Budget Decorating
(featured column)

Kathy Wilson - Featured Writer at BetterBudgeting.com


Decorating Ideas for Mobile Homes

by Kathy Wilson


Decorating a mobile home or manufactured home can be a challenge. Paneled walls, vinyl wallpaper, odd angles and low ceilings are just a few of the problems home decorators must overcome. Here are some great ideas for decorating your mobile home with style and charm.  More...


The most common complaint I hear in decorating a mobile home is what to do about those paneled walls. Mobile homes tend to have strips of vertical "molding" that cover the gap between each panel of wallboard. They scream "mobile home". There are ways to work around them. First of all, you can remove them and use joint compound and a putty knife to fill the gaps. This works, however, as one of my readers pointed out recently when she tried this method, its difficult to get the gaps as smooth as the wallboard. Her solution was to apply joint compound to the whole wall, then texture and paint. Great idea! A lot of work!

If you don't want to put the work into the joint compound method, you have options. The first is to simply choose one or two co-coordinating paint colors in a rich hue, then make the color of the walls the star. With a beautiful color as background, especially a rich color, then strips will seem to fade away. How about cranberry and mustard? Or a rich moss green and a golden yellow?

Another option is to make the strips seem deliberate. Get some inexpensive molding the same approximate size as the strips, and glue rectangular panel "frames" onto the walls at regular intervals. Now paint the "frames" the same color as the trim in the room. Hang artwork inside the frames, and the molding becomes a gallery, and the strips look a deliberate part of the style scheme, separating each "frame" from the next.

Another problem with mobile home decorating is the question of architectural details. Mobile homes almost always lack them, so add your own! Frame sunken tubs with wallpaper border, stencil arches over doorways, cut 1/4 inch plywood into 4-6 inch wide strips, then add below the ceiling line, use wood putty in the seams, and paint the trim color.

Add charm to a mobile home kitchen by removing the cupboard door below the sink, and add shirred fabric on a rod for a softer look.  Cut out the interior of the upper cupboard doors, and replace with glass or fabric. Paint your cabinets. The idea is to create a custom look, and get rid of the cookie cutter mobile home decor.

If your mobile home has paneling, the best thing you can do is to paint it. A good coat of primer and some white semi-gloss can take a whole home from blah to fresh and inviting.

Mobile home decorating doesn't have to be a problem, just keep in mind these tips, and use creativity to decorate your mobile or manufactured home in a warm and stylish way.


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If you have more ideas for decorating mobile homes that you'd like to share with our readers please write to us at editor@betterbudgeting.com, we'd love to hear from you!

Readers' Comments:


"Many years ago, I lived in a mobile home and I also had decorating problems. I now live in an older home but had paneling in one room so I decided to do something different. I went to the Dollar Store and bought a couple packs of tissue paper that you use to stuff in gift bags to conceal a gift. I also, bought a bottle of liquid starch. I took the tissue paper out of the wrapping and took each sheet out and crumpled it as if I were throwing it away and then poured the starch in a paint tray. I took a paint roller and dipped it into the starch and then rolled it on a small section of the wall. I then took sheets of the crumpled tissue paper over the wet part of the wall and just slapped the tissue to it. You can overlap it, bunch it up, or smooth it out a bit to whatever you like. I left the tissue paper more crumpled up rather than smoothing it out since it left a thicker texture and covered the paneling up better. I let the tissue dry for a day and then went back and I painted over the tissue. (I used left over paint I had or you can go to the recycling place or paint store where they have used paint, or paint people didn't like the color for little or no money). You have to be careful not to get too much paint on at first since it could wet down the tissue paper too much and it could start to tear. If it does tear, you can just put another crumpled piece of tissue paper over that spot and just paint over it-it just gives it a more textured look. I let it dry and then did a second coat. This project is one where you can't make a mistake. Of course, I let it dry another day before adding pictures, etc. (A person could also use thinner pieces of plastic, ripped up old plain cloth pieces or restaurant paper towels to use under the paint. When I have people come over, I always receive positive comments on the walls. It took a little time but it was very cheap." - Mary G.


"What I did with my walls in my mobile home, which were paneled in a dark, photo-finish, cheap paneling product, was to paint them a semi-gloss or satin white, with a BRUSH.  The old fashioned way, stroke at a time, with several coats of paint so it has a richness to it.  While I hate the look of flat paint rolled on paneled walls, the brush makes it look like the whole thing is wood, plus you can fill in the indentations in the paneling with more paint without it being obvious.  Rather than try to hide the fact that it's paneling (which was the advice I got and never really works), working WITH it is a lot more effective.  It looks very cool, and I get lots of compliments on it.  I also bought different styles in varying sizes of wood molding at home improvement stores, added that for architectural detail, and painted it too.  It now has the look of a beach cottage with walls, molding, all painted white.  The natural light makes the shading of the all-white (or off-white), semi-gloss paint stand out on the architectural details, and it looks very nice, if I do say so myself!  I was told years ago that I could not possibly paint paneling, this by a so-called good friend (at the time....lol) who supposedly "knew everything" about home decorating (just ask her, she'd tell you that), who worked for a home improvement store.  It is NOT true!  So if someone tells you that you can't paint paneling, just do it anyway.  Mine came out great and I've never been sorry.  It's way more interesting than the plain knockdown finish that you find over most plasterboard (in regular homes, not just mobile homes).  And the possibilities to add other things than I have done are endless.  Have fun!  I also painted my ceilings a glossy white, which increases the light bounce in the room and by optical illusion makes the ceilings appear to be much higher.  This idea was given to me by an art major friend, and he was right.  So go for it!  I love paint; it's cheap and easy to re-do." - Sally

"Our mobile home was manufactured in the 1990’s and was made with pre-(vinyl) papered wall panels.  Worst than that, they were flowered vinyl papered panels!  Thank goodness the print was small.  My husband and I painted over the vinyl and it turned out great.  We used a base of KILZ and two coats of a good grade of satin paint from Lowe’s.  Of course the paint cost more, but like the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”  We chose a medium light green color and painted the whole house with that color.  I chose a high gloss eggshell white paint for the doors and painted them with a good brush (another tool that is well worth the money because when painting with high gloss you want it to go on like butter).  We also painted the ceiling, which is pitched pretty high in the living room and kitchen area.  It took about two weeks for us to complete all the painting, doing most of it on the weekends, but it turned out really well.  So, if you are tackling this job, buy good paint, good rollers and brushes, and most of all, take your time!" Sharon Swain of TX    


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Copyright © 2008 by Kathleen Wilson.  All rights reserved.

Readers comments edited by Michelle Jones.

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