Get Glamping RV Tips from the Queen Of RV Renovations
Kelsey from @thehappyglamperco has made absolute waves on Instagram over the last year with her beautifully designed RV renovations (and her very photogenic dog, Drey). If you don’t immediately recognize her, it’s because she keeps the spotlight on her impeccable RV designs and sharing her wealth of knowledge with others who are looking to renovate their RVs.
The business of RV renovations and rentals
The idea to start renovating RVs stemmed from the desire to have a fixer-upper home. However, the logistics of traveling to and from a construction site were less than appealing.
Enter the humble RV. Kelsey said that renovating an RV piqued her interest because it could be parked in her driveway. It was also a smaller investment and a smaller space; perfect for a first project.
With that, Kelsey started looking on online marketplaces for the ideal fixer-upper RV. She said that the main criteria she was looking for were a pitched roof and a floor plan that flowed. She was adamant about no flat built roofs due to concerns about long term durability.
Unfortunately, the majority of campers within her price range came with water damage. When she was looking at RVs to renovate, she had to determine what level of water damage she was comfortable repairing. After careful searching, Kelsey purchased a 2005 Keystone Hornet.
Feeling uneasy about potential water damage? Learn how to inspect your RV:
The Happy Glamper Camper Rental Company
The plan for the finished RV became clear when she was done. Kelsey wasn’t interested in flipping RVs or making the project into a full-time job. She said that would take the fun out of it. Instead, she decided to turn the renovated RV into a rental.
Surprisingly, RV renovations are Kelsey’s side gig. She works as a remote web designer and developer from her home in Pennsylvania. That doesn’t stop her from running her side business, The Happy Glamper Camper Rental Company.
During the camping season, she is constantly booked. But, to keep the stress level down, Kelsey has criteria for bookings. She only accepts bookings that are within a 25-mile radius and offers delivery only. Only offering delivery ensures that she limits the risk of damage to her investment—a lot of her clients are first-time campers with no hauling experience.
Due to the high demand of people wanting to book her finished RV, she decided to buy a second and renovate it.
If you are curious about the numbers or think you want to renovate and rent RVs, Kelsey shares an extremely detailed renovation and rental report here.
Kelsey also shared some core values of her RV rentals:
- It is important to have a clean, well-kept camper; things should look put together and be well maintained.
- Include all the essentials so guests don’t need to bring anything but their clothes.
DIY RV Renovations
Kelsey didn’t get her entire DIY education from the internet. Her childhood prepared her for her RV renovation calling. She said that as a kid, her family built the home that they lived in. When her dad would get home in the evening they would work on projects in the house. She learned a lot about construction from that experience. Also, her grandfather was a woodworker. In her projects, she draws inspiration from him.
Having construction experience didn’t make her an RV renovations expert though. She did a lot of research before starting. She feels it is very important to do things correctly the first time. Kelsey also has a partner with a lot of construction experience. When she needs to, she can ask him for advice on how to do certain projects.
Now she uses her platform to educate others who may be serious about RV renovations and posts detailed and informative blogs.
Advice for DIY RV renovations
Sharing her expertise on RV renovations, here is some advice for DIY RV renovations:
- Choose the right products – Caulk is super important and you must choose a product that can expand, contract, and be flexible.
- Adhesive backings – Anything with an adhesive backing needs extra adhesive when being installed in an RV.
- Water damage – If you see any signs of water damage, make sure you resolve it; don’t try to cover it up. On the exterior of your RV, never use silicone! Only use caulk or sealant.
- Give yourself time – Allow for enough time for the entire renovation, especially paint preparation. It takes longer than you think.
Favorite paint products
Kelsey shared her favorite paint products for her RV renovations:
- Favorite paint (walls): Benjamin Moore Regal. She said that it has held up great even with extra washing, has great coverage, and has zero VOCs. Her go-to color is Frost by Behr.
- Favorite paint (cabinets): Benjamin Moore Advance. This paint is a little more durable for cabinets. Her go-to color is Pewter Green from Sherwin Williams.
Kelsey is not exempt from RV renovation mishaps—we’ve all been there! If you’ve noticed from her Instagram feed, Drey the dog is constantly by her side. She says “painting with dogs is the worst.” In one renovation mishap, Drey put a paw in a bucket of paint and walked around with one painted paw painting the floor.
She also had an expensive mishap that could have been a lot worse! On one of her rental deliveries, she was trying to adapt a 30-amp plug for the camper. It turns out that double the voltage was coming from the house to the camper, despite it being a 30-amp plug. The converter got fried and so did the microwave. Luckily Kelsey hadn’t turned on all the AC appliances and they weren’t all ruined!
What’s in store for the future
Right now, before the hustle of the 2021 camping season, Kelsey is working away on her second RV renovation project – another Keystone Hornet. Two camper rentals should keep her pretty busy this summer.
But that’s not the end. Kelsey has big plans for the future. She is hoping to strike a deal with a campground and park her RV there for the season. Instead of delivery, guests could drive to the campground and enjoy the RV in one spot. Long term, Kelsey has plans to buy a piece of property and make her own destination.
The RV renovations aren’t about to end either! Kelsey plans to stick to her current rate of renovations; one RV renovation per year. This means that there will be a constant supply of fresh RV renovation inspiration on her Instagram!
The RV community on social media has been amazing to Kelsey. She said she “couldn’t be more thankful for how positive the community has been”. Her goal is not to be famous on social media. She wants to put out valuable information that helps others.
It’s a good, overwhelming, positive group.
Read more RV LIFE Stories: