we have a full floor with no problems. Yay!

I think it took us about 8 hours to get about 140 sq ft laid, but that’s not too bad considering the not-so-desirable working conditions, two young kids running around and needing stuff, and having to shuffle everything from spot to spot as we added more flooring. Cramped quarters; gotta love it! This is, of course, in just half of the rv, but all that’s left to do to it is add trim.

Here’s your keeping it real photo of the day…


Yup, that’s primer. And that’s AFTER I cleaned it up.It was dripped down the cabinets and everything. On the toilet… Lost a good bath towel that’s now an added step in wiping feet before entering our humble abode. Good thing all the carpet is going bye-bye! I.Can’t.Wait.

New Paint…prep & gross things

As promised in Post #1, I am going to back track and fill ya in on painting and flooring the old gal (I reeeeeally need to come up with a cute name for her.). But first, let me tell ya a little bit about her. She was born in 1990 and we are the 4th owner. The interior was in immaculate original condition. But even if I wanted to keep her original, I wouldn’t be able to.

The looks aren’t the big problem anyway; it’s the layout. I mean, come on! Four people (& 2 dogs) live in here. As an empty shell (no walls, no nothing), it’s only 240 square feet. Yeah, some of you have bathrooms bigger than that! For fun, here’s ours…

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I’ll give y’all some fun inspiration photos I’m drooling over later, but for now you can just imagine for yourself. : )  Now that you’ve had a proper introduction, let’s get started on paint. I wanted to do that first for obvious reasons–I didn’t wanna splatter paint all over my pretty new floors!

The first step was to remove the fabric panels from the walls. Why on earth they thought it was a good idea to put those in I do not know. They were under all of the windows. Well, here’s something you need to know about Airstreams and windows: Airstreams are airtight (when properly caulked). They really were well designed.

However, as is the case in any small space, condensation builds up quickly. We did not give this concept a single thought, sooooo after the first week we had water overfilling our window channels and running down the walls. Guess where it went. Yup, the fabric panels. Ewwwww!!


The next step was to get a dehumidifier and remove all of the curtains and their tracks. I’m sorry I have no photos of these steps. Again, got way too excited…to rid our new home of mold and mildew. And again, ewwwww!! I used Kaboom Mold and Mildew Stain Remover with Bleach (bought it at Lowe’s…surprise) and scrubbed down all of the walls. I was so grossed out that I actually have a photo of this. I had to send it to the hubby. HeHe!

Moving right along, Scott went over all the empty holes (from the things I removed) with sandpaper. This helped a lot because you have to remember that our walls are aluminum. When the holes stick out, they’re sharp! I then filled the holes with just a regular silicone caulk because I knew you’d still be able to see them regardless. Let’s face it. This is an Airstream and the walls are panels of aluminum covered in vinyl and affixed with rivets. So yeah, I’m not about to try and make those hundred+ holes disappear. Bigger fish to fry and all that jazz.

Sidenote: Turns out when I first drafted this post, it was twice this long and that’s no fun so I decided to break it into two posts. Next up will be floors. Uneven, trying to rot floors=bigger fish. But for now, let’s finish up with the paint job.

Once the walls were scrubbed clean and the holes were filled, I covered everything in Zinsser Mold Killing Primer…bought it at Lowe’s for about $30.

Last but not least, I applied Sherwin Williams Stone Isle latex paint in Satin as my top coat. It took two coats to achieve full coverage. Bleh. But it’s a whole lot better than the yellow vinyl walls we started with! Ignore the end cap for now.

Because of that vinyl, though, there is a texture to the paint that I LOVE! It reminds me of like a seagrass wallpaper covering (which I always wanted to buy for our old house in a small area like a closet or powder room). I was actually scared that rolling the paint would eliminate the texture. It didn’t! Just wish I’d known that BEFORE I painted the entire primer coat by brush.

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Can ya see it ever so slightly? I still have to learn an effective way for repairing the cracks in the plastic endcaps and paint them…


…and I have to decide whether to blend the window frames into the wall color or paint them white.


What do you think? The window set on the right is the same color as the wall and the bottom window of the left set is just primer but it gives somewhat of an idea of what it’d look like in white. Other than that, the painting is done in the front half of the rv. Next up, floor prep. Woo.





The Vision

I can’t remember the exact moment I started dreaming of shiny Airstreams but once I did, it was all over for me. I began making subtle hints to my husband about the grande aspects of living a minimalist lifestyle (which I had already been trying to achieve at home for two years) and then I graduated to more specific comments. About a year later, he bit! You see, he travels a whole lot for work. And last year he had to live in another state for six months to work on a project while the kids and I had to stay behind. About two months of being gone is when my idea of full time RVing and the ability to take home with us wherever we go began to sound appealing to him. That was right at a year ago.

So while he travelled all over for work, I worked on getting the house sold. Took me 6 months to get it list ready, then 5 months and close to 30 showings to sell it. Shew! Glad that’s over! Shoutout to Ben Allen @ Bluegrass Sotheby’s International for helping to make it happen.

Anyway, enough of the boring stuff. So here’s what I imagine, right?

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And here’s probably a more accurate depiction of what my husband imagines. Hahaha!

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But neither is what we have! We have this beauty.

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She’s really just in need of some TLC on the outside (In fact, I’ve already begun removing the worn blue stripes and we have replacement decals burning a hole in my pocket.), but her insides are getting an entire redesign…what we beginners can manage anyway!

Here you see an image of the inside that I found on Google because I didn’t snap any photos of the front in all the excitement to get rid of it.

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The only things different are the fabrics on the couch and dinette, the curtain color, the fridge color, and the carpet. Clearly, it is in no way conducive to four people and two dogs living in there right now. Good news, though! The front end’s been emptied, painted, and new floors are laid in that half. I’ll do a paint and floor post later.



And to always keep it real for ya…


There’s some of our stuff piled up where the dinette used to be and then you see the boards I had to race out to save from the monsoon before daylight this morning.


And theeeeeere’s the rest of our stuff, currently living in totes on the picnic table-in a mud hole-while we rebuild inside. Classy! My poor pallet Christmas tree got blown over in the storm, too. Oh, and last but not least, check out the $40 in plywood (under the pink crate) that we just bought YESTERDAY to build our new couch…now ruined. Too real maybe? Well, it is what it is. : )

Next up: new dining table, chairs, and our couch build progress. Sneak peek…


Yep, that’s all I got done on the couch before I had to stop yesterday. But to end on a positive note…

Christmas decor makes everything better! Love our little Charlie Brown tree this year.