Caravan Interior

The interior of a caravan can provide a feeling of comfort and satisfaction as long as this space is utilised wisely. Manufacturers know this and that’s why they carefully design interior layouts with this in mind. A caravan interior will include all the furniture, appliances and amenities you need to live comfortably whilst travelling. In this article, we discuss these interior features and talk about the types of compartments, construction materials, toilets and storage solutions that you may encounter inside a caravan.
Article By: Damian Baker
Created: February 2007
Revised: September 2009
Latest Feedback: September 2015

Interior Design

The size of your caravan will play a huge part in the interior layout and balance for furnishings and living space. When it comes to comfort and extra features, you would think the bigger the caravan the better. This is not always the case as it really comes down to clever design and utilisation of space. Manufacturers are always coming up with new and clever concepts for balancing the interior space for living, furniture and storage as well as keeping the weight down and creating an inviting and aesthetic appeal – a lot of things to think about!

Caravans come in a substantial variety of lengths and interior designs. Be aware, however that not all manufacturers measure their caravan lengths the same way. Although the Caravan Industry Association (CIA) recommends using an external body measurement, some manufacturers use an internal length measurement, which can be confusing. Before embarking on the lookout for your dream caravan, a good idea is to bring a camera and a tape measure along.

Caravan interior designs and layouts come in a very wide variety of choices. Most of the larger manufacturers have standard layouts and will offer a certain amount of custom layout flexibility, whereas the smaller "boutique" manufacturers will often only have custom layouts – with a price to match.

Generally speaking, the three most popular design layouts for standard caravans and pop-tops are:
  • Rear kitchen with front bed

  • Front kitchen with rear bed

  • Mid kitchen with either front or rear bed
These days, a good majority of the caravan industry is working to supply the 'empty nester' and the baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964). The result of this is that family type caravans with bunk beds for the kids are somewhat more difficult to find. These caravans are somewhat available, so if that's what you’re looking for, then some persistence is often necessary!

Bedrooms and Bathrooms


Caravan bedrooms are quite restricted in layout options mainly because once the bed is in place, there is not too much space left for other furniture. There are, however, some clever and innovative designs that focus on utilising this space in a very efficient way. Examples include: overhead lockers, compact side tables and vanity cabinets, mirrored wardrobes and under bed storage compartments.


Island beds are the most common bed layout style that is currently found in caravans. It is simply a bed that can be accessed from three sides with the top of the bed against the wall. A bed that has two sides against the walls of a caravan will provide a difficult and cumbersome task to change the sheets. Another problem arises when two people are sleeping on the same bed because the person near the wall will find it rather challenging to get out of bed without disturbing the other.

The bed itself may be a single, double or a queen size, although a king size may be found in some large luxurious caravans. In regards to comfort, it should not be too much to ask, that the mattress comes with a quality inner-spring system.


Bathrooms are predominantly built into larger caravans and consist of a hand basin and a toilet as standard. There are some caravan manufacturers starting to include showers as standard also. Either way, these compartments are classified as wet areas and are usually floored with either ceramic or vinyl tiles or linoleum. Some bathrooms and/or shower units are made entirely of fibreglass and provide a highly sealed unit that’s very easy to clean and maintain. Bathrooms are commonly found near the rear of the bedroom or within close proximity to the bedroom, which is a similar concept to bathrooms found in houses.


There are many types of toilets that are installed in caravans, RVs and motorhomes. Most of these toilets use water for flushing from an external water holding tank. Toilets need to store the waste in another tank and this is either a toilet cassette or what’s usually termed a black water tank. Whatever tank is used, the waste should be disposed of thoughtfully at numerous dump points around the country.

Cassette Toilet

These toilets have a cassette-like storage tank that can hold around 20 litres of waste. They are constructed of highly durable plastic, have strong handles for carrying and can usually accept additional toilet chemicals. There are a few cassette toilets that are designed to be removed and emptied from outside the caravan through a small service hatch. Some models even offer a unique pour-out spout and a vent button to ensure splash-free emptying.

Vacuum Toilet

These toilets, which can integrate with a cassette tank or a fixed tank, works by breaking down waste through a high velocity vacuum action. This action also eliminates unpleasant odours and is said to be a very efficient and hygienic system. The vacuum is created by a 12V DC pump which keeps the vacuum tank primed whenever the toilet is flushed. Besides being efficient, these toilets use very little water (around 400ml a flush) and do not require toilet chemicals.

Windows and Doors


A caravan with lots of windows seem to bring more of the great outdoors inside. Whether the windows are made of acrylic or glass, they provide more views to the scenery outside and bring more light inside. This in turn, creates a brighter interior that makes the room seem bigger, more vibrant and pleasing.

Installing keyed window locks to all accessible windows will not only help keep burglars out, it may also reduce your insurance premium. If your caravan has glass windows, you could enquire about getting them window tinted. Window tinting will help reduce heat, glare and UV rays and will increase comfort and pleasure for the occupants inside. It may also protect the interior components such as vinyl from UV damage.


