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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.
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, links to products I use to organize my RV, but let me give you a tour first:
About Our RV
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 for my husband's job, and 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 at this point since for now we are stationary.
And now for the 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 in 2009, I always wanted to adopt a no-shoes tradition in my own household. We aren't religiously strict about no shoes in the house, but for the most part we leave our shoes right here.
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 attach with Velcro, which is nice for days where you want a little more sunshine but don't want to have the door open. Also it lets us remove the panel on top but leave the one on bottom so Kitty can't tear up the screen door.
Litter Box Access Tunnel
To the right as you enter are the stairs leading up to the hallway with the bathroom on the left and the bedroom straight ahead. 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. I plan to make it prettier one of these days but for now it does the job.
Update: I re-did the tunnel to the litter box, and you can see it in my blog post about all the ways we accommodate Kitty in our 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 “greige”
- 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; in fact the book case 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, though.
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, and 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. I will definitely find a way to protect the glasses when we move the RV.
Here is a DIY project I did. 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 decided to get rid of our dining set and replace it instead with an armchair from Wayfair.com and a folding table from Ikea along with a couple of matching folding stools which I got from Etsy (they're not pictured but you can see what they look like here – the guy who made them was kind enough to make them a couple of inches taller for me since I added wheels to the bottom of my table legs and this raised the height of the table).
I also moved my sewing machine next to the couch. 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.
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. Kitty liked it too, apparently.
But unfortunately 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, and ended up deciding on 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.
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, because one can never have enough plants! The shelf brackets are mounted on the wall with screws and wall anchors and have been very sturdy.
Kitty likes the shelf because he can sit on it to monitor the neighborhood.
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 that they stay put while the RV is moving.
Window Treatment Replacement
I made my curtains out of flat sheets. (You can also see my bird feeders, which are hung on the outside of the window using these adhesive hooks.)
I also made curtain rods out of stained dowel rods with drawer knobs in the ends and hung them using Command hooks which I hot glued directly to the top of my window shades (leaving the screws exposed in case I needed to remove them). I would have stuck the hooks directly to the wall, but it turned out that my lovely drawer pulls were too large to allow that.
Office & Studio Area
This is my husband Josiah's work space. Josiah is a web developer, and even though he currently works for a local company in Kansas City, he also works from home a lot. He is also 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, but adding 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.
At the bottom right of the photo you can see my sewing machine, which is probably the most impractical thing we own in our RV, but I love my sewing machine so much. It is a 1950's Singer cabinet sewing machine that belonged to my great-grandmother, and I refinished the cabinet myself. It is also the only sewing machine that I felt like I could understand how to use without ending up in tears of frustration. I like being able to see exactly how the mechanism works.
Another 2018 Update – 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. (This picture was taken before we replaced our dining table.)
Kitchen & Dining Area
Here's another before and after for you: our kitchen.
Vertical Storage Added
Below is our coffee station. We take coffee very seriously, lol. 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) and holds our manual coffee grinder, pour-over cone, and moka pot (which I used for making stovetop espresso before we got the espresso machine). Our moka pot isn't available online currently, but this one is very similar.
Refrigerator Door Storage
On the refrigerator you can see our hygrometer/thermometer – an essential for RV living!
Our refrigerator is magnetic, so I bought magnetic hooks which I use to hang pot holders, measuring cups and spoons, etc. If our fridge had not been magnetic, I would have used Command hooks instead.
Pot Rack in My RV Kitchen
I actually purchased the pot rack before we had even seen the RV, haha, but then when I went to install it I quickly discovered that our ceiling is made of metal, and there was going to be no screwing into the ceiling. Fortunately my husband had an idea, which was to remove the screws from the vent cover and screw the pot rack into those holes. And 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.
We also got a pet fountain for Kitty to drink out of, because he prefers to drink running water. (The one we purchased is no longer available, but this looks like a good option.) At our old house we used to have to wait for him to take long drinks out of the sink faucet, but when we moved into the RV I decided this would be a better option.
The rack where my cutting boards and baking sheets are stored was actually purchased to hang on a cabinet door, but when it ended up not fitting I figured out a way to mount it over the panel that covers the space where our converter is located instead. If I had been planning to purchase a rack to put there, I would have purchased this one instead.
I store my silverware next to the sink in a basket I got from a thrift store with tin cans as dividers. I like having the silverware there where it's handy to put away. Something else I want to mention about this photo is the sponge caddy in the sink. I used to have problems with the suction cups constantly slipping or falling off, but then I read a tip that said it would stay put if mounted in the corner of the sink, and it was true!
It really bugged me to always have the ugly dish soap bottle sitting on the counter, but we were too lazy to put it in the cabinet underneath the sink each time, 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 so that when we are ready to be mobile stuff shifting around in the cabinet is one less thing for me to worry about.
I also put a corner shower shelf in the corner of the bathroom 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.
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.
I wrote a blog post about this DIY project as well.
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 so we don't have to use a flat sheet, which makes bed making a cinch.
Mirrored Closet Door Makeover
Saving Space in the Closet
Here are some of the ways I save space in our closet. (I told 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 actually just use the plastic laundry basket for extra storage.
Kitty spends a lot of time in the bedroom, too.
That's it for the inside of the RV! If you would like to hear about the outside of our RV you can head over to my article about 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: