Canada’s Fraserway RV Centre Ltd., an Abbotsford, British Columbia-based manufacturer, dealer and owner of Western Canada’s largest rental fleet, has retained an interior designer to make RVs more attractive to female buyers, according to the National Post.
Decorator Scotty Roland had been thinking for a few years of ways to make RV interiors more attractive and she’s getting her chance since being introduced to James Epp, owner of Fraserway, a 35-year-old family-owned business east of Vancouver near the U.S.-Canadian border.
Epp was looking for a fresh attraction for an upcoming RV show and a way to broaden the target market for RV sales, the National Post reported.
Enter Maggie Calloway, who does public relations for the RV show and also the B.C. Home and Garden Show, where she has worked with Roland. She hooked Roland up with Epp and so began the story of an RV makeover.
With only one week to complete the renovation, Roland put together an informal survey of her female friends – all Baby Boomers or younger, an age group that normally wouldn’t consider an RV as a vacation-home alternative – to find out what would make RV travel attractive to them, the newspaper reported. Lack of style was equated with lack of comfort, even though RVs are equipped with all the amenities of home.
“I didn’t realize – because I was one of those people who looked down on RVs – how far they have come,” Roland said. “They have microwaves and entertainment centers and beautiful built-in fridges. It’s amazing.”
The women wanted a comfortable bed. They wanted real dinnerware. Most of all, they wanted a warm, personalized space so they would be proud to invite friends along with them on trips. Why talk to women? Because, according to Roland, the men may buy the RVs, but they have to persuade their wives to come along, the National Post reported.
Having searched for a recreation property for herself, Roland fixed on a cottage-life decorating theme. She describes it as a Ralph Lauren-influenced style, a very functional, casual chic, with strong, yet warm colors and the use of various textures. With such a short time frame to do the makeover, Roland had to be clear about what were the most important elements to change to achieve a transformation from merely a practical space to one that screamed stylish comfort.
The starting point was to introduce a contemporary approach to color, and that was done with paint and lots of fabric. The fabric was key because RV interiors use lots of it. Blue denim was the base fabric for the banquet and sofa/bench cushion and everything else that was originally trimmed with fabric. Roland extended the continuity of the look into the bedroom by creating a headboard covered in blue denim. All the seating upholstery is slip-covered so it can be removed to be cleaned.
Red as an accent color was introduced to warm up the space and a tartan fabric was used on luxe-style cushions and valances to give them real punch.
Personalizing the RV was another challenge and Roland achieved it by monogramming the bolster cushions and the bath towels with the names and initials of the family she envisioned when creating the design. That’s not just to give you warm and fuzzy feelings, it’s also practical. “With a small space (like this), you can only have four towels. Monogramming allows you to identify them,” she explained. She also replaced what she terms nondescript art with framed family photographs.
Two other significant changes were the installation of a plate rack in the kitchen cabinets to store the breakable dinnerware and a new distressed pine kitchen table with a wood table leg rather than a metal pull-out support.
The table is still hinged to allow it to connect with the banquet benches so it can create a bed.
“There are no limits,” Roland said. “Concepts just have to be altered to work in an RV.” Fraserway provided the construction staff and expertise and Roland, who is accustomed to doing hands-on renovations, said she couldn’t imagine having done this project without them.
Although traditional RV style has never appealed to Roland, she is now a true convert. “They’re self contained. They make the best use of space,” she declared.
This dream vacation home on wheels is just the start of what could be a new trend in RVs – offering buyers a selection of customized stylish interiors. And if the response is what Fraserway’s Epp expects, he plans to transform the rental units, which are retired after a couple of years and then sold, into a different product for a new target market.
“This is a new angle on reconditioning them,” Epp said. “This is our prototype and then we’ll see the response.”
After seeing the full effects of a makeover, Roland can easily picture herself in an RV.
“There’s no such thing as roughing it in an RV,” she said.