When it comes to decorating RV interiors, it’s a lot like decorating a house – but you probably still have questions. Can you paint RV walls? How do you hang art without having to take it down every time you move? Is it wise to drill into RV walls to hang shelves, or is that a bad idea?
If you’re a weekend warrior, these questions might reflect some nice-to-haves, but if you’re a full-timer, decorating your RV interior can make it more comfortable, functional and relaxing. Luckily, a lot of smart RVers have walked this path before you and come up with a million and one ideas for how to decorate. So if you’re wondering how to make your interior design RV friendly, read on for our favorite ideas on how to make your RV house into a home.
WAYS TO DECORATE RV INTERIOR SPACES
Let’s get the most expensive decorating consideration out of the way first: RV furniture. Owners of newer RVs may have furniture that’s comfy, clean and stylish. But if you’ve had your RV for a while, or you’re buying a used RV, the furniture may need a refresh.
RV flipping is a trend that’s gotten more visible over the last decade or so, where someone will rip everything out of an old, usually well-worn RV and rebuild it from top to bottom. Having that kind of space blows your options wide open when it comes to buying furniture. If you’re building from an empty room, you might want to pick out your sofa, chairs and tables first before you do anything else. You’ll want to measure dimensions carefully and keep an eye on the total weight of a piece, but your options are only limited by your ingenuity.
There are also retailers that sell furniture crafted specifically to suit RVs. That might mean seating that fits within certain common dimensions, or that converts into a sleeping area as needed. Commercial sleeper sofas for sticks and bricks homes can be really heavy, but sofas designed for RVs keep tow weights in mind. Search for terms like “jackknife sofas” and “easy out sleeper sofas.” Modular reclining sofas are also a popular choice for RV interior decorating, and can sleep an adult in a pinch.
SLIPCOVERS AND BLANKETS
If replacing RV furniture isn’t in the budget but you’d like to give existing chairs and sofas a makeover, you can always use an easy-fit stretch slipcover. For bonus points, they’re fully washable, which is great if you have kids or pets. And of course, you could always just drape a favorite quilt or afghan over the back of a sofa to make your furniture more homey.
THROWS AND PILLOWS
Maybe your furniture is still in good shape, but it’s just not your favorite color. Never underestimate the power of a few well-placed, colorful throw pillows and blankets. It’s easy to bring color to a room with these inexpensive accessories, which you can find at any home store. And with such a wide range of colors available, it’s easy to match them to curtains, table cloths, and any other textiles you like to create an RV interior color scheme.
REUPHOLSTERY AND CUSHION COVERS
With pieces like dinettes, cloth-covered headboards and chairs, you might consider some light reupholstery. For instance, if you have kitchen chairs with a cushion, all you need is a staple gun to recover it with your fabric of choice. Removable cushions, like in a dinette, can get custom-sewn cushion covers for a quick facelift. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you could tackle it yourself; if not, try calling a local sewing store to see if they have a list of independent seamstress who take on custom projects.
Painting can be a pain in the butt, but it’s also one of the most cost effective ways to give RV interiors a total makeover. Even a colorful accent wall alone can bring joy and energy to a small space.
So what do you need to know about painting in an RV? For the most part, it’s like painting the interior of a house, with a few specific tips for how to prep for success. Many RVs come with a subtle, textural wallpaper on the walls. Rather than remove it, consider giving it a quick sand, a thorough cleaning and a coat of a good-quality primer – and then paint over it.
Those three prep steps – sanding, cleaning and priming – are particularly important if your RV is a bit older. Things like dust, oils from hands, grease from cooking, etc., can build up on walls over time, making your paint more likely to peel. Taking your time to prep well will go a long way toward creating an end product you love.
If you can paint RV walls, what about wallpapering them? Great news – you can absolutely add wallpaper to your RV! But you don’t have to get your hands dirty with messy, traditional paste-based wallpapers. A new generation of peel-and-stick wallpapers has taken over the market in the last several years, providing incredible options that are easy to apply and remove. They can also be more forgiving to install, require less prep, and are simple to swap out if you get sick of a specific design. In fact, you might even look for solid-color peel-and-stick wallpapers to apply to your walls instead of going through the trouble of painting. With zero dry time and no fumes, it’s an easy way to decorate RVs.
