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Custom RV Designs: A Residential Architect Tackles a New Obsession

This article was written by Robert Moreland of MCM Design. Robert is a Portland, Oregon architect who has spent 35 years designing quality homes. These RV designs are his first stab at making his own “Tiny House”.

As an architect, I had a tough time finding a motorhome that had an interior design to my liking.

I wanted an efficient layout that was both contemporary and comfortable.

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After looking for months, I found that few motorhome models in the US met these criteria. Winnebago had some nice models, but nothing stood out as a clear winner.

Related: Ever Wondered What a $171,000 DIY Motorhome Looks Like? I am Speechless

I thought about buying an Itasca Navion, but then it occurred to me that if I couldn’t get the custom RV design I wanted maybe I should just design my own?

I had never tried designing a custom RV before.

My first attempts for my own custom RV are these two 26’ long design concepts shown below.

The first has a bathroom in the rear to give a larger open space.

The second features a mid-bathroom layout so that the main sitting area is in the rear where the view at most campsites is most likely better.

Custom RV Design #1:

Custom RV design

Interior of a custom RV design

Top down view of a custom RV

Looking inside a computer designed RV

Layout of an RV design

Custom RV Design #2:

My second computer generated RV design

Top down view of my second RV layout

Second attempt at designing an RV

Interior of my RV design

i liked the way the bathroom turned out

Sleeping area in my dream RV

RVs that are designed to sleep a lot of people usually have a small general living space.

For a dinette to convert to a bed, the seat cushions and backs have to be flat, making sitting at them very uncomfortable.

Both of my custom RV designs utilize an easily accessible cab-over full size bed.

Three wide steps that double as storage drawers provide easy access to the bed. There’s no need for climbing ladders in the middle of the night.

Plus, the wrap around sofas are long enough to sleep an overnight guest.

You Don’t Always Need an RV That Sleeps 6 People

These custom RVs are designed for a single person or a couple.

I believe that baby boomers, like myself, are going to want custom RVs with less sleeping space and more living room.

The kitchen areas in my designs are also much larger than those found in ‘stock’ setups.

Part of my attraction to the RV lifestyle is having great meals with good friends in the beautiful outdoors.

To make a large meal you need counter space and a sink large enough to clean up the pots and pans afterward. Both designs have 6’ of counter space and enough room so that two people can work side by side with ease.

I also want the designs to be environmentally responsible and to use sustainable materials as much as possible.

This means making the custom RV as light as possible, using aluminum construction and avoiding heavy slide-outs.

There is no reason that kitchen cabinets be paneled with wood and topped with granite counter-tops.

Many other materials are lighter and have just as nice of a look.

An Aerodynamic Exterior Is Important, Too

RVs have a lot of things attached to exterior surfaces which make gas mileage poor and open the rig up to leaks during rainy weather.

While I don’t have a solution for the rooftop air-conditioner yet, I think the side awing on my custom RV can go.

You can buy a folding shade structure that will work just as well and not clutter up the outside of the rig.

Conclusion

These are designs in progress.

I hope to be able to price and test their feasibility soon.

If you would like to see more detailed plans visit MCM Design.



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9 thoughts on “Custom RV Designs: A Residential Architect Tackles a New Obsession”

  1. while I agree with the designers concerns and interests there would be problems for full-time or such as myself. The first is just the comfortability factor. I don’t like being in the space where I feel like I have to go outside to change my mind. On the second or some of the features I just don’t think would work well for full timers. The great thing is the elevation and the aerodynamic design of the motorhome. I’m always appreciative of people who have the talent and means to improve the RV lifestyle.

  2. These are fantastic. We also agree that Winnebago had the best designs at the Tacoma RV show (with Airstream right up there, of course). We’re toodling around in a bright yellow T@B for the moment but we’ll eventually want something bigger. We will definitely look you up when we need our <1000 sq ft full-time small home designed. These would modify nicely once we find a great piece of land. Please add us to your mailing list.

  3. At last, an rv that looks livable. But, you could eliminate the bathroom and have primo living space. Seriously, most campgrounds have acceptable shower facilities. Carrying around the family crap and the clean out process are just disgusting.

  4. Your right scratch the awning and ac.
    Light and
    simple. I’m ready to road test it w u. Bz

  5. I was inspired by those “Global Trek” RV’s, and I really like the designs done by “Outside Vans”. Unfortunately they use the Sprinter Chassis which I now have and am very disappointed with it’s mechanical reliability. I want the durability of the “Global RV’s” but don’t need the go anywhere ability. I am hoping I can get my design built at a more reasonable cost by carefully selecting systems and finishes. Thank you for your comments.

  6. I have always looked for “modern” RVs with logical layouts and quality construction. While there are quite a few available in Europe and Australia, they are extremely rare in the US and Canadian market. I have made do with smaller Class B campers- (Vanagon Westfalia and Eurovan EVC) but they both have some functional and quality limitations. My goal is a 21′ camper with headroom and bed for me (6’4″) and a simple w/c and shower. The one attempt by a US company to bring in a “high design” euro-camper with those features (The Airstream Sprinter James Cook) was abandoned after just a few years – too expensive (and perceived as “too tall” by many.)

    I will probably end up with a custom built Class B RV, maybe with some work by this company: http://www.outsidevan.com/

    Have you looked at the designs from the exotic world of “Global Trek” RVs? They have simple and clean modern living spaces that have to survive all sorts of driving situations – road and off-road! (http://www.unicat.net/ua/en/ for example – not cheap, but some good ideas.) Also, the Westfalia company has lots of good ideas – http://www.westfalia-mobil.net/

    I like much of what you have shown, but be sure your cabinets have sufficient latches! Make room for large things like bicycles, with access to outside if possible. Emergency egress considerations?

    Good Luck – I will be interested to see how you progress on this project!

Comments are closed.