Renovate a 1970’s RV camper by February? Challenge accepted. After doing some research and forming teams (our team is the Trailer Babes), we took a look at the specific trailer we are responsible for renovating. While some skeptics would say the VENTURA is well past her prime (some might even say she passed it a solid 40 years ago), my teammates and I took on the challenge and decided to renovate the RV in a vintage 70’s style using green materials whenever possible.
After stepping inside the trailer and taking measurements and inventory, it became clear to us that we needed to come up with an entirely new electrical system and replace the insulation and flooring. The exterior of the trailer was in pretty good shape, but some of the floorboards had begun to rot, and whatever lighting system had been used originally would of course be considered outdated and inefficient by today’s standards.
In order to get some ideas for green insulation, electricity, and flooring, we took a field trip to Treehouse, a local eco-friendly home improvement store. Using local materials is a big deal to us as green designers because it would support the Austin community, decrease our budget, and generally be better for the environment because it wouldn’t involve shipping. The Treehouse store can be visited online at http://www.treehouseonline.com/
We were given a lovely tour by (I think his name was Jeff?) and we got a lot of ideas for further research-we don’t necessarily have to purchase all of our materials from the same place. One thing that really surprised me was the efficiency and low cost of many green electrical materials. For example, I always thought that green lighting would be fancy and expensive. But LED lighting can save up to 85 percent of the electricity used by incandescent bulbs and up to 50 percent of electricity used by fluorescents, and LED bulbs can last up to 20 or 30 years. In other words, purchasing LED light bulbs for our trailer might seem expensive, but our client wouldn’t ever have to replace the light bulbs (or very rarely). The acronym stands for “light emitting diode”, meaning LED bulbs contain semiconductor diodes that glow when voltage is applied.
Pricing and styles varied at different stores. The largest LED bulbs at Treehouse cost about $58.99, but some smaller bulbs from stores online cost under $20.
Another thing Jeff (?) showed us was types of flooring. Four (relatively cheap) alternatives to typical wood flooring caught our interest- shag carpeting, linoleum, cork, and bamboo. We quickly ruled out shag carpeting because it would be difficult for our clients to clean. Linoleum was incredibly cheap and would help us to maintain the RV’s original 70’s style, but all of the Trailer Babes agreed that linoleum was a hideous style that should have died in the late 70’s along with disco music. Of the two remaining options, cork flooring was cheaper than bamboo and could be made from recycled materials, but Jeff made a great point when he told us that bamboo is a type of grass shoot, so it grows back much more quickly than trees do. In the end we settled on bamboo, even though it was a bit more expensive because it has to be shipped from Asia. Treehouse had a wide selection of bamboo flooring, but we found some cheaper options online to consider as well.
This strand woven carbonized bamboo option costs only $2.89 per square foot. I found it on lumberliquidators.com.
I absolutely love this wide plank strand bamboo flooring from catalfamogallery.com. I think it would give the RV a timeless, vintage-y feel, and the panels are really unique and pretty. Unfortunately it costs $7.39 per square foot! We’re leaning towards option 1.
Regardless of the specific options we choose, it’s clear we have a lot of work ahead of us. Stepping inside the trailer and going to Treehouse gave us some great ideas to research further. Renovating the trailer is going to be difficult, but the Trailer Babes have some great ideas, and I can’t wait to see what we come up with.