More and more people are choosing to forego traditional housing and 9-to-5’s in pursuit of a more adventurous lifestyle. Have you noticed the rise in popularity of #vanlife and #rvlife on social media? Similar to the tiny home movement of the 2010s, living in an RV is a way to downsize and simplify your home. But, unlike tiny homes, RVs have the added benefit of being on wheels. The result? The opportunity to travel around the country (and even the world!), making your backyard wherever you park your RV.
Modsy designer’s RV
And, with the rise in the ability to work remotely, more and more people are looking to RV living as a viable way of life, at least for a period of time. In fact, some of our own Modsy designers are RV-ers, travelling the country as they work! And today they’re sharing some of their best small RV decorating ideas, with tips on how to take the leap and make your own #rvlife dreams a reality! (These are all things they learned first-hand when getting ready to hit the road—so these RV decorating tips are tried and tested!)
Read on for these 5 lessons from the road!
Lesson #1: Start With Function
RVs are significantly smaller than the average American home. Because of this, if you decide to make the transition from living in a house to an RV, you’ll have to do a lot of downsizing. (Or at least get a storage unit!) And when moving into an RV, you have to consider function above all else.
Everything in such a tiny space needs to be functional, or, for RV decor, at least be small enough that it doesn’t take up precious surface space. A smaller overall space means that RV wall space is also limited. You may be tempted to fill a wall with photos or decor, but that space will probably be needed for functional things like hooks, baskets, pinboard, and other small space storage and organization options.
Do: Keep Things Lightweight
A major piece of functionality to keep in mind? Weight. Since your RV needs to stay under certain weight limits on the road, you have to be conscious of its overall weight. So, when choosing furniture, keep it as lightweight as possible. This applies to RV decor as well. Consider this: if you can’t hang it on the wall with a command hook or putty, then it’s too heavy!
Modsy designer’s RV
Lesson #2: Strive for Minimalism
Trying to squeeze as many things as possible into your RV living space will only make it feel cluttered and smaller than it already is. In an RV, less is more. How does this play out? Think through what you really need when you’re on the road, and prioritize those needs over non-essentials. Whereas in a house you can have a bed and sofa full of throw pillows and blankets, in an RV there isn’t much room to put extra pillows when not in use! (Plus, simply making a bed in an RV is very challenging, so it helps to keep bedding as simple as possible!)
And it’s not just about the amount of stuff you have. To visually minimize clutter, furniture with sleek forms and open, airy frames really help open up a small space.
Do: Store as Much as You Can Out of Sight
For the things you can’t live without, get clever with storage. In a tiny home, your space can get messy very quickly. So, make sure everything in your living space has a place and that you organize every nook and cranny! Take time to figure out what you truly need out at all times and what can be stowed unless actively in use.
Lesson #3: Opt for Dual-Function Furniture and Decor
In an RV, storage is king. Sneak in as much hidden storage as possible by outfitting your rig with multi-purpose furniture! Look into space-savers like sofas with under-seat storage (these really do exist!). And if you have space for a coffee table, opt for a trunk or ottoman that has hidden storage inside! Other ideas? A storage bench is a great dining chair alternative and storage beds are another great way to maximize storage in your RV! Platform furniture—whether a bed, sofa, or the daybed pictured above—not only has that open and airy appeal we mentioned earlier, but these pieces also give you room to stash baskets underneath.
Frankly, RV or not, getting multiple functions out of one piece of furniture is one of our favorite multi-purpose space design hacks to help make the most of a small space!
And you don’t just have to go dual-function with furniture. There’s a lot of RV decor out there that’s both practical and stylish. Think woven storage baskets, architectural light fixtures, patterned rugs. You can also use hooks and floating shelves to maximize your wall space!
Modsy designer’s RV
Lesson #4: Prioritize Items That Are Durable and Easy to Clean
Here’s a crazy tidbit: When you drive down the road in your RV, your entire rig goes through the equivalent of a level 4 earthquake! With that in mind, you definitely want to choose furniture, decor, and even dishes that are durable. So, skip the glass furniture, delicate antiques, or items that can easily be damaged! Instead, go for durable materials. (The leather pouf and jute rug pictured above are two of our favorite pieces that marry durability and style!)
