RV Tour Video: How I Organized My Fifth Wheel for Full-Time Living
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Ashley Mann spent three years living full time in a 38-foot, 5th-wheel RV with her husband Josiah and their cat, Kitty. Her favorite thing about RV life is the challenge of finding the perfect way to organize a space, and she loves seeing all the creative and clever ways people come up with to customize their RVs.
Ever wondered what full-time RV living really looks like? Let's hear from Ashley, who spent years living in Missouri in her fifth wheel camper.
About Ashley's RV
Hi! My name is Ashley Mann, and I created RV Inspiration back in 2017. I live full-time in an RV with my husband Josiah and our kitty.
Below you'll find tons of photos, details, and links to products I use to organize my RV, but let me give you a tour first:
Our RV is a 2009 Keystone Everest fifth wheel that we purchased used from the original owner in 2016 to live in full time. We are parked in a mobile home park in Kansas City, Kansas, for now. In fact, we haven't yet bought a tow vehicle, but we hope to be mobile within the next couple of years.
I do realize that before we move our RV I'm going to have to go through and secure everything, move decor, etc. But that's not something I'm too worried about because I've learned quite a few hacks for securing everything in your RV.
And now for the photo tour…
The Entry Area
Directly in front of you when you enter our RV is a bamboo shoe shelf.
The previous owners never wore shoes inside the RV, and after living in Korea for a year teaching English, I always wanted to adopt a no-shoes tradition in my own household. This protects our floors and is convenient for removing boots—especially in the winter.
On the wall to the left of the door, we added a coat rack, mounted using the screws that came with it.
Drop Zone for Hats, Gloves, etc.
To the right of the door we have wall baskets from World Market where we store hats and gloves, bills, stamps, checkbooks, and all the little odds and ends that it's nice to drop somewhere when you first come inside.
Plexiglass Cover for RV Screen Door
The previous owners of our RV made plexiglass covers for the screen that attaches with Velcro. It's perfect for nice days when you want a little more sunshine, but don't want to leave the door open.
Litter Box Access Tunnel
To the right as you enter are the stairs leading up to master bedroom and bathroom. We built a tunnel through our stairs for our kitty to access his litter box in the storage bay. We did this by removing the wood vent cover (just like the one on the front of the first step) and covering the exposed aluminum beams with a piece of carpet remnant.
The tunnel is a cardboard concrete form from Lowe's. We used foam core poster board as a makeshift cover for the area under the stairs since there are a lot of wires back there that we don't want Kitty to be climbing around in.
Here's how it looks up close:
Have Cats? I've got 7 Ideas for Where to Store a Litter Box in an RV
Before and After We Bought the RV
The photo on the left is what the RV looked like before we bought it, and on the right is what it looked like after we moved in.
These are the main changes we made right away to make it better suit our needs and taste.
- Removed the factory-installed window coverings (but we left the pull-down shades)
- Painted the walls a neutral grey
- Replaced the sleeper sofa, recliners, and bar stools with a desk, love seat, and my sewing machine.
A lot of people choose to paint their cabinets as well, but we actually love the maple cabinets. The bookcase with the giant window and retractable TV was the main reason we chose this particular floor plan. We would like to replace our flooring with vinyl plank at some point.
Continuing with the tour, this is our dining area. This is actually the first dining table we have owned since we got married in 2011. I am so happy that we can now sit down together for meals instead of just eating on the couch while watching TV or looking at our laptops. I also love that there is hidden storage under the table top and chair seats.
As you can see, I decided to add curtains after being inspired by other RV owners' window coverings. I also added a rack for my wine and liquor glasses.
On the wall between the dining table and couch is this wall sconce. In looking for ways to add some color to the RV, I decided to make a cover for it that I could remove and change if I wanted. You can read all about that project in this blog post.
2018 Update – Replaced the Dining Table
I know I said I loved our dining table, but…
I decided to get rid of our dining set and replace it with:
- an armchair from Wayfair.com
- a folding table from Ikea
- a couple of matching folding stools which I got from Etsy
This freed up a lot of space in the living area, plus added an extra comfy place to sit. And if we want to sit at a table for dinner, or if I need extra counter space for cooking, we can always pull out the table.
