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Kitchen mods make life easier!

May 14, 2010 by · 24 Comments 


To date, we have owned 2 different rvs – the first was a 30′ bunkhouse travel trailer that we used and enjoyed for 5 years, and currently we have a 40′ Wide Open toy hauler.  I have loved both of our rvs, but there were a few things about them that frustrated me.  My main complaint was that while both of them came with an ample amount of cupboards, none of those cupboards came with shelves in them. In the kitchen, this made for an organizational nightmare!  In an attempt to utilize the space as best I could (with minimal amount of effort), I used stackable wire shelves to help organize the kitchen cupboards.  While this was much better than nothing, these standing shelves would sometimes shift while driving and the contents stacked on them would then fall out when the cupboard was first opened.  Plus, the modulars didn’t fit the cupboards very well which resulted in wasted space.  With cupboard space limited as it is, every inch counts; I needed a better solution.
I let my husband know of my frustration, and he got out his tape, took a few measurements, and came home with several 4 and 8 foot sections of white wire shelving.  Did I mention yet how great my hubby is? ;)  Meant for installation in pantries and closets, these shelves need to be cut to fit, and then mounted.  These shelves are the perfect application for rvs – they can be either permanent or temporary, and they weigh next to nothing, which can be important if you are trying to keep within your GVW!
shelves installed in kitchen cupboardsWhen the guys went to install the shelves in the kitchen for me, they cut the shelves to fit the length of the cupboard, and then installed slotted tracks on the wall to be used with L brackets – this way I can adjust the height of the shelves if I would like them changed down the road (literally).  I also had the guys install the shelves with the lip pointing up so that I could put small items on the shelves without having them fall out after a move.  The track and brackets were not designed to be used with the shelves, but they work great together!
My DH and sons actually ended up installing these type of shelves 3 different ways, in 3 seperate areas, because of different applications.  In the ‘garage’ are also cupboards – the guys installed a shelf in one of them as I use the cupboards for groceries, which don’t always stack well.  I knew that I would not want to change the height of this shelf, so they used the permanent brackets that are meant to be used with these shelves.  The brackets are screwed into the wall, and the shelf snaps down into the bracket.  Clean and easy install, but if you want to move the shelf later, you must drill new holes.
In the bedroom of the 5th wheel, we have cupboards that run wall to wall across the top front.  Because these cupboards are 21 inches tall, the clothing that we keep in there will sometimes shift and subsequently fall out when the doors are opened.  I don’t know about you, but the last thing that I want to be doing during camping/vacation, is REfolding clothes!  Because the wall that makes up the back of the cupboards is slanted, the track system wouldn’t work, and I didn’t want the shelves to be permanent, so we couldn’t use the brackets.  For these shelves, hubby used cleats, which were 1 inch pine, screwed horizontally, on the wall (or ends of cupboards), and then the shelves just rest on these cleats.  We used this system quite a bit in our other trailer, as we could take the shelves out if needed (leaving the cleats), and then put the shelves back in when wanted.
I love to find ways to personalize our rv and make it fit our family better.  These shelves are really easy way to help you organize your cupboards, and to utilize otherwise unusable space.  It’s also easy!  If you are considering installing shelving into your rv, there are a a couple of tips that can help make your ‘mod’ go smoothly:
*Be sure to measure the inside of your cupboards accurately (taking into account existing cupboard cleats, sometimes found in the corners).
*Measure the width of the end wood of your cupboards if you are considering cleats, also measure the width of the cleats, and make sure that the screws you intend to use are long enough to go through the cleat and bite into the cupboard, but NOT long enough to exit out the other side (you’ll really hate your shelves if this happens! :-O  )
I love my new shelves – my cupboards are so much more organized than before!
I would like to share one other quick fix that my hubby threw together for me.  In the garage, there is a heating duct in one of the front corners.  What a silly place to put the duct – makes the entire corner unusable unless you know for certain that you will not be using the furnace!  We have a little fridge that we keep in the garage for sodas (and for when I go to the grocery store hungry and buy too many perishables), and I really wanted it out of the way – in THAT corner.  So, this is what hubby built for me last night…stand and shelf under compact=
he continued out the ducting so the vent is now in the front of the cubby, and he installed another shelf so that I had more storage.  This stand weighs quite a bit more than my rv friendly shelves in the kitchen, but is worth every ounce!
I love to personalize our rv by doing mods.
~ I can hear you husbands out there muttering,”that’s because you are not the one doing the actual work!” – hehehe!!!  ;) 
No matter who’s doing the cutting and installing, I would love to hear about some of the modifications that you have done on your rv, or any ideas that you may have!  But, whether or not you choose to modify your rv, the important thing is to get out there and USE IT!
“Not all who wander are lost.” J.R.R.Tolkien


