Faux Finish on the RV Countertops

The original countertops in the Avion were either a dark brown or a hideous yellow. I couldn’t stand them!  But I knew we couldn’t afford to replace them so I set out to find a product that I could use to faux finish them. 

Hideous brown counter
Gross “harvest gold”
 

After all the research I ended up going with Giani countertop paint kit in White Diamond. 


I was hoping the kit would be enough to do the kitchen and bathroom counters as well as the new desk, arm rest and shelf behind the lounge. 

First I had to clean the counters well, tape everything off and then apply the primer:

They already look better!

Then there are three sets of minerals that you dob on with a textured sponge. In this case it was a Pearl Mica, Inca Gold and a white limestone.   First coat went well though it wasn’t quite the look I wanted.  I didn’t care for the Inca Gold. 

Hmmmm… not bright enough!

I had envisioned a brighter look. Fortunately I had enough minerals to go over it again. And that gave me the look I wanted!

Much better!!

After you get the look you want with applying the minerals you apply the epoxy clear coat over it. I had enough to do 2 coats of epoxy but would loved to have do 3 coats. 

All in all this was a fun project and by only spending $90 on Amazon for the kit I was really pleased how it turned out! I would certainly do it again!

Granite anyone? Sneak peek of the counters and cabinets!

Saving Money on a Renovation

As we are on the final leg of our Avion restoration I thought I would share some money saving ideas we used during the process. 

Let me preface this by saying, a full restoration is NOT cheap but it is possible to save some money on some things that would otherwise be expensive or time consuming. 

Here is our list!

  1. Paint: Probably the cheapest way to make a dark RV interior come to life for very little money. I estimate we spent around $275 in paint and supplies.  Of course, the hours I put into painting were crazy but it was worth it IMO. It makes everything so clean and bright!
    Cabinets – before and after
  2. Reusing old hardware:  I admit I wanted new hardware but when I added up all the cabinet doors and drawers I quickly realized the cost was more than we were willing to spend. So for a $4 can of spray paint I saved us over $200! 
    Hardware – before and after
  3. DIY:  This is definitely the big one!  Being handy will save you BIG BUCKS!  Even if you don’t know how to do something, I can guarantee that there is a YouTube video showing you how to do it. If you can follow instructions then you can do it! Also, having friends who are willing to lend their expertise helps too. While we could have built our lounge area ourselves, our friend Doug is a master carpenter and he made it much better than we could have. Knowing your strengths is key! But don’t be afraid of researching how to fix something. Sometimes it is easier than you think!
    The Lounge – even though our friend Doug built it, I did the cushions myself!
  4. Modify:  for example, we had to replace our awning fabric. Since our Avion has curved sides there is a curved arm bracket for the hardware. It’s the original Zip Dee awning hardware. We called Zip Dee and got a quote – $1300 just for the fabric! 😳. So we looked around and found awning fabric on Amazon for $200. We modified the awning fabric on our original hardware and made it work. Now we have an awning for very little money! Think outside the box!! 
    Using rivets to attach a modern awning fabric to a vintage awning hardware
  5. Consider all electric:  the fridge in our RV was no good. We had no choice but to replace it. Again we wanted to save money and by going with an Energy Star all electric fridge we saved almost $1000! Money that will be applied to our solar that will easily run this fridge while boondocking. And if you don’t boondock then an all electric fridge is a simple choice! Also, we have the added benefit of having more fridge space as the electric models don’t have all the gear on the back that the propane fridge does. And it fit in the same cabinet! Amazon for the win again! 
    New “stainless” electric fridge!
  6. Consider whether it’s a “need” or a “want”:  Sometimes the best way to save money is just to not buy something! I know, what a crazy concept, right? But sometimes there are things you can just live without. For example, I really wanted a Precision Temp hot water heater when it was apparent we had to replace ours. But again, it was a $1000+ so we said no to that dream and went with a $380 6 gallon propane one instead. 
    New 6 gallon water heater
  7. I wanted to get new countertops but again, the cost was more than we could bear. So the next best option was to redo existing countertops with an epoxy makeover! I was skeptical at first that they could make our countertops look decent again but I figured for $90 it was cheaper than the alternative. And you know what? They turned out really well! The one kit had enough to be able to do the kitchen, bathroom, desk and shelf behind the lounge! Definitely a money saving win!  And the kit can be used on almost any surface. 
    New “granite” countertops!
  8. Electrical and propane:  sometimes these systems seem daunting but with a little research the problems can be easily solved. Get yourself a test light and learn how to check for blown fuses. The 12 volt system is a pretty basic system and is easy to learn. Now be careful with the 110 system! Unless you know what you’re doing we recommend an electrician. Propane is also fairly simple and with a little working knowledge you can easily repair minor leaks or install a new changeover regulator! Just be careful to follow all safety procedures. If you don’t know what those are then seek a professional. 
  9. Don’t be afraid of hard work! Putting the effort into your remodel yourself will save you a ton of money. Granted, it might take you longer than a professional but you’ll have the satisfaction of having accomplished all this yourself. It’s a great feeling! Obviously, know your limits (especially with electrical or propane) but don’t be afraid of getting dirty! ☺️

