When we first decided to make the move to living in our RV full-time, one of my biggest worries was organization. Where in the world would I keep everything? Like many people, I have always enjoyed a very full closet, a kitchen brimming with fun new culinary tools, and a whole lot of miscellaneous belongings that I wasn’t too keen on getting rid of. In fact, I was downright worried that everything that I wanted to bring in our new home on wheels wouldn’t fit.
I am thrilled that I was wrong! Not only did everything fit, I actually still have room to spare.
Before I go room to room and show you exactly how I organized our new abode, here are a few general tips:
all most of your old organizational tactics out the window. Unless you are used to an RV-sized home, you will need to learn a new way to organize. But don’t worry! This post will give you a lot of helpful hints and tips.
- When you start your transition between home dwelling and full-timing, sort your belongings in the following “piles”: RV, storage unit (if you’re getting one), trash, donate, and sell. We had an enormous garage sale a month and a half before we left, and were able to sell a LOT of our unwanted items. After we figured out what we wanted to sell, it made it easier for us to to figure out what we were keeping, donating and throwing away.
- Don’t feel like you have to buy all new home things just because you are now in an RV. Most of your current kitchen, dining, bathroom and bedroom supplies will still work! There are some exceptions; I will post a new blog about those soon!
Our main room now consists of our living room, dining area, and kitchen! Because this area wears so many hats, I knew it was important that every inch of space is utilized well.
- Food storage: As a wannabe chef and lover of all things food, I wanted to be sure that our pantry was always stocked. I soon realized that there was no way that I would be able to keep the same amount of food on hand as I was used to, as I was now dealing with a much smaller fridge, freezer, and pantry. My solution? Meal planning, “selective purchases,” and a little bit of creativity. Tip: Don’t worry too much about moving to a smaller fridge and freezer. Instead, focus on what you typically buy too much of, and remember that you can’t always buy perishables in bulk!
Try organizing your designated food storage by food type: this cupboard houses miscellaneous non-perishables (like Brandon’s Cinnamon Toast Crunch, my brownie mix, extra spices, etc.), another cupboard houses all of my baking necessities, and another (pictured below) houses my canned goods, chips , crackers and breads.
One of my crowning moments was when I figured out what to use this random wooden indent in our kitchen for : a spice rack! As I have mentioned, I am an avid cook and love my spices, but a traditional spice racks take up far too much room for my limited storage space. I found my solution with this perfectly sized wall indent and some heavy duty velcro! It adds some color and life into my kitchen space, and is extremely handy to boot.
- Kitchenware: The two longest cupboards in the main room are home to my dishes, pots, pans, cooking utensils, glass food storage containers and more. I love the white-coated metal Bed Bath and Beyond racks for organizing my dishes, cutting boards, etc. Every space is different, so this isn’t a “one size fits all” approach. I packed and unpacked these cupboards probably 15 times until they fit in just perfectly! Tip: Do not worry about utilizing every inch of space IF it means compromising with functionality. Making sure everything in your cupboards is easily accessible is more important than packing in every single kitchen tool you own!
All of my bulky pots, pans, and other cooking necessities are stored together. Propping up your baking dishes and cutting boards is a nice way to keep everything organized. Also, check out this awesome Bed Bath and Beyond collapsable strainer! (Bright green, in back)
From left to right: My glass food storage tupperware, white basket filled with cooking utensils, large bowls beneath basket, stacked white mixing bowls, patterned drying mat, stacked dishes (square, to accommodate the cupboards), stacked small bowls and cups.
Since my cooking utensils didn’t fit in my small kitchen drawers, I put them all in a white plastic container and made a “shelf” for them in the cupboard. When I am cooking, I set the whole container on the kitchen table for easy access.
I highly suggest purchasing a dish drying mat instead of a traditional drying rack. Space is precious and you don’t want to waste it with unnecessary bulk!
A view of our tiny sink and limited counter space! The drying mat, a size “large” from Bed Bath and Beyond, fits the space perfectly.
I installed two small 3M hooks (the damage free, sticky back kind!) to hang up my dish towel and our pot holders. The nifty knife and scissor holder was a present from my brother and sister-in-law (thanks Jeff & Meliss!) for Christmas.
- Miscellaneous storage: One of my favorite organizational finds were these plastic ‘woven’ baskets from Target. You see them above the kitchenware cupboards in the pictures above. There happens to be a large space between the ceiling and our cabinetry that fits the baskets perfectly. There is even a large wooden lip that keeps the baskets from moving while we travel. We used a label maker to make it easier to tell one basket from the next, as we have 10 of them. Because they are just out of my reach, I bought a collapsible 1-step stool from Target and store it under the couch when I am not using it.
Tip: Do not be afraid to store things that you would normally keep in only one room in organizational totes such as these. As you can see, one of these bins in labeled “Hair.” I keep my blow dryer, curling iron and other hair supplies in this bin. They fit much easier here than in the bathroom, and when I need them, they are only about 6 steps away.
- Comfortable touches: As much as I love our toy hauler, I knew from the moment we decided to live in it that I would need to add some comforts of home to make it feel more livable. It only took a few minor purchases to do just that!
The back of our couch and two chairs are both embroidered with the word “Stealth” (the model of our ‘home’). I didn’t want to stare at that all day, every day, so I snagged a few simple beige blankets from Bed Bath and Beyond (yep, I spent a lot of time there before the move!) They are practical and functional; I love snuggling up in one during a cool morning.
The space in front of the couch just begged for a rug, so I opted for this whimsical runner from…guess where…Bed Bath and Beyond. Even a small rug goes a long way in adding color and warmth to a small space!
The key to organizing your bathroom? Less really is more. When I cleaned out the bathroom in our old home, I came to realize that I didn’t use the majority of the items that stocked the shelves. So, I donated a great deal of it and brought only what we really used on a regular basis.
An overview of our bathroom. I have joked with Brandon that it is my “favorite room in the house”; it gets cool (or heats up) the quickest, and has two skylights that let in tons of natural light.
Instead of using travel bags for our toiletry essentials, I gave us each a shelf behind the bathroom mirror. This keeps our belongings separated, and forces us to stay organized. Can you guess which shelf belongs to who?
To combat clutter, I bought a small divided stacking box from Target. I took out all of the medicine that has individual labels and wrappers and put them into the bottom tier, which was a huge space saver. The second tier I used for small pill bottles with loose pills. The top compartment I filled with Q-tips, essential oils, nail clippers, cough drops and other miscellaneous bathroom essentials. This “medicine box” stays under the bathroom sink.
Here is a view underneath our sink. Our medicine box and a few other essentials (hydrogen peroxide, Bio Packs for the RV toilet, Brandon’s electric razor charger, my makeup bag, etc.) fit nicely under here.
I condensed all of my makeup and jewelry to these two small bags! This was the easiest way I could come up with to keep track of small makeup items and accessories.
Our shower came with two small built-in “shelves” that hold most our our shower essentials. Our favorite bathroom accessory is our improved shower head that we purchased from an RV supply store. It uses less water than the factory shower head, and the water pressure is remarkably better!
Creating an organizational system for all of our clothing was one of my most daunting tasks. I am not ashamed to admit that I love (hoard might be a more appropriate term) clothes. I knew that trying to accommodate all of my clothing (and Brandon’s) was not going to be possible. I sold roughly 60-70% of my clothes and Brandon’s clothes either at our huge garage sale I mentioned before or online. I stored another 10-20%, and brought the rest with.
Our bedroom pretty much consists of a bed and our closet space. That being said, it is so cozy and comfortable! Tip: DO NOT keep your stock mattress that will come with your RV – it will feel like you are sleeping on a board. We bought an RV-sized memory foam mattress from Amazon; it was one of our best purchases.
This is my closet. Needless to say, it is a lot smaller than I am used to, and needed to hold the bulk of my clothing. I bought three stacking pull-out bins from Target, and they fit the space perfectly. If you are wondering why the floor of the closet is purple, that is actually 2-inch thick industrial styrofoam. The lip on the closet floor didn’t allow for me to pull out the bottom drawer, so our handy neighbor helped me carve out a piece of foam to fit the bottom of the closet. Thanks, Matt!
The small container sitting on top holds my running gloves and headbands. I did utilize a bit of hanging space for a few bulky sweaters. I also bought a hanging scarf rack (you can find them at Bed Bath and Beyond or Target); that saves a lot of space! Don’t mind the goofy photo booth picture in the corner :)
These three drawers hold most of my shirts, dresses and running clothes. For an optimum amount of storage space, I rolled my clothes instead of folding them. This isn’t very space saving for pants or other bulky items, but it works great for lighter items!
These three IKEA cloth woven baskets (and odd-out brown basket) serve as Brandon’s main clothing storage. He has a lot less clothing than I do, so organizing was quite as daunting of a task for him.
The long cupboard that runs the length of our bed hold our extra towels (in the far left corner, not pictured) and 5 modular Target baskets. These baskets hold our clothing that we either (a) have less of, or (b) don’t use as often. They fit the space perfectly, and make sure that the clothing doesn’t slide around while you’re moving.
See? A bucket of socks! Perfect solution :)
I attached two 3M heavy duty, damage free hooks to the back of our bedroom door. Make sure you buy the ones that are rated for 15 lbs if you will hanging heavy items. I wear my robe a lot like an old woman, and I always need my purse handy. I highly recommend 3M damage-free hooks for all RVers!
Not pictured: We have a space under our bed that is the perfect size for our dirty laundry bags, as well as a small plastic tote that we store a few of our warm winter coats in.
Well, that is our home! We hope you enjoyed the tour!
– Megan and Brandon