24 Responses to “Kitchen mods make life easier!”
  1. Debbie Block says:

    Hi Dana,
    Love the shelves – the lip makes them even better.
    I have a “small world” story for you. We were visiting a small park in Gonzales TX. DH & I work for Woodall’s Campground Directory. Anyway, visiting with the new owner of the park I discovered she was home schooling so I told her about your tribe. She said you had been there! Cool. Hope we get to meet you out there on the road one day!

  2. dana t. says:

    Hi Debbie!
    Glad that you like the shelves – I sure am enjoying them!
    You must have met Christine at Hill Shade RV Park – isn’t she a hoot?!? They haven’t owned the park very long, and I think that they are going to make it great! Her whole fam is so sweet – we hope to visit them again next winter.

    I hope that we get to meet you OTR too! That has been the best thing about traveling – all the sweet folks that we have met!
    :) dana

  3. Denise says:

    Hubby was looking over my shoulder reading this. Loves the idea. Looks like I might get more shelf space in my kitchen : )

  4. Katrenia says:

    Great ideas. Another thing I found hand when taking out our 5th. wheel, is that I purchased two of the stackable plastic containers. They each hold five small size tubs. I put one one the inside of my closet and one for hubby’s side of the closet. Just takes about 12 inches of hanging space away but sure gives room for socks, underware etc. That left the drawers available for towels and bedding. Also can fold pants and put them in the bottom drawers now that I have the freed up space.
    Hope to see you on the trail. Look for the Alpha See Ya owners with the silly grin on our faces.

  5. Marj says:

    You have some great ideas!! I will definitely show this to my husband. We did some modifications to our 40′ toy hauler too. In the garage, we took out the single washer/dryer combo (useless piece of equipment as far as I am concerned), we replaced it with a double stacked washer dryer. We actually put it in the same corner you have your small frig. (We had to take out the over head cabinets because w/d reaches floor to ceiling.) But it is so worth having the ability to wash a full load of clothes, not just one pair of jeans! My DH then built a cabinet frame next to the w/d for the small frig (like yours) and set that on the floor and built a coat closet above the frig….same width as the frig. The coat closet has louvered doors to help air out the contents in case a coat is put away damp. The louvered door was originally one tall door, just cut in half to make two cupboard doors. It looks real nice! Next to that closet he built a ten inch wide floor to ceiling cabinet to hold the laundry soap, softener and/or cleaning supplies. There are multiple shelves on the top half of the cupboard and on the bottom, the shelves are designed to hold extra drink bottles/cans. All the shelves slide between two cleats, so I can easily reach anything in the back. And the doors keep all the contents within the cupboard when traveling. The rest of the wall space is taken up with built in dog crates. Big deep drawers were designed under the crates and a huge table top surface is above the crates. The overhead bed can be lowered to just above the table top. On the opposite wall (door side) my DH built an office space with fold-up desk top and little storage cubby holes on the wall for pencils, pens, etc. He attached two overhead lamps to the under side of the bed so the desk area has plenty of lighting.