In conclusion, our remodel of this vintage rig has been expensive due to having to replace some of the main components but the fact that we were able to do these things ourselves made the cost more bearable. If we had taken this rig to Camping World or some other RV repair place the cost would have been sky high!

And while we are nearly done with all the major stuff we know that down the line we will need to do more repairs. After all, Armani is nearly 40 years old!  ☺️ But we also know if something comes up we have the skill and moxi to be able to fix whatever is necessary.  And it’s a lot cheaper than repairing something in a sticks and bricks!

That leads me to one other thing especially if you are hitting the road for the first time. This life is not magically perfect! The same issues you had in your home WILL happen in an RV. How you deal with those issues is the biggie. The key is having fun and being able to enjoy this beautiful country in the process of tackling these issues. That’s what it’s all about! 

Cheers!!

Shelly & Mark ~ Boondock or Bust

New Awning Install

One thing that is imperative to have (IMO) is an awning!  When you live in a box that’s less than 200 square feet, having a livable outdoor area is essential. 

Unfortunately the awning on our Avion was non existent. The old fabric awning must have dry rotted (it was originally canvas) and it had been torn away. Fortunately, the original Zip Dee awning hardware was still intact! 

If you look closely you can see the torn awning hanging from the hardware

We called Zip Dee to get a quote on replacing the awning fabric. I about died when we were quoted $1300. 😳. There was no way we could swing that. So we gave it some thought and figured we could try to modify a new style awning fabric to work. 

I checked on Amazon and found this nice charcoal fade fabric that was 19’3″. Our original awning fabric was 19′ 8″ so we would be a bit short but that was ok. Also, new awnings are actually deeper (from RV to the awning hardware when extended) but we thought that might work in our favor. 

Awning fabric inserted into metal rail

So for $175 for the fabric and $25 in materials we had a new awning. Thank goodness for our friends Doug & Denise! It took all four of us to get it done but we think it turned out great!  We used rivets with washers to hold the fabric in place on the long tube part and then had to tighten the spring tension. That was a lot of fun, not!  The older awning tubes do not have the string slide area that the newer awnings do. 

Getting ready to install fabric
Using rivets to attach to roller bar
Almost done!

Once we got the spring tightened we had to check it to make sure it rolled and it did, but we knew we had to tighten a bit more. Now it rolls like a dream AND we saved a ton of money!!

Done!! Looks great!

Would I have liked to have a vintage looking awning? Of course! But honestly I like having the cash in our pockets better! We have been doing a lot of little things to save money on this restoration and I will be doing a post on that soon. But until then, I think we will go sit under our awning and relax! 