Next we come to the couch. This was the couch that came with our RV. It was a sleeper sofa with an inflatable air mattress. It needed to go.
At first I had planned to keep the sofa and cover it with a slipcover. I bought this slipcover and really liked how it looked.
But the couch just wasn't comfortable to sit on.
Since it was our main seating for every day, we decided to buy a new couch. We bought the “Norsborg” sofa from Ikea (since discontinued), which came in a box and was assembled in our living room.
Something else we added to the RV was this storage ottoman/coffee table that I'd had for years but spray painted and reupholstered with a canvas drop cloth when we moved into the RV. We use it to store shoes that we don't wear as often.
Related: Can you put Ikea furniture in a moving RV?
Adding a Shelf Behind the Sofa
I built this shelf to go behind the couch using 1″x6″ lumber and shelf brackets as an extra place to set potted herbs during the winter. I can never have enough plants! The shelf brackets are mounted on the wall with screws and wall anchors and have been very sturdy.
Here's a video with a closer look at the shelf and more details:
Travel-Proof Knickknack Shelf Added
Recently I added a shower shelf spray painted gold to the corner as a place to set decorative items. I use acrylic mounting tape to stick these items to the shelf so they stay put while the RV is moving.
Window Treatment Replacement
To bright the windows, I made curtains out of flat sheets.
I also made curtain rods out of stained dowel rods with drawer knobs in the ends and hung them using Command hooks. I hot glued them directly to the top of my window shades (leaving the screws exposed in case I needed to remove them).
Office & Studio Area
This is my husband Josiah's work space.
Josiah is a web developer and a musician. Because of all that, he needed a desk that could serve multiple purposes, so he built this one using the metal frame of an old Walmart desk he used to own. He added maple plywood slabs with a pull-out tray for his mouse and keyboard. The electric piano can be pushed up under the shelf while Josiah is using his laptop, or pulled out for playing.
Adding an Area Rug
I really dislike our brown carpet, and since we haven't yet gotten around to replacing it with vinyl flooring, I decided to buy an area rug. I like the look of the living area so much better with the rug.
Kitchen & Dining Area
Here's another before and after for you: our kitchen.
Vertical Storage Added
I used mug hooks to mount wire storage baskets to the end of the cabinet for storing onions, potatoes, apples, etc. And I hung another basket for fruit over one of the cabinet doors.
Below is our coffee station. We take coffee very seriously.
The espresso machine is a Breville BES870XL. We use it for making lattes, but if we want a regular cup of coffee we use the French press sitting on top, which I highly recommend if you want a great way to make coffee that doesn't take up a lot of space.
The wire basket on the wall came from World Market (it's since been discontinued – here's a similar one). It holds our manual coffee grinder, pour-over cone, and moka pot (which I used for making stovetop espresso before we got the espresso machine).
Refrigerator Door Storage
On the refrigerator, you can see our hygrometer/thermometer – an essential for RV living!
- Reliable and Accurate Readings: Thermometer and Hygrometer gauge are able to quickly report measurements
Our refrigerator is magnetic, so I bought magnetic hooks which I use to hang pot holders, measuring cups, and spoons. If our fridge had not been magnetic, I would have used Command hooks instead.
Pot Rack in My RV Kitchen
It may be impractical, but I bought this pot rack before we even bought this RV!
But when I went to install it, I quickly discovered that our ceiling is made of metal. There was going to be NO screwing into the ceiling.
Fortunately, my husband had an idea! He removes the screws from the vent cover and screwed the pot rack into those holes. It worked! How lucky that the vent was located exactly where I wanted the pot rack!
Other RV Kitchen Storage Ideas
I found a nifty way to store my pizza pan by using magnets to stick it to the side of the microwave.
This wall-o-spices is my pride and joy. You can read about how I made it here.
This was a neat discovery. It turned out that behind the panel under our pantry cabinet was just empty space, so I turned it into a place to store jars.
The rack where my cutting boards and baking sheets are stored was purchased to hang on a cabinet door.
