Creative And Effective RV Desk Ideas
Anyone living full time on the road in an RV can tell you that eventually you are going to need some rv desk ideas for a dedicated office space. Unfortunately, few travel trailers and RVs are designed with the home office in mind- a trend that is changing now that so many of us are out here living as digital nomads. However, until it comes standard with every RV home, you’ll need a little creativity to get your rv desk table ideas set up and ready to roll.
The first step is planning. Keep these factors in mind while you are surfing the internet for inspiration:
- Function – What do you need to do? How do you need to do it?
- Space – Small space or large RV? Does it need to be stowed to make room for other activities? Where can it fit?
- Weight – Remember your set-up has to be able to roll down the road. Adding too much weight can damage your axels or transmission.
- Mobilization – Caution things may shift in transit.
Now that you are in planning mode, let’s talk ideas.
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Use The Design Of Your Rooms
Think about the design of the room you are going to be working in. This comes back to that function idea I mentioned. Ideally you are going to want a desk space out of the flow of traffic where you can easily set up shop. If you are tight on space, that also means you are going to want ease of storage when the work day is done.
Some of your rooms might already have the ideal working space. You simply have to reimagine it a little. We talked to a fellow RVer who’s best office set up was a small storage tub that fit under the kitchen table. The table became her rv computer desk during the day. Then at night everything fit safely away in the tub. The only downfalls were she couldn’t leave her work out for the next day and she was too close to the snacks (that would NOT work for me!)
Make Use of the Bedroom
Even the smallest of bedrooms can be a work space. This can go beyond a lap tray and pillows. Try thinking outside the box to use all of your space efficiently. If you have a slide out, even better. That means you have more space to work with.
Mount It To The Wall
Sometimes a standard desk won’t fit. Consider using your walls to save space. Your options range from classic to artsy depending on your style. Sizes vary from about the size of a briefcase to full wall units.
For classic clean lines go with a floating desk like this folding unit from Amazon. This model folds up to lock (my preference) so that your office stuff is secured as you roll on down the road, plus it looks super cute.
However, if you want a little more artistic flair, you can mount a hard-sided suitcase or briefcase. Make sure to support the base as some hinges might not hold up to the weight of your laptop.
Add to your space saving design by mounting your computer monitor or replacing that outdated tv with a smart tv. A couple of brackets with hooks placed under your wall mounted desk can add stability and give you a place to hang your computer bag. Look for ones with rounded edges to avoid catching your clothes if you have to shimmy by.
Don’t forget the folding chair or stool. If you have enough wall space, adding a couple eye hooks with bungie cords will help you secure the chairs to the wall rather than just leaning them in a corner. Otherwise look at the under the bed storage to see if there is room.
Put It Under The Bed
If you have room in your underbed storage, there are several collapsible desks to choose from. However, there are basically two design; folding and adjustable. Folding desks are designed to fold almost flat. Think folding chair but in desk form. With an adjustable desk, the legs shrink down for storage.
Of these two designs, I prefer the folding desk over the adjustable height one. Other than the fact that you have to measure the adjustable height one to make sure that it fits under the bed, the folding desks are more lightweight and portable. This means you can easily move your office to a new location if you change your mind about being in the bedroom. It also makes it easier to pull out and flip around so you can sit on the edge of your bed rather than leave the bed up.
Either way you will have to have a plan for clearing them off at the end of the day for storage. Having a handy storage tub nearby to hold your office stuff can help keep you organized. Or go with a laptop bag if you really don’t have much more than a computer and a notebook like me.
Upgrade A Dresser
Many travel trailers come with built in dressers. Depending on the height and space there are a few options for converting it into a mobile office. Adding a flip out desk extension or converting the top drawer into a desktop are quick and easy redesigns you can do. Another idea is to go with a desk top computer stand. It can turn your dresser into a standing desk and still leave you room on top of your dresser for other office items. An added bonus to using a converted dresser is that you have the perfect way to stow your office when on the move.
Utilize The Front Seat
If you happen to be in a Class A or Class C rig, those front seats can make perfect desk chairs. They are cushioned, adjustable, and offer great lumbar support. So why not set up your mobile work space where you can utilize these bad boys.
