The Secrets Behind RV Interior Design: Past, Present, & Future

Have you ever entered the classical era (1971-1989) or the neoclassical era (1990-2007) and said: Good God, it’s green! The other caravans and motorhomes of the time were brown, blue, beige and tan. The classic interior design of the leisure vehicles of the time made as much sense as the modern monochrome and post-modern color palettes. Our conversation takes you behind the scenes of interior services in the RV industry. We show you the evolution of how design teams make decisions about the look and feel of their products. You will learn about the challenges they are currently facing, how they are doing it and the influence consumers have on their decisions. Finally, we give you inside information about future trends that prepare the experts for the coming years.

Motor Home Interior Design Process

Before going any further, let us show you who they are, the challenges they face and how the interior design team does its job. You will work with various other departments and external suppliers to develop new products using specific materials.

Who are the people who work in the RV design department?

In the leisure vehicle sector, interior design can be more complex than in the residential sector. When planning a single-family home, issues such as weight restrictions, safety measures and other concerns are not at the forefront of your mind. Individuals with degrees and experience in interior design are an important asset to any recreational vehicle manufacturer.

RV designers work with vendors all the time. Finding the right material, matching it to the correct specifications and adjusting the quantities ordered are just a few of the many tasks that take up his day.

Gorgeous caravan interior by Marc & Julie Bennett of RV LOVE. Photo by

How the process works

To explain the process, we use a guided example. Suppose the RV manufacturer you work for wants to launch a new light family vehicle. It will rival the best-selling Forest River R-Pod. It will have a length of 25 feet, an extension on the outside and many features normally seen in large trailers, such as B. a central vacuum cleaner.

The project manager has given you, the interior designer, a modest budget, an interior design and a tight deadline to present your prototype concept. Although you don’t have much time, there are still many ideas going through your head. Once you’re in your department, fill out the team and get to work.

Many interior designers of recreational vehicles believe that it is advisable to start with the choice of wood for frames, cabinets and other components. They saw the new Jakeo Micro J Perot and loved the idea of two colors of wood. They used a lighter shade of wood for the kitchen cabinet to separate the space from the rest of the car.

If you use the same type of countertop, but with a different shade, it may work. If you consult your main supplier’s catalogue, the darkest colour is more expensive. Your secondary supplier offers both trimmings at the same price, but the primary supplier can negotiate because they offer different models. The main supplier also has the necessary wood stain for cabinet doors and drawer fronts.

Once you have created your wood plan, you discuss it with your team and they agree. They send one of them to the phone to start the process with the main supplier. They all match fabric patterns, wallpaper, cabinet hardware and other things to wood.

I have bought and repaired about 15 houses, but mobile home problems are the most fun for me.

Trina Sholin – Interior Designer

RV Zenkertops

During the planning phase you will receive a note from the project leader. The CEO would like to see granite countertops in this model. So far, not all of your materials have reached the weight limit set by the engineers. Granite is a heavy material that is only suitable for large vans. Most RV manufacturers don’t use it anymore because of the weight. If that’s what the CEO wants, find him.

You take a granite catalogue off a shelf, remove the dust and open it. Once you have found the brightest stone that matches the color palette of your design, call the vendor. You explain the situation and what you need to do. Organize a video conference with the company representative next week and find a solution.

The stone company grinds granite to a quarter of an inch. Underneath is composite plastic, which is lightweight and maintains the integrity of the stone. The best part is that it’s not expensive. You can make three worksheets from their standard raw block. Moreover, you always stay within your weight and budget.

Tiffin Zephyr offers luxury countertops in its beautiful modern kitchen – photo : Motorhome Tiffin

A Finished van interior

When the interior construction is complete, please bring a project guide for approval. With his signature, your team orders all the materials and the production team builds the prototype. Management and senior staff came to see the new lightweight, family-friendly travel trailer that will surpass Forest River in weight. Once everyone agrees, each department contacts its material suppliers to start production.

You and your team will enjoy the show for half an hour. He then set to work updating the current materials for the existing models and proposing three variants for the new prototype.

