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

How to Protect Glassware While Traveling in an RV

Tips on how to protect glassware from breaking in an RV

For many of us, an RV is our home away from home. Ideally, this means having all home amenities such as glassware. The only difference—and it’s a big one—is that our home is on wheels.

The dilemma then becomes how to secure items while on the go. Cookware, glassware, and other kitchen items are some of the most obvious pieces in jeopardy of sliding around. In particular, glass is the most fragile and needs extra protection. I have some simple tips and tricks for protecting your glassware while on the go.

Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Step One: Purchase your glassware

Many RVers choose from glassware that’s already in their home. This can be a great way to clear out your home’s cabinets and make room for upgraded drinkware. Keep in mind that not all glasses will be suitable for life on the road. For example primarily thin glasses are not as good.

If you need to purchase new drinkware consider the durability factor. Choose thicker glasses over options that are thin.

Glass alternatives

I know that many RVers opt for glass alternatives such as plastic that hold up to abuse better. This can be a viable option as it decreases the likelihood of breakage. However, I prefer glass and believe glass is still the best option. Here’s why:

  • Glass feels like home: Not everyone wants to feel like they’re roughing it while on the road. Using glassware adds an at-home feel and can even add a touch of elegance to a campfire-side meal.
  • Glass wears better: Although glass might be more fragile than alternative materials, it wears better in the long run. As long as it stays well protected, it’s likely to stay in better condition for a longer time than plastic which can scratch, fade, and dry out.
  • Glass doesn’t leach or retain smells: One of the major concerns as of late is the leaching from plastics. Plastics are made with a mix of chemicals that might transmit from the plastic to the contents of the plastic in the container. Plastic is also more porous than glass and can retain smells.
Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Step Two: Preparing your RV kitchen

The first thing you’ll want to do after choosing your glassware is to figure out where you’ll be storing it. Where you keep it will help determine what you need to do to protect it. Some people like to pack away their glasses into storage containers while on the road to provide a bit of extra protection (and peace of mind). Many leave them in the cabinets.

If you leave your glasses in the cabinets you’ll want to make sure those cabinets stay shut while you’re on the road. Turning corners and hitting bumps can jostle doors open and allow your glasses to go tumbling out. 

The last thing you’ll want to do when arriving at an RV park is clean up a mess of broken glass. Therefore, you’ll want to keep cabinet doors from popping open. There are many options to lock cabinet doors from the outside and keep them shut. Many are easy to take on and off, similar to childproofing locks. Others can be mounted permanently.

To keep glasses from sliding around inside the cabinet, many RVers use non-slip matting. This thin, rubberized matting typically comes on a roll and can be cut to size. Lay it down inside of the cabinet and on cabinet shelves and items will be less likely to move.

In addition to keeping your glassware from sliding around you’ll also want to keep them separated so they’re not knocking into each other. Jostling against each other while in tow could easily cause cracking or chipping.

There are a handful of companies that make storage systems specifically for glassware use in RVs and boats. These storage trays typically are made of plastic with round cutouts for glasses to sit it, neatly and safely separating one from another.

Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wine on the go

Many RV owners opt for the stability of stemless wine glasses. These can be stored easily using the separator trays mentioned above. For those who want to keep the stem to add extra class to their glass, hanging wine storage racks are a great option.

Just be sure that the rack can be locked on both sides so that wine glasses can’t slide off the ends of the racks. Speaking of the racks it’s better if they’re padded. Metal racks could cause breakage depending on the terrain you’re traversing with your camper. Lastly, you’ll also want to make sure there is padding between the glasses. Slipcovers can be purchase to go around each glass or you can use my DIY sock solution below.

Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Alternative and repurposed glass protection solutions

If purchasing RV-specific products isn’t your style or within your budget there are a few do-it-yourself (DIY) solutions you can consider.

Save the box

First and foremost when you purchase new drinkware save the box. If you don’t mind packing and unpacking your glassware between stops the original box is probably one of the safest places you can store your glasses. Once they’re packed away in the original box you can place them in a cupboard or drawer.

Old (or new) socks

If you cut the toe off a sock it becomes a cover that you can easily slip over and around drinkware. This works well for short glasses, tall glasses, and even wine glasses. They’re cheap and effective. If you have old socks lying around it’s the perfect way to repurpose them. However, you might want to opt for new socks to be as hygienic as possible.

Tie or belt storage organizers

Wardrobe organizers can double as drinkware holders too. Those designed with small squares for organizing ties or belts are usually the perfect size for glasses. The organizer’s soft fabric will keep the glassware padded and separated.

The above should spare you not only from broken glassware but also from annoying clanking while driving down the road.

Worth Pondering…

The older I get the more wisdom I find in the ancient rule of taking first things first. A process which often reduces the most complex human problem to a manageable proportion.

—Dwight D. Eisenhower