By Julie Gant
Settling into our new Winnebago
Adjusting to the new, smaller, space and some hacks especially for the cats.
As I’m writing this, it’s about three weeks after we started moving into the Winnebago. We’ve been able to find a location for everything and are settling in. It’s feeling more like a home than a chaotic mess. Hooray! Now it’s time to introduce you and show you just how we were able to store and organize all our stuff in such a small space. Check out the video tour too!
For those who like the technical details, here’s an overview. It’s a 2018 Winnebago Minnie Plus. That ‘Plus’ is important as it gives us the room and technical things we need to live in it full time. The color is ‘champagne’, which is really just a light tan. It has four-point auto-leveling, which was an important desire for us. The length is 30 feet including the hitch, with 27 feet of living space, and she’s just under 12 feet high including the a/c unit. There are two gray tanks totaling (we think) 40 gallons, one black tank at 40 gallons, and the fresh is 50 gallons. We think the two gray tanks total 40 gallons, but can’t find confirmation in anything. Our educated, logical guesswork tells us they’re each 20 gallons; but we haven’t done the scientific study to confirm our theory. Want to know more about the technical details? Ask us in the comments or on our Facebook page!
We’ll start with the front and go to the back. The RV’s entry door is centered on the RV so, as you walk in, the bedroom is up two steps to the right with a short hallway. We have a queen-sized bed with two narrow wardrobe cupboards on each side. There are no night-stands, but it does have a slim shelf above and a small drawer on each side that we use for our normal night-stand stuff. We also put up some cool, slim phone holders, so they’re a little more convenient if we need them.
One side wall has a window and I used the valance to display some of our knick-knacks, which also helps keep the cats off of the valance. I put one of my shawls over the valance, hanging down a bit to help keep the morning light to a minimum. We also use Reflectix in that window during these summer months when the sun rises early.
The other side wall has a wider wardrobe cupboard and two cupboards with shelves that we’re using for rolled clothing and a few other things. A couple of small drawers under those shelves give us space for jewelry (in my case) and socks (in Brian’s case.) There’s also storage under the bed that, thankfully, holds everything we had under the bed in the Safari plus a little more.
The difficult thing about the wardrobe sections is that they are not very deep front to back or top to bottom. For the front to back issue, we had to buy new hangers – literally kid-sized hangers. Luckily, the bedside wardrobes hold our old hangers (barely); so we only had to change out about half of our hangers. My shirts drag a little on the bottom of the one by the bed and my knee-length dresses are pooled in the other one by about 6 or 8 inches. You can imagine how bunched up Brian’s clothes are! It’s weird, but we’ve made it work.
Lastly, we had no place to put our shoes! Really, you sit in an RV (or small home) and think about where you’ll put everything…and always miss something. There’s space alongside the bed for a single shoe, so you could fit maybe two or three pairs there – and I do have two pairs of boots there – but that’s it. I ended up buying one of those over the door shoe holders similar to this one and it works great! Well, it works mostly great. Some of the shoes push the door away from the wall a bit, which means the door is sticking out into the walkway a bit. There’s a bump-out on the wall that already made it do that a little, and the shoes make it stick out a tad more. It just means I have to be careful not to run into it in the middle of the night.
You can walk straight from either side of the bed to the bathroom. The non-window side goes through a sliding door and the window side goes out to the short hallway, then you turn right through another sliding door into the bathroom. In this RV, the toilet, sink, and shower are all in the same room. The shower is slightly larger than our old one and the sink and toilet are typical.
What’s weird about this bathroom is the lack of storage. For some reason, I’d thought there was a cupboard above the toilet like in so many other RVs. Nope. Nothing. The only storage we have in the bathroom is a normal skinny medicine cabinet and an under-sink cupboard that is about 5 inches front to back on the bottom and has irregular storage on the top shelf around the pipes. I fit a few of my extra toiletries there along with four rolls of toilet paper and some cleaning supplies. I even gave up my hair dryer since the only time I really use it is if it’s cold outside.
I put our spare towels in with my rolled clothing and all the first aid stuff is now in the living room with some of our emergency supplies. The rest of the cleaning supplies went into the kitchen. We bought some over the door hooks for our daily towels, though the only space to hang them is on the shower. That, though, prevents us from opening the shower door all the way. It’s only a about 3 inches difference, so it’s not a big deal. We could hang them in the big blank space over the toilet where storage should have been, but I don’t like hanging towels over a toilet. I’m sure it’s fine, but I’m not doing it.
As you continue down the hallway and come back down the stairs to the door, the kitchen is in front of you.
These two photos essentially show the entire kitchen. It’s small, but we’re dealing with it pretty well and Brian’s planning to install a folding shelf at the end of that counter to give us a bit more work-space. We bought a magnetic knife holder and got rid of the counter-top one. It’s attached to the wall with dual lock, which is great for not damaging your RV walls. Plates, bowls, and our few baking essentials are in that overhead cabinet. A cupboard above the refrigerator contains our Instant Pot, other small kitchen appliances, and spare paper towels. The pots and pans, their lids, and mixing bowls are all in the drawer underneath the oven.
