Common RV Interior Design Flaws + Solutions

The most common RV interior design flaws and what the RV design industry should do about it is the topic of this timely post

As a nearly $30 billion dollar industry, you can only imagine how much money and man-hours go into designing functional and attractive interiors in the RV Industry. But sometimes even the best plans don’t translate to the best real-world results. The only real way to know what works and what doesn’t is to turn to the people using it.

RVers learn to adapt to the tiny lifestyle coming up with all kinds of clever solutions and hacks. God bless the RV designers who have given us a good head start but there’s always some kind of impracticality to overcome.

Living room and kitchen areas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The most common issues with RVs

Most issues revolve around the kitchen, laundry, shoe storage, and accessibility.

I think the solutions for these problems are certainly achievable even if they’re offered as options instead of standard features.

Impractical oven

Some people love their oven but many find the oven to be too small or too ineffective to be worth the space it takes. It seems many RVers are content to use convection microwaves or air fryers in their place.

Here are some suggestions for RV designers:

  • Option for convection microwave and dishwasher drawer instead of an oven
  • Option for 9-in-1 built-in air fryer instead of an oven
  • Larger oven that can hold at least a small turkey

Understandably, preferences can vary widely when it comes to ovens and cooking. So, it really seems the best solution is to have more options! Let the RVer have more of a say in their cooking appliances when they purchase an RV.

Micro-wave and kitchen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More counter space

RV designers have tried to maximize counter space without encroaching into the living space too much. Two main solutions they’ve come up with are boards that cover the stovetop and sink when not in use. While these are helpful sometimes, they aren’t really useful when you’re in full cooking mode.

After all, isn’t it while you’re cooking when you need the most counter space? You end up having to push those boards aside when, say, sauce is simmering on the stove and pasta is draining in the sink. That just takes up more room, not create more.

The most sensible solutions seem to be:

  • Sturdy pull-out boards
  • Sturdy flip-up boards from side of cabinet
  • Pull-down shelf from underneath the cabinets

I particularly like the pull-down shelf idea as it seems we just need more room to set things down that we take out of the pantry or fridge. The pull-down shelf takes advantage of the vertical space making a pseudo-double-decker counter. Once the ingredients are put away, the shelf hinges right back underneath the cabinet.

Living room with pull-out table and built-in desk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Adjustable shelves (and more shelves)

Adjustable shelves seem like such a simple solution… because they are! I’d bet it’s one of the cheapest yet most effective changes every RV manufacturer could implement in every class and model. This problem came up with both pantry and closet storage.

Take advantage of vertical space and what better way to do that with shelves. Being able to customize the height based on the products you store would be a HUGE help.

And designers shouldn’t be stingy with the shelves!  Give us at least a couple more shelves to work with!

Drop-down upper storage

A lot of storage in RVs is in the form of small cabinets above the couch. It turns out that a lot of people either because of their height or their age have a hard time reaching these spaces. They’re high up plus we have to reach over a couch. Yet, these cabinets often store the everyday items we need to get to often.

It seems like one of the best solutions follows that same idea as the pull-down kitchen shelf―make these small storage cabinets hinge down and out towards us.

Bedroom with overhead cupboards © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dirty laundry hamper

Where do we put the dirty laundry?

Maybe RV designers haven’t heard that we’re not supposed to air our dirty laundry because they haven’t given us a good place to put it.

We need a designated place for dirty laundry that’s not the shower space!

Shoe storage

Where to put all the shoes?

Shoe storage! Shoe storage! Shoe storage!

It seems everyone agrees we need more of it. Yes, there are after-market door hangers but why not integrate shoe storage into RV design?

It makes sense to incorporate shoe storage by the front door. We all end up leaving shoes by our doors and they become a tripping hazard. A cubby or space for a couple of pairs of shoes by the entrance door would be ideal.

Some models have this near-the-door shoe storage now. If this is important to you, make sure you check to see if the model you are viewing has it.

Living room with pull-out table and built-in desk © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Better accessibility

The RV Lifestyle is about freedom and discovery and it should be possible for people with disabilities and mobility issues. Not to mention, a big part of the RV community is seniors that are only getting older.

Newmar has wheelchair accessible luxury diesel motorhomes and Winnebago has several models they called accessibility enhanced.

One of the biggest obstacles for people with disabilities and seniors with more limited mobility is the front entrance. The big steps become a serious safety hazard if not a complete blockade to the inside.

RVers would like more options when it comes to how they enter their RV. Some suggestions include:

  • An electric lift (like a miniature version of moving truck lifts)
  • A slide-out ramp
  • More graduated steps
  • Swing-out or collapsible hand rail alongside steps

The next biggest area of concern in this area was a more realistic emergency exit for seniors. Many older people worry about the idea that they might someday have to escape through the escape window. Would they really be able to get out the window? Would they hurt themselves doing so?

A second emergency exit door in lieu of an emergency window seems like an option many people would pay extra for.

Worth Pondering…

Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.

—C.W. Ceran