10 Storage Ideas for Your Camper
These RV storage ideas from a certified organizing pro and full-time RVer will help you maximize camper space, from roof to wheels.
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That Organized RV Life
While every RV and camper is different, maximizing the space you have is crucial, says professional organizer Donna Smallin Kuper of Unclutter.com. She should know. Seven years ago, Smallin Kuper and her husband traded their 3,500 square-foot home for a 40-foot motor home, and haven’t looked back.
Her No. 1 piece of advice? Think about what items you use the most and prioritize access to them. “You don’t want to be on your hands and knees to pull out a box you need every day,” she says. The “one in, one out” rule also still applies: When something new comes in, something old must go.
Following are Smallin Kuper’s top 10 tips for organizing your RV.
Get Creative with Hanging Shoe Organizers
Over-the-door shoe organizers don’t have to go over the door or hold shoes. You can cut them up into double or single rows and attach them anywhere you have blank space — on walls, or the sides of your furniture — using Velcro, staples, screws or a heavy-duty adhesive tape such as Gorilla Tape. Smallin Kuper says she’s seen fellow RV enthusiasts attach them to the sides of the front entry stairs so there’s a place for shoes when coming in and out of the RV.
A Bin for Everything
Just like at home, storage bins keep things organized. But in an RV especially, bins and boxes maximize every bit of space. Smallin Kuper uses large bins to store patio and outdoor gear in the “basement” (a.k.a. the lower compartment) of her motor home, and she uses smaller bins about the size of a shoebox for toiletries under her sink. Try grouping like items together, such as a first aid box and a dental hygiene box.
Use Vertical Shelf Space
Unlock the extra space between where the things stored on one shelf end and the shelf above it begins. Smallin Kuper uses a two-tier metal-coated rack in her kitchen cabinet, which holds her largest plates on the bottom, smaller plates on the first shelf and bowls on top. (While driving, a bungee cord secures them all.)
She also repurposed her magazine racks to securely stack canned goods vertically, braced against the walls of the rack.
Keep Bedside Items Off the Floor
No bedside table? No problem — your bed can pull double duty. The side and head of the bed are perfect areas for pocket storage. Stick some of the cut-up hanging shoe organizer pockets here, or try a bed skirt with pockets so you can still reach your phone, glasses, a book or bottle of water.
Repurpose the Shower Stall
Since a stall shower is only used for a few minutes a day, let it serve as a storage closet when you’re not scrubbing up. (It’s the ideal size for a small laundry basket.) If you’re using the campground showers instead of the RV shower, the stall can become permanent storage with the help of clear stackable bins, or converted into a closet with small shelving units and tension rods.
Decant the Pantry
Getting rid of packaging in all shapes and sizes, and keeping staples in matching containers, frees up space (and can keep things in place, too, if you use the right ones). Smallin Kuper uses two sets of OXO Pop containers to store cereal, grains, beans and pasta. “Once I emptied all these boxes and bags into the canisters I could see, ‘Wow, look at all the space I have,’ ” she says. “Nothing is slipping and sliding when you’re going down the road.”
Trick Out the Closet
Let’s face it: Some motor home closets make a college dorm look downright spacious. Make the most of every square inch with specialized floor-to-ceiling solutions such as tiered hangers, which create a cascade of clothing by holding four or five pairs of pants or skirts on a single hook. (They work great for scarves and belts, too.) Other small closet-helpers: Wall hooks, double-hang rods, shelf dividers and floor racks.
Create a Smart Space for Trash and Recyclables
Recycling centers can be hard to come by living on the road and at campgrounds, but you can still sort recyclables from the garbage without cluttering up your kitchen counter. This collapsible container is small enough to potentially be used inside the RV as well as outside, and it has dividers for bottles, cans and paper. “I love that I can separate recyclables and trash in the house and just empty them separately as needed,” Smallin Kuper says. Her Simple Human trash can was a splurge, but one she says was worth every penny. Simple Human dual trash cans start at $70 and come as short as 15 inches.
Max Out Fridge Space
Space is especially at a premium inside an RV refrigerator, which may not come with drawers and door shelves like a full-size fridge. Smallin Kuper’s motor home fridge lacks drawers, but clear plastic open-top bins help her stock the max amount of produce, meat and dairy. She likes Fridge Binz bins, which function like dispensers and come in shapes for specific items like eggs and soda cans.
Swap Out the Sofa Bed
Have that quintessential RV sofa-by-day, bed-by-night, yet don’t often need that second part? Trade it out for a sofa with under-cushion storage. Smallin Kuper bought a storage sectional from Ikea because the modular furniture company sells individual sections, allowing her to get a sofa small enough to fit the space. Now it holds extra blankets and out-of-season clothes.