Solid doors are a good investment when it comes to privacy and security. Doors that are solidly constructed for bathroom and bedrooms are usually lockable, which will give you more peace of mind. Doors also assist in keeping cooking fumes and shower steam from transferring between rooms within the caravan.

Floors and Walls


Caravans should have durable flooring for the high amount of wear it will experience from time to time. This flooring needs to be easy to clean and maintain because when you are out on your camping trip, the last thing you want to do is be on your hands and knees scrubbing the floors.

Keep on eye out for good quality plastic tiles, timber laminate flooring or heavy duty linoleum (lino). Kitchen and wet areas such as bathrooms and toilets should have tiles or linoleum, whilst living areas and bedrooms could have high-wear carpet. You can also consider carpet or vinyl runners for heavy traffic areas such as isles or hallways for extra protection.


There are two finishes that caravan builders commonly use and that is the paper finish and the polyester finish. With the paper finish, patterns are printed on paper, which may be then laminated to plywood. Unfortunately this finish does not tolerate prolonged exposure to moisture and should not be used to line bathrooms. The polyester finish on the other hand may be more expensive but has considerable advantages such as:
  • More resilient to moisture

  • Can be scrubbed and cleaned without the finish wearing away

  • More durable and mar resistant

Storage Solutions

Most caravans have just about all the amenities and features that your home has and just like your home – it needs many adequate storage solutions. Many of these solutions are fairly standard whilst others are very innovative. When you are looking into storage solutions, there can be many things to consider like:
  • Is the storage unit well constructed?

  • Does it have quality hardware?

  • Is it in an ideal location and is easy to get to?

  • Will the unit open during rough transit?

  • Does it have solid locks or latches?

  • Are some storage units innovative?

  • Are some units well hidden?
The quality of the storage unit, the quality of the components used and its construction methods will answer most of these questions. For example, some caravan manufacturers use hardwood timber frames and construct with proper dove tail joints because this is one of the strongest ways to build cabinets and drawers. Other qualities to look out for include:
  • Using real rollers and guides such as the ones used in quality kitchen drawers at home

  • Constructing with real timber like Tasmanian Oak throughout the doors, drawers and trim

  • Using quality marine grade locking catches for drawers, cabinets and wardrobes

Kitchen Storage

Consider kitchen pantries that are designed for storing items such as, canned foods, cartons and spices, etc. Storage cupboards and pantries with adjustable, display type shelves are ideal especially if they can be easily removed for cleaning. It is important that any items such as, cutlery, pot, pans, plates and cups be secured as much as possible during transit. This prevents damage to both the item and the storage unit. A good idea is to look for kitchen units that have dividers, tie downs or any other innovative solutions to keep these items from jumping around.


Leave all your round plastic containers at home and instead bring square or oblong shaped containers. These will fit together better and will therefore use space much more efficiently.

Bedroom Storage

Wardrobes are handy for storing clothing items such as shirts, jeans, coats and shoes. These may contain coat hangers, storage shelves and various-sized storage bins. If a wardrobe has built-in storage shelves, it is preferable that they are height adjustable so they can be configured to meet individual storage requirements.

Other handy storage areas within the interior of the caravan may include:
  • Under-floor storage compartments

  • Overhead storage compartments

  • Storage bins or drawers under the bed

  • Additional cupboards, cabinets and shelving

  • Storage drawers and lockers

  • Storage pouches and netting

Appliances and Entertainment Systems

All the creature comforts that you would like to expect in your own home can also be applied to a caravan. Some of these may be considered a ‘must have’, whilst others may be deemed ‘luxuries’. In any case, they would help make life on the road comfortable by promoting self-maintenance. Knowing for example; you have air-conditioning during the hot nights, a rangehood above the stove to extract the cooking fumes and a TV and DVD player to keep the kids happy will bring a you lot of satisfaction and enjoyment to any journey. Consider the following examples that are now becoming quite standard in caravans:
  • Dual gas and 240 volt hot water system

  • Compact air heating system

  • 3-way LPG, 240/12 volt compressor fridge with freezer

  • Stainless steel microwave oven

  • 2 or 4 burner stove with oven and grill

  • 12 volt rangehood with lights

  • Reverse cycle roof air conditioner

  • 17 inch or more flat screen LCD TV and windup TV antenna

  • DVD/CD/Radio with multiple roof speakers

  • Deep stainless steel sink with drainer

  • 12 volt roof vent with variable speed

  • Space saver washing machine (usually an optional appliance)

  • 12 volt fluorescent ceiling lights

Safety Devices and Security

This section will briefly outline some safety features which are typically found in the interior of a caravan. Since safety issues are paramount, a good majority of these safety appliances and devices are considered standard in caravans these days. It is a good idea to discuss these and any additional safety features with the caravan manufacturer to gain a better understanding on the subject.
  • Smoke detectors

  • Fire extinguisher

  • Fire blankets

  • Residual current device – also known as an Earth leakage detector

  • Fully protected mains electric system

  • Gas leakage detector

  • Isolation taps for gas appliances

  • Water purifying filter

  • Security locks on doors

  • Window locks

  • Temperature limiting valve

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