Another goofy thing about this RV is those two shallow drawers – like what you’d keep silverware and utensils in – near the floor. That could be dealt with but, on top of that, the only place to put the garbage can is right in front of them. Good grief! We knew this was an issue when we bought it, and have a solution that we just haven’t gotten to do yet. There’s a cabinet on the back side of the kitchen counter by the door. It has a built-in shelf that we’re going to cut out. That cupboard will then be able to fit a normal-sized kitchen garbage bin and hopefully some sort of recycling container. Currently, those two drawers contain dish towels, kitchen gadgets, and utensils that don’t fit in the one on the counter. I’ll feel much better about those being there once the garbage can is no longer in front of them.
Second to the bathroom, the pantry was the most difficult challenge. The pantry is basically the back side of the bathroom wall – on your right as you come down the steps. The problem was that it’s two very tall cupboards with only one shelf in each. The top section gives us two shelves with 23 and 25 inches of height. Why would anyone even need that much height in a hutch? In addition, it’s about 37 inches wide with no barriers. In an RV, all that space means lots of moving around during travel and it’s definitely not very efficient for storage. I mean, even if we were just using this for long weekends and a couple of vacations a year – what on earth would we put in there without additional shelving? (Winnebago, please take note.)
We resolved the issues with a multitude of stacking shelves and a couple of baskets. As you can see, we’ve been able to fit a lot in there, including some typical medicine cabinet items like pain-relievers and some of my herbal remedies. I had to get new spice racks because the old ones wouldn’t work. These tiered ones actually fit nicely onto the shelves and we use a small bungee on top of each, plus tension rods, to keep them from jumping around during drive days. That space at the top is staying empty because it’s so high up that I couldn’t even reach it with our stool.
Next up is the dining area. It’s your typical free-standing table with four chairs, but…the table is low enough that I can sit at it and type comfortably. This is huge! If the table wasn’t that low, we could not have purchased this RV. I can’t sit on a couch and work because my feet don’t generally touch the ground, so the only alternative is to rip out a couch or dining table and replace it with a desk like we did in the Safari. This table meant I could work there easily! I have a small amount of ‘desk stuff’ that can quickly slide up against the window when we want to use the table for eating. If we have company and need the whole table, it can be moved elsewhere. When it’s time to move, I move it off to the side and bungee it to the table. Love it!
There’s a bit of overhead storage that runs from the dining table area through the living space, which is where we store things like the cat food and supplies, camera equipment, supplements and herbal remedies, and some of Brian’s ‘desk stuff’. About 95% of it is stored in baskets to contain it all. My only complaint here is that Winnebago didn’t put doors on the middle of each section, so you have to pull out one basket to get to another; but that’s not a big deal.
As you look to the back end of the RV, you see the entertainment area. This has a couch on the right (behind the dining table) and a large entertainment center on the left with a bench seat at the far end in between the two sides.
The couch is currently Brian’s “desk”. He uses our little coffee table for his laptop, but is looking for a compact mobile laptop desk he can tuck away when it’s not being used. For now, the coffee table is working for him. Eventually, he wants to get his laptop connected to the TV as a monitor, which could end up being an alternative to the mobile desk station. One thing we like about the couch is that there’s plenty of room on the back of it for the cats to nap and be in the sun. They found that space quickly and love it there!
The entertainment center has tons of storage above, below, beside, and even behind the TV. Again, most of it is large open space; but we’re making do. The cabinet above the TV has extra blankets, lanterns, and first aid supplies. Behind the TV are the few books we kept in our original move and some miscellaneous stuff. All the electronic gadgets and cables are underneath the TV. It’s all just one big open u-shaped shelf, but we found some boxes that match the wood nearly perfectly and use those to contain everything. That space is another favorite for the cats.
Below all that is our electric fireplace. I’m sure on colder days we’ll be nice and toasty warm between that and the furnace! Off to the right, against the back wall is a small closet with a rod that is just big enough for all our sweaters and jackets.
Last is the bench seat under the back window. We put two of the cats’ wool “caves” on top of the bench (one is on the chair next to me at the table). In case you haven’t seen us rave about these before, they are felted wool pods that cats can curl up inside. However, our cats have all decided that being on top of them is way better; so ours are all smashed flat. They love them! There’s a big window above the bench, so the cats get sunlight there too. What’s even better is what we did inside the bench.
It’s always one of the first things we look at when touring RVs – where to put the litter box. In our sticks and bricks homes and in the Safari, we had one of those ‘cabinets’ that hold the litter box and keep it out of sight while also keeping the smell down. It looks just like a piece of regular furniture. Going small, though, we knew we wouldn’t have space for something like that; but this bench seat is perfect.
Brian built out the inside with corrugated plastic to protect the space and prevent the cats from getting into the slide for the outdoor kitchen. Yes. We have an outdoor kitchen – just a two-burner stove, small fridge that we’re going to turn into a freezer, and sink. Anyway, Brian installed the protective ‘tub’, put the litter box inside that and cut a hole in the exterior partition so the cats can get in and out. It also has plenty of room for storing the spare litter, scoop, bags, etc. It’s great!
Oh! I almost forgot! Above the kitchen and the entertainment center are open shelves. I store the dish drainer on top of the one in the kitchen when we’re not using it; otherwise, it’s a big cat perch. They would love to get up into the one above the entertainment center, but it’s too high. Coyote tried and ended up scratching the cabinetry a little, and we don’t want them jumping on the valances; so Brian now stores his guitar case up there.
Well. I think that’s about it, friends. Welcome to our new home! We do have some additional mods coming up in the future, especially outside and including a kitchen faucet upgrade. Remember to watch the video too!
Thank you for joining us as we live our journey…