In this example, we have presented an idealistic elaboration of the interior design of a mobile home. The reality is this: If it works half as well as in this example, most leaders are generally satisfied. It is a complex process in which many internal and external factors are balanced simultaneously. Changes occur at every stage of the planning process. In the worst case, the team has to start all over again.


Problems faced by interior decorators

We have already mentioned a number of points above, but there are many more. Apart from domestic policy, the main domestic issues are the budget and weight restrictions. Even multi-million dollar RVs have a design budget that can’t be exceeded. In some cases, it can be difficult to design interiors at this level.

Decision-makers and customers expect the best, but suppliers can only negotiate up to a certain point because of their costs. If the manufacturer of a motorhome wants a certain quality of European wood, but the supplier has to increase his prices due to higher operating or transport costs. RV can adjust the budget or find a replacement.

In terms of weight, every gram counts per carrier. In this era of fuel economy, consumers are choosing SUVs with lower towing capacity because the vehicle has a higher COGS. Truck manufacturers have had to adapt to the needs of their customers. If there is a way to make countertops, cabinets and even fabrics lighter, RV manufacturers will explore the benefits of using it.

How cable television and the Internet have changed the interior of recreational vehicles

The video killed the radio star on the first. August 1981, date of the first MTV broadcast. Cable television and the Internet changed the entire dynamic of RV interiors in 1984 and 2010, respectively. For classic and neoclassical era models, recreational vehicle manufacturers have taken the wait-and-see approach. Classic cottage-style interiors with a beige or beige color scheme that complemented the RVers’ personal decor was the norm.

Recreational vehicle builders are three to five years behind the housing market and will be watching the evolution of housing projects closely.  If a particular idea outperforms the short-term trend, they will consider including this concept in the RV.

1. December 1984. HGTV first aired on cable. It was a chain devoted entirely to home furnishings and outdoor gardening. The station’s interior design programs were so popular that it wasn’t long before stations were creating their own versions of the interior design programs. Although these programs were primarily aimed at the residential sector, RV enthusiasts have also begun to show interest in this issue. The RV community is starting to wonder why an RV can’t have a modern, post-modern or contemporary interior design.

Today’s motorhome awaits multiple flat screen TVs and space for a mobile office – photo : Motorhome Tiffin

Shared use of van interior space Ideas

When Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook opened up the world of social networking, the RV community found a new way to communicate with each other. Motorhome enthusiasts will share their ideas and photos of modifications and conversions. When Pinterest launched in January 2010, the community of car enthusiasts found a place to post their ideas for refurbishing the interior of an RV.

When it all fell into place, van manufacturers began to see interior designs from individuals online that appealed to the general public. Although they already knew their customers were asking for country style alternatives, social media showed them how popular these modern, post-modern and contemporary design styles were with their customers. Consumer feedback has always had an impact on the industry, but thanks to social media, RV manufacturers can now provide real-time feedback.

Did interiors for motorhomes save the industry from the 2008 financial crisis?

During the 2008 recession, the road transport sector was one of the hardest hit. Some companies closed their doors for good, others merged, and new brands saw an opportunity to hang their shingles. Each of the surviving companies had to make a strong comeback.

The financial crisis of 2008 ushered in the modern era for the automotive industry. Changes in construction techniques, materials, and other innovations have not been as great since the end of World War II. One of the most significant changes is the shift from a rustic to a modern interior style in most brands of recreational vehicles.

Consumers first saw the monochromatic gray and white interiors at the RV show. Airstream introduced European style vans with curved doors and light interiors. A common concept among all RV brands is the use of white or light colors to create the illusion of more space. Even when designers have used dark wood or furniture, light walls and cabinets offset the dark colors of claustrophobia.

A leap forward in recreational vehicle interiors has reinvigorated the industry. As a result, recreational vehicle sales have continued to increase each year between 2010 and 2017. According to RVIA, the strongest growth in 2010 was over 46%.

