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7 Common RV Interior Design Flaws (and Solutions!)

| Updated Mar 22, 2022

What the RV community is saying about 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 great head start, but there’s always some kind of impracticality to overcome.

Our community in the RV Lifestyle Group on Facebook has been having an excellent discussion on what RV designs are in need of improvement. So, I thought I’d share the main concerns that popped up in the conversation the most along with some great suggestions on how to fix them.

I truly believe the RV industry excels at listening to its customers, so hopefully, we’ll be part of that conversation through this article.

The Most Common Issues with RVs

The issues that were mentioned the most revolved 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

RV Interior Design - kitchen oven
Would a built-in Air Fryer be better?

The oven came up the most in the conversation. While some people do love their oven, many find the oven to be too small or too ineffective to be worth the space it does take up. It seems many RVers are content to use convection microwaves or air fryers in their place.

Here are some suggestions RVers offered:

  • 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 large roast

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.

More Counter Space

rv interior design more counter space
More counter space please.

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 (a few models have these)
  • Sturdy flip-up boards from side of cabinet (some models have these)
  • 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.

Adjustable Shelves (& More Shelves!)

rv interior design
This, but in a closet or panty

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 brand could implement in every class and model. This problem came up with both pantry and closet storage.

We always say, “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!

(By the way, our partners over at Organized Obie have some great vertical storage solutions for RVers!)

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. It would be great if RV designers could make these small storage cabinets hinge down and out towards us.

Dirty Laundry Hamper

rv interior design
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. I’ve actually heard this complaint several times even outside of our Facebook discussion.

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

Shoe Storage

rv interior design
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?

I particularly agree with one member of our group that suggested 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 door and more shoe storage in the back 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.

Better Accessibility

A lot of the discussion centered around accessibility and emergency exits, and I couldn’t agree more. 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 senior citizens 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.

Speaking of emergencies, you might want to tune into our podcast episode on When the Worst Happens: Medical Emergency on the Road.

Join the Conversation

Our Facebook group is a great place for RVers to come together to seek advice, share solutions, and even just to share stories. We also share our blogs in the FB group so you can easily stay up-to-date on all our RV Lifestyle tips, tricks, and travel ideas.

I Want to Join the RV Lifestyle Facebook Group!

You can share any RV interior design flaws and suggestions you have in our comments below, too! The more we talk about these issues, the faster solutions will be available.

Our RV Buying Secrets

7 Common RV Interior Design Flaws (and Solutions!) 1

Next to your home, an RV is most likely the 2nd most expensive thing you'll ever purchase.

We get questions every day of other RVers wondering. “How do you buy a new or used RV?”

So we created a 75+-page downloadable digital guide to help you understand the nuances that come with purchasing an RV, where you can save thousands of dollars in the buying process, what the right questions are to ask dealers, what things to look out for, how to select the right unit, amenities, warranties, and so much more!

This ebook is designed to help make your purchase process as smooth as possible. And to teach you step-by-step exactly what to do so you can start your RV Lifestyle today!

Mike Wendland

Published on 2022-01-29

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

18 Responses to “7 Common RV Interior Design Flaws (and Solutions!)”

April 01, 2023at4:03 am, Charlotte Gifford said:

I think you covered some good points. But, access to 2 things that has always been top on my list is the Bathroom, the Refrigerator without putting the slides out. We travel and as we age there has been many time we have to stop to use the bathroom, and get drinks and snacks. From time to time we have had to eat in our unit. And as I look at the many floorplans I find they are hard to use unless you can put your slides out.


April 02, 2023at10:55 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Hi Charlotte,
Thanks for adding to the discussion – we agree it is hard to use some units without the slides out. Good detail – Team RV Lifestyle


February 18, 2022at10:15 am, Suzann Baker said:

I would like to see better access in RVs that are not Motorhomes, but 5th and travel trailers. Not necessarily wheel chair accessible but wider halls and doorways with ramps and bigger baths to accommodate a service dog or walker. I love the idea of two doors but I do not need a bunkhouse or toy hauler. A door would be my choice of escape, not a window. No way am I getting my dogs out a window.


February 18, 2022at9:37 am, Suzann Baker said:

I would love to see the major brands come up with a more accessible RV (not necessarily for wheel chair access) Wider hall and bigger baths for access with a service dog or walker.


February 07, 2022at7:30 am, Margaret Schulz said:

In our 2007 Roadtrek 210 the kitchen counter is just great. There is counter space to the right of the sink (which has a removeable cover) and the counter space to the left of the sink slides leftward to reveal the gas burners and retain counter space. When the burner is cool, I can place the sink cover over the burner to create the maximum amount of counter/working space. I keep looking for a similar design in newer models w/o luck, so far. Sometimes it is wise to not mess with success when the design is as good as ours!


February 03, 2022at1:02 pm, John Sutjak said:

Better emergency exit is why we decided on a unit with two doors. Another safety comment, being a boater we are trained to turn around and go down the stairs backwards so you can hold onto the safety handles better and less of a chance to slip. I find this is very helpful in an RV as well. I just feel safer going down the steps backwards and holding onto the safety handle.


