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Second-Hand Love: Romantic Shabby Chic Mobile Home

This romantic shabby chic mobile home is worthy of a chapter in Rachel Ashwell’s next shabby chic decorating book. Rita, today’s featured homeowner, has mastered the shabby chic style that made the interior designer famous.

Rachel Ashwell started her home furnishings brand ‘Shabby Chic’ in 1989 and home decor hasn’t been the same since. She may have not invented the style but Ashwell certainly helped make shabby chic one of the most popular home decorating styles in modern history.

The famous designer describes her style as a “rebellion against perfection.” Mobile home owners definitely know a bit about rebellion so perhaps shabby chic is the most fitting decorating style for us.

Comfort, imperfection, and simple living are the cornerstones of shabby chic decor. It’s as much about rebellion as it is romance. Shabby chic is perfect in its imperfection. It embraces the very things most people want out of their homes: damaged, scratched, dented, and old.

Shabby chic is a mixture of soft natural fabrics and neutral colors paired with weathered and mismatched furniture pieces. Add floral, lace, and ruffles and you get a romantic shabby chic decor style that can be as easy on the eyes as it is the wallet.

Rita Lavoe (@ritalavoe) shares her beautifully romantic shabby chic mobile home with her followers on Instagram.

kitchen counter and living room in shabby chic

The light pastel colors work perfectly for a small home.

The Road to Her Romantic Shabby Chic Mobile Home

Rita’s road to this romantic shabby single wide was a long one. She is originally from Brazil and first came to the US in 2007. Soon after, she and her husband had a son.

As life sometimes does the couple hit a rough patch, with a move to Puerto Rico and then a short stay in Brazil before finally moving back to the states where they stumbled upon an inexpensive single wide in California.

Rita Lavoe lives in Corona, CA with her husband and their 9-year old son. There’s a cute little puppy in the family, too. She is originally from Brazil but her husband is an American. After a few years in Puerto Rico and Brazil, the little family needed to find a place to live in Corona but that’s easier said than done. Unfortunately, California has been suffering a serious housing shortage and as a result, the real estate market is vicious.

The family wasn’t able to find a home within their budget within their timeframe. They could rent or they could buy a small single wide mobile home. The little single wide was damaged but fixable and had potential. They paid cash for it but that left little money for remodeling so they had to choose their projects wisely.

Given the affordable cost of the home, the couple’s new single wide needed to be updated. Rita could work with the small size but the dark drab interior had to go.

Fortunately, a pillar of the decorating style is that the home doesn’t matter, only its contents.

The house itself is of little importance than its contents and how those contents reflect the life within.

Rachel Ashwell, Shabby Chic
kitchen counter and living room in shabby chic

$1,500 Remodeling Budget

Although a challenge, finding beautiful and original pieces to create her romantic shabby chic look was well worth it. You can always buy shabby chic decor at a retail store but what’s the fun in that? Getting the real deal imperfections at flea markets, second-hand stores, and Goodwill is more fun and much more affordable.

With a budget of less than $1,500, Rita and her husband decided to change the layout of the home. For starters, they removed a wall to expand the small bedroom a bit. Then, they replaced the carpet with an affordable linoleum and added a french door to let light flow through the home better. To complete the canvas, they painted every wall and ceiling white.

Once the paint dried Rita could start creating that gorgeous romantic shabby chic bedroom she had dreamed of since she was a little girl in Brazil.

Rita explains, “When I came in here, I decided that such an insignificant space was going to be transformed into a cozy place. My family deserved this of me. Then I had the challenge of decorating a romantic shabby chic mobile home, with no money for it. I started attending flea markets, Salvation Army, Goodwill, garage sales.”

Their little romantic shabby chic mobile home was completely decorated with second-hand objects.

Gorgeous Romantic Shabby Chic Mobile Home Bedroom

Rita tells us that while growing up in Brazil she dreamed of having a romantic shabby chic bedroom. She was always pulled toward the fresh florals prints and cozy bedding, “When I spent my childhood in Brazil, I always liked to decorate my room and I always had a dream of having a beautiful bed with floral bedding. Today my favorite environment is my bedroom.”

