Some RV manufacturers seem to have missed the mark on simple necessities such as paper towel and toilet paper holders in their motorhomes, fifth wheels, and travel trailers. So, after living in our fifth wheel, we’ve added some custom interior RV modifications that were out of necessity while others were to make our RV more aesthetically comfortable.
When we purchased our RV fifth wheel, we decided to live in it for a few months before making any modifications and upgrades. That way, we’d have a good feel of what is really necessary and how different features work and don’t work.
As we’ve found, everything in an RV, with exception of very high end custom coaches, is comparatively speaking, what regular homeowners call “contractor grade”. Some were extremely inferior in quality and some were just installed haphazardly or in the weirdest places. And some, like those toilet paper and paper towel holders aren’t included at all.
So, after months of working through them, we decided to get to work. We’d pour ourselves into others’ blogs and YouTube videos to see their RV modifications. But, as we all know, each RV floor plan is different. And every RV owner has different needs and desires.
10 Cool RV Interior Modifications in our Fifth Wheel
In this article, most of our fifth wheel RV interior mods took less than an hour to install. And, by doing these custom improvements ourselves, we didn’t spend a whole lot. But some of them became tedious because RVs are not constructed like homes. There’s no such thing as 16″ on center in a motorhome or camper. In fact, really there is no rhyme or reason as to some of the build quality (or lack of). But, I digress.
We’ve succumbed to accepting that customizing anything in our RV will take twice as much work. I laugh when I say that measuring anything in an RV will be tenfold. Nothing is or will be square or plumb.
If you install anything onto walls or cabinetry in your RV, you need to make certain that they are secured to endure the rigors of RV travel. If you’ve not traveled the roads in the United States yet, you’ll soon find out quickly what I’m talking about. That means, you may have to make sacrifices on feature locations.
For example, most toilet paper holders are customarily installed onto a wall next to the toilet. However, that is not always feasible in an RV bathroom simply because they are so tiny. Which probably explains why RV manufacturers don’t even install them. So, since most of us use toilet paper, we have to find a remedy. We’ll get to those later.
You will also need to be aware that there may be electrical wires, cables or plumbing behind the bulkheads. We recommend contacting your RV manufacturer for a schematic that shows where plumbing and electric may be (or SHOULD be). Good luck with that! (*humor*)
Also, RV wall construction is not like a sticks and bricks home. As I mentioned earlier, nothing is built to strict building codes (like the 16″ on center requirement). RVs are studded with aluminum and interior walls that section off rooms are constructed with wood studs. So, if you’re thinking you’re going to find a stud to hang your wall art on an exterior wall, think again.
And lastly, you need to accept what would typically take a matter of minutes to install something in a regular house, will take a twice to three times more in an RV. You may also need special tools.
Also accept that you’re going to get frustrated because you will be working in really small spaces. You’ll master contortionist positions. You’ll also make a modification on top of another modification. You may swear a lot. And, make sure Advil is within reach. But alas, you will get your toilet paper holder!
Now, onto showing our 10 cool RV interior modifications in our fifth wheel!
MAIN LIVING AREA
Screen Door Handle
Typically, RV towable RVs (travel trailers and fifth wheels) have a main hatch door and a separate screen door. The screen door however, has no grab bar or grab handle. Several times, the wind would whisk the screen door right out of our hands because there was no handle to grab.
So, we needed to find a screen door bar handle specifically designed for camper and RV screen doors. This was actually an easy install. Dan measured where it needed to be installed, drilled a couple holes, and screwed it in.
Oh, and this is a multi-function goodie! It’s not only is a grab handle, but we also hang our dishtowels to dry.
This RV screen door handle only cost us about sixteen bucks and took less than 15 minutes to install.
Lighting Globe Shades
We completed this simple RV modification on both, our Heartland Cyclone pendant lights and Heartland Landmark sconce lights.
Our Cyclone pendant lights had down-rods with cheap beige frosted glass globes. We wanted to replace them with something a little more interesting and eye-catching. These beautiful red marbled glass shades were exactly what we were looking for. While they were a tad bit more expensive, sometimes we end up spending a few extra dollars to get the exact ambiance we’re looking for.
In our Landmark fifth wheel, we completed the same mod for our aft sconce lights on either side of the big picture window. The original OEM pewter finish sconce lights came with standard fabric lampshades. While they were simple and gave off decent lighting, we wanted something a little more custom. This time, we opted for an amber color.
We found these globes in the lighting section in Lowes. Dan had to modify the lighting fixture so the glass light globe would seat securely. Now they give our coach a custom look which sets it apart from others of the same model.
This lighting modification took less than 30 minutes for both installs. The globes cost us about thirty bucks for the glass light globes.
Glass Stemware Racks
One thing we couldn’t part with was our glass stemware (i.e. wine glasses, beer glasses).
Instead of mounting our stemware rack under the cabinet where they would get get dusty and dirty, we mounted them inside the cabinet. You can read about how we keep them from breaking during travel days, check out our Top 20 Cheap RV and Camping Hacks on a Dime.
This installation RV modification took about 15 minutes to install. Both stemware racks cost less than twenty bucks.
Hidden Trash Can
Since floor space in our fifth wheel is premium, there isn’t a lot of space to put a trash can. And personally, we prefer that our trash to be out of sight anyways.
We found this kitchen trash can slide-out that fits perfectly in our RV kitchen island cabinet. Dan reinforced the cabinet floor with a wood plank. He, then, mounted the slide-out mechanism per manufacturers’ instructions.
This trash can slide-out modification and installation took a little over one hour. The trash can slide out ensemble and supplies to reinforce the cabinet floor cost about forty-five dollars.
Paper Towel Holder
I, for one, can’t stand our paper towel roll being out in the open. And I’m not a fan of countertop paper towel holders. So, I asked Dan to mount a similar paper towel holder inside the same kitchen cabinet that we installed our trash can slideout.
He first, reinforced the galley cabinet door with a small slab of wood. This would keep the screws from going all the way through the cabinet door. It also added a little more bite for the screws to secure the paper towel holder.
Just a quick RV tip for travel days, push a straight pin into the roll so it doesn’t unroll.
This RV mod took about an hour to complete. The paper towel holder and cost about fifteen dollars.
Don’t forget to check out our RV Upgrade: Our Fifth Wheel Kitchen Faucet
Decorative Wall Shelf
At Hobby Lobby, we scored this attractive two-tier metal rack in the clearance section. I knew exactly where it would go in our fifth wheel.
This was an easy home decor mod. Dan carefully installed dry wall fasteners for reinforcement. He then screwed the rack screws. That’s it! No modifying anything. We’ve had that rack up for almost three years and its still as secure as it was the day he installed it.
This simple RV decor addition only cost us ten dollars and less than ten minutes to install.
Wall Jewelry Organizer
I am still a girlie girl even though we live in a shoebox on wheels. But having tons of clothes isn’t conducive to full-time RV living. So, Jewelry it is! And because jewelry is small, I buy whatever I want. But I didn’t want to store all of my pretties in a jewelry box where they are forgotten. I can match my clothes with my jewelry with one glance.
So, this RV modification was my project. Our bedroom came with pre-installed ugly wall art. But since it was already there, I figured out a way to recycle it.
I unscrewed it from the wall and took the frame apart. I spray painted the frame with a metallic dark copper paint; allowing it to dry thoroughly.
The artwork (if that’s what you call it?) was mounted on a piece of foam board. So, I dry-fitted a piece of 1/2″ thick upholstery foam and medium weave fabric and cut both about 1/2″ bigger than the foam board. I then sprayed adhesive onto the board and positioned the foam onto the board. Since the spray adhesive dries immediately, I repeated this step but with the fabric.
After I was happy with the placement, I took my glue gun to reinforce the edges. I then trimmed the fabric and foam to the exact measurements of the board.
I reinstalled the fabric foam board to the frame and screwed the frame back into the wall. VOILA! Now my fish hook earrings poke right into the fabric and foam staying secure. And, I stuck in long decorative floral pins to hang some of my favorite necklaces.
This RV modification took about 2 hours to complete. Supplies to complete this project cost about $20.
Bathroom Towel Bar
Like I mentioned earlier, there’s sometimes no rhyme or reason why some important features are omitted from the RV manufacturing process. In our fifth wheel, our bathroom lacked a towel bar AND a toilet paper holder. So, we had to install both bathroom accessories.
Being apprehensive about screwing heavy duty brackets or dry wall screws into our walls, we decided to mount our new towel bar from the bottom of the cabinet above the commode instead. But also, there wasn’t ample space to hang our towels from the wall.
Our bathroom towel bar project took less than a half hour to complete. It cost less than twenty bucks!
Toilet Paper Roll Holder
Ah, we saved the best for last; the toilet paper holder that I told you we’d get back to. In the bathrooms of campers and fifth wheels, some manufacturers must think people don’t use toilet paper. Hence, the reason why it was left out of the manufacturing build list.
Like our bathroom towel bar mentioned above, we didn’t want to start screwing or nailing in the exterior wall of our fifth wheel.
So, Dan reinforced the inside sink cabinet door with a slab of hardwood. And then, mounted the toilet paper holder onto the hardwood as to not put added stress onto the actual cabinet door. As well, the added thickness of the wood slab added a better adherence for the screws. Our toilet paper holder installation took about an hour to install and about fifteen bucks.
So, that about raps it up for our 10 cool RV interior modifications for our fifth wheel. As you see, these are just a handful of inexpensive one-hour-or-less improvements we’ve made to our fifth wheel making it more of a home to us. We hope this gives you great perspective and even some ideas to add to your own RV; whether it be a fifth wheel like ours, a motorhome, travel trailer, or even truck camper or caravan!
More RV Modifications we’ve made on our Landmark fifth wheel