What kind of footprints do you want to leave?

The Cohabitation Recalibration

Last week I talked about the process we used to decide which RV was right for us. To help us figure out what we needed I went into superhero Business Analyst mode (think computer and sketchpad, not cape and magic lasso).  I documented our requirements for RV living and some scenarios to run through while we were touring prospective RVs.  As we looked at RVs we worked through the requirements and scenarios to see if the RV might be a good fit.  Some we knew right off wouldn’t work for us (bye Felicia) but others had possibilities and went on the ‘maybe’ list.  We ended up falling in love with one and decided we had to have her. We had logic and spreadsheets to help make a decision, but in the end it came down to which one felt like home. And which one we thought we’d be least likely to kill each other while trying to live together in small quarters.

So how did we do?  If I were giving out grades I’d give us a solid B+. We had our requirements covered pretty well but in our excitement we overlooked a few details.

After living in the space for a couple of weeks we realized we needed to change a few small things. I moved the food from the large kitchen cabinet to the cabinet above the sink, reorganized my closet and shuffled a few other things around to get them in a better spot. These were really small, easy fixes. But we had a few areas where the re-work was larger:

Requirement: We need a comfortable place to watch TV
Original solution: We had a U-shaped dinette that turned into a bed/couch for relaxing and watching TV.
Problem: The dinette was not doing it for us. It was uncomfortable all around; for eating, relaxing and working. Also to really lounge you had to take 5 minutes to turn the dinette into the bed/couch. And who wants do do all that work when you just want to flop down and watch TV? Not I said the lazy girl.
New solution: We decided to rip out the dinette and put in a comfortable couch we purchased at Camping World. All three seats recline, it takes up less room, is always set up and ready to go and is WAY more comfortable than that old dinette. We always eat on the couch anyway so we weren’t losing any function there. But we did buy these nifty little lap trays that are great for working and eating messier meals like spaghetti. Because spills happen to me. A lot.

Before – The U-Shaped Dinette
During – Room to Dance!
After – Comfy Couch

Requirement: We need a place to store electronics
Original Solution: We stored the laptops in a bin in one of the lower cabinets.
Problem: The laptops weren’t easy to take out and put away when they were stored in the lower cabinet. There was also no outlet near the lower cabinet so no way to leave them to charge. This meant that in order to charge the laptops we had to leave them on the kitchen counter which took up a lot of space and looked messy.
New solution: The TV was mounted (not very securely) to some fake wood paneling, and behind that panel was a bunch of dead space. Brendan ripped out the fake wood paneling, installed a better bracket to hold the TV and added some shelving to hold electronics.

Before – TV Cabinet with Fake Wood Panel
After – TV Cabinet with Extra Room
Before/After – TV In Place

Requirement: The shower must be large enough to comfortably shower and have a place to put a foot up for leg shaving
Original Solution: The RV came with a large shower (with a seat to put a foot up for leg shaving) and pretty glass shower doors. We thought we had a total winner here!
Problem: While we did meet our requirement for a shower that was large enough for comfortable showering, we didn’t think about was how easy (or difficult) it would be to keep the shower clean. The glass shower doors attracted mold in places I couldn’t clean without removing the doors. And even after removing the doors I still couldn’t get rid of all the mold that built up. Though they were beautiful, they stopped being functional when I couldn’t get them clean enough.
New solution: We removed the shower doors/frame and installed a shower curtain  and rod instead. Removing the shower doors lightened our trailer by about 40 lbs and made the shower so much easier to clean. And I think it makes the bathroom feel more homey too.

Before – Shower with Glass Doors
After – Shower with Curtain

So, what did we learn?  As much as we documented requirements and played out scenarios in the RV, we didn’t truly know how we were going to use the space until we started really living in it.

What could we have done better? This was our first RV (hello newbies) and I think we did pretty well picking something that would work for us. Now that we have some experience living in an RV, and seen friends’ RV setups and heard their war stories, we know more of what we want and what to expect from an RV. If I could do it over I would take a longer time to walk through the scenarios.  If we had done that we would have noticed right off the bat that the dinette was too uncomfortable for lounging. I’ve also updated my list of things to look for such as making sure there’s enough storage for things like extra paper goods and toiletries.  No worries, I have updated my RV requirements documentation for future use. #nerdalert

We’re coming up on 2 years of living in our RV full time and we’re still tweaking things to work better for us. I just re-organized our medicine cabinet because I was tired of mouthwash and hair elastics attacking me every time I opened the door after traveling.

Because our location and lifestyle change often we’re constantly adapting our living environment to change with them. It’ll always be a work in progress. But that’s cool because I’m always looking for an excuse to hit The Container Store and Ikea.