“I love my house because it is a creation totally mine. Even with no money, this house has taken a very beautiful course and everyone says that there is great harmony here.”


Rita is such a fan of Rachel Ashwell and Simply Shabby Chic that she collects anything she can find from the designer.

I asked Rita if she had any favorite products she could recommend and she had two favorites, “I have some favorite products that I always make a point of buying and I never regret it. Bedding, curtains, and pillows brand I like are Simply Shabby Chic and Rachel Ashwell. I also attend Flea Markets and Thrift Stores.’

Target sells the Simply Shabby Chic bedding. This blue set is $80.99:

Click the bed to go to (affiliate link).

Couldn’t Leave out the Comfy Puppy!

Real Homes. Real People. Real Budgets. Real Beauty.

This is real life and as I mentioned in my recent article, Editorial: When to Buy a Mobile Home, things aren’t always easy. We all struggle with something.

Rita and her husband paid a fair price for the older mobile home because it had not been maintained very well. Unfortunately, they have suffered the consequences of poor maintenance.

Soon after they moved in and had spent their meager remodeling budget they experienced a short and lost power in 80% of the house. It took them almost 4 months before they could hire an electrician.

romantic shabby chic mobile home with shabby chic style

Her thankful and positive attitude reminds me of my favorite quote:

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.


A Vision Come to Life: The Making of Rita’s Romantic Shabby Chic Mobile Home

Rachel Ashwell tackled her own single wide mobile home in Malibu and you can see it here.

This shabby yet elegant look is ‘”a marriage between the laid-back , breezy easy of Los Angeles beach life and the romantic prettiness of English Country life at its most casual.”

Rachel Ashwell

A Beautiful Home and Attitude

Unfortunately, Rita has experienced her fair share of judgment and rudeness about her home. Even though she may be considered ‘poor’ to some, she is rich in many things. This is just the first home in her new country and she’s made this first step absolutely beautiful – I can only imagine how gorgeous the next step will be.

Rita also offers some thoughts on her romantic shabby chic mobile home, “Sometimes I think if I had money would I live in a house? Yes, I would, but also living in a mobile home and accepting our difficulties have made me appreciate what we have every day. Now our mobile home shines like gold because that’s how much it’s worth to me.

While they will need to figure out a better bedroom situation for her son, Rita is very happy living her simple life.

Rita says it doesn’t matter if they don’t have a big house. For now, this little romantic shabby chic mobile home has impressed them very much. It’s not what she first thought a mobile home would be like and she enjoys her mobile home very much. It’s a simple home and its age lends to a truly authentic shabby chic decor that she always dreamed of.

Rita’s Instagram is absolutely gorgeous which is how I found her. I didn’t realize it was a mobile home until I started reading the hashtags.

The family has worked hard for a dignified place to call home and it is beautiful. Thank you, Rita, for letting me share your romantic shabby chic mobile home and your story. You are an inspiration!

Thanks for reading Mobile Home Living.

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Join the conversation!

  1. Loved you comment on what is truly important in our lives. I just sold my home and moved to our lake home that has been a place of so many lovely memories for 25 plus years, and its mobile!!! I loved it then and love it now. Got plans!!!

  2. The simpler you live, the less stress you have. Too many people buy more than they can afford. You can’t trust the banks, they will ‘qualify’ you for a home that is not really within income. It is best to buy something you can get for cash or quickly pay off. Living with no house payment is freeing. You are less a slave to some job, and can bounce back quicker in emergencies.

  3. I always use Dunn-Edwards paint for the exterior (usually for the interior too but never use exterior for inside, or interior paint outside). Just tell them what you are painting (mine is the aluminum exterior of old style 80s mobile homes). Rent or get a nice power washer (staying far enough away when using so you don’t dent the siding) and give it a good wash, then let dry, and paint away. A large brush is tedious but covers better. I am a senior and didn’t do my own painting, but we have a guy here in the area who painted it for $800 labor.

    I also painted the inside. I used the wallpaper that is paint-able, and can be used as sizing on the wall for uneven surfaces. I did get the wood putty, and filled in every crack in the paneling to make the surface smooth, but that is not essential. Updates for a very nice budget expense.

