25 Gift & Organization Ideas For Small Spaces (Motorhomes, Vans & Mini RVs)!
We’re aaaalmost in December, one of my fav months of the year! It’s the lead-up to Christmas and I love everything about it from Christmas decorations to traditional foods, Christmas music and of course….gift giving. Every year we’ve been on the road, I’ve published a list of useful gift ideas for RVers, and this year I’ve got a few new ones inspired by….you guessed it…our new rig, La Mini Bête!!
You see it only took a SINGLE night in our new motorhome for us to realize that getting organized is going to be absolutely KEY to our mental and physical survival in this much, much smaller rig. I mean we were pretty organized in “the beast”, but LMB takes it to a whoooole other level. So over the past few weeks I’ve been exploring and experimenting with our mini-space, and figuring out solutions that make it more livable. And given it’s almost that time of year, I figured my annual gift-giving post would be the perfect place to share those finds!
So, if you’re getting frustrated with your small space or trying to find new solutions for where/how to fit everything, perhaps I can give you a few innovative ideas to figure it all out. Enjoy!
Full Disclosure – This post contains Affiliate Links. Feel free to use them (or not) as you wish 🙂
General Organization (The Basics)
No matter what you can’t go wrong in a small space with a solid stock of all of the following
Command 3M Hooks – You can never have too many places to hang things in a small space, and the nice thing about Command 3M Hooks is that if you mess it up and go a little “too” crazy with putting them up, you can always change your mind and remove them without any damage to your RV walls after-the-fact. We used them in our old rig and we’re using them in our new one.
Command 3M Hanging Strips – Just like the hooks, you’ll find a million and one uses for Command Hanging Strips. We’ve used them to hang pictures, decor, an indoor/outdoor weather station etc.
Industrial Strength Velcro – The Velcro Brand Industrial Strength Tape is the “tough” version of 3M hanging strips and can be used anywhere you need to stick something that’s got more weight. It is AWESOME stuff! In our old rig this supported our home-made shoe rack, our boosting equipment and bunch of other stuff. We plan to hang up all kinds of useful pockets and such in our new rig using this.
Museum Putty – We’ve used Quakehold Museum Putty for years and it’s magic for loose items that need to be fixed onto a flat surface. In our old rig we used it to fix soap holders, small decor items, LED candles etc. and once stuck down, our stuff never moved even while we were driving. Plus it was super easy to remove and clean. In our 9 years in the old rig, this stuff definitely “stuck it out” LOL.
Broom Holders – We never really used 3M Command Mop & Broom Holders in our old rig, but we’re finding tons of use for them in our new rig! Basically these can hold anything with a round handle, such as brooms, hiking poles, mops, flashlights etc. So versatile & useful!
We’ve had to think very, very hard about organizing our new kitchen, and that’s created a few changes in our approach to kitchen gear and layout.
Extendable Drawer Dividers – We have fairly deep drawers that are not a “standard” shape (they’re rounded on one side), so a regular square drawer organizer wastes space and doesn’t really work. However we still need to be able to separate the space to keep things (somewhat) sane. We initially tried some plastic dividers from M-Design which were horribly weak and broke on first use (avoid them!). However both these OXO Good Grips Dividers and these Rapturous Drawer Dividers are sturdy and deep (4″) and perfect for our needs. They’ll do the trick.
Magnetic Knife Strip – My other big dilemma in the mini-RV was that we don’t have enough space to bring our big kitchen block with all our knives, and as fellow chefs will attest, putting sharp knives in a drawer is never a great solution. A solid magnetic wall strip is going to be our answer to this! I’m particularly enamored by this Wooden Magnetic Knife Rack. Not only is it gorgeous, but several commenters have confirmed they use it in their RVs.
Collapsible or Nesting Food Containers – We often make food for several days at a time (saves on cooking) which we can then reheat on the stovetop. But food containers take up so much darn space! And as much as I’d love to carry glass containers, that simply isn’t going to happen in LMB. We haven’t quite decided which way we’re going to go yet, but our solution is either going to be collapsible food containers (these Collapse-It BPA-free silicone ones are the best-rated I’ve seen), or nesting food containers (this Joseph 81100 Nest Lock set looks fab, and even has lids that snap in place). I’m confident either will work for us in our new space!
Nesting Pans With A Removable Handle – I never really thought much about pan handles until I realized how much useless space they take up in a drawer. In a mini-RV that’s a massive waste! The answer to all this is to get a set of nesting pans with a removable handle. This Magma A10-362-IND 7 Piece set rates very well and looks perfect. Another, very similar-looking (and also very well-rated) option is this Camco 43925 7 Piece set. Both will fit perfectly inside our beloved Wok in our deep kitchen drawer. Oh and we bought pot separator/protectors to cushion everything and prevent clanging noises as we’re traveling down the road. It’s going to work great!
Collapsible Travel Kettle – Now this is a rather unique need but I’ve never lived without a Kettle. I’m a regular herbal tea drinker and use a kettle every day not only for that, but for boiling water for various other needs. In our old RV we had a nice, big stainless steel one, but of course there is ZERO space for that kind of luxury in LMB. I was gutted to think we had to travel without one until I discovered this teeny Gourmia GK320 Foldable Travel Kettle. Result!
Lazy Susan – We’re still trying to figure out exactly how to organize (and access) our spices. We don’t have space to install a rack anywhere, but we think a 1-level rotating base like this Lazery Grip Bottom Lazy Sussan is going to do the job for us. If we can’t use it in the kitchen cabinets I’m pretty sure we’ll find a good use for it elsewhere.
Collapsible Or Nesting Salad/Mixing Bowls – We make a lot of salads & use mixing bowls almost daily for all kinds of things. I thought about bringing one of my really nice KitchenAid bowls, and I also thought about our gorgeous wooden salad bowl, but they don’t nest particularly well together, so it’s not going to fit. Instead, I think we’re either going to get a proper set of nesting bowls (this 7-pc set from Joseph looks lovely) or switch to a SINGLE collapsible salad/mixing bowl (this Squish Mixing Bowl looks just the ticket). One of these should work!
Collapsible Measuring Cups – We actually bought collapsible food-grade measuring cups while we were living in the old RV and we absolutely love them. They save so much space, and are super easy to use. They’re definitely coming with us in the new rig!
The (mini) bathroom in the LMB is actually really well-organized and has tons of closets & built-in stuff like toilet paper holders, toothbrush holder etc. But there are a few things it lacks, and these were the solutions we found to resolve them:
Shampoo/Soap Dispenser – Our shower is laid out such that we have nowhere to put soap or shampoo. Plus there’s zero space to hang a “caddy” or mount a regular soap holder. What we do have however is a narrow, slim slice of wall where we can hang a dispenser and this 350 ml one JUST fits. We’re going to fill it with a some kind of combo soap/body wash liquid, like Dr. Bronners. That stuff can be used for just about everything!
Quick Drying MicroFiber Towels – Another switch we’re making is to replace our large, fluffy (and very bulky) bathroom towels with quick-drying microfiber towels, like these from Rainleaf. Not only will this save space, but it will ensure our towels dry quickly after we shower. We used something like this back when we were backpackers, so we’re totally cool to use them again.
Over The Door Hooks – The last mod we need to make in the bathroom is somewhere to hang our towels, so a couple of simple over-the-door hooks is what’s going to solve that little problem for us.
We’ve got a mini-mini-mini closet in LMB, but thankfully I’ve discovered two items which are going to save us precious space and get it organized to my OCD standards.
Higher Hangers – I looked FOREVER for hangers that would maximize the one rod we have in LMB, and everything I found was a miss….until I discovered Higher Hangers. Yes, they’re expensive but they’re super light, covered in velvet (your clothes won’t slip) and they use up that (useless) space at the top of your rod while saving you 4 inches of precious space below your clothing. It’s a simple, but ingenious idea. I LOVE THEM!
