RV Design & Décor Ideas
Posted by Tom Westley on
It's no secret that RVs and trailers don't have a reputation for stylish interiors. Many manufacturers default to dull, neutral colours, simple fabrics, and mass-produced finishes to cut down on costs and appeal to the widest possible range of customers. A lot of rig owners don't think anything can be done with such a small space and transportation limitations.
But it's easier than you might think to have a boldly decorated RV. We have a few tips and ideas we've picked up over the years, from easy decoration to clever tricks. We hope these ten tips help you fill your RV with style, comfort, and personality.
Pick A Mood (or Theme)
Interior designers have two cardinal rules they emphasize for decorating spaces of any size:
Pick one unifying mood (cheerful, calm, sophisticated) or theme (nautical, Hollywood glam, retro, lumberjack).
Stick to the rule of three and limit yourself to 2-3 colours or primary focuses (“burgundy, green, and gold”, “white, light, and bright”) and only one pattern. You can be more flexible with mixing patterns in large, open spaces, but it doesn’t really work in small places where it often comes across as conflicting.
While bright designs can make small spaces feel bigger, dark and moody design choices can work for rigs as well, adding a sleek and modern edge. Don't be afraid to try them!
“Tiny houses” have also been exploding in popularity lately, and can be a great source of design inspiration for other small spaces like trailers. Do an online search for some and save any images that catch your eye, while taking note of what kind of products, techniques, and materials were used.
Cloth, Curtains & Cushions
Experimenting with textiles like blankets, pillows, curtains, covers, and sheets can be an easy way to get a feel for different decor, with plenty of options available. If you’re not sure what kinds of patterns you’re comfortable with, start with accessories such as pillows and blankets which you can swap out if they seem too overwhelming.
When picking out pillows in particular, take a look at not only the colour and material of the fabric, but its texture. Ruffles, sequins, and applique both look good and are interesting to touch.
New curtains can add instant style to an RV and can be easy to install. Curtains can also make great space dividers, and choosing a translucent material will define spaces without making things feel even smaller.
Reupholstering your furniture is another option, but whatever your design goals are, keep in mind the old adage “form follows function.” By definition, RVs are designed to be fun and mobile, so you don't want to sacrifice those two things for looks alone. Find the balance between lovely and liveable.
Engage The Senses
Sight isn't the only way to decorate! Fabrics engage our sense of touch, but you can also decorate with smells and sounds.
Try simple incense burners; lots of places sell relaxing & attractive incense sticks or cones. Or keep a collapsible vase on hand -- who doesn’t love the smell of fresh flowers in the RV? There are also all kinds of scented cones, crystals, diffusers and plug-ins you can buy.
For sound, there are plenty of lightweight mountable speaker systems available that can be placed just about anywhere. Opt for one that features voice activation or smart controls through your phone and you can have mood music totally hands free.
Liven Up The Walls
An RV is the perfect spot to experiment with what goes on the walls. A popular choice is to use old maps from past travels, or wall plaques that add personality to your RV, whether you display your favorite travel-related quote, a saying that has special meaning to you, or even the name of your RV or family.
Everyone likes to collect souvenirs while on an RV trip. There is no end to the variety of commemorative items you can buy while traveling in your RV. Displaying these treasures around the RV is an excellent way to decorate. Even better, see if you can find a way to display them that doesn’t require extra steps every time you want to take your RV on the road.
Nails and screws aren’t recommended for use in RV or trailer walls because you can’t be sure what’s on the other side and don’t want to damage anything. Use double-sided velcro, or Command strips to keep your pictures and art in place.
Stylish Storage Options
Storage space is always at a premium in RVs, so you may need to get creative. You can stuff bulky winter sweaters and coats in fluffy "pillows", or other soft goods including clothing, linens, towels or even stuffed animals. Try keeping a backup comforter or duvet in a bolster cushion case.
Secure decorative baskets or pretty boxes to surfaces and use them to store things that you would normally hide in cabinets.
To make the interior feel more open, consider taking out one row of upper cabinets and using open shelving instead. Open shelving is often a perfect solution, as it allows you to make use of every square inch. Use a tension rod to keep things secure when you’re on the road, or take the items down when you’re traveling and put them back when you’re settled.
Cover The Floor (and Ceiling)
Rugs and RVs don’t always mix. With so much traffic going in and out, it can be nearly impossible to keep the dirt, sand, mud, grass, or whatever else your feet pick up outside where it belongs. But rugs happen to be one of the easiest ways to add a bit of style to your RV. If you're really strict about shoes, sheepskin rugs can add drama and depth.
The upper clearance in trailers tends to be quite low, so don't forget the ceilings — they're much more visible than they are in your home. Take your interior design upscale, and decorate the ceiling to create more interest.
Update Your Lighting
An easy way to immediately change the style inside your RV is to change your lighting. Any electrician would be able to help you properly outfit your space; however, you can also use plug-in fixtures such as sconces.
LED strip lighting and LED lighting fixtures can make a dramatic change to any interior. Just make sure to get them in the right color and brightness.
Battery-operated, flameless candles are safe and stylish, and can make for some fantastic mood lighting. The more advanced versions even have timers for the perfect mood-time.
Swap Out The Furniture
When it comes to RV decorating, many people first think about changing the upholstery. You might consider just replacing the built-in furniture with regular pieces.
Using regular furniture makes your trailer look and feel much more like home. You may find that a loveseat fits perfectly in the nook of your slide-out, anchoring it in place when you’re on the road.
Some owners pull out the sofa futon that comes standard in many RVs and install an extra deep daybed covered in fabrics of their liking. You can also replace the booth style dining area with a regular table and chairs. Drop-leaf tables are great space savers. Keep the loose pieces secure when travelling with floor rings and straps if they don’t fit in your slide out area snugly enough.
Take It Outside
If you’re parking your trailer and staying put for a while, consider creating your own outdoor space. Simple, brightly-coloured Adirondack chairs and a portable fire pit, potted plants, or a picnic table expand your space in style.
One way to really cozy-up your outdoor space is to hang café lights under your awning. Using big circular light bulbs will make your patio area feel bright and inviting, a perfect element when relaxing in the evening. These lights can provide the perfect mood lighting and add an element of safety at night.
Those are all the pointers that we could think of, but we always love to hear more! Share your decorating stories in the comments. What have you done to give your rig some style?