  4. About the rude people; frankly, those people are not worth including in her life. The more money people have – especially the very well-off, the more cruel, greedy, selfish, and contemptuous they are of everyone else. We have forgotten in this country, that true happiness is a home with love, compassion, empathy, and sharing. I also give great admiration for someone to move to another country. it takes guts, and strength. I would like to say, too, that I love our 1984 single wide, and we live in a cooperative for 55+ and the homes cost more, but our space HOA type fees are $145. Can’t beat that! I have updated every room in our place, and I love it. I also want to pass along there is a great furniture company that makes sofas, loveseats, chairs, sectionals, and they have kid and pet friendly fabrics. You order your pieces, they ship it to you, and it is SMALLER than what you can buy anywhere else. It also has changeable covers, so you can change your entire look. I do not get paid for this referral but I own their furniture. They are, they are made in Indiana, and their customer service is awesome.

  5. Crystal Adkins

    Me either, Chris, me either. It’s a shame that people can’t see the beauty of a simple home created with love, regardless of what it is.

  6. What an incredible job she has done. Her home epitomizes Shabby Chic, and it’s done to perfection…so warm and welcoming. Incredible that she was able to do all that on such a small budget. I don’t understand why anyone would criticize such creativity and ingenuity!

  7. I cannot understand why people think that they can judge another person just because of where they live. Her home is simply GORGEOUS! I’d be willing to bet that her house is more beautiful than those who have negative thoughts about her. I recently moved into my “vacation” mobile home and I am so happy I did. Don’t get me wrong- there are days where I wish I was back in my 3 story house in the city because the 4 of us seem to trip over each other sometimes. But my health has improved since living a more simple life! I need a place of my own for all of my craft supplies and they definitely can’t fit in my house. That is one downfall of living in a “tiny house”! My husband is building me my very own she shed and I cannot be happier! There are so many ways to live more simply but you have to be smart about furniture that serve multiple functions. This is why I love reading Mobile Home Living. I love to see what everyone does with their homes for inspiration!!

  8. Crystal,thank you for the affection.I’m here for anything,and you’re invited to visit my mobile home…

  9. Crystal Adkins

    Thanks for letting me share your gorgeous home, Rita. I appreciate you and hope to keep in contact! Your next home is going to be just as gorgeous!

  10. Awww, poor? She is so “rich” with an eye for decorating and making her home so comfy looking that says “come in, sit down and have a cup of coffee!!” I’d live in her surroundings before I’d live in some fancy house with a dozen rooms and no comfort appeal!. Beautiful, just beautiful!!

  11. Sweet looking home, so fresh & inviting. Has given me some ideas to use on my own mobile home makeover I’ve just started.

    QUESTION: I seem to have missed your previous article on painting the outside of your mobile home. Any chance you can repost it or tell me how to access the info? Any articles on painting & wallpapering the inside of my home would be much appreciated as well.

    Many thanks

  12. Rita’s home is absolutely gorgeous! Her talent is obvious.
    I’d say she has a future in home decorating.

  13. her home ia gorgeous no matter what anyone sayspeople just are rude because of jealousy and lack of brains she can come over by me and decorate anytime id be proud to have her help let alone the talent she has i sadly have none her home has greater value then the naysayers have it is absolutely beautiful sorry for rude people just enjoy i know i sure would

  14. Thank you for the beautiful article, so sensitive and so magical.This house gave me lots of luck ….
    Xoxo Rita Lavoe

  15. I love this house and she deserves to be recognized worldwide for her beautiful work .Especially for not having too much in life and have turned everything so valuable….

  16. The homeowner did a wonderful job of transforming her family’s home into a shabby chic paradise. Rita is one talented lady. I love the french doors leading into the bedroom.

  17. I was so sad to read she is considered poor. Her home is so beautiful. She seems like a beautiful person. I know rich people who would spend thousands of dollars to even have one iota of her beautiful decor. The outside of her home is adorable too. Thank you for sharing.

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Kim Alley

Kim Alley

Kim Alley has been a part of Mobile Home Living since 2017 and has written over 300 articles for the site.