Living in an RV doesn’t mean you have to put up with the dark interior that makes it feel like a cave. There are some fun and inexpensive ways to lighten and brighten your RV interior by using these creative decorating tips. These interior decorating ideas can be used in RVs. But also, can be incorporated in small spaces like a cottage, cabin, tiny home or even small apartment.
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12 Fun Ways to Lighten and Brighten Your RV Interior – RV Renovation Tips
RV manufacturers are finally listening to their customers when choosing color palettes in their new models of motorhomes, fifth wheels and travel trailers.
But, they still are very generic and plain inside. Why not bring a little sunshine and brightness into your RV interior with these cool ways to lighten and brighten your small spaces.
Lighten Up Using Window Treatments
How you decorate your windows is a main key to lighten and brighten your RV interior. Windows tend to be a focal point in your RV as they let in the light you’re yearning for.
So, you need to get this right because window light is everything to small spaces. You certainly don’t want to block what’s coming inside.
While you may want to rip those ugly cornice board window valances down, there’s a reason why they are installed in the first place.
Their placement is to hide the shade mechanisms. The side window box feature hides the strings from shades as well as block light coming in from the sides of the shades when pulled closed.
In our fifth wheel, instead of ditching our window valance cornice boards, we embraced them! And, the same in our motorhome. We simply took them down and recovered them instead.
PRO TIP: Check out our YouTube video tutorial on how to recover the cornice boards in your motorhome or camper!
Also, in our Winnebago View motorhome, we removed the cornice board over the dinette window. We customized both main windows over the dinette and kitchen counter with unique window treatments instead.
In doing so, we installed a lightweight double curtain rod; one rod is for our custom-designed window valance and the back rod for light-gray sheer to soften the view yet provide a bit of translucent privacy.
Increase Interior Lighting
Another way to lighten and brighten your RV interior is through lighting.
Whether it’s natural light through your windows and skylights or overhead lighting and accent lighting from a small table lamp or wall sconces, lighting is everything!
In older motorhomes, fifth wheels and travel trailers, RV manufacturers installed fluorescent bulb strip lights, puck lights, silly looking light bars or halogen puck lights.
Fluorescent lights will give off a blueish tint. After awhile, you literally see stars and are really not good for your eyes.
And those halogen lights burn really hot and are not very energy efficient. So, upgrading your interior lights with 12 volt LED lights would be a great way to improve lighting and their efficiency.
If your motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer camper has a table or large flat surface such as a dinette table with a nearby electric outlet, consider getting a small decorative table lamp.
And, consider switching out the lamp shade for a white or light color to expose as much light as you can.
I chose this cute small stainless table lamp to add enough accent light for evening dinners or ambiance in our small Class C motorhome. It’s just the right size for our small dinette table.
Because of its’ wide base, I don’t have to pack it away during transit. It won’t tip over. This little light of mine is perfect to lighten and brighten our motorhome interior without obnoxious brightness.
Decorate with FUNctional Pillows
Pillows and pillow covers are an easy and fun way to lighten and brighten your RV or camper interior!
So, use small throw pillows in lighter colors as accents. Using brighter or lighter colors and designs will mean all the world to your visual happiness.
If you’re like me, changing the pillow designs often to dissuades boredom.
As I mentioned in our 10 Simple and Easy RV Decorating Tips, instead of buying actual pillows and having to worry about storing them, I buy pillow covers.
I can store the other set(s) of throw pillow covers in our extra large storage baskets up in our over-cab loft.
Check out these beautiful light and bright throw pillow covers:
- Adventure Arrow Throw Pillow Covers
- Adventure Awaits Single Throw Pillow Cover
- Nautical Arrow and Compass Throw Pillow Covers
- Coastal Theme Throw Pillow Covers
- Retro World Map Throw Pillow Covers
- Happy Camper Throw Pillow Covers
- Cactus Garden Throw Pillow Covers
- Gray Modern Decorative Throw Pillow Covers
Brighten Your RV Bedroom with Bedding and Linens
One of best and easiest ways to lighten and brighten your RV interior is simply by changing your bedding ensemble. You can give your bedroom a whole new look with a new quilt, blanket, pillow cases and shams.
Personally, I love quilts rather than bulky comforters because they can be easily stored for change of seasons.
Also, they are reversible so when one side gets soiled or stained, you can easily flip it over for a different look until you can get it into the laundry.
And of course, they are far easier to launder than stuffing a king-size puff-a-lump comforter into the washer and dryer.
I do have a suggestion if you have pets or kids though. Choose patterns over solid colors as they camouflage small stains easier.