Looks good but installing an awning is a lot of work!

Avion Renovations Have Begun – The Lounge

When we purchased Armani it was with the knowledge that it needed a lot of interior work. The outside skin and “bones” were in great shape even after having sat in a field for the last 12 years.

Armani at Ojo Caliente! Notice the lack of awning and AC shroud! 🙂 Great skin and bones tho!

But the inside was rough. Not only was it REALLY dirty, a lot of the cabinet doors were warped not to mention we had no way of knowing what systems worked or not.

We also knew it had an electrical issue. The previous owners (an RV “flipper” that dealt in Avion’s and Airstreams) had rigged up the breakers to make sure the outlets worked but that was really unsafe! Fortunately Mark is a wiz with electric and between he and Doug they got the issue sorted out and now we have nice safe GFCI breakers and nothing trips when it is plugged in! Safety first, folks!

Our next project was to get rid of the nasty dirty couch in the lounge area and to get the parquet floor pulled up that someone had put down over the original linoleum. Like I said, really REALLY dirty!

The lounge area – this nasty couch bed needed to GO!
Doug removing dirty couch bed!
All out and now at the dump!
What’s behind door number 1? GROSS!!!

After that was accomplished and all the adhesive scrubbed up (hours upon hours with multiple bottles of Goo Gone), everything cleaned and painted it was ready for the rebuild!

Ahhhh!!! MUCH better! Let the build begin!

As I mentioned in my previous post, Doug is a master carpenter and he has already remodeled their Avion so we drew from his experience and got going on our new “L” shaped lounge!

As all us RVers know, weight is a major concern. We didn’t want to add a ton of weight by using 2×4’s. Doug used 1/2″ plywood strips to create a box (glued and nailed together) to create the legs. He used the same plywood strips to create brackets in between and 2×2 posts against the wall for the base support. Then plywood sheets to form the base of the seat. It goes all the way to the back wall so now behind the back of the couch we will have storage not to mention all the room underneath!

Doug wanted everything nice and light! You see here the beginning of the legs he built.
Installing the base for the lounge!
Getting there!
It’s starting to look like a couch now!
Look at all that storage we will have underneath and behind the back cushions!
The arm rest being built
The back cushion supports
Painted and ready for cushions!

Now before you think this is not sturdy let me tell you, it is SOLID! We are extremely impressed with the quality of this build and if you need any restoration work on your rig we would highly recommend Doug! He is the best!!

And now for the finished project!

The “L” shaped lounge with cushions installed!
The “L” shaped lounge.  There will be a cushioned bumper on the wall to lean against.
The view of the lounge with the arm rest! There will be a cushioned bumper on it as well.

We are very pleased how this all turned out!  I made the cushions myself using 4″ high density foam, batting and material wrapped around and stapled to a board that fit in the appropriate space.  It will be easy to change the fabric in the future if we wish or need to.

Now that the lounge is done we moved onto the old dresser area and tore all that out to build in a new desk!  We’ve also installed an awning and I will be posting on that soon.  Stay tuned! 🙂

Tiny House For Sale Part 2


We’ve had some questions regarding our Tiny House cabin and land for sale so I thought I would answer them here!

1.  Is there a video?

Yes! Here is the link to a YouTube video that we did on Easter Sunday! It shows the land and the area around it plus and indoor tour of the house!

2.  Is there a well?

No, we haul our water from the local fish hatchery which is about 6 miles away. The water is FREE so we didn’t want to add the expense of a well. Wells average around $25,000.

3.  Is water catchment legal in New Mexico?

YES! That was the next project that was on tap before health issues sidelined us.

4.  Will you take payments?

Maybe. If that were the case we would not negotiate on price and would require a background check, lots of references plus 50% down. It would definitely have to feel right to us as well so no gaurantees that we would offer that.