Another quick update to the look of a room is swapping out hardware like cabinet pulls, knobs, faucets and other hardware. Cabinet pulls and knobs are the easiest to tackle – all you need is a screwdriver and some replacement hardware. Traditional door knobs aren’t complicated either, but if you want to replace a sink faucet, we recommend looking up a tutorial on YouTube or a manufacturer’s site to ensure you know what to do.
For the budget conscious decorator, it’s easy to update pulls and knobs with a coat of primer and spray paint. You can find spray paint in a variety of colors and metallic finishes to get the look you desire for an hour’s worth of work plus drying time.
Adding or swapping out wall decorations is a classic way to add personality, style and color to any space. But because an RV moves and shifts on the road, traditional hanging methods may not be ideal. After all, who wants to take down and put up art every time they move campsites?
We have a few thoughts on how to decorate your walls and keep your art safe and secure. First, if you’re looking for frames for artwork, consider seeking out frames that use thick plastic or plexiglass instead of real glass – so if a frame falls, it won’t shatter. You might also choose art on canvas (printed or painted), or lightweight posters you can secure between a top and bottom rail and hang on the wall. When it comes to hanging, you don’t have to sink a nail to have pretty surroundings.
For lightweight items like posters, tapestries, macrame, etc. a simple Command hook or two might be all you need. Command also makes velcro tape capable of holding larger or heavier items. Apply a long strip to the top and bottom of a frame, or shorter strips to all four corners, adhere the other half of the velcro tabs to the wall, and voila – a frame that won’t fall or swing and that hasn’t damaged your walls.
But drilling into your walls isn’t the end of the world, either. If you’re looking to hang something heavy, like a mirror or shelving, you’ll want to do things properly. Make sure to anchor screws if needed, and remove and properly secure shelf items and mirrors while you’re in transit.
Rugs are another way to add personality to a space quickly and temporarily. You might be thinking – wait a minute, rugs are expensive! Why would I spend that kind of money in my RV? If you haven’t bought a new rug recently, you might be pleasantly surprised at the wide variety of inexpensive, soft, vibrant rugs available online. Adding a few rugs around your RV can be cheap, with the added benefit of being nice under bare feet. There are rugs you can buy that are machine washable – perfect for staying clean as people track in and out of the RV all day. And indoor/outdoor rugs are woven from durable, non-absorbent materials, so you can use them on a grass patio or toy hauler ramp patio as needed.
Have you thought about replacing your window curtains? Like rugs, there are a wide variety of curtains available across a range of price points. But curtains don’t have to stop at windows. Why not hang curtains strategically from the ceiling in order to separate spaces as needed? You could create a semi-private sleeping area for a small child, divide a room into two distinct halves, or just add a bit of bohemian style to a doorway. Also, if you have bunk beds, installing curtains across the openings can make each bed feel like its own private suite – perfect for traveling with friends or moody teenagers.
Never underestimate the power of a little foliage to make a space feel inviting. For people who RV full-time or for part of the year, traveling with plants can be a powerful way to create a daily routine, checking and watering them regularly. But if you’re a plant killer, don’t worry – there are some very convincing fake plants these days. From silk flowers to elaborate faux trees, you can add some greenery without the hassle of keeping them alive.
If you’re a snowbird who spends six months out of the year somewhere warm, why not plant a little container garden for your patio? Even a pot of something small like herbs can make a temporary campsite feel like a piece of paradise.
It’s easy to overlook your nose when it comes to decorating, but something as simple as a candle can create a powerful mood. With just a match, you can invoke a different season, a specific destination, or a favorite plant, food or person. And you can find them everywhere, from high-end home goods stores to small town grocery stores, for as much or as little as you’re willing to spend.
But you might not want an open flame in your RV if you have small kids, boisterous pets or a tendency to fall asleep the minute you put a movie on. In that case, why not look into incense, room sprays, plug-in air fresheners, electric wax melters, or even just fragrant sachets? In a space as cozy as an RV, a little can go a long way.