January 29, 2022at1:49 pm, Eva Casola said:

One design flaw that we’ve discovered is that we can’t walk around in our RV with the sliders in. There are sliders on both sides , which meet together in the center. This means we can never pull into a Walmart, or rest area, for the night without opening our sliders. UGH!


January 29, 2022at11:41 am, Larry & Ann Rose said:

I am very concerned for the safety of RV’ers because or the recent Crime Wave across our beautiful Country. Any suggestions for staying safe? And with the price of Fuel lately compared to a year ago, many people are going to forgo their vacation next summer because if how much it cost just to heat their homes this Winter. Money is tight, especially for Families, and add Covid to the mix and it doesn’t sound good at all for a vacation or for the Industry. Any suggestions? Thanks, Larry


January 29, 2022at11:09 am, JD Cook said:

Cabinets under waist high should not exist. In our Roadtrek 210 kitchen, they are quite deep and small. In order to get things, I have to get down on my knees, and pull out all the stuff to get to the back things. The area would be perfect for drawers.
Also I have seen pull out, retractable sewer and electric hoses. Hammock storage, for fresh fruit and such should be over the kit counter. We have a large pull out counter for dining in the kitchen. Located so can dine easily from front cab seats. Some kind of removal raised floor for wet baths, I have seen some teak ones. Lithium Lithium Lithium.
We can handle cold (have done to 18 so far). But have boonedocked in 90 degree days, full sun and parked on hot asphalt, at a hospital. Unbearable. We plan to upgrade as soon as market settles down, just to get enough lithium to run an AC overnight. I am 6’4” why are there no smaller RV’s with large beds? Our Roadtrek has been widened, so I have 80” side to side, but then my wife has to crawl over me to get up. The bed is 76” inches front to back, as with most smaller rv beds. I can sleep that way if my head is firm against one wall, and my heels are against another wall. My wife is quite comfortable in a much shorter bed, so if there was a long one at least on one side is needed. Camera’s. My wife is quite short, so even with raisable seats, she can not see over the hood. We have a car that has that has front cameras for parking, side and rear, and the computer makes a 360 degree over head picture. Really need also a rear camera that can see above, for branches. Just a few thoughts.


February 07, 2022at11:39 am, Pam S said:

As for those deep cabinets, I put a large square baking tray with a lip on all 4 sides and put my stack of pots in the back and other items in the front. No little things. On the side there was about 4 inches left where I put my folding drying rack. Now just have to remove the drying rack and lift the tray over the lip to get what I want. No more of that knee thing. Orginally looked for a square plastic tote.


January 29, 2022at10:56 am, Lindy Waters said:

We have a 4018 Newmar Dutch Star. Love the unit but not the refrigerator. When traveling the refrigerator door comes open and we have drink cans rolling all over the floor. Refrigerator has a slide lock but it is not strong enough to keep unit closed. I have been putting a bungee tie , tying the two doors together to keep it closed. Is there another answer to this problem?


February 01, 2022at10:04 am, Michael Carstensen said:

Use expanding shelf stabilizers inside the refrigerator and child locks on the outside.


February 07, 2022at11:41 am, Pam S said:

As for those deep cabinets, I put a large square baking tray with a lip on all 4 sides and put my stack of pots in the back and other items in the front. No little things. On the side there was about 4 inches left where I put my folding drying rack. Now just have to remove the drying rack and lift the tray over the lip to get what I want. No more of that knee thing. Orginally looked for a square plastic tote.


February 07, 2022at11:46 am, Pam S said:

I use plastic rectangle & square baskets to hold almost everything. Put the pop and beer in the bottom 2 drawers since they are the right height and the cans are the heavy. 1 Basket has the lunch items in it so do not have to hold the door open while all the items are being pulled out. Even if a basket is emply, it stays in to keep others from shifting.


January 29, 2022at10:06 am, Maxine Hagood said:

My biggest complaint about the rv industry is the placement and lack of electrical outlets. We own a Winnebago Outlook and two outlets in the living area. One under the table (very inconvenient). The other on the front of the cabinet. I have to use an electrical strip to use the coffee pot and since there is no oven,I use a convection/toaster over. These take up all my counter space


January 29, 2022at9:02 am, Richard Rosin said:

In regards to your article on more counter space. We have a small cabinet door, that is right next to our cooktop. I took the left hand opening hinges off and put a piano hinge across the bottom, so the door now folds DOWN to a flat position ( instead of side to side) . It is held with a chain making a temporary additional work surface while cooking.
Tell me how and I can send pictures.


January 29, 2022at7:58 am, Barbara Callahan said:

There is a photo on the topic of shoe storage can you tell us what are those clear plastic containers holding the shoes? Great idea


February 03, 2022at12:58 pm, John S said:

They look like they might be large plastic juice bottles with the top of the container cut off


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