Transforming RV Closets into Usable Storage

Recreational vehicles provide a spacious home away from home, filled with amenities out on the open road. While RVs are long on living space, they're short on storage and intrepid travelers are often scrambling to find places to fit everything they might need on their extended journeys. Even the largest RV has storage challenges. You just can't take everything you want, so it's important to both prioritize your needs and carefully pack.

The good news is most RVers are creative. While some can survive using only the standard space available, others just need to make more room. If you're more the latter, here are a few ideas that will help squeeze a bit more space out of your beloved rig. With these thoughts, you may be able to fit everything your heart desires on your next trip.

Just a Little More Space...PLEASE!

The following minor additions will help you fit a few more things into your RV's already-existing closets without too much effort. These concepts are based on utilizing the space you have. That's right; no need to remodel, which is good news if you aren't looking for a big DIY project.

Start with your drawers and shelves. Instead of hanging clothes in your closet, neatly organize them onto shelves or in drawers. This will drastically increase the amount of usable space. Both options can be easily installed, and if you need space for hanging clothes, you can leave a little room at the top of the closet just in case.

Hugging hangers. Velvet-lined hangers allow you to double your space in a tight closet.

Storage nets work miracles. These vertical hanging bungee nets can be added to the inside of closets and doors. These sturdy organizers are very easy to use and thanks to their flexibility, they can handle items of all shapes and sizes.

Over-the-Door Shoe Holders. A shoe holder can hang from any door with sturdy metal clips. They will drape down the length of the door, adding a series of usable pockets. Not only are these perfect for shoes, but they can also be used for toiletries, remote controls, brushes, makeup, extra towels, or toys.

Got To Love Those Hooks. Ok this may seem almost too obvious, but putting metal or plastic hooks in your RV closets will immediately increase the amount of storage space. Hooks are cheap and easy to install, but make sure you leave enough room for you to close any doors after hanging things. Hooks can be used for jewelry, scarves, hats, towels and even purses.

Kitchen Ideas. Here are some ways to add space in your kitchen drawers and shelves:

  • Stacking canisters - Perfect for flour, sugar, coffee and tea.
  • Stacking mugs - Stackable mugs just make sense in a small space.
  • Collapsible stovetop kettle - These take almost no space and can be used to make tea, coffee or hot chocolate.
  • Add a shelf - Corner or expanding shelves can double the space for plates and pots.
  • Paper towel holder - Mount a paper towel holder above your sink to save space.
  • Spice racks - Pack only what you need and store them in a slide-out or spinning rack.
  • Snap on drawers - Add plastic snap drawers to counters or tables for additional space.
  • Use the inside - Add hooks or clips to the inside of your cabinet drawers for added storage.

Looking For A DIY Project? Need to make room for the kids? If you plan to hit the road with the munchkins, but don't have room for them to sleep, it's time to get creative. There's no need to worry; you can always transform a bigger closet into bunk beds. Of course, the only way this will work is if your RV has a large walk-in closet, often found in the RV's master bedroom.

Converting a closet into bunk beds is relatively simple, but does require some mechanical know-how and a few power tools. Detailed plans can be found online, but the basic process is as follows:

  • Remove any unnecessary or unwanted parts from the closet, including the doors and hinges, as well as any shelving or bars used for hanging clothes.

  • Frame out the bunks by screwing 1x1s into the walls of the closet, taking into account the headspace needed. Since the bottom bunk will already be raised up off the ground, take advantage of the space created under it, and use it for extra storage. Just attach a 2x4 to the front of the bottom bunk to create a box.

  • Place planks of plywood over the frames to create the bottoms of the beds. On top of these sheets of plywood is where the bedding will go. Finally, add any flourishes such as guard railing or a ladder to make climbing to the top bunk easier.

Need more ideas? Many Class A's offer captain seats can be turned toward one another and made into a cot bed for little ones. The front space of these rigs is usually lost space, so why not find a way to use it!

If you really want to use your space, consider mounting a removable hammock from the ceiling of your rig. Kids will love their private sleeping space, even if it's mounted just above Mommy and Daddy's bed.

Need RV Office Space? If you plan to use your RV as your office, you may need to design a space to call your own. If you are lucky enough to make a living on the road and are tired of sitting at the dinette to do your work, look for unused space to convert into an office on wheels. Many RVers choose to use closet space, bunkhouse rooms, front passenger seats, or extra bathrooms.

Once you've found the space that works, simply clean out the unnecessary items, then add shelving for a computer and other office supplies. Chances are, you won't be able to fit in everything you need, and you may have to get creative with what you have. For instance, if you can't fit a chair, use the edge of your bed and if you can't quite squeeze your printer or computer tower anywhere, clear some space in a drawer or a closet. You'll surprise yourself with your ingenuity, and when you're done, you'll have a dedicated office to get some work done while camping.

Here are a few workarounds in tight office spaces.

  • Use an exercise ball as your chair.They be deflated as needed and are also ergonomic!
  • Use a laptop instead of a desktop computer.
  • Buy a mobile printer (I personally LOVE my Epson Wireless WorkForce!).
  • Use a portable laptop table (There are many folding tables perfect for your small space).
  • Use a lap desk (The Walter Drake bean shaped lap desk is cheap and works great!).
  • Use a battery-powered lamp. LED lamps are under $30, foldable, dimmable, and can be used in or outside.
  • Try a personal folding table, which are 30 by 20 and height adjustable, but very sturdy.
  • Look at Ikea. Ikea has a wide variety of space-saving options; with a few hacks, you might be able to create the office of your dreams.

Another handyman conversion is the convertible bed concept. The basic premise is to convert your master bed into a murphy bed, which reveals a retractable desk when in its upright position. Using a murphy bed, business owners create an office space during the day and a bedroom at night. Here's an article on a couple who did just that!

If you like the idea of converting the master bedroom into an office, you could also install a Bed Tilt Sleep System. This automated bed is available in several upper-end coaches. The mattress lifts and folds into a near coach style unit that provides an additional 18 inches of space, which can be converted into an office area during the day.

You may have to spend a little to create a traveling office, but in the end, you'll be glad you did.

Ok, so you've utilized every square inch of storage space in the RV, and you still need more. What should you do?

Build a Closet. If there's space on one of the walls of your RV, you may be able to build a small closet for additional storage. The handy type can tackle this project themselves, but don't be afraid to hire someone experienced with RV remodel and repair. Before starting any form of construction within your recreational vehicle, be sure to get a professional opinion. You don't want to damage your rig for an extra closet!

Storage Boxes. Nearly every store sells storage bins. They come in all shapes and sizes and are easy to stack. One way to cheat when it comes to cargo space is to keep your off-season or bulky items in plastic storage boxes. Place them inside the rig while traveling, and under your rig when you are parked. It's a pretty simple idea, but be sure the boxes fit under your RV and are watertight. Love those bins? Some people even strap these units to the back or top of their rig.

If you haven't already figured it out, RV storage is all about efficiency, and traveling in a camper will make you a packing and storage whiz. Whether you add some hooks and shelves to your closets or completely gut a bathroom to create an office, outfitting your camper to fit your needs perfectly is a necessary and satisfying endeavor for the avid RVer. Don't be afraid to tear out, install, hammer, screw and saw your way to RV storage bliss.

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