Creative Solutions for RV Organization
Creative Solutions for RV Organization
Ideas, strategies, and inspiration for using the storage space in your coach.
By: Don Cohen
“So, when you drive away, what happens to everything inside?” It was a surprising question from the front desk clerk at our hotel in Santiago, Chile. We were spending two days in the city after a couple of weeks hiking in Patagonia. Somehow, between guest check-ins, our lobby conversation had morphed into showing the video I’d produced on the Horizon a couple of years ago.
Those new to RVing quickly learn about stowing items after that first unsecured item rolls and crashes onto the floor. Even the most experienced RVers have a highly developed sense of “what was that?” radar, as you listen to interior coach sounds behind you going down the highway.
Several years ago, I wrote about parking our Navion outside a Container Store and then spending the next several hours going in and out to test storage items.
In a big rig, some of your storage strategies change given the fact that you now have inches, not millimeters to work with. For us, big rig life is closer to downsized daily living than it is to camping. Fewer paper plates, and more china.
Organizing is different for everyone. But, there are two universals: (1) the less you have, the easier it is to organize, and (2) things stay neater if they have a designated place.
Turning Tradition Upside Down with the Dish Drawer
Nothing better illustrates this approach than how we took a whole new look at galley organization. At home, where do you normally store the dishes? Probably in a cabinet above the counter. The simple idea of where to put the plates created a complex series of decisions. In the Horizon, the plates and glasses now go into a drawer (conveniently right next to the dishwasher). This is where they are the most secure during transit.
There were four steps to organizing our dish drawer:
1. We decided on a place setting of six with large plates, salad plates, and bowls. Six is about all we can handle for an in-coach dinner, and with the two of us, six gives us three days of service if we use the dishwasher (though we often simply wash up as we go). We bought Corelle which is a good choice as it’s reasonably durable, microwaveable, and thin for compact stacking.
2. We lined the bottom of the drawers with a padded felt material that is also Velcro-friendly (more on that in a moment).
3. I measured both plate size and drawer size and found that there would be extra room around the plates. I found plastic glasses (tumblers and juice) that were a perfect width and height.
4. Using plexiglass and Velcro, I custom-formed stops and dividers to keep everything secure. Plexiglas is a pretty easy material to work with and form. I found a local vendor who would cut a small plexiglass sheet into smaller pieces. Using a simple wood jig and a heat gun I formed the plex pieces into “L” dividers and sanded the sharp edges down with a Dremel.
Divide & Conquer in the Kitchen
For cabinet storage, using VHB (very high bond) double-sided tape, I affixed the “hook” side of the Velcro to the dividers. These dividers then grip the carpeted cabinet lining used in the Horizon. This simple design allowed me to position dividers anywhere within the cabinets.
For kitchen utensils, drawer dividers are super useful. Arranging dividers horizontally freed up open storage space. One of the key things to pay attention to is drawer depth. RV designs often have shallower utensil drawers, so double-check the height dimension.
Taking advantage of a wider top drawer provided enough room for a silverware tray and a knife rack. Remember to always check drawer height.
In RV supply stores, you often see expandable rods to help hold things in place in the refrigerator. If you have a residential fridge there are more general storage options. For instance, we have several dividers for pop and other items. This eliminates load shift and any surprise fallout once you’ve arrived and opened the fridge doors.
Other Creative RV Storage Solutions
It seems like 3M Command Hooks were made for RVing. I’ve used them in various places in all our rigs. One of my favorite uses is placing hooks around the top of the shower stall for drying multiple items. They’re also great on the inside of cabinet doors for things like towels and washcloths.
Double-stick Velcro hook tape sticks well to the carpeted interior of the Horizon cabinets as well and Velcro keeps the small bins from shifting. Tiny pieces affixed to gas and key cards keep them on hand. Extra strips in the top right corner are used for temporary placement of keys and other small items.
A P-Touch label machine has also come in quite handy for labeling bins and certain drawers. Labels work great for helping remember which buttons to use as well! For most folks, your RV is a short-term residence. Unlike a home where you tend to memorize what goes where, after a season of non-use it’s easy to forget where certain things get stored and more creativity is needed.
Make More Space
While our Horizon closets are quite large, shoe storage is always a challenge. I took the unused space over the clothes rod, installed a ClosetMaid wire shelf and covered it so that no shoe gook would fall on the clothes. (Added bonus: easier to see what shoes you have).
Storage ottomans are fabulous. They’re perfect for tucking away fleece blankets, great footrests, and double as mini coffee tables. There are lots of them on Amazon and Wayfair and many of the synthetics run about $50 dollars. We wanted higher quality leather for the Horizon and found a great selection of colors at Crate and Barrel for $150. They are very well made and definitely look classy.
Nail It Down … Without Nails
It goes by several names, but we call it museum putty. It’s a semi-gummy acrylic clay-like product that people use to keep art and china from falling off the shelf (especially in earthquake-prone areas). It doesn’t mar the surface and can be pretty easily removed. In our kitchen, I’ve applied it to the paper towel holder, coffee maker, toaster oven, and spice baskets. It’s amazing.
We’ve driven for thousands of miles over all kinds of roads and everything stays put. Of course, in our final pre-departure cabin check we firmly nudge the countertop appliances to make sure they’re secure. Another upside is that our appliances are always ready to go and don’t take up valuable under-counter storage space.
Sources for Storage Stuff
My two primary sources for organizational ideas and products are The Container Store and Amazon. However, we’ve found some pretty elegant solutions at places like Walmart and Hobby Lobby. By taking the time to measure dimensions of cabinets and drawers and entering them as notes into my phone, when we come across a potential solution, there’s no second-guessing (or probable return) of buying an item.
What are your best RV storage tips?