    You mentioned how things always seem to fall out of cupboard and your idea of reversing the steel shelving was a good idea. We had the same issue with our cupboards in the kitchen so my husband found a simple cure. At the hardware store he found a small wooden decorative railing about 2″ high that comes in lengths of 8′ feet (I think). The railings look like a miniature deck railing with little uprights between the upper and bottom piece. (Hard to really describe it but it is really attractive). He measured the distance between the openings of a cupboard and then cut the railing to fit within the door opening so the railing sits on the bottom edge of the opening and prevents stuff from sliding out.He stained the rails to match the same color as the cabinet and if you were to open the cupboards, you would think the cupboard came with them. He did a great job with them!

  6. Dana T. says:

    Thanks for the great ideas! I love to hear what others have done to modify their rvs!
    (though I’m not sure that my hubby does; pretty soon I’m asking him “what if we…” hehehe! ;)

  7. Marc says:

    Hi, those are some great ideas. I will definitely try some of that in my rv. Thanks.

  8. Teri says:

    Thanks for this information. We just bought a used 5th wheeler and don’t even have it home yet. Before I buy a bunch of unnecessary stuff I am scouring the internet to find out what is really useful and what isn’t. This is a great idea. I almost bought those stackable wire shelves you just mentioned and am now glad I put them back.

  9. Karen says:

    We need to add a shelf in our bedroom cabinets, too. What do you mean by cleats?

  10. dana t. says:

    Hi Karen!
    Cleats are thin pieces of wood that we screwed to the wall horizontally, and the shelves sit on them. We used 1×1 inch unfinished pine, and the shelves just rest on the top of the wood pieces without being fastened down. This way I can easily remove them if I would like to later.

  11. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for posting the shelving install. My husband did the same type of thing in the wardrobe of our fifth wheel. What a difference! Now to make the pantry more functional. ;-)

  12. Nicole says:

    Hi! Im just curious as to what you screwed to cleats into. The panels in the back of my cabinets just seem like flimsy particle board stuff. Are there actual studs in the walls that you can screw into? I need some kind of shelves and my husband told me it wasnt possible! Thanks for showing me the way but I need more details! Thanks!

  13. I want wooden cabinets throughout our camper, and I LOVE this idea.. Simple. Brilliant:)

  14. Kelly Riend says:

    I think I am going to have to do something like this to our brand new toyhauler that we ordered. I just wondered more about installing this in the cabinets with the thin walls and how secure it properly without going through, and being able to hold the weight.

  15. Tasha Cordel says:

    Just wondering….when you install the 'tracks' for the wire shelving brackets; how do you do it? What are you screwing into?

  16. Not much. We put in removable racks. I lined them with the rubber shelf linnets. Work great.

  17. Not much. We put in removable racks. I lined them with the rubber shelf linnets. Work great.

  18. Not much. We put in removable racks. I lined them with the rubber shelf linnets. Work great.

  19. I'm also wondering about attaching the tracks onto the wall. normally you'd want to screw them into a stud behind the wall, but I'm guessing there is no studs behind an rv's kitchen cupboards lol.

  20. I'm also wondering about attaching the tracks onto the wall. normally you'd want to screw them into a stud behind the wall, but I'm guessing there is no studs behind an rv's kitchen cupboards lol.

  21. Tena Stumpf says:

    I have the same question as Leigh and Tasha

  22. Sorry everyone, this platform does not notify me when there is a question posted. The wall behind our cupboards is a support wall, so it is lined with a light-duty plywood. Our racks have been in for over 4 years (of fulltiming), and haven't budged. :)

  23. Sorry everyone, this platform does not notify me when there is a question posted. The wall behind our cupboards is a support wall, so it is lined with a light-duty plywood. Our racks have been in for over 4 years (of fulltiming), and haven't budged. :)


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  1. [...] some great shelving tips from Woodall’s Family Camping Blog, and check out some great kitchen organizers here. We also recommend using those stackable, [...]

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