I store my silverware next to the sink in a basket I got from a thrift store with tin cans as dividers. I like keeping the silverware where it's handy to put away. Something else I want to mention about this photo is the sponge caddy in the sink. It kept falling until I read a tip to mount it in the corner of the sink. I didn't think it would, but it worked like magic!
It really bugged me to always have the ugly dish soap bottle sitting on the counter. So I bought this nifty little squeezable rubber soap bottle. It comes in lots of pretty colors (mine is the gray one). It's the little things.
Our RV Bathroom
Medicine Cabinet Organization
Organizing the medicine cabinet wasn't my top priority. But when I wrote a blog post about bathroom organization ideas I decided to purchase some baskets to keep things organized.
In the corner of the bathroom, I put up a corner shower shelf and hung a full-length mirror over the door.
I love storage items that hang on a cabinet door. I use over-the-cabinet-door towel bars for hanging both my hand towel and a bath mat.
- SIMPLE STORAGE: Over the cabinet towel bars always keep pot holders, hand, dish, and tea towels within reach; Easy to use and install; Using this rod is a great way to ensure you always have a towel or dish rag handy; Great for use in small spaces where storage space is limited; Use as a cupboard door hanger in bathroom, kitchen, garage, and more; Using this kitchen towel holder clears counter space and eliminates clutter; Place towel rack inside cabinet door for more discreet storage; Set of 2
RV Shower Shelf Hack
Here's something else I did to prepare for future travel. I wanted to be able to pack and go in as little time as possible, so I added plexiglass “walls” to the shelves in my shower so I could leave everything on the shelves without it falling off.
This is the “before” and “after” view of our bedroom. I replaced the bedspread with an inexpensive down comforter and duvet cover from Target which I love. The comforter keeps me warm and cozy in winter but doesn't make my husband hot in the summer. And the duvet cover feels like a sheet on the bottom and can be removed and laundered easily.
Mirrored Closet Door Makeover
I also covered the mirrored closet doors with faux rice paper window film to mimic the look of a Japanese shoji screen. I wrote a blog post that tells about how I made them.
Saving Space in the Closet
Here are some of the ways I save space in our closet. (I share where I got each of these items in a blog post about closet organization ideas).
Storage Added to the Backs of Doors
I also use hanging organizers on the doors in my bedroom for extra clothing storage.
We have a Splendide WD2100XC Vented Combo washer/dryer that has worked great for us so far. That model is no longer available to purchase new, but you can order the more recent equivalent model online from Amazon or Camping World.
We put our dirty laundry in the hamper hanging on the wall. The canvas bag can be removed from the frame and closed with a draw string if needed. We use the plastic laundry basket for extra storage.
That's it for the inside of the RV!
Want to see the outside? Check out how we prepared our fifth wheel for winter living.
If you didn't get a chance to watch my video tour yet, here it is again:
This is great!!! I love your floorplan. I love the closet door now that you covered the mirrors… most of all I love how you found ways to accommodate your kitty!!
Yes i love all the organization tips. As we are looking at gettingand moving into an rv full time. With my 13 yeard 15lb cat and 2 60 lb dogs. 10 and 6. As my husband is a respiratory therapist. And is looking at taking contract jobs. Im scared but excited . But difently want it to feel like home for us and the pets. And the cat box os my one issue
Did you see my article about places to store a litter box in an RV? Maybe you’ll find an idea there that would work for you! 🙂
This was fantastic review on everything you wrote about. I am truly impressed with all of you organizational tips as well. Thank you very much for the inspiration. Happy redecorating Jody
Thank you so much, Jody!
This RV is incredible. The photos are gorgeous and it looks like a mobile penthouse lol
Aw, thank you so much! It has been fun to live in!
Amazing Pics, I love the way you have stored your spices and organized the pots. 🙂
I love the curtain rods you made with drawer knobs! How creative and pretty. And hiding the litter box: you are truly brilliant.
Someone once said, “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources!” I was inspired by other people’s similar creative solutions for both of those projects! 🙂
Wow! My husband keeps threatening to buy an RV (not to live in) but it just doesn’t appeal to me, mainly because of the space. But you have so many good ideas…i’ll try to soften.
Ha! You just have to negotiate…tell him you’ll let him get one as long as you get to decorate it! 🙂 And thanks!