Travel Trailer Dinette Remodel
Nancy and I started dreaming about doing a travel trailer dinette remodel, even before we had picked out our new rig. Having a bigger workspace and nicer dining area was something that we really wanted in a new rig. But, the problem with wanting both of those in a travel trailer, was that finding that space was difficult. With a total cost of around $400 and a few days of labor, we turned a small dinette area into our ideal work and eating area.
Searching for a Solution
In our last travel trailer, a 22′ Coachmen Apex Nano, the dinette functioned as our workspace and our eating area. There was no other space to utilize as just one or the other. In the mornings we would wake up, turn on our computers and sip our coffee. When it was time for breakfast, the computers were shoved aside in a pile. Then, repeat for lunch and dinner.
So when we came across the floor plan for the 31′ Jayco White Hawk 26RK, we envisioned all the possibilities! The first priority was a workspace with a view. To view our surroundings while we worked was something that really appealed to us. And second priority was an eating area where we could leave our workspace untouched.
So what kind of style were we looking for? Although we could have made a simple trip to Home Depot and bought some oak or pine, we wanted a unique look. Our travel trailer dinette remodel needed to be fun and different!
In Minneapolis, there’s a great lumber store called Rustic Revival Barnwood, which sells reclaimed wood. Even though the wood is a bit on the pricier side, we knew it was the look we were going for. However, if there was one major remodel we were doing in our trailer, this was it – and we wanted it to stand out.
Choosing and Caring for the Lumber
With so much to choose from, you’ve just got to dive in and imagine what your final project will look like. Originally we were going to go with a multi-colored table – something with reds, grays and browns. But after looking through those options, it just wasn’t going to work. Each piece of wood has a different thickness, so it’s important to consider what you’re going to be making. To make a smooth-surfaced table, you’d have to plane each piece down in order for it to fit on an underlayment. Access to a planer was something we didn’t have. Secondly, a lot of the reclaimed wood I saw was weathered or painted, which gives it its look. Taking off the top layer would destroy the unique look of the wood.
After describing what I was trying to do with the travel trailer dinette remodel, I was pointed to some old and weathered, gray fence posts. Since they came the same fence, and were mostly the same thickness, they didn’t need to be planed. The posts could be laid down on a 3/8″ piece of plywood, and for the most part, I could get a flat surface.
To clean and preserve the quality of weathered fence posts, do NOT sand the wood. This will take off the top layer, leaving the natural wood color. In some cases, this may not be a bad idea – but not when you’re looking for a weathered look. Start with a soft-bristled brush, similar to what you would use for cleaning your bathroom shower. Scrub with the grain, removing some of the dirt and dust. Doing this eventually prepares the wood for a polyurethane finish, which will preserve the color.
Preparing the Table Underlayment
Additional support is needed when the wood you’re using for the table is only a 1/2″ thick. For the main support of this table, I chose a simple 3/8″ plywood board. Because I didn’t really know how much I’d be using, I started with a 4′ x 8′ sheet. At only $20, this large sheet gave me the flexibility to cut it down to size, rather than piece together several smaller sections of the table.
Before removing the dinette from the slide room, I measured the space the table was going to fit in. Since the length of the window around 66″, I wanted the length of the table to stretch from one end to the other. With each board width approximately 5.5″, I laid out 4 pieces side by side, giving me a 22″ table depth. Therefore, with a table surface area of 66″ x 22″, the plywood underlayment was to be cut just shy of those dimensions to allow for a small overlap.
When the boards are laid on top of the 3/8″ plywood underlayment, it’s going to be easy to see. So to cover the edge up, I picked out an 8′ piece of 1″ x 1/2″ reclaimed edging. As you can see from the photo below, the back and left side of the table do not have the edging. That’s because those sides of the table will be against the slide room walls.
Preserving the quality of the wood and attaching the boards to the plywood is more difficult than you’d think. Without using nails, the table looked a little like Frankensteins monster at this point!
Removing the Travel Trailer Dinette
Unsure of how the table was going to turn out, I left the travel trailer dinette in place. Once the glue dried and the table looked solid, I got to work on removing the dinette. As a side note, this model of the Jayco White Hawk 26RK comes in multiple configurations. One particular configuration we almost purchased included a free standing table and four chairs. So once I started to get into removing the screws holding down the dinette, I realized just how configurable the trailer is. In other words, it was incredibly easy to remove!
With the dinette out, it was easier to see how I was going to provide the support for the table. Using one of the existing “SurFit” table legs gives the middle of the table support, so I left that in and attached the base to the bottom. Resting the table on the support leg, I started to design the slide room wall supports. While I don’t have a good photo of these, I fastened two 1″ x 2″ pieces of pine in an ‘L’ shape, and ran it the entire length of each side. This supports the weight of the table without securing it to the walls.
Finishing the Table With Polyurethane
Midway through the project, the design changed from a pull out section under the table (to provide an eating area) to two separate tables. After all, I had additional wood – so why not? The idea behind the additional table was so that we could have independent eating and working areas. With removable legs, it could easily be stored away when traveling, or if we wanted more space.
Preserving the color of the wood was necessary for finishing the project. Although the store clerk helped spur some ideas regarding a poly coating, I decided on the Varathane Triple Thick clear satin finish. On each table, there are two coats, applied with a 3″ oil base bristle brush.
Just after the poly coating dried, the workspace table and dining table are installed and tried on for size.
Putting Everything Together
The great thing about this two-table design is its flexibility and configurability. Although the table along the window is a permanent fixture, we can either work at it OR use it as a dining area. With the space large enough for both of us to use our laptops, we can also use it as a breakfast nook. Alternatively, the framed table can be moved anywhere in the living area of the trailer. When moved parallel to the table along the window, the space is large enough for four people to dine at. If we decide not to use it, the table can be stowed away in less than a minute.
We absolutely love how this space turned out! Solving a major problem we had with our last trailer, we now have an excellent work and dining area.
Final Project Materials and Costs
Reclaimed wood boards from Rustic Revival Barnwood – 1/2″ x 5.5″ x 5′; $189 total
Plywood, from Menards – 3/8″ x 4′ x 8′; 1 @ $27.75 each
Select Pine Board, from Menards – 1″ x 2″ x 6′; 9 @ $3.15 each
Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane, Clear Satin Interior, from Menards – 1 @ $13.97 each
3″ Oil base bristle brush, from Menards – 1 @ $10.48 each
Table legs, from Menards – 5 @ $3.97 each
Throw Pillows, from Target – 2 @ $16.99 each
Chairs, from Amazon – $70
Round Ottoman, from Target – $30
Circular table saw, hammer, tape measure, 1 1/4″ finishing nails, wood glue and all of the clamps
If you’ve done a travel trailer dinette remodel, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below!