The recovery of the RV industry after the financial crisis was not only due to the promotion of interior design. Other outdoor innovations, simple claims, many different systems were not comparable. It was a Gestalt effect, with each of these individual innovations leading to an overall improvement in the new vans.

New era for motorhome interiors

We have seen that the RV industry considers brown and beige to be neutral colors. It has also been found that they take a wait-and-see attitude before incorporating new ideas into their projects. We also showed you the challenges the design teams faced and what led them to adopt modern style methods.

Thanks to the technological advances of the last decade, recreational vehicle interiors have continued to evolve. Motorhomes have stylistic features that are practical and aesthetically pleasing, something that was not possible a decade ago. We’ll also show you what’s on the list soon.

New technologies that have contributed to the design of van interiors

One of the greatest inventions for the recreational vehicle industry is LED lighting. While many RV enthusiasts are looking for alternative energy sources like solar, LED lights are the most energy efficient you can get. They are brighter, available in all colors, and are the same size as a standard RV light.

Interior lighting for recreational vehicles

The use of light to create a certain atmosphere was unknown in the past in the automotive industry. When mood lighting first made its appearance in the RV industry, it was visible in high-end, multi-million dollar, Class A diesel motorhomes. Many consumers felt that this technology would not be available in cheaper buses. Today it can be seen in artificial chimneys, behind glass panels in cabinet doors, and elsewhere in some travel trailers less than 25 feet long.

Coloured LED lights can create an atmosphere in your motorhome

Vinyl is another important material that occupies a prominent place in the interior of recreational vehicles. In 1930, metal discs were replaced by vinyl, allowing better sound reproduction (Google turntables). Vinyl entered the flooring industry in the early 1970s. You’ll see him in the vans soon after.

In recent years, RV interior designers have begun phasing out carpeting and replacing it with vinyl flooring. Vinyl slates have many advantages:

  • Available in all colours and designs
  • Suitable for all temperatures
  • Easy to clean
  • Textured to prevent slippage
  • Easy Installation

The list of new or updated innovations that make up the style of modern recreational vehicles could go on endlessly. It can be said that the clean lines and solid colors of the furniture in a modern design style fit well with caravans and recreational vehicles. The style likes flat furniture that creates the illusion of an open space.

What is the future of motorhome interiors?

In an article in RV-Pro, the author poses this question to several RV providers. The author received many different responses. Some themes currently in use will be retained, new concepts will be derived from variations of existing ideas, and others will take their place in the RV Hall of Fame.

Regardless of the color palette or specific style, mobile home interiors will continue to imitate living spaces. As with many mods, if it’s old, it can become new again. Brass hardware can recur in warmer tones, offering consumers an alternative to travel trailers with white interiors.

You will find that non-traditional woods, such as teak, are replacing the more common oak or cherry. Brown, natural and lacquered wood could be there as early as model year 2023. Gray is always a solid color for floors and cabinets, so expect interior designers to keep this color as a base for their future interiors.

The industry is moving away from the floral and leafy fabrics found in traditional and rustic styles. The fabric of the RV will be influenced by solid colors from the roots of modernism and certain modern subgroups. Textured fabrics and wood color are being experimented with as new ways to develop modern styling for recreational vehicles.

In ancient times (1910-1945), the original name of a mobile home was a camper. As the interiors of recreational vehicles increasingly resemble those of homes, the term recreational vehicle may need to be replaced with a home use vehicle, as it will look more like a home than a mobile recreational vehicle.

Where do RV interior designers get their inspiration?

Many people think there is some sort of insider magazine or special access that designers don’t have to the public. The truth is, RV decorators get inspiration from everywhere: on television, on the internet, from other RV brands, in homes, apartments and other places.

They also get feedback on how their projects are selling. If a particular interior model sells better than another, the manufacturer can offer that model for other models. Those that are not for sale can be quickly eliminated and replaced with something else. Ultimately, the consumer is the final decision-maker.

Keep sharing these RV decorating ideas on Pinterest and other social media sites. Fill out these comment cards or the comment sections on the RV manufacturers’ websites. Your thoughts and comments really do make a difference.