With all the jostling, as well as all the various environments and weather you’ll be tracking in, your RV interior will endure a lot of wear and tear. And if you have kids or pets, the small space means they’ll be constantly rubbing against your RV walls and furniture! Keep all this in mind as you’re outfitting your RV. Opt for easy-to-clean fabrics and a paint finish that’s easy to wipe down—especially if you go for lighter-colored paints or upholstery. And if you have rugs in your RV, make sure they’re easy to remove so you can shake them out outside, roll them up, and store them when in transit! Also: don’t forget a welcome mat, which can catch a lot of mud, dust, and dirt that would otherwise be tracked throughout your RV!
Lesson #5: Upgrade Your RV with Pops of Personality and Color
Once you have the basic principles in place that make your RV optimally functional, you can start thinking a bit more about design and personalizing your RV interior! RVs are typically very neutral—to the point of being rather bland and generic in order to have broad appeal to all buyers. So, one of our designers’ favorite RV decorating ideas is to add your own touch to your small space. This can help it feel like a true home rather than a hotel on wheels!
Here are 7 do’s and don’ts from our expert on-the-road designers that can help you upgrade and personalize your RV—complete with some incredible RV interior design ideas!
Don’t: Stick with the Built-In Furniture
If you can afford it and if it makes sense for your travel style, swap out the built-in sofa and dinette for a real sofa, dining table, and chairs. This will give your space more personality and help it to be a better reflection of your personal style. Just do a lot of measuring before you shop! You’ll want to make sure everything fits through the door, that your new furniture doesn’t add too much weight, and that each piece can be easily secured or stowed when you’re driving.
Do: Add Visual Interest Through Textures
We’ve already mentioned this—but in an RV, you don’t have a ton of space for decor. But that doesn’t mean you have to have a space that feels sterile! You can add visual interest through textured storage containers, like baskets, and upholstery with soft, textural finishes (like the bed in the image above!). And it’s not like you can’t add any decor! It’s simply a matter of adding pieces that are not only stylish but also functional and lightweight.
Do: Paint Your Trim and Cabinets
Painting the trim and kitchen cabinets in your RV is a tedious task—but the payoff is so worth it. The majority of RVs come with very dark laminate wood cabinetry and trim—so painting it a lighter color can brighten up the whole RV and make it feel more like a home.
Don’t: Keep the Standard Window Treatments
The factory window treatments in an RV are very bland and not always highly functional. There’s really no need to make do with them! Simply take them out and add your own. Black-out curtains or roman shades are both very practical for privacy while also adding an elevated look to your space. However, this is one area where you don’t want to go bold. Instead, stay neutral with your window treatments; after all, you don’t want to distract from the views outside the RV!
Do: Try out Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper
An easy way to personalize your RV? Peel-and-stick wallpaper. This trendy design solution can add color and pattern to any space (we especially love it in bathrooms), and you can find it in so many different styles. And it’s not permanent! It comes off easily when you’re ready for a change, or when it comes time to sell your RV.
Don’t love the look of wallpaper? Paint an accent wall instead to add a pop of color to your RV bedroom or bathroom!
Do: Pack in Some Plants
With all the jostling that takes place when an RV hits the road, you might be hesitant to bring any of your plants with you. But don’t be afraid to include a few! Simply line up your favorite plants in front of a window when driving, and disperse them once you’re stationary. Or put them outside depending on the climate or wherever you are! You could also try out some hanging plants that don’t mind swaying with the movement of your RV.
Adding natural greenery to the inside of your RV through flowers and plants adds texture and an organic aesthetic to your space. Just make sure you opt for hardy plants that aren’t super sensitive to moving and being handled a lot.
Don’t: Be Afraid to Go Bold
As you personalize your RV, don’t be afraid to go bold—especially if this is your vacation “home” or if RV-ing is something you only plan on doing for a year. It can be exciting to go for a style you wouldn’t typically do in a traditional home!