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! 😉
- 1) Why Do We Think RV Interiors Are Ugly?
- 2) So… Why ARE RV Interiors So Ugly?
- 3) Are RV Interiors Likely to Remain Ugly?
- 4) What’s Your Opinion On RV Interiors?
- 5) Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews & Giveaways
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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