Most passenger seats swivel around. Meaning you can use a TV tray or a portable bedside table as a desk. A table that folds out to a larger size can be placed between the two chairs for a shared workspace. If the driver side doesn’t swivel, consider buying a steering wheel desk. These options all offer easy storage. Plus, if you are going to be parked for a while, you can use the dashboard and center console to hold office supplies and files.
Head To The Bathroom
You are probably thinking the bathroom isn’t exactly on your list of RV office venues. However, when considering your space options, don’t rule it out. It might not be ideal if you have a small bathroom or you have a lot of people who need to use the facilities. On the other hand, some models have pass through bathrooms to get to the master bedroom. Not only do you have room to set up a portable desk, you have a door that locks.
Go To The Bunkroom
My neighbor has a 35’ travel trailer with a bunkroom in the back. Since it came with four bunks, but he only has three kids, he converted the space under one of the bunks into a trailer desk. He used a lightweight shelf and a set of bathroom cabinet drawers to create a double desk. The stools fit neatly under the desk at the end of the day. A few well-placed eye hooks and bungie cords keep them from sliding around during transit.
Of course, if you don’t need the extra bunks, you can consider converting the whole area into an RV office complete with desk and bookshelves. There are tons of ideas out there or draw up your own plans. You are only limited by size, weight and your imagination.
If you do go for the full remodel, give yourself plenty of time. It might be a small space but RV demolition is harder than it looks. They are not designed to come apart easily and if you rush it you could end up causing damage or creating leaks. You might also need to account for the metal frame and lack of anchor points when you go to secure your new office furniture. I once had to build a wood frame around inside the room before I could start adding furniture.
Toy Hauler Conversion
Toy haulers aren’t only great for bringing along your ATV’s. That big open space in the back is perfect for office conversions. Since they are designed to handle the weight, you can go for the more conventional office setup. Keep in mind that whatever you do it will have to hold up to the inevitable shifting that comes with being on the road.
If you still want to bring along a few toys, consider converting only half of the space or using wall mounted and flip down furniture. Keep in mind your weight distribution as too much weight to one side of the trailer can lead to big trouble on the road.
Add A Desk
One thing to consider is adding a desk to your current layout to give you the office space you need. If you have the room, you might be able to get away with simply adding a small lightweight desk to keep from adding to your dry weight. However, most floorplans already use up the given space meaning you will need to consider removing some unwanted items.
Convert Space To Add Office Essentials
In many cases, your existing layout may not be enough, so you will need to look at converting space.
Pull Out The Unused Furniture
One way to keep from adding weight is to exchange it. Consider pulling out that old hide-a-bed, recliner, or dinette set and replacing it with an office system. This will keep your dry weight down while giving you the room you need to set up your rv desk ideas.
Pulling out that old smelly couch might also improve the air quality while you’re at it. Also, the floor underneath might not be what you are expecting. Now might be a time to put in that hardwood floor you were thinking about. Be creative with your RV setup ideas.
Can You Use Regular Furniture In An RV?
The simple answer to this is yes with the right design. You don’t have to use furniture specifically designed for RVs. In fact, most RV office ideas I’ve seen utilize standard furniture. This doesn’t mean to go for that solid maple executive desk, but a trip to your local Ikea or Home Depot might be in order.
Think repurpose or unique utilization while you are at it. I once came across a built-in work area that was made from a shelf and three sets of storage cubes as the base.
Try An RV Standing Desk
Installing a standing desk is another option. You can choose to build one in or opt for a portable version. I’ve seen a few hybrid versions where some of the office elements are mounted to the wall accompanied by a small standing desk underneath to save space.
Put in a Fold-Out Desk
To save floor space, put in a fold-out desk. Depending on how much wall space you have, you can either go with a pre-made table or DIY your own custom design. Options with built in storage that fold up are great for walls with no windows. Or you can go with a model that folds down to fit under a window. Fold-out tables can also double as extra counter space or for dining.
