How to Make Your RV Feel Larger Than It Is
From a fresh coat of paint to storage tips and lighting acccents – here’s how to get “more” space without getting “more” RV.
Do you ever find yourself wishing your RV slideouts extended half a foot farther? Or, think you should have bought a different, larger RV? I know the feeling. 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.
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’ 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?
Lighter Colors, Bigger Rooms
The logic behind adding mirrors to create the perception of added space can be applied to color choice as well. And, it comes down to how light interacts with the colors you choose. When you paint walls a lighter color like yellow, light reflects more, creating a more open feeling. That’s opposed to dark colors that absorb color, creating a feeling you are in an enclosed space.
Use lighter colors—taupe, greys, yellows, pinks, even stark white—for the main living rooms, bathrooms, and kitchen spaces. Save your favorite dark hues for RV sleeping areas as opposed to living areas. Note, in rooms where there is little sunlight, like bedrooms, darker colors like charcoal can both create the allusion of more space while also creating a safer, intimate feel.
What if you’ve already painted with a darker color you love? You’re not out of options. I’m not here to ensure everyone paints their interiors — I want to make those rooms and spaces feel bigger. Another illusionary tool is to match the ceiling color with the wall color. As the eye scans upwards, looking for a color change to indicate the ceiling, it will continue to scan as the color is the same, giving the impression that the walls are taller than they actually are.
Go a step further and consider adding trim and crown molding to paint the same color. This also draws the eye up, giving the walls a taller look, even though you’ve actually taken up a small amount of space with the molding.
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 paint and 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.
And since I’ve mentioned color influences beyond paint…
Accents, Lighting, & 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?
Does Your RV Still Feel Cramped?
There’s a lot you can do with colors to change the feel and perception of a room, but other factors might be contributing to the closed-in feel of your RV living spaces. Luckily, along with color schemes, lighting, and accessories, there’s another path: decluttering.
We know a cleaned-up camper feels better. Before a trip becomes hectic with kids and other travelers using the space, prepped RVs look perfectly comfortable. The end of the trip, however, is another story. There could be dishware laying around, blankets or clothes strewn about, toys and recreational gear—and all of it together has your RV feeling closed-in. Clutter creates confinement. Get rid of the clutter, and your RV feels open again.
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.