Here are a few beautiful light color reversible quilt bedding sets than can lighten and brighten your RV bedroom:
PRO LAUNDRY TIP: If you get a stain or soil mark on your bedding, use stain remover wipes! They are magical! We always keep a pack or two in our motorhome, glove box of our Jeep, our emergency go bag and our daily sightseeing bag.
If you have a large stain, we pre-treat with simply squirting and working in regular blue Dawn dishwashing liquid a couple hours prior to laundering. And if it’s a pet potty stain, we’ve found this pet stain and odor remover spray works amazing!
Accent Your RV Decor with Blankets and Throws
Lighten and brighten your RV with textiles is the easiest and most economical way to update or freshen up your RV interior.
A simple throw blanket draped over the back of the sofa or chair is a good start.
Or, if you don’t have a lot of money for a new bedding ensemble, use an inexpensive lighter colored throw blanket neatly spread on top of a bed will do the trick.
Using Wall Art and Attractive Visible Storage
When we recently decorated Winnebago View interior, I was on the hunt for the perfect wall art. This included the frames and mats as well.
And then, finding interesting wall art and cool visually attractive wall features came into play.
We also found small and simplistic flat-backed wall sconce vases that I’ve attached with velcro strips made for walls. I then, hot-glued a block of florist dry foam inside the vase and then inserted a small succulent floral picks.
You may want to personalize and decorate your RV using wire wall baskets, trays and lighter wood-tone plaques.
A couple tips when selecting your wall art:
- Make sure wall art or objects are lightweight and unbreakable
- Refrain from hanging heavier wall art from overhead locations
- Replace photo frame glass with unbreakable and lighter plexiglass
- Prepare your wall surface prior to hanging wall art, baskets, etc.
- If hanging anything with nails, screws or drywall anchors, insure there is no cables, wire or plumbing is behind that wall location.
- When removing or replacing any adhesive strips from walls, always follow adhesive product manufacturer instructions. Try the product first in inconspicuous locations (like a closet) first.
I did want to mention that Command Strips manufacturer 3M states on their website FAQ page, “Most wallpapers are too delicate and can tear when adhesives are applied.”
So buyer beware. The manufacturer will not be held liable for damage.
And being totally honest here, we’ve used Command Hooks that actually pulled the wallpaper away from the wall. We think it was because the items we hung on the hooks were too heavy, not for the hooks themselves, but due to the weight pulling the paper from the wall surface.
So, use your own discretion on what you hang and where. Just know that damage may occur if you aren’t mindful of what you’re hanging, movement of your RV and the wall surface itself.
Be very careful when removing your Command Strips Adhesive. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Placemats, Table Runners or Table Cloths
Another easy update to lighten and brighten your RV interior is by applying textile or fabric table coverings to your tables, desks or other lateral surfaces.
A simple set of easy-to-clean white placemats or table runner can mean the difference between having a stark-looking table or a ‘let’s sit and talk over coffee’ invitation. They add class with a little color!
That said, personally, I’m not a fan of cloth because they soil and stain easily. Why would I want to add to the laundry basket each time food gets dropped onto them?
So, I prefer vinyl placemats that can be wiped off with a damp cloth and sanitized.
And, since placemats are fairly inexpensive, I tend to change my placemats out often for different pops of color and design; especially when I decorate for holidays.
Change the Wall Color
A more permanent way to lighten and brighten your RV interior is by painting the walls and ceilings.
And, after a few years of road-wear, you can simply change your wall color for a whole new fresh and updated look.
So, don’t be afraid of picking up that paint brush to give your RV interior a bright new welcoming and lighter look.
In our fifth wheel, we first prepped and primed all interior walls and ceilings.
Once primer dried, we then painted our fifth wheel ceilings a high quality, easy-to-clean, white satin finish; including the dark wood-tone mouldings.
We then, we chose bright and fun wall colors (think Margaritaville! Light Turquoise and Lime Green).
However, when it came time for us to trade our fifth wheel in for our Winnebago View motorhome, we didn’t fret.
Since our walls had already been properly primed, all we had to do is flood coat it with white satin wall paint.
The reason we chose a satin finish is it still allows light to bounce but without the glare and sheen. Satin finish also allows for easy cleaning of scuffs and dirt.
We applied the same painting protocol to our Winnebago View Class C motorhome remodel.
Jazz It Up with Wallpaper
You can instantly change the look and customize your RV interior walls with simple peel-n-stick wall coverings.
