Refurbishing a four-year-old diesel pusher with a new furniture ensemble gave it instant family appeal.
By Jim Brightly
When Terry and Michelle Guinn first saw the 1999 Ultimate Freedom diesel pusher that eventually would be theirs, they immediately fell in love with it.
The Guinns and their family, which includes two teenagers and a pre-teen, spend much of their free time on weekends and vacations participating in outdoor activities such as boating, off-roading, and biking, depending on the weather and the time of year. They found that the Ultimate Freedom was the perfect vehicle for transporting their collection of “toys” and that it had terrific dry camping capabilities.
What it lacked, however, was adequate sleeping accommodations for the family and the friends their kids would bring along on most trips. The motorhome was better suited for a couple than an active family of five. The living area contained a table with four freestanding chairs, a loveseat, and a sofa bed. The layout provided plenty of room for two people to spread out comfortably, but hardly the space necessary to handle five or more for a weekend or longer.
After making several phone calls, Mr. Guinn discovered Villa International, C5138, a manufacturer of high-end recreation vehicle furniture located near his home in Southern California. He explained his situation to Robert Long, the company’s vice president of sales, and scheduled a meeting where they could discuss possible solutions.
Villa International was founded in 1955 as a custom builder of residential and industrial furniture, but didn’t move into the recreation vehicle market until 1969 when it built its first motorhome pieces. Since then, the company has evolved to focus primarily on RVs, supplying high-line motorhome manufacturers with original-equipment interiors. Recently, the company expanded its furniture offerings to the general public with its EasyGuide ordering system, a user-friendly process for consumers to select the style, fabric, measurements, and options they desire. RVers can order the furniture items directly from Villa International.
Since the Guinns were happy with all other aspects of the motorhome, the living area was the only part that required significant changes. So Mr. Long got to work and came up with the following suggestions to provide the Guinn entourage more sleeping space.
First, he recommended replacing the existing dinette and chairs with a sofa bed and a swing-away table supported by curved legs extending from beneath the sofa. Next, he suggested removing the flower-print sofa bed behind the driver’s seat and installing a new sofa bed to match the new furniture’s style and fabric. Finally, he suggested a newly designed love seat that would pull out into a single bed to replace the existing love seat behind the passenger’s seat. Seat belts at the streetside sofa bed, the curbside love seat, and both captain’s chairs would remain in place.
The Guinns liked the ideas, and Villa employees began to implement them.
Since Villa International builds virtually all of its furniture from scratch, using square-tube steel for the framework and cutting all its own material, the new furniture for the Guinns’ motorhome was designed, constructed, assembled, and installed right at the Villa International shop.
The first step was to remove all of the existing furniture that was to be replaced “” any loose change was turned over to the Guinns “” so precise measurements could be taken. For estimation purposes, preliminary measurements had been taken earlier. But since the existing mounting bolts from the former furniture were to be used when installing the new Villa designs, more precise measurements were needed.
These measurements were then transferred to the bases of some of Villa’s standard design units. Using standard jigs for the tubular framework saves the customer money, and makes minor adjustments in sizes easy; however, the mounting locations are not necessarily standard.
Once the mounting brackets were in place and the framework was complete, the frames were placed in the motorhome to verify that all measurements were correct. The frames were then returned to the shop, and the padding and outer material were applied. Then each completed unit was moved to the coach and mounted.
As the work progressed, Terry and Michelle decided to make some additional changes to enhance the aesthetics in the vehicle.
Although the existing captain’s chairs were in fine condition, they wouldn’t match the new furniture, so a new set of chairs was added to the plans. Also included were new, matching valances for windows in the living area.
Just before the final touches were applied to the cockpit seats, the decision was made to highlight their designs with suede inserts. Suede wasn’t used in the cabin furniture, because it’s considered more of an automotive-type material than residential; hence, it was used in just the captain’s chairs. Also, Villa installed an upgraded version of the “3-Point” driver’s and passenger’s seats, with the safety belt, buckle, and housing all contained within the seat itself. Both seats are equipped with heat and massage capabilities, and the copilot seat even has a power foot rest.
Mr. Guinn was delighted with the finished product. “Now my kids can bring friends on our camping trips, and we won’t have to use a tent to house everybody!”
If you’re considering an interior remodel, you might want to add Villa International to your list of possible contractors. Brochures depicting the company’s furnishing styles are available upon request. Your coach need not be on site at Villa International for an interior remodel. You or a technician at your motorhome service facility can do all the measuring, removal, and installations.
For more information, contact Villa International, 502 E. Julianna St., Anaheim, CA 92801; (888) 707-7272, (714) 535-7272; www.villainternational.com.