Okay, so RV life is already awesome. Even if you’ve got one of those 20-year-old rigs with that 90’s patterned pastel upholstery on the sofa bed and dinette – still awesome. There’s nothing like being on the road for a grand adventure.
But at the same time, it never really feels like home; it’s more like a moving hotel room. And this becomes especially true when you consider the sleeping situation – the beds in the RV. Are they great? Hands down – no. But RV beds are a main component of these tiny motor homes, and an important part of any RV upgrade.
RV Beds Can Make or Break Your Experience on the Road
There’s more to an RV’s interior than its beds, but the beds might be the most important part. You’re spending the majority of your free time in the beds, and if you’ve got a worn out folding mattress on your dinette, or RV bunk mattresses that are more like military cots, you’re not living your best modern-nomad life. They’re stopping you from sleeping, and they’re preventing your RV feeling like home.
But you can’t exactly drop a hundred grand on a new vehicle just because your RV beds are saggy or the curtains are crusty from years of sunlight. Well, you can, but that seems a little extreme. The good news is, you don’t have to shell out for a new rig in order to make your RV feel like it really is your home. Here are 10 simple things you can do to update your RV without actually updating your RV.
PS: These tips are great for people who rent out their RVs as well! With platforms like RVShare and RVnGo, people renting out their mobile homes need to stay competitive and ensure those post-trip customer reviews are tops. If you’ve got ‘90s décor vibes and cushions and mattresses from that same decade, you’re not optimizing this lucrative side hustle.
Okay, let’s get to it. 10 ways to upgrade your RV:
1. Reconsider the lighting.
That yellow, way-too-warm lighting in your RV can make almost anything feel dingy and dated. They’re also usually not as bright as you’d like them to be. Switch out dated fixture with modern ones with clean, low-profile designs, and get rid of all that halogen; LED is where it’s at.
Bonus: You’ll likely notice your RV is using less power once you’ve updated to energy-saving daylight bulbs. That means less work for the battery and less need for the generator in no-power-hookup situations.
2. Update the media.
This isn’t as difficult as it sounds; almost all RVs have a center console at the front you can completely remove to get at most of the wiring. Even nice RVs have entertainment centers that are lackluster. and outdated. Adding modern touches makes it feel more like home for you, guests or renters.
Update your speakers, install a new TV, and equip it with streaming and Wi-Fi capabilities. Because DVD players are just not a thing anymore – you’ve got to keep a little DVD library in your RV, and that takes up space that could be better utilized. If you’ve got someone who’s handy at tech around, you can even alter it to have a gaming system, too. Now that will really feel like home.
3. Replace the kitchen appliances.
RV kitchens are definitely different, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have sleek lines and stainless steel where there was once dated lacquer-black and a composite counter. Treat your RVs kitchen like your own and do a bite-sized reno. The kitchen is the heart of any home; tailor it how you like. We’re only on Number 3, but you can already start to see the living area of your RV take shape and really feel like a family room.
DIY Tip: Don’t want to spend the money to replace the apartment-sized fridge or custom-sized microwave? There are vinyl onlays that look just like brushed stainless steel. Apply them to your dated-but-still-functional RV appliances and get the same look without the cost.
4. Paint the cabinets.
The interior surfaces of an RV are, like, 60% cabinets. And unless your RV is new new, the cabinets are likely that warm medium-brown color that people should have stopped using 30 years ago. You don’t need to gut the place and invest in new cabinets, though, because the good thing about RV cabinets is they are solid. They have to be; you can’t have things flying all over the place when you’re driving on a bumpy back road in a national park.
You’d be amazed what a paint job can do. Whites and light greys will totally open up the place and update the appearance in the process. As an easy finishing touch that will also have a big impact, switch out all the knobs and pulls with low profile, sleek, brushed nickel knobs and pulls.
5. Switch out that weird wallpaper.
Nobody knows who designs the interiors of RVs, but another travesty in most rigs are there are either plain textured panels on the walls, or some bizarre wallpaper that matches the equally-bizarre patterned furniture. Get rid of it.
While you’re painting the cabinets, paint the walls, too. Use a complementary color that’s still in a light shade. And don’t forget an accent color for the trim. Another option here is vinyl wallpaper in a clean, modern design. It’s super easy to install – like a giant sticker. It’s also easy to remove, and it’s a cleaner, no-paint-needed project.
6. Update your curtain situation.
Those crusty, UV-damaged curtains need replaced, too. Modern designs, solid colors, light tones and lighter materials will bring all your improvements together. If you want the back bedroom to feel like a separate design, get differently-colored curtains for just that room. After all, a bedroom needs to be a sanctuary – a place to go for peace and quiet, even if it’s only 6 feet away from the living room in this situation.
While your daytime curtains can be light and airy, choose blackout curtains for the bedroom, and blackout shells for the front windows. Or, for an even cleaner look, choose low-profile blinds that you can open and close via the bottom bar. This eliminates the strings and pole of standard blinds, adding to the modern vibe of your RV upgrade.
7. Replace your sofa bed mattress & dinette cushions.
We already know we’ve got to update the upholstery on the pull out couch and dinette beds. At the very least, these pieces are going to need fitted covers – unless they’re leather, it’s more likely than not the upholstery is terrible colors in terrible patterns.
So just go all the way and replace the cushions and mattresses, too. You can have a custom mattress manufacturer craft luxurious memory foam cushions for the RV’s dinette bed, and a sofa bed mattress that definitely outdoes the one you’ve got back at home.
Custom RV mattresses for these non-traditional convertible beds can be made in any size and configuration. A hinged or even trifold mattress is a great option for the convertible sofa and dinette area. That way, everyone can get comfy sleep, even if they’re technically sleeping on a table.
8. Replace the RV bunks & short queen bed in the back room.
RV bunk beds are about the size of dorm mattresses and, unfortunately, they’re also about the same quality. And by that we mean bad quality. RV bunk mattresses are usually those thin foam pads you used to sleep on at summer camp – especially that bed at the top of the RV’s driving cab
Just don’t; have that custom mattress maker you found for the sofa bed and dinette do all your RVs sleep spots for you. And that includes the only actual bed in the RV – the short queen mattress in the back room. You can easily have the corners to any of these mattresses made curved as well, to add a bit of leg room and reduce the knee knocking typical of moving around in a small space.
The bed in an RV bedroom takes up, like, 90% of the room. Maybe 80% when the slide outs are… slid out. Anyway, it’d be a shame to do all that painting and updating and not replace the mattress in your RV’s bedroom. After all, you’re likely doing some to all of the driving; you deserve a good night’s rest. And you also deserve to wake up and not feel like you’ve slept on a pile of rocks.
9. Deck out every sleep spot with custom sheets and bedding.
You’re not going to be able to make the most of all your replacement RV mattresses and sofa bed if you chintz out on the sheets. If you buy sheets at a store, you’re likely not going to find the narrow bunks or short queen sheets typical of RVs. And why would you (or your renters!) want to constantly be tucking and re-tucking corners that don’t fit?
So just… don’t. It’s simple to have custom sheets and other bed linens made for your RVs sleep spots. Better yet, the custom mattress makers that crafted that hinged mattress for your rig’s dinette can also make sheets that will accommodate that specific size and shape. Same with all the other beds in your RV. Yes, even the pull-out sofa mattress.
Custom bed linens will allow you to make the most of the comfort and support of your custom RV mattresses. Perfectly-fit mattress protectors and breathable, high-thread count cotton sheets means people sleeping in the RV bunks are just as comfy as those on the spacious short queen in the RV bedroom.
10. Toss pillows and throw blankets everywhere.
Well, on the furniture, of course. But one thing that RVs are often lacking are those soft and cozy items you’ve got on your beds and couches at home. This is a great excuse for buying a few new fuzzy blankets and comfy throw pillows. And let’s be honest, everyone loves fuzzy blankets.
The other pro to adding pillows and blankets, besides extra comfort, is the interior design aspect. We’ve gone light, spacious and clean with our interior aesthetics; throw pillows and blankets are the perfect opportunity to add pops of color and really tie everything together.
Custom-Made Mattresses & Bedding for any RV, Van or Airstream Sleep Spot
Those bespoke mattress manufacturers we mentioned earlier? That’s us! We can craft luxurious mattresses of memory foam, latex, coil, or a combination in any shape or size. Need rounded corners on your short queen mattress? We’ve got you. Custom organic cotton sheets that fit those weird corners? Also got you.
And it’s not just RVs. For those of us who go smaller and do nomad life in a van or even an Airstream, we can make the mattress and bedding for your van in any dimensions, including a cut corner or other space-saving designs. Curious? Check out our guide to RV mattresses and take a look at our custom mattress models.