Turning the Rialta into a Home

After purchasing our 2000 VW Rialta motorhome, Daniel and I spent the past month settling into the vehicle. Although they are very functional, Winnebagos are famous for having a bland and boring interior design. We wanted to feel comfortable inside of the RV and also make the space livable for long-term use.

So, after sorting out the title transfer and reading all the manuals on basic motorhome operations, we set about turning the Rialta into our home. For another perspective on this project, be sure to check out Daniel’s blog post: Our new pirate ship – The 2000 Rialta 22HD.

Rugs and Bedding

Our first order of business was to choose throw rugs. The interior was covered with grey carpeting when we purchased it, but we wanted to protect the carpets and also add some visual interest with some throw rugs.

After choosing rugs, we moved onto the bedding. At 48” by 80”, the bed is not exactly a standard size. We ended up buying Full XL sheets and a twin comforter – neither of which fits exactly but they were as close as we could get.

The bed setup in the rear of the RV

The bed was not comfortable on its own so we also added a 3” memory foam topper to go on top. We had to cut down our old queen-sized topper with a box cutter to fit the space. I sewed a cover to fit around the topper because we wanted to protect it and because it was shedding little bits of foam all over the place.

Memory foam topper with new cover sewn from bed sheets

I also added covers to the dinette seats for when we are not using the area as a bed. The covers add a nice pop of color and also protect the seats from food and debris. Eventually we hope to reupholster the seats, but that’s a project for another time.

New covers for the dinette seats

Curtains and Door Pulls

My favorite addition to the Rialta is the privacy curtain that we placed in the back of the RV. This separates the bed from the rest of the motorhome – which is important as Daniel and I have different sleeping schedules.

The curtain was originally too long to fit into the space so I customized it with my sewing machine. I originally just planned to take up the bottom of the curtain, but we really liked the fabric along the bottom. So I ended up removing about 10” of fabric from the middle of the curtain. It was a lot of extra work but it was well worth the effort. I absolutely adore the results.

Privacy curtains

We also ditched the faux gold door pulls on the cabinetry and added nice new chrome handles instead. It’s amazing how such a small change can make such a big visual difference.

New door pulls

Cabinet Storage and Shoe Organizer

Daniel and I also spent quite a bit of time measuring all the nooks and crannies in the RV so that we could organize the space. Given the small amount of storage available in the Rialta, we wanted to use the available space as intelligently as possible.

Organizing the closet
Organizing the refrigerator

The item which took the most time to install was our shoe organizer. The shoe rack fits along the outside of the refrigerator so that we can easily access our shoes as we enter and exit. It took some time to find an organizer that would fit the space, and when it arrived I had to make several alterations as most of the shoe slots were too small to fit our shoes.

The shoe organizer

We also replaced the sink cover with a cutting board (well 2 cutting boards to be exact) and installed spice holders onto the outside of the bathroom wall.

The Blue Door

The most visible change that we’ve made to the Rialta is the bathroom door. After 20 years, the door was yellowing from age and didn’t look very nice so we decided to paint it. We originally considered painting the door grey to match the rest of the interior, but eventually decided to go with a more fun blue color.

The blue door
Painting the door
Daniel is a lot taller than the door… at least he can stand up all the way under the skylight!

Outdoor Setup

Although most motorhomes come with an attached awning for extra shade and privacy, ours does not. Daniel and I have decided to put off installing one for now, due to the cost and also the added weight to the vehicle. Instead, we’ve purchased a lightweight outdoor shelter that stands independently and also comes with bug netting. This awning paired together with camping chairs and our outdoor rug makes a nice outdoor space for relaxing outside the Rialta.

Outdoor canopy with camp chairs, rug, and compact table

Weighing the Rialta

A common problem that many Rialta owners face is overweighting the motorhome. Rialtas have a notoriously low load capacity (which is probably why they have so little storage space). Our Rialta only has a 500 lb capacity (after taking our weight into account) – and this includes water, gas, propane and food. Daniel and I are no strangers to traveling light but this is taking it to the next level.

This point was really driven home to us last week when we weighed the Rialta at a truck stop. Daniel and I packed up the motorhome with everything we planned to take on our trip and filled up the gas tank – only to find that we were 200 lbs overweight. And this was before we had added food or water to the vehicle! Yikes!

We then went through a major exercise to ditch every possible thing we could think of – from tools and clothes to armrests and even the third seat up front. We got rid of about 100 lbs. When we re-weighed the Rialta the following day, however, we found that we were 240 lbs underweight. This was great news – but it didn’t make much sense at first.

We eventually figured out the discrepancy. When we first weighed the Rialta, Daniel was standing off of the platform so he could speak to the weighmaster on the intercom. We assumed his weight wasn’t included so we manually added it into the total weight after the fact. Turns out, his weight was included after all and we were underweight the whole time!

Now that we’ve removed the third chair and the armrests, we’ve decided we like it that way. So we’ve added an additional shag carpet which covers the spot where the bucket chair used to be. We’ve also purchased a small folding chair for use if we ever want a third seat up front. Now we can bring along a full tank of water and lots of food without worrying about going over carrying capacity.

Daniel removes the third seat
Look at all that extra room up front!
Front setup with lightweight camping chair

Internet and TV

As travel bloggers, having a dependable Internet connection is an important consideration for Daniel and me. After talking to some other full-time RVers, we purchased a Verizon hotspot jetpack device which will provide wifi for our devices while on the road. The hotspot usage data is capped at a certain point, however, so we have devised other strategies to keep our internet usage down.

One strategy is to bring along an old iPhone and download tons of movies and tv shows onto it. This way we don’t have to stream content when we want to watch it. We also bought a super lightweight TV which connects to our DC power supply with a cigarette lighter plug. The TV connects to the iPhone with an HDMI cord and easily stores in the closet while we are driving.

We haven’t really had a chance to use this setup yet, however, so I guess we’ll see how well it actually works once we hit the road.

Our new TV! This only weighs 7 lbs. It feels like a toy.

Before and After Videos

I took the following video of the Rialta’s interior before we had a chance to make any modifications:

This video shows what the Rialta looks like now:

4 thoughts

  1. Love your sweet hobo van! ❤
    Hope you have loads of enjoyment in your travels.
    We’re still in Green Valley at Casa de Luna for a while. If you are ever in SoCal please feel free to come by if you can.
    When we move to Washington we’ll have a van dwellers area set up on the property so you’ll have to stop by there eventually.
    Happy 4th!
    P.S. love the blue door!

    1. Hey Papa Joe! So nice to hear from you ☺️. We will eventually make it down to SoCal for sure! Just not exactly sure when yet. I’ll definitely be in touch when we head your way.

    1. Thanks Adele! It’s a great way to travel right now due to the pandemic. I hope you get a chance to do it full time one day too! 🙂

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