Making a living area feel like home is important for most people, and just because our current living area happens to be a tiny metal and fiberglass box on wheels doesn’t make that sentiment any less true for us. Although buying a new RV did save us the time and effort of upgrading and remodeling an older rig, we have made some modifications and customizations over the past few weeks. This post won’t have much content in the way of travel or scenic photos, so if you don’t want to read about RV projects, then you might want to wait until the next installment. But for anyone interested in seeing what we’ve done with the place, please join us for the tour!
Even though we’ve significantly whittled down our physical belongings over the past few years, we do still have items we’d like to keep for many reasons – some are small keepsakes, some are hobby-related, some are useful, and some are simply necessary (like clothing, I suppose). So storage space is naturally at a premium and some of the first projects reflect that priority. Within the first week of settling into the RV, we removed the television and mounting arm from the overhead cab bunk, along with the under-cabinet mounted DVD player. We cancelled our cable in 2013 and slowly cut back on our television watching since then, until we finally stopped watching TV about a year and a half ago. So it seemed silly to have one in the RV taking up valuable real estate. Now Ashley has more space to store her crafting supplies and she won’t give me such a hard time about keeping my various musical instruments. The overhead bunk has become an all-purpose storage area which is organized, but still looks cluttered – so that seems like it will always be a work in progress.
We also removed the microwave, since that was another device we stopped using in our “normal” lives anyway and because it is one of the biggest electricity users in an RV. My dad helped reinforce the empty space to turn it into a stable book storage area, and Ashley added some much-needed color by covering the back with printed fabric.
While we do have plenty of storage in the bedroom area for clothing, we wanted a better option for keeping our shoes tucked out of the way yet easy to grab when needed. We shamelessly stole this idea from the Wheeling It blog, and hung a back-of-the-door shoe organizer by the main entrance. It might not look pretty, but it is proving to be pretty convenient.
SECURING THE GOODS
If you’ve ever packed boxes for moving, you already know just how much your cargo gets jostled and shaken as the moving truck bounces down the road. Now imagine stacking that stuff in cabinets and drawers and then driving down the road without packing it securely in boxes. We needed some way to safeguard our plates, glasses, and coffee mugs because we aren’t just switching over to plasticware and paper goods for the foreseeable future. Another RV blog written by people much more experienced than us provided a great tip – applying food-grade silicone to the bottoms of plates, glasses, etc. Not only does the silicone help cushion your items while driving, it also provides a grippy surface to help prevent your glasses from sliding off the table should you be parked on an uneven surface.
We have convenient corner cabinets in both the bathroom and one section of the bedroom, but keeping things on the shelves in those cabinets was a bit challenging. Ashley put her crocheting skills to good use by creating tiny custom cargo nets for the triangular shelves. Now we don’t have to worry about being buried under an avalanche of toiletries every time we open the cabinets, plus we get the added bonus of having another splash of color in our mostly beige home.
As you might already know, we do a significant amount of cooking – and cooking from scratch generally requires chopping, slicing, mincing…you get the idea. We have a small collection of cutting boards (some of which are hand-crafted from wood re-purposed from church pews, courtesy of Ashley’s dad) that happen to fit quite nicely behind the stove. But they wouldn’t stay in place while driving. So thanks to a little nautical inspiration from our previous visits to Key West, we installed boat cleats around the cutting boards and used para-cord to secure them in place while we’re on the move.
To make the space feel more inviting, we wanted to hang some photos and artwork on the walls. No problem in a stationary house – just whack a nail or drywall mount in the wall and hang your frame. But if we wanted to keep our photos on the walls instead of the floor while moving, they needed to be securely mounted. Industrial strength 3M Velcro to the rescue! Just twist a small hook into the wall, apply a few pieces of sticky-backed Velcro to the frame and the wall, and hang your framed photos however you see fit.
We found yet another great idea on the Wheeling It blog for securing items in place on a horizontal surface. Museum putty works well for lightweight display items, or even coasters that you might use often in the same place. Plus, it is easy to remove should you decide to move things around in the future.
The RV is equipped with an outdoor electrical outlet beside an exterior bay that held a folding metal table. The table is fairly thin, but conveniently attached to the RV on an extending base with adjustable legs on one side. I used the table to cook while we were parked at Indian Rock Campground a few weeks ago, and while it served well enough for a flat surface, it wasn’t incredibly stable. We’ve been thinking about where to store our portable solar panels, and the table bay just happens to be the right size for the folded panels. So we removed the table and the attached sliding base, and replaced it with our solar panels for easy access. We’ll most likely replace the extending table with a regular folding table sometime soon.
Our RV came equipped with one house battery, which is what provides electricity to the lights, DC outlets, water pump, and DC exhaust fan in the bathroom when we’re not attached to shore power or running the generator. We’d like to increase the amount of time we can spend not attached to an outlet or using the generator, so I installed a second deep-cycle house battery to essentially double the amount of electricity we can use before recharging. We’ll be testing this out in combination with the solar panels as we travel this summer.
And finally, the most drastic, controversial, question-inspiring change we made was to remove the standard RV toilet which uses fresh water for flushing, and replace it with a composting toilet that doesn’t require fresh water to operate. Feel free to search online on how various composting/desiccating toilets work – I won’t go into the details in this post.
Just in case anyone is concerned, we did indeed save all of the items we removed so that if and when we decide to sell or trade in the RV, we can always reinstall everything back to the original layout. Thanks again for reading and following along! We’re heading to Codorus State Park next week, then west through Chambersburg to Blue Knob State Park, and finally landing in Sidman PA before venturing further north this summer. Stay tuned, and please leave a comment or send us an email to say hello!