Ann Karlstrom was not an RV person until she met Tom Lasater. She was always a backpacker and tent camper. But Tom has been RVing his whole life. Now that the couple is married, they’re thrilled to build a life around RVing.
Ann and Tom even discovered a way to make their love of RVing into a business, by becoming RV renovators. The pair has fully renovated several RVs and say they’ve learned something new with each build.
How Two RV Renovators Built a Business Out of Fixing Up Old RVs
With Tom as a general contractor and Ann as an RV interior designer, they had fallen into a rhythm of purchasing and fixing up RVs and selling them for profit, which they would use to invest in their next RV project, and so on.
After completing a few renovations and sharing their work on social media, they began accumulating a list of people requesting to purchase their renovated RVs. The business, called RVing Dogs and Wine, grew naturally. Ann and Tom ingrained themselves in work they love and find fun to do side by side.
They enjoy creating beautiful and functional RV spaces, by taking something old and giving it a brand new life.
Their Latest RV Renovation: 2011 Heartland Bighorn 3070RL Fifth Wheel
Though they’ve always been a toy hauler family, one of their favorite and most recent renovations was on a 2011 Heartland Bighorn3070RL fifth wheel.
Tom and Ann knew the layout of this fifth wheel was filled with the potential to create an open and airy interior. The quality of that used RV impressed the couple, so they took on the renovation.
The Bighorn kitchen impressed them with its 13 drawers and tons of storage and counter space.
The living area’s numerous windows and opposing slides made the space feel naturally large and bright. But the finished product had a long way to go before they could put its brown-on-brown decor in the past.
A Soothing Makeover for the Kitchen
Tom loves creating custom builds for each DIY RV renovation. They redesigned the cabinetry for the Bighorn’s kitchen and used what Ann calls a “soothing” color scheme.
Also in the kitchen, they added a flip-up counter on the island for even more counter surface and additional space for eating.
Living Area Has More Storage and Surface Spaces
They completely redesigned the previous fireplace and TV area into a functional and beautiful coffee and wine bar. Don’t worry, there’s still a TV and cozy fireplace, they’ve just been relocated to a more central area. The TV can now retract into its supporting cabinetry for safe storage during travel or to allow more usable counter space.
The Bighorn is one of Ann and Tom’s favorite renovations so far. But Ann says:
My favorite project is always the one we haven’t started yet! It’s all the ideas and designs in your head that you want to implement and try, but you have to wait until you find the perfect RV to do them in.Ann Karlstrom, RVing Dogs and Wine
Expert Advice for Your Own DIY RV Makeover
Tom and Ann have learned a series of important lessons about DIY RV renovation, including:
- Understanding what materials work best and hold up well
- Why research your materials is important
- The critical nature of setting a budget
- How to avoid “over-design” of a small space
- Why paying attention to the details matters
- Being flexible will keep you sane (there will always be unexpected issues)
- And expect everything during your DIY RV renovation to take twice as long as you anticipate it will
“When you are designing your space, think of how you will use it when you take it camping,” Ann says, adding, “It does not matter how pretty it is if it is not functioning well.”
Their Life: More About Ann and Tom
Meanwhile, Ann and Tom drove from Los Angeles, California to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to pick up their own, new-to-them home on wheels. They purchased a 2021 Nitro XLR they intend to use for the long-term.
They are currently frequent weekend RVers with their “mystery mutt,” Sunny, and working toward becoming full-timers one day.
These talented RV renovators haven’t started remodeling the Nitro yet. But they are planning some fun “very-little-demo-reno” projects says Ann. As they complete these updates, the couple will share their tips, ideas and how-tos with RVers looking to update newer RVs without major renovations.
Find Tom and Ann’s work on their website, www.rvingdogsandwine.com, and at “RVing Dogs & Wine” on social media: