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Why Are RV Interiors So Ugly? Please Give Us a Modern Design!

Why Are RV Interiors So Ugly? Please Give Us a Modern Design!

Today’s post isn’t our typical article, but more of an opinion piece. We know that not everyone will agree with us. But we can’t possibly be the only RVers who ask, “Why are RV interiors so ugly?!”

Granted, not every RV manufacturer is stuck in the dark ages of drab interiors, and things have been changing a bit with more recent designs (particularly of Class B rigs). But what in the BrownDrabDrearyUglyBoringLivingSpaces is going on here?!!

This is actually a timely topic for us since we recently sold our ’05 motorhome and just ordered a new RV. For those of you who asked for more info about that rig, we’re not quite ready to reveal the details just yet. But in line with this post, we can tell you that the interior walls and furniture will be light-colored! 😉

Why Do We Think RV Interiors Are Ugly?

We’ve seen a lot of RV interiors in the 20+ years we lived on the road full-time. Regardless of model year, we can say that the vast majority of RV interiors remain slathered in dark colors and even floral patterns! That’s still a common RV interior. But, why?

Why are so many RV interiors brown, for example? North American RV interiors have been stuck in their “brown” phase for decades. The designers at manufacturers in both the US and Canada seem to think that we’re all out running around in the mud, and want the interior decor to hide it in case we track it in.

We’ve RVed internationally in five different European-style rigs, and every one of them featured a brighter, more modern interior design than we’ve seen in the vast majority of RVs made here. The interior color schemes are generally lighter and less drab, cabinet doors are usually white, and windows and skylights are larger to let in more light.

Peter showing a large skylight/window in our Class B Plus RV in New Zealand

The Class B motorhomes we’ve rented to travel in Australia, Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, England, and New Zealand featured large windows and skylights that let in so much more light than the typical North American RV. They also tend to have white cabinetry and lighter-colored furniture, making everything feel brighter.

Although some people may see modern RV interior designs as cold or stark, the Euro-style rigs we’ve been in manage to blend the warmth of wood tones with lighter walls and furniture with pale cream-colored or gray tones.

It’s likely that no one wants an all-white interior in an RV, and that’s not at all what we’re suggesting. But we think many RV owners might prefer to see interior design trends skewing a bit more to a lighter, brighter, cleaner, more modern look. (Are you listening out there in the RV capital of Elkhart, Indiana??)

We know that RV interiors may need upgrading due to wear, or simply because an owner is tired of looking at a drab paint job, dreary furniture, and dark brown cabinetry. We’ve written posts about RV interior paint ideas, RV renovation ideas, RV furniture upgrades, and even RV replacement blinds to help with those.

Another factor is those wanting to live the full-time RV life may be more particular about their living space than a weekend warrior who only camps at the lake a few weeks a year.

Peter showing the cabinets of the Class B RV we rented to travel around New Zealand

In the Class B RV we drove around New Zealand, we found the curved lighter-colored cabinetry to be a welcome design improvement over the typical dark brown square cabinetry of most North American RVs. Cream-colored furniture also brightened up the interior. The lighter feeling was welcome in this confined space.

So… Why ARE RV Interiors So Ugly?

Keep in mind that it is our opinion that most RV interiors aren’t particularly attractive. But we think we’re not alone. We suspect there are several reasons why RV interiors continue to buck our tastes.

Practicality Over Aesthetics

One of the primary reasons behind so many drab RV interiors is that manufacturers put practicality over aesthetics. They face the challenge of creating a small space that’s functional and can withstand the rigors of travel. As a result, interior design probably takes a back seat to other factors like durability, weight distribution, and space efficiency.

Our biggest problem with that mindset starts with the simple fact that light colors don’t weigh more or take up more space than dark colors! We chose both of our motorhomes with maple cabinets and light tan furniture because they help make the small space inside an RV feel brighter and more open (although not as much as the white cabinets our European rigs had).

Can maple or laminate weigh more than pine? We’re not cabinet makers, so we’re not experts, but we suppose so. But there must be some kind of compromise between weight and aesthetic considerations. That’s evident in European RVs, which have to meet strict weight limits to get by without requiring rear dual wheels. None that we’ve driven have had dual wheels, but all have had laminated cabinetry. So it can’t be that hard.

Budget Constraints

RV manufacturers also face the challenge of striking a balance between cost and quality. To keep the overall cost of an RV down, they’re likely to cut corners on interior design, instead opting for cost-effective materials and finishes. Again, we don’t know why color seems to be a factor since light-colored paint/fabric/leather/etc shouldn’t cost any more than darker materials. 🤷‍♂️

Traditional Market Preferences

Traditional/conventional/old-fashioned attitudes can be hard to change. In the past, RV buyers skewed older and might tend to be more set in their ways. To avoid rocking the boat, manufacturers seem to cater more to traditional design preferences, thinking that more adventurous or unique designs might not appeal to the majority of the RV market.

Manufacturers, of course, don’t want to do anything that could risk affecting their year-over-year sales. This has led to RV interiors that still use generic themes that now come across to many of us as uninspired. We think a lot of the problem simply boils down to inertia.

A woman looking out the window from inside a small RV

We’d suggest that inertia/resistance to change is one of the biggest reasons that so many RV interiors have stayed largely the same for so long.

Challenges of Limited Space

The confined space inside an RV can pose a challenge for interior designers. They need to focus on a range of priorities, such as maximizing storage space, providing comfortable sleeping arrangements, creating efficient galleys/kitchens/living spaces, and ensuring the safety of occupants. These types of constraints can limit creativity, leading to interiors that are plain and utilitarian.

Manufacturers Are Resistant to Change

The RV industry has traditionally been slow to adopt modern design trends. Breaking away from the precedents of older RVs is probably considered a risky move. They may be hesitant to experiment with bold designs or even a lighter aesthetic fearing that the market won’t support the change.

The Winnebago Horizon may be just such a cautionary tale. When we first stepped on board one, we were absolutely blown away. We think it’s one of the most beautiful RVs we’ve ever seen. But after only a couple of years in production, it no longer exists. We’re guessing that if the demand was strong enough, it would still be available. Or maybe it was just overpriced?

Either way, instead of paving the road to a new design trend, it’s no longer available. We know that everyone’s tastes are different, but we loved it, and are sorry it’s gone, with no other manufacturer seeing fit to create something like it.

Why are RV interiors so ugly when a Winnebago Horizon can look like this?

Why are RV interiors so ugly when Winnebago can create such a beautiful space in this Horizon? Even with the choice of dark floors and furniture, the smooth white cabinetry and large windows make it feel so bright and open. (Photo: Winnebago)

Dealers Are Resistant to Change

We have to remind ourselves that buyers aren’t typically the direct customers of RV manufacturers. Dealers are their customers and most dealers are also resistant to rocking the boat and trying anything new. When placing their orders for inventory, dealers continue to base their orders on what sold well last year. This position has the effect of slowing or completely blocking change.

Are RV Interiors Likely to Remain Ugly?

As we’ve said, there are many reasons behind drab, uninspired RV interiors. RV designers and manufacturers are challenged with balancing practicality, cost, and the limits posed by the confined space.

However, as consumer preferences evolve, we expect the RV industry will need to evolve along with them. This is likely to bring about a change in RV interior design. We hope. The rise and fall of the Horizon reminds us of the Concord. The advent of supersonic flight was here. And now we’ve taken an unfortunate step backward.

With a growing market of younger and more design-conscious RVers, designers and manufacturers will need to embrace more creativity and style to make new RV interiors more modern and visually appealing.

As we noted earlier, we do see the landscape changing to some degree, particularly where Class B rigs are concerned, as they’re looking to satisfy a market of younger RVers. This is starting to extend to lightweight travel trailers, toy haulers, and even a few higher-end motorhomes for the same reason. But it’s a slowly evolving process here in North America.

Secret Stash of Dreary, Drab, Neutral Stuff

Perhaps RV manufacturers bought up all of the dreary, drab, brown fabrics that didn’t sell anywhere else, and have a huge warehouse somewhere that they’re trying to use up? Hopefully, we’re just kidding… but it does almost feel possible!

A large warehouse

Maybe North American RV manufacturers got together and hoarded all the dark brown, drab materials for RV interior decor they could purchase and they’re still using them up! We’re joking, of course (we hope)!

What’s Your Opinion On RV Interiors?

Since taste is such a personal thing, what are your thoughts on RV interiors in general? Do current designs tend to suit your preferences? Do you think dark brown interiors and floral patterns are great and we should stop encouraging anything different? Are there already sleek, bright, modern designs we’ve missed?

We’d love to know what you think, so let us know in the comments section below.

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Graeme Arnott

Wednesday 24th of January 2024

Wow, I thought I was the only one who liked the Horizon! Winnebago broke many of the traditional class "A" interior rules when they introduced the Horizon, their first kick at the can in years 1 and 2 was a breath of fresh air but disheartening when they dropped the model. Winnebago’s design team saw the future and gambled but lost out to market pressures and their bean counters. So here we are years later and the Made in America/Elkhart RVs are miles behind European designs/concepts in both the house and chassis areas. A few European manufacturers are starting to leak into North America hopefully, they’ll survive and make the big boys wake up and give us some more options.

I've enjoyed your articles and videos over the years, your suggestions and tips have extended the life of my 07 Country Coach but like you guys I'm ready for something new. Looking forward to hearing about your new rig especially if you’re staying in the A category or maybe hearing about an all-electric truck pulling a trailer, so come on guys tease us a bit.

Thanks, guys for all your work.


PS Just made an appt with RoadMaster to install a baseplate and Invisibrake on our new Maverick, the picture of your old rig and car up on their website still looks good. Moving away from BlueOx and bruised knuckles will be welcomed.

Graeme Arnott

Wednesday 24th of January 2024

@Graeme Arnott, sorry guys guess I should have done a little more homework, just watched your RV crash video and filled in some of the blanks. New rig sounds very interesting, no doubt it will be filled with all kinds of new RV tech, looking forward to following a little closer over the next few months.

Good luck.



Sunday 7th of January 2024

We have a 2019 Newmar Canyon Star 3927, so a Class A Toyhauler. While I love the quality build of Newamr, bland and brown is the theme of almost all of their rigs. The expensive ones just get glossier. With failing upholstery in the 4-year-old rig, we replaced an uncomfortable jackknife sofa with a buttery soft leather Poly & Bark sofa. Instead of something we found ugly and uncomfortable we now have something we love and find extremely comfortable. We pulled out the banquette seating and brought in two moveable dining chairs with a similar color as the couch. In a couple of weeks, we will do the same with the driver and passenger chairs. In the back because it's a toy hauler I wanted to use the space for my office so we laid down 5/8" bamboo flooring over the existing black rubber. Lightens the space up, has texture, and makes me feel good. Alas, we will be selling the rig soon as we always only wanted an 18-24 month journey, but hopefully, the changes will be attractive to a buyer. If you are willing to make some changes I highly recommend going over to for great ideas on all kinds of rigs. They also have a sister site that lists modified rigs.


Friday 29th of December 2023

When we were RV shopping in 2022, we were hoping to find some lighter interiors. Sadly, the companies that had lighter colors mostly used grey. Having just retired from an office where the whole color scheme had been grey for over 10 years that was the LAST color I wanted! LOL! There is lots of room for improvement in RV’s generally, and the interior design is no different. I’d love to see a move to a more Scandinavian look. Light, unfussy, but cozy. Getting a least a few color options besides the furniture would be a big step. Even the highly automated car manufacturers allow for that!


Friday 29th of December 2023

We're with you, @Doreen! Scandinavian design would be FANTASTIC in an RV. Bright, light, airy, AND warm! Sign us up! 😃

Stevanna Pratt

Friday 29th of December 2023

I am a fulltimer and have lived in the same motorhome for 12 years. Over the years I have totally remodeled to something more eye appealing to me. When we have discussed replacing the old Winnebago Adventurer I am really resistant because I know I will have to change the interior to make me happy. As you know, this is not an easy job. I have used wallpaper, paint, more update light fixtures, moved cabinetry, put in a dishwasher. I got rid of the stove I did not like and use an induction cooktop and a portable oven(it works better than the old gas oven). I removed the bathtub that had to be stepped over which was becoming dangerous for an old couple and put in a shower. Removed the ugly vanity sink and put in a sink on top of the counter. I put in a fireplace with a televator behind it. Got rid of the old window shades and made some curtains that were more modern and fit our rustic style. This is all a lot of work. I do not want to do it to another RV. Especially at the cost of a new/used newer year RV. I now have what is a happy home for me.


Friday 29th of December 2023

Wow, @Stevanna! Sounds like you've completely remade the interior of your RV! 100% do NOT blame you for wanting to start all over again! That's one of the things that kept US in our RV for so long... each time we thought about all of the modifications, enhancements, and upgrade we'd done to our Mountain Aire, we'd think, "No WAY we're going through all that all over again!" 😉

Mel Kraft

Wednesday 27th of December 2023

We looked for Class A for a number of years. Never saw one we could both agree on. When we saw our current motorhome we were both convinced this was the one. It is a 2007 Triple E Empress Elite. 40 feet. Built in Canada for Canadian winters. Other than a couple little spacers, it is all plywood. We fell in love with the solid cherry wood construction on the cabinets and moldings. The walls and floors are a lighter colour. I have always said it is more of a residential finish than an RV finish. When these were being built, they would park one out in -30 weather for four days or more, and they never froze up. Of course with heat on. They were made in Winkler, Manitoba, but the 2008 recession took its toll... now they only make Class Bs. But, I would think the same quality. By the way, I can still call up Triple E and they have parts for units like ours. How many can claim that? We are older generation... which is probably why we liked the cherry wood finish.


Wednesday 27th of December 2023

Hi Mel! Thanks for your comment! Triple E was, indeed, a high-quality brand. And being made in Winkler... they sure knew how to make them 4-season! 😉 Really miss the Empress... it was a great coach. So glad to hear that Triple E continues to support owners! Probably a result of them staying afloat with Leisure Travel Vans (you're correct in your assessment... their Class B vans are built with the same quality the old Triple E models were)... so there's still a company there to provide support (so many other brands didn't make it).

Safe travels, and stay warm! (though we know that's not a problem in your coach! 😉)

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