Since RV’s don’t have a lot of wall real estate, this can be an easy and inexpensive way to lighten and brighten your RV interior. And now, wallpaper is as economical as painting walls.
Here’s a great selection of beautiful white wall coverings:
Again, it’s how important to properly prep and prime your wall surfaces so paint and wallpaper adhesive adheres correctly.
Also, to avoid chromatic aberration, purchase enough rolls at one time to ensure they are from the same color(s) batch.
PRO TIP: Here’s a great YouTube video tutorial of how Sarah from Haus Von Floof installed wallpaper in her RV
Update your RV Backsplash
One of the most common ways to lighten up your RV interior is changing or installing a new kitchen backsplash.
Now, do understand that not every backsplash is going to work in a fifth wheel or travel trailer as towable RVs have more flex.
So, thinking you’re going to be installing ceramic or breakable tile that requires grout may not be your wisest decision. I’m not saying it can’t be done but you’ll be better apt to go for lighter backsplash options.
So, perhaps a lighter-weight, easy-to-install peel-and-stick 12″x 12″ Self Adhesive Removable Kitchen or Bathroom backsplash tile. Installation requires no glue, no grout and leaves no mess. They are perfect for a DIY project.
You can get them in a popular is the subway tile, gray mosaic horizontal tile or if you want to get bold, check out this cool black and white Moroccan tile design. Whichever you choose will give your kitchen or bath a clean and crisp update.
And it bears repeating, make certain you prepare the wall surface thoroughly or your tiles will not adhere properly.
In our fifth wheel RV backsplash upgrade, we chose decorative thermoplastic panels (above) specifically designed for ceilings, walls, and backsplashes. They can be easily installed just as they come in the metal finishes or you can paint them as we did to add more personalization with a splash of color.
We used a uniform tile design in our kitchen and a wavy pattern for an amazingly interesting wall treatment in our RV bathroom remodel. As you can see, there are multiple ways you can use those panels.
Check out our fifth wheel RV kitchen backsplash and wall treatments to our RV bathroom:
Cabinet Color and Finish
I would say 80% of RVs that are manufactured even today have dark wood tones throughout the motorhome or camper. It’s the number one interior decorating blunder RV owners complain about.
Dark cabinetry makes RV interiors look and feel cave-like, claustrophobic and oftentimes, according to the new(er) generations, seriously outdated.
But the reason why RV manufacturers use darker cabinetry is two-fold. Wood-stained cabinetry lowers an RV’s price point. And the process is faster and cheaper than paint.
But also, dark cabinets hide dark shadows and cracks caused by irregular seams whereas, lighter colored cabinets will require caulking and sealing those seams to look professional and clean.
But, hey, if you’re really wanting to paint them, have at it. That being said, painting your RV cabinets and doors should be a last resort as it is incredibly tedious and time consuming.
And, if you don’t do it correctly, you’ll not only be disappointed in the result but you will damage your cabinetry.
So, in my opinion, if you’re a sloppy painter, don’t have the patience or don’t know what you’re doing, leave cabinet painting to the professionals.
Take a good look at what Modern Mountain Life did with their cabinets and the lessons they learned in the process.
Replace Your RV Furniture
If you’ve done any or all of the above and you’re motorhome or camper interior is still dark, you may want to consider replacing your furniture to lighten and brighten your RV interior.
Or, even small changes like painting your wood-frame dining chairs or small accent tables could be just enough to put a pop of color that you need.
But if it’s that dark brown faux leather couch that seems to be anchoring your room down, look into a replacement sofa. Sofas and chairs today come in pieces so you’ll be able to get them inside the door.
Just be aware, the lighter the color, the more it’s going to show dirt and wear. And, dark faux leather (or pleather) furniture allows you to cover up any marring with a leather and vinyl repair kit.
Also, if you have kids and pets, look into either a higher-grade, better quality faux leather or easy-to-clean fabric such as a stain-resistant microfiber.
Oh, and simply adding cute pillows and colorful throw blanket can add a bit of bounce and pop in color to detract from the dark furniture or hide some damage.
And, speaking of furniture, if you work on the road, you may want to replace that sofa or loveseat and install a desk instead to give you a great workspace.
Here’s some cool RV office desks for your motorhome, fifth wheel or larger travel trailer:
Though some may not be the color you want, you can always alter by painting them:
That’s a Wrap!
So, are you ready to lighten and brighten your RV interior? As you can see, there are several ways you can lighten and brighten your RV interior. You can even apply some of these to van build or camper interior decorating DIY projects.
Before you know it, your motorhome or camper will be house beautiful on wheels!
For more ways to improve and update your RV interior:
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