By Dave Helgeson
How many wardrobe closets, tall overhead cabinets and floor-to-counter storage areas does the average RV really need? Evidently plenty — based on the designs you are likely to see when shopping for a new RV.
I don’t know about you, but when I go RVing, I am not taking along piles of dress clothes that need to be hung in a wardrobe, nor am I packing a dozen (foot-plus tall) cereal boxes that need storing in a tall overhead cabinet.
Why can’t RV manufacturers get a clue and install more shelves to make efficient use of the storage space? As it turns out, cabinet arrangement and lack of shelves, drawers, etc., in RVs is dictated more by the cost of those components than by how the RV will be used. Therefore, to keep curb appeal high and costs low, RV manufacturers provide lots of pretty cabinets to look at but with little functionality.
Luckily for you and me, there is an easy way to add custom-height shelves at little cost. Head over to your local home improvement store and pick up some wire rack shelving. Much of this is typically sold under the Rubbermaid brand. They come in widths of 12″, 16″, 20″ and 24″ of varying lengths. The 12″ ones are perfect for dividing overhead cabinets as they match the depth used by most RV manufacturers. The wider units work well for under-counter storage. In-between sizes are useful to divide wardrobe closets.
The shelves have a flange along one edge to provide rigidity. In homes, the flange is designed to be turned down towards the floor, but with RVs be sure to turn the flange up toward the ceiling. This will keep items from sliding off during transit. That way, when you open up an overhead cabinet after a long day on the road, you don’t have to worry about a can of soup falling on the person’s head seated at the dinette below.
Rather than using the mounting hardware that comes with the shelves, buy a pack or two of tubing holders that match the diameter of the larger wire in the shelves. Installation is just a matter of placing a tubing holder around the wire and screwing into the surrounding wood of the RV cabinet. Note: Be sure the screws you use are short enough that they won’t come through the front of the cabinets.
Editor’s note: You can find several types of wire closet shelving at Amazon.