5.  How far away is shopping, health care, etc?

There is a Lowes grocery store and Ace Hardware 15 minutes away in Chama. In less than 10 minutes you can access a health clinic with doctors in Tierra Amarilla. If you want more extensive shopping there is a Walmart and City Market (Kroger) in Pagosa Springs which is about an hours drive.  There is also a hospital in Pagosa as well.

6. Do cell phones work? What about satellite tv?

We have Verizon and have had no trouble with the signal. A cell booster will help bump up your signal if you feel the need. There are other properties in the area with Direct TV so satellite is certainly available. We just don’t have a need for it.

7. How secure is the area?

Very secure! We left all of our possessions in the cabin and we were gone all winter and there wasn’t a single issue. There are other neighbors close by and everyone keeps an eye on everyone else’s place. It’s a close knit community.  Everyone is very friendly and welcoming!  There is also a locked gated entrance to the main properties that everyone has to go through.

8. What is there to do out there?!

SO MANY THINGS! ☺. Right around the property you have tons of hiking. There is fishing close by. You are allowed to hunt on your property (with correct license and tags of course). Plus there is El Vado Lake just 5 miles down the road and Heron Lake about 12 miles away. The Brazos cliffs are a short drive away as well – you can feed the deer from your hands there! There is also restaurants close by in Chama and of course the trains run in the summer! See a link below on the trains.

Old Fashioned Steam Trains!
Also close by is Ghost Ranch where artist Georgia O’Keefe spent many hours painting her gorgeous art! Santa Fe is a two hour drive away and of course my favorite, Ojo Caliente Hot Springs resort!

Ojo Caliente Hot Springs
Pagosa Springs, CO also offers many great places to eat and explore and also have family oriented hot springs as well. It’s a great little town with a wonderful mountain vibe and only an hour from Durango, CO. It offers skiing in the winter, river rafting in the summer. What’s not to love?

9.  How does the solar and composting toilet work? Will you give us some pointers/advice?  What is included?

We will be happy to do a walk through on the solar and any other aspects of the cabin including showing you where we get the water.  The composting toilet is a Nature’s Head brand – the best on the market!

All the furniture stays unless otherwise requested. We are including the two 30lb cylinder propane tanks as well. Plus all appliances stay.

10.  Is there trash service?
No. All trash must be taken to the local waste transfer station in town.  Burn barrels are NOT allowed due to the threat of wildfires. 

——-

If I get any more questions I will post them here in the future or if you have any additional questions you can contact me directly via the comments section and I will answer you back quickly.  View the MLS listing below:

https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/Lot-36-UNIT-4-Tierra-Amarilla-NM-87520/2094669932_zpid/
Thanks for reading!

Tiny House and Land For Sale

The tiny house cabin

Due to serious health issues we have decided to put our tiny house cabin and land up for sale. 😞

Mountain Cabin with great views and abundant wildlife to call your neighbors.

Details:

600 watt solar system that includes solar panels with a battery set up with 600 Amp hours, Go Power 1500 watt inverter with and a 12 volt electrical system with LED lights etc.

Cabin has a 200 watt wind generator to provide additional on site power.

The interior bath features a Natures Head composting toilet and a separate indoor shower. There is a refillable water storage tank with pump.

Tankless hot water heater runs on propane.

Propane wall mount heater. Kitchen has a refrigerator (runs on solar) and cooking stove and kitchen sink with counter tops.

Cabin has a covered front porch and a 10′ X 20′ rear deck with fire pit and Sail Shade provides shade .

Property has a separate level gravel RV pad and terrific view and a timber covered hills. The Rio Chama Valley offer the best in all kinds of outdoor recreational activities for all 4 seasons of the year. El Vado Lake is just a short drive to great boating and fishing. If you are looking for a “Tiny House” this one is ready to go.
$44,900

Click on this link to see the MLS listing on Zillow:

https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/Lot-36-UNIT-4-Tierra-Amarilla-NM-87520/2094669932_zpid/

See below for additional photos. Click the images to view full size!