Small Space Desks
When it comes to small spaces, custom built office setup may be the best way to go. Unless you have no carpentry skills. In that case, the next best thing is to keep the design simple like this two-tier computer desk. Shop around at second hand stores for surprise pieces with flair or go with a more modern desk designed for small space.
Sometimes no matter what you do there is just no way to work with the space you have. Maybe your space is too small. Maybe your floorplan isn’t working for you. Or maybe you are like my neighbor with the three kids who simply has more people than workspace. Then it might be time to think outside of the RV.
Invest In An Outdoor Room
If the weather permits, an outdoor room might be the way to go. They run from the basic pop-up screen room to the more durable attached awning with screen room combinations. Look for ones that are lightweight with easy set up. Most are semi-waterproof but pooling water can cause collapses or create leaks.
Helpful tip: Check the folded measurements before you buy. It doesn’t matter how easy it is to use if it won’t fit in your storage area.
Consider A Second RV
That sounds crazy but hear me out. Depending on your current setup you could add another smaller RV or mobile office. Ashley Logsdon of Mama Says Namaste did this for several months, and found it worked quite well for her family. It gave her a quiet place to work without being constantly interrupted by family.
If you drive an RV, consider making your towed vehicle a trailer. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a camping trailer though it is possible if you have the towing capacity. An enclosed trailer will also work as an office space for your RV with a few upgrades. Some come complete with windows and air conditioning.
For those of you with a travel trailer, adding a camper shell to your tow vehicle is one possibility. The downside to that is the added weight. An alternative would be to invest in a truck bed tent. These usually take about a half hour to set up with two people. Add an indoor/outdoor carpet and some portable office furniture and you are working in your new office in less than an hour.
One thing to keep in mind with this option is that most campgrounds limit what you can set up. The standard seems to be one RV and one tent or screen room per spot. Check with the campground before you go to avoid extra charges or so you can reserve two spots.
Hide Out In The Truck
One other option is to turn the front seat of your car or truck into a mobile office. This is what the neighbor with three kids did. He works in sales so he needed quiet when he was on the phone. Since his truck was well insulated, it blocked out most of the noise. He turned his passenger seat and center console into a workspace with the help of a basket and a plastic organizer. His steering wheel became a desk with the help of wheeldesk from Amazon. To keep things charged he used a combination of his car charger and a power inverter to plug in his laptop.
At the end of the day (or if they had to go somewhere), he would pack it all into a large igloo cooler. I thought it was strange until he told me that it was the best way he could think of to keep his stuff clean, dry and safe. Even if he accidentally dropped it in a mud puddle on the way to the RV, nothing would get damaged.
Don’t Forget to Stabilize
One final note. No matter how you configure your RV office, make sure to secure it. Things can and will shift during transit. This includes the stuff inside your office, not just your furniture. Invest in some baskets and locking storage containers to organize your office supplies. The last thing you want is to have your laptop falling on your head or your files scattered.
I hope I have helped you to figure out a way for you to take your work on the road with you and wake up to awesome views every day with some unique and creative rv desk ideas.
Check out some other amazing RV desk solutions below, I know you will find something that works for you.
Renovated Toy Hauler Office Space
Find out how Kris and Andy from Where Wild Ones Wonder renovated their toy hauler to this amazing space. Look at all the space they have created for themselves, RV’s are not known for a lot of storage space, but this toy hauler has a lot of open space that is perfect for an on the go work space.
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How About this For An Awesome Office View?
Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this type of view on a daily basis, but I’m not sure how much work I would be able to get done! Jesse and Rachael from The Taste For Adventure have set up a beautiful work space that works for these two digital nomads.
Tiny Space - No Problem
Lesley-Anne from RVing with Lesley uses a stand up computer desk in her RV. The hubs loved his standing desk when he worked his corporate job. This type of desk fits perfectly in a tiny home, as it takes up little room.
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Check Out The Before & After
Whitley and Connor from The Millennial Nomads set up this beautiful home office in their RV, which gives them plenty of office space to work at. Be sure to check out the before and after photos to see the amazing renovations they were able to do.