by David Murphy Towing
Do you love caravanning but are always wishing you had more living space to work with? Well, the lovely people at David Murphy Towing, a family-owned towing supplier based in Northern Ireland, have written an exclusive article for CaravanTimes providing useful tips and tricks to make your caravan interior feel as spacious as possible.
A caravan is a modern-day home away from home, so it can be tempting to fill it with everything you have back at home.
The reality is that it’s a smaller space, and though you want your comforts you also want your caravan to be a serene space to relax and enjoy your leisurely time away from the daily grind.
David Murphy Towing have seen a lot of cool caravans in their 30 years while fitting towbars for UK caravan enthusiasts and they’ve picked up a lot of tips for making even the smallest spaces pack a punch inside.
They’ve found to get the most out of your compact holiday home it’s important to focus on the two areas that will instantly improve the space: decoration and declutter.
The first involves what you do with the space itself – how you decorate it, how you lay it out (if you have the option) and how you plan to use the space once there is a person/multiple people inside it will have a big impact on how big or small the space feels.
The second is about maximising the storage space, so that you remove as much clutter as possible from the existing space, leaving it feeling spacious and comfortable. We’ve listed the top tips for those caravanning solutions later on!
Making a small space look bigger
When it comes to simply making a space look bigger than it is, much of it is about optical illusion. The tricks we would use with interior design in a small room in our homes can be easily applied to our caravans, too. The most common (and least expensive) tricks of the decorating trade include:
Mirrors – a great way to not only give the illusion of more space (through reflection) but to also brighten the space, particularly if all the windows are located on one side of the caravan, as they so often are. Even if you don’t have the wall space, mirrored tiles in spaces such as kitchen sink splash backs or shower interiors are another good way to bring this into your space. By reducing dark corners, light-filled rooms automatically appear bigger.
Furnishing – when it comes to decorating your space with wallpapers or soft furnishings, keep in mind that less fuss equals more space. Patterns or multiple colours can shrink a space and darker colours absorb more light, so minimal effects and paler colours are a really good choice for caravan interiors. Likewise, rugs and cushions may all help to make you feel more cosy or at home your caravan, but they will also take up more room, so removing any unnecessary decorations like this will make a difference to how spacious your living space feels.
Furniture – if you intend to bring anymore furniture into the caravan that comes with the existing design, remember to scale it for the space. A coffee table for a full-sized living room for example will look oversized in a caravan lounge area. A smaller version of the same item will not only make the space feel bigger, but it will be easier to store away for travelling.
Now we look at the all-important declutter exercise. Why? Well a cluttered room can instantly look half its real size. And when it comes to caravans, clutter is often not the result of “having too much stuff” but rather it’s about trying to fit full-sized household items into a smaller space, or not fully utilising the storage space that exists to your full advantage.
Invest in collapsable products Many caravans utilise this technology in their in-built design because it is such a clever way to ensure duality of space. You’ll see it in dining areas that become beds or beds that fold away into wall and ceiling space.
There are many more items available in this genre though, and it may mean investing in more items, rather than bringing your existing ones from home, but you will see the benefits. Table-top ironing boards, fold-away laundry baskets and clothes horses are all examples of these inexpensive space-saving solutions.
You can also make some items collapsable in the sense that they “shrink” when storing by vacuum-packing things like clothes, towels and outdoor equipment such as wet suits. This helps them to fit in tighter storage spaces such as under-bed drawers.
Double up on space purpose
This is sometimes the most efficient and cost-effective way to make a caravan interior feel immediately more spacious. It simply takes some imagination and ingenuity. Sticky-back hooks, suction caps or clips are all storage accessories that will instantly give your cupboard space two jobs instead of just one – allowing for the hanging of utensils and door keys on top of what is sore inside the cupboard itself. Not to mention it will save oodles of time spent searching for lost items when everything has a place!
Hanging shoe racks are another common storage solution that are perfect for caravans because the backs of doors in rooms are rarely seen and yet a netted bag with multiple pockets, or a net hammock will take shoes, bathroom products or towels off the floor or shelves and clear those spaces immediately, and with little effort.
Look for nesting products
Nesting bowls and spoons are often associated with baby’s first dinner set or baking accessories, however if you look out for them you’ll see they’re becoming increasingly popular. In the outdoor and picnic areas of shops you will now find a vast array of bowls, cutlery, cups and glasses, all made of more durable materials and which helpfully fold away together in a space-saving way.
These items will then free up more of the space inside your caravan kitchen cupboards, leaving precious work top and table areas free from clutter and therefore feeling more spacious.
Divide and conquer
Drawer dividers and storage baskets are usually reserved for bedrooms at home, however they are a great space-saver in your caravan drawers and cupboards, too. Not only do they ensure you get the most out of your space – by being able to pile items into baskets behind a door without risk of them falling out when you open it, for example – these storage supplies will also protect your items in transit, particularly breakables such as glasses, by keeping them a certain distance apart even while driving.
If you have a particularly deep cupboard in the kitchen or elsewhere, its a good idea to look for ways to divide the space, freeing up more storage room. Visiting kitchen supply stores and design showrooms can offer you the ability to purchase some accessories that are normally sold with kitchen units, such as pull-out cupboard organisers. Often, as long as you measure the dimensions to ensure it will fit, you can easily attach these yourself using the runners that come with them.
Don’t forget about the ceiling
The top space of a caravan is arguably the most under-utilised. We can blame gravity of course,
but there are ways around this!
Hooks and magnetic strips can be attached so that thin items – even big ones – such as brooms can be held safely out of the way above heads, without impinging on the space below. Similarly, you can purchase collapsable storage bags that are longer than they are deep, which can be hung from ceiling hooks to store flat bed sheets, towels and even clothing.
Buy an annex
OK, this might seem like cheating because it doesn’t add space to the existing caravan interior. But it is a long-standing caravan and camping accessory for very good reason – caravan annexes will instantly add another room to your space, mixing the indoors with the outdoors, while protecting you from the weather elements.
With all that said, it’s clear that you really don’t have to work too hard – or spend too much – to get the most out of your home-from- home. A few clever accessories here and there, coupled with some clever optical trickery with your interior design and you can feel like the King of your Caravanning Castle!