The Dinette versus the Recliner

Pepper Dog Kitty enjoying her new digs.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

I’m not much of a table-using kind of person. My trailer came with a little four-person dinette, placed beneath a beautiful picture window. The window floods the trailer with light in the morning. It’s an incredible place to sit and relax in the morning before heading off to work. Or, it could be.

The dinette has bench seats, and bench seats are uncomfortable. All bench seats. They’re just not made for sitting on for any length of time. Great for camping, but not for living. Moreover, I don’t use tables. Except for at restaurants, I haven’t eaten at one in probably forty years. Tables are for putting stuff until it ends up being a cluttered mess, and then it’s a pain in the ass to have to deal with that mess.

So, my dinette ended up being dead space in my trailer. Unused, except for a place for my dehumidifier and lamp and a charging station for my laptops. I spend all my time at the other end of my trailer. When you’re limited to 160-square feet of living space, dead space is not something you can afford. Every square inch has to have a purpose.

And, I really miss my recliner. For the past ten months, my bed has doubled as my chair. But, it’s just not the same as a recliner. I want to be able to lean back and put my feet up.

Time to get rid of that dead space.

But, finding a recliner to fit in a travel trailer is not a simple task. I did some research online, and standard recliners require a minimum 30″ door width. Mine is 24″. And, they’re pretty wide–all were more than 30″, with some as wide as 40″! I had only 48″ to work with, so I definitely needed something narrower.

After a little bit of digging, I found some smaller recliners through, of all places, Home Depot! These all required assembly, so they’d be easier to fit through my door, and were 24″ to 26″ wide. I picked out the one I wanted and placed my order. The recliner arrived a few days later, wayyyyy earlier than I expected! I wasn’t ready for it yet; I still had to remove a bench seat!

Removing the bench seat, it turns out, was a little problematic. I could only remove one because the other housed the furnace. No problem. I could install shelves on top of that one and turn it into a smaller single seat. I only needed one removed, anyway.

But, that one didn’t want to come out. After running to Home Depot for a ratcheting wrench* to remove the screws, I was able to remove most, but not all of the screws. The one in the frame in front of the cat door was clogged with cat litter and rusted; the head stripped out when I tried to remove it. It might be easier if I removed the rest of the frame, so I cut it apart with my jigsaw. The frame pulled out pretty easily after that, although it left huge, sharp staple ends sticking out. I bent them with my hammer to reduce the likelihood of getting stabbed.

Once the main part of the frame was gone, I was able to get a closer look. The remaining frame was actually load bearing and part of the trailer’s structure. Not a good idea to remove it unless I planned on also removing the rest of that wall and the shelf above the litter box compartment. I kind of liked that idea, but I’m not sure if it’s really something I want to do. At least, not at this time.

But, the space was now free of the bench seat and plenty big enough for my recliner. I mopped the floor and laid down an area rug. It was now ready for my new recliner.

Fortunately, the recliner arrived disassembled, and I had no problem getting the pieces into my trailer. I had it assembled in no time. It’s comfortable and looks great, and I’m really happy with it. Even Pepper Dog Kitty loves it!

I have plans for building shelves around the recliner so there’s no more dead space. I also want to build storage for my laptops and other devices. But, before I build anything more, I want to spend some time in the space and see how I will actually use it. For now, plastic crates work as end tables.

I’ve had the recliner for about 30 hours now, and I’m happy to say I’m now using all of my living space. I love it! It’s much more comfortable than sitting or laying on my bed, and I’m figuring out how to make the rest of the space work for me. Stay tuned for more renovations!

*Some of the screws were too close to the wall to use a screwdriver. I tried a socket wrench, but the bit kept falling out, even though I was using an appropriate size socket. I discovered using a 1/4″ ratcheting wrench with a box end to hold the screwdriver bit worked like a charm, even though the guys at Home Depot thought the idea was totally ridiculous. Bite me, Home Depot!