How to Make your RV Feel Bigger Than It Actually Is

Nothing beats adventuring in your RV but sometimes living in such a small place can get difficult. If you’ve been in search of inspiration on how to make your RV feel and appear bigger, look no further.

Do you ever find yourself wishing your RV slideouts extended half a foot farther? Or, think you should have bought a different, larger RV? The good news is that there are ways to make the interior of your RV feel larger that don’t involve slideouts or a bigger RV.

Living in an RV can sometimes feel a bit cramped especially when you realize that an average size for an American house is 2,500 square feet but the LARGEST RV allowed on the road by law can only be a maximum of 400 square feet.

Whether you’re selling, renting out, or if you just want the feel of a larger space, how you decorate the interior of your RV can change the effect a room has. Most know mirrors can make a room feel larger but it’s less known that color choice and other design tools can create or diminish the perception of space.

Your RV’s living space should feel as comfortable as possible. While travel trailers, fith wheels, and motorhomes bring modern luxuries to the outdoor camping experience even the largest options can sometimes feel confining. For example, a typical 40-foot RV has about 320 square feet while a two-bedroom house is generally more than one thousand. For the veteran RVer or tiny-home owner, this is still plenty of living space for day-to-day living. But why not make the area feel bigger?

We can’t make more extra space in our RVs but we can definitely make them appear larger.

Here are my eight tips on how to make your RV feel more spacious.

Motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Declutter and pay attention to storage

Clutter doesn’t only make the space look untidy but it also makes it look much smaller. Get rid of everything you haven’t used for over a year/six months. Keep the decor minimalistic with not too many knick-knacks on display. Consider creating seasonal display or organize them by color?

Look into getting some pretty, simple in design storage baskets, for a coherent look.

Consider these ideas for preventing and eliminating clutter:

  • Give everything a home. Storage bins and other space-savers help reduce clutter.
  • Repurpose and multipurpose. For example, would one knife in the kitchen work instead of three different types?
  • Expand vertically. Use hooks and hanging storage to keep tables, seats, and couches clear.
  • Identify and discard items you no longer use. Keep track of the last time you used a non-essential item and purge anything you haven’t used in at least a month.
Motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Go for light colors and simple patterns

A classic decorating tip for small spaces: light and cool tones make space appear larger as they are reflective and maximize the natural light effect.

Simple is usually better when you want your space to appear larger. Use a simple color palette and pick only a few colors, three to four usually work the best. Use the same color palette throughout the RV to create an illusion of space and flow.

3. The 60-30-10 Rule

A standard rule exists for both new and veteran interior decorations: the 60-30-10 rule. While not every room and paint scheme follows this, it’s a good starting point when thinking about how to decorate your RV spaces. The idea is this, broken down:

  • 60 percent of the area is your base color
  • 30 percent consist of your secondary color
  • 10 percent are accents

Once you’ve chosen some lighter colors to create more space in your RV, this combination gives you a simple plan of where and how to use them.

Note: the 10 percent accents give you an opportunity to use some darker colors without overwhelming the area.

Keep in mind: the 60-30-10 rule incorporates more than just your paint scheme. You can also use the color of the furniture, pillows, rugs, blankets, curtains, blinds, wall art, and just about anything else to include in the formula. Your focus should be making sure that everything falls within that 60-30-10 rule overall.

Motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Accents, lighting, and accessories

Painting schemes aren’t the only way you can modify the different spaces in your RV to create a bigger feel. Lighting, accents, and accessories can help personalize, highlight, and develop your interior RV living spaces.

When designing the interior of your RV, lighting is unique. You can manipulate it potentially changing the feel of a room from one point of the day to the next. If you know the cozy feel of a single lamp on the bedside nightstand the opposite can be used to make a room feel bigger: spread out multiple lamps and use them to give light to corners or dark areas to make the room feel bigger. Wall lights, if you can make them work will also help expand the room visually.

Mirrors are another way to make a space feel larger than it is, and you’ve likely used them to expand the feel of your room. But have you considered pairing them with lighting? This can help further illuminate the room and give an ever-greater feel of expansion.

The use of accents as colors as mentioned in the 60-30-10 section, are the throw pillows, curtains and blinds, blankets, rugs, and picture frames you use to personalize your space that can match the color scheme as well as the spots you choose to accentuate with painting.

Think creatively about how to use that 10 percent. Could your cupboards and shelves be painted in the accent or highlight color? What about lighting fixtures?

3. Improve your lighting

Natural light is the key to a spacious feel. The more natural light you can draw into your RV, the better. If you only have small windows make sure your lighting is bright enough—several lighting elements make space look more expansive as there are no dark corners. Swap your old-fashioned fluorescent lighting to LEDs and it will also save your battery.

Motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Swap your window treatments

As mentioned above, natural light is the key. Swap your old thick, bulky, and heavy curtains to light fabrics—they let the light through. Light colored valances and also creates an illusion of space.

Also, as with any vehicle, the windows get really easily dirty when driving. Make sure you have clean windows to let the maximum light in.

5. Hang your curtains higher

This is a classic tip from a house decoration that can also be used in an RV. So to create an illusion that your rig is higher inside than it actually is, hang it from the ceiling.

6. Choose the right furniture

Could you replace some of your furniture for ones that can be folded or stacked like your dinette with a folding table and chairs? If you choose low furniture this creates an illusion of higher ceilings. Also if you find suitable furniture with exposed legs this gives an impression of more open space.

You could also look for multi-functional furniture that has some hidden storage compartments. Ottomans, for example, are great—they work as storage, seating, and a coffee table.

Motorhome interior © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Replace the carpet with hard flooring

Carpets and big rugs make the space cozy but they can also make it appear smaller. Hard flooring is easier to clean and you can still add some small area rugs to create coziness.

8. Finally, use mirrors and reflective materials

As mirrors reflect the natural light, they are a forever interior design classic in creating the illusion of space. Mirrors can be quite heavy though so consider plastic ones that are easy to hang on RV walls. You could also include mirrors in other elements in the RV like in a kitchen backsplash, tabletop, or in decor items like trays.

Worth Pondering…

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.

—Socrates