Fabric Drawer Boxes – We’ve got a few deep storage shelves underneath our beds, as well as lots of shelving above our beds. We can easily cram all the clothing we need into that space, but if we ever want to actually use it, it has to be accessible and easily removable. My solution has been to buy a ton of different-sized drawer boxes. I bought a set of super cheap SKUBB boxes from IKEA and they’ve actually worked great for us, but you can also buy a bunch of different shapes and sizes on Amazon too. For example these Sodynee Foldable Cloth Boxes look lovely, as do these mDesign Soft Fabric Boxes.
Thanks to these two things, a few broom holders (for various items) and some 3M hooks, I think our closet is DONE!
Garage (Outdoor Storage) Organization
We’re still in process of outfitting our huge RV garage (the main storage in LMB), so this is a work in progress. Of course we’ve already got some basic clear storage bins of various sizes (standard RV fare), plus we bought our super-compact Zip-Dee camping chairs with us from the USA, but we’ve found a few other things that are going to be staples here too:
Cleavermade Collapsible Storage Bins – We bought two of these for our car here in France a few months ago (to carry groceries…no bags here) and love them so much we’ve bought several more for the RV. The Cleavermade Storage Bins are super sturdy, stackable, and collapse to almost nothing. They’re great for extra storage whenever you need it.
Storage Straps – We need to be able to wrap and hang hoses and stuff in our new rig, so these Heavy-Duty Storage Straps are going to do the job.
Folding Aluminium Side-Tables – We used Camco Aluminium Fold-Away side tables for years in our old RV (for our outdoor “sitting space”) and they’re going to become firm staples in our new rig too. They come in various sizes, are super light, collapse down to almost nothing, and they’re super useful for drinks, snacks, a place to put a grill etc.
Collapsible Water Containers – In our old rig we carried several rigid water containers (for filling up while we were boondocking and such), but these would have taken up too much space in LMB. So we’re switching to collapsible water containers like these BPA-free WaterStorageCubes. They’re going to be much more practical for our new, smaller space.
We’ve got lots more organization to figure out here, including exactly how we’re going to carry our bikes and various other outdoor gear, but that’ll be a topic for a future post.
Now my cats might object at the idea that I do anything to “organize” them, but the mods I’m planning are going to make their new LMB RV life much, much better.
Sisal Rope & Wall Scratching Pad – Unless you want your RV furniture to end up in tatters, you need to give your cats somewhere to scratch with their claws. In our old rig we traveled with a cat tree, but there is ZERO space for that in LMB, so our solution has been to buy Sisal Rope which we’re going to wrap around the living room table leg….voilà…instant cat tree. We’re also going to buy a Wall-Mount Scratching Pad and use industrial velcro to put it up near our bathroom door.
Top-Entry Litter Box – We switched to a top-entry litter box several years ago, partly to save on litter tracking, but mostly to save our sanity. You see in her old age, Taggart has taken to stepping into the box, and then raising her butt as high as she can to pee. After cleaning pee several times a day for months on end, the top-entry box was a literal life-saver!! We currently have the PetMate Top Entry Box, but need something just a smidgen smaller for LMB so we’re eyeing the IRIS Ellipse Cat Litter Box or we might even splurge for the smaller Modcat Top Entry Box.
Thermal Pet Warming Mat – We bought several of these Pet Self-Warming Mats several years ago, and they’ve been an absolute hit with our older kitties. Not only are they super easy to roll-up and stow away (they fit in our suitcases when we flew to Europe), but you can place them anywhere like a little blanket, providing an instant bed without taking up a bunch of space. Plus they really do seem to keep our kitties warmer.
That’s it!! I’m sure we’ll have plenty more ideas for organizing & using our space as we spend more time in the new rig, but that’s the bulk of what we’ve discovered so far. Share and enjoy!