After sixteen years of attending the Burning Man festival, a temporary community of 70,000 people and thousands of rental Recreational Vehicles, we've discovered a few ways to turn your rented motel room into a space for personal expression. Without damaging your rental! Nothing spells "Sad" like a standard issue RV home when settling in for the night, or day. It doesn't take long to create, and your plentiful guests will greatly appreciate a comfortable, colorful oasis in the desert.

Ok, I lied... "s a d" spells "Sad". So don't be sad: take a few easy hours to make your home a home!

Step 1: Starting From Scratch

Front and Back views inside a typical rental RV.
Note how clean they start out (like a sterile motel room).

  Duct tape
  Painter's tape
  Rolls of old carpets, padding, and bathroom rugs
  Various fabrics (both strong and delicate for placing in different locations)
  Safety pins (best to have 100's of pins in various sizes)
  Extendable shower rods
  Metallic bubble plastic wrap (aka Reflectix)
  Lighting toys (LED strings are better and safer than incandescent christmas lights)

<p>You have some great advice here! I always cover the sh#t out of everything, and it's a great help for clean up (and getting your deposit back!) Has anyone here ever used contact paper on the interior walls? Does it leave any residue? FYI We are renting from a private party this year for the first time, (usually go with Cruise America, but private was cheaper) I told him I usually cover the floors with that adhesive clear stuff they put in houses for sale, but he said it leaves a residue on the carpet...</p>
<p>Contact paper might have too much pull after a week to take off safely, especially if your walls are wallpapered. (I remember hearing curses over a long period of time, followed by a lot of repainting wood grain, when we used it once on cheap materials.) We've used plastic sheeting with bamboo prints (it might have been a cheap tablecloth?) from Party City one year, cutting it into proper lengths and just taped it at the top and bottom. They have lots of cheap options that are fast to clean up. Usually the walls don't get &quot;that much dust&quot; that can't be wiped down easily with a Club Soda Solution, if you don't cover them.</p><p>I'm not sure about carpet adhesive stuff, but as we've always enjoyed the luxurious feel of unadulterated carpets after a long day hiking the playa, plastics can be a bit of princess and the pea. The duct tape in its small strips doesn't get felt (nor leave residue), but we've had tried a base layer of plastic one year and didn't care for it much - things slid much worse than usual.</p><p>Have a great burn!</p>
Thank you! I agree about the walls not getting too bad, and will just wipe them down (a friend suggested microfiber cloth and I will try that this year)...we found some rubber-like carpet padding that we will lay down under our &quot;Playa rugs&quot; on the floor and will tape to secure. We leave 1 week from today! Ahhhh! Pack all the things! ;-) <br>Have an awesome Burn!
<p>I was asked &quot;if I owned an RV...&quot; and definitely I would get a roll of professional theatrical mylar, and tape it up to all the walls, floor, and ceiling in the RV bathroom. Add slowly changing LEDs or lasers. I did it once, and it made all our visitors giddy with delight. But we used up all our mylar that year, never had the same bathroom configuration, and never did it again. </p><p>Some one, do it. But don't tell anyone until they go inside.</p>
<p>I have just one suggestion to add (after 8 years of RV on playa) You should put the shade covers for the windows on the outside . . . that way it stops the heat before it gets inside, made for a dramatic difference between the inside and outside shade . . . but it took me a few years to figure that out . . . also if you can rig a large (preferabley silver) tarp over your RV . . its like parking it in the shade of a tree . . . </p>
<p>Oh yes, I've been quite jealous of friends of ours that bring pipes and silvered tarps to build a giant RVport around their RVs. Definitely you are right about stopping the sun before it even hits the RV at all. </p><p>Sometimes my rentals are different sizes or have different locations of delicate roof items and vents, and so have never had enough consistency to build outside shade covers - I've found Reflectix stuffed into all the corners of the windows cuts 98% of the heat, with two layers of blue tape on wherever the glass is peeking to cut the rest. </p><p>We try not to attach too many things that can flap about outside our RVs, as we found scratched labels and paint can be over $1000 charge (though some paints can be touched up, if you are trying to fix outside damage, call a professional, they are cheaper than your deposit). </p><p>Plus, putting the Reflectix inside means working inside in the a/c (yes, i've gotten lazy). Though if I owned, I'd build a place for pipes in the RV, to build a big shelter to park under, for sure, it's great to have an afternoon porch.</p>
I love your ideas! I hope to make it back to the playa in 2012 in a well decorated (and protected) rv!
<p>I hope you made it home in one!</p>
I just read your burning man blog and had to comment. While waiting during Exodus, my daughter and I had the same idea that you had sometime back. We thought of contact paper too as a way to cover up all the offensive logos. We thought about being somewhat more vigilant though, and with black ski masks and (no crow-bars) simply attach the (removable) templates to the vehicles. Mreaaking it even more of a popular game, hopefully, we would go on BMIR with our voices altered and threaten and boogie-scare the offenders into coming up with their own alterations. Should be tons of fun. And it gave us something positive to do during Exodus.
<p>The most interesting ideas always happen on the drive out of town!</p>
<p>Hi Commander,</p><p>I am trying to replicate your excellent work. I am trying to identify the black padding you have on the floor... is it regular carpet padding or something else?</p><p>Much appreciation.</p><p>David</p>
It was automotive black padding, however it's about the same as regular carpet padding and would totally do the trick. And like someone mentioned, perhaps let it sit outside for a few days or a week to outgas before installing it inside? (Though outgassing can be a long process, we had the padding in a garage for a few years before realizing its RV value, so no idea on how long it takes.) Have a great burn, David!
<p>Hi GC,</p><p>Thanks so much! It looks like you have several layers of various materials... great job!</p><p>Notice the Gaijin part of your Playa Name... spend some time in Japan?</p><p>David</p>
<p>Lots of layers! Sometimes they get lumpy, like we left the cat underneath. We do re-sort the layers occasionally if they slide around. But to have lots of layers means if someone party-fouls, just pull up or cover over.</p><p>Return to tell us of your adventures? What works and what didn't? Stuff like &quot;we learned to be careful with tape on cheap woodgrain - a skilled painter with fine brushes and many colors can touch-up rips (we had one in clean-up), but better to watch what you stick.&quot; :-)</p><p>Japan, not yet, but in November, Yokohama and Tokyo for a week!</p>
<p>Ah ha! Now I know why I was a bit confused in following your steps... these photos are not all of the same RV... there two different RVs in your flooring sections...I finally noticed that because the color of the center console in the drivers compartment is different... I couldn't figure it out for a while...</p>
<p>Yes, the decorating has been growing over years, but some years the camera is forgotten until way after the work gets complete. There might be photos of more than two RVs, in fact ...though, in the RV industry, the floor plans are similar for endless eons.</p>
<p>Hi! Love it... what is the black carpet-like surface you are using?</p>
also might want to think about using materials that are greener like carpeting that has no formaldihide (sp?) and have an exhaust fan to keep the temp down and fumes out.motorvehicles put out alot of fumes just sitting from all the petroleum based produsts like plastic
makes me think of a gypsy wagon from the olden days
Thanks for the tips!!! I have been trying magnets to hold vibrant fabric in place and it does NOT work. I love the shower curtain rod and safety pin idea!!! Thanks so much, Mike C.
You are welcome!
What fun it must have been to put everything in place (not so fun when it comes time to take it down I bet) - looks great!
Thanks! ...and it takes 1/8th the time to tear down as put up, just a few hours. Cleaning the RV takes the same amount of time (or less, since everything's covered), as if we did nothing for decor. Stuff goes - ceiling to bins to laundry to bins to wait a year to start again.

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