Let's Talk RV Design with Interior Designer Andrea Graves

By:  Andrea Graves

16th Jul, 20

RV Design with Interior Designer Andrea Graves


Andrea started designing at DRV Luxury Suites in 2014 and took over design for Cruiser RV the following year. The fact that design trends are forever changing and no two of her days look the same is what she loves most about RV interior design. As a designer, Andrea’s biggest achievements aren’t related to the RV industry at all, and include designing award winning schools; specifically, Indiana’s first LEED certified K-12 school and LEED certified emergency department. Within the RV industry, as a designer, her biggest achievement has been watching each brand continue to grow.

Complete interior changes typically occur every two years, but that sometimes take place sooner or later depending on the market and feedback received from dealers and customers. Small, eye-catching details, wood colors, wall colors and flooring are different elements Andrea pulls together; along with design inspiration from other industries such as automotive, hospitality and residential, to create concept boards of potential interior changes for the upcoming year. Once a design direction is established, Andrea pulls the main components together – wood, wallboards and flooring and moves onto secondary elements followed by the final detail items. An RV owner herself, and frequent camper, Andrea uses weekend camping trips as a way to enjoy time with her family and gain extremely valuable insight into things that can continue to be improved on.

Andrea values her role within the Cruiser RV and DRV Luxury Suites families and credits a lot of her success to the team that surrounds her. “We would not be able to come up with the awesome looks and concepts that we do without a forward-thinking team that enjoys trying new things.”

Where do you get your inspiration?

Andrea:

I take a look at trends in all industries - automotive, contract, hospitality, and residential, and attend trade shows that focus on upcoming design trends. I also follow many influencers on social media. I, along with the sales team, then collectively decide what’s the best direction for each brand.

What inspired the 2021 interior choices?

Andrea: Functionality was the focal point for Cruiser RV. We have some exciting new patents coming out for our customers that will simplify a couple day-to-day tasks in their units and improve the overall functionality. We also focused on making the interiors clean, bright, and neutral. We recognize a lot of consumers want to take these units and make them their own and give them their own unique touch. So, we focused on giving them a clean, neutral pallet that they can build their own personal style from.

For DRV Luxury Suites, the focus was to create a new modern look. We started working on this very early - bringing in new wood colors that provided a higher color contrast for a more dramatic space. DRVs’ focus has primarily been towards the generation of early retirement buyers and stayed with a more traditional look, but with more consumers turning to full-time living at all ages, we wanted to give the Mobile Suites a fresh, modern look to appeal to a broader spectrum of customers.

What is one of your favorite elements or material to use?

Andrea:  I love designing backsplashes, floor plans and overall cabinet layouts.

Why do you think RVers will be attracted to the new 2021 interiors?

Andrea: Initially, I think consumers will be attracted with the overall bright and airy feeling all our new models have - but the small attention to details, like our pending patents, and overall design themes, are what will set our interiors apart.

With so many brands how, how do you differentiate and make each one of them their own?

Andrea: When I first started designing for Cruiser RV in 2015, I had a difficult time telling the difference between the different brands. I had been designing at DRV Luxury Suites for a year and adding travel trailers to the mix was a big learning curve for me. My main goal was to give the travel trailers their own identity, and the first way I thought to accomplish that was to start with the wood colors. At the time, Cruise RV was limited on plant space, so we had a lot of constraints to work in. Fortunately, over the past couple years, we have grown to now have three beautiful plants that allow us more versatility in the colors and features each brand can have in order to allow each one to have its own identity. We also have separate teams for each brand which means separate opinions and design directions. Cruiser RV builds six brands and I don’t feel that a single one of them looks like the other and that is in big part to our teams and the forward thinking. I feel we offer a very wide range of looks and features to attract any travel trailer buyer. We offer light, medium, and dark wood options across the brands, and different floorplans and features. When we can line all our brands up after every new model change and love each interior for the unique look and features, we devoted to that brand, that’s what gives us a sense of accomplishment.

DRV Luxury Suites has always been a fun brand to design. We focus on giving the DRV customer options that they can build from to suit their design preference. I always love seeing the combination of finishes selected by each customer and am even sometimes surprised by how different they make each unit look just by the items selected.  

Knowing RVs are home to many, how do you translate home décor, materials etc. to RVs?  (meaning a lot of people when renovating an RV, may not take into consideration weight of materials etc.)

Andrea: When trying to design a look that will give our customers a more residential feel, we are always hit with the obstacles presented by being in an RV and not a home. We have to consider weight, durability, the products ability to withstand extreme temperature swings, including moisture and condensation, “earthquakes” (going down the road), etc. I would say we have our tried and true products that we know work, so we start there. Luckily, this industry is full of awesome suppliers that can pretty much create any look we want and apply it to those tested products. This allows us to also get the scale, color, and design intent correct. Most residential components will be scaled too large for application in a RV. While we would love to follow every residential trend, as the OEM, we have to make sure we are designing for everyone and not just the people wanting that modern farmhouse look, or a sleek European unit. We acknowledge that there are many that still want a traditional feel, so we have to be careful not get too “on trend.” If there is a concept that we design and only half the team is on board, we will likely change direction. This segment is very competitive, so we need to have an interior that appeals to most, not some.

For DRV, we really treat these brands more like a true residential home. While weight is a concern, it is not as sensitive in this segment. We use residential appliances, backsplashes, fixtures, flooring, hardware and wood elements. There are again some products we have tried, and they just don’t handle the elements as well, so we stay within what residential products we know work. For example, we use hand laid luxury vinyl tile. There are a ton of options in this segment; however, not all of them can handle the hot and cold temperature swings and will cause the flooring to shrink or swell. This is an example of something we have researched and found a product that works and allows us to keep a nice residential feel that will perform for the customer. DRV offers our customers many customizable options such as backsplashes, countertops, fabrics, flooring, paints and wood colors which helps the brands take on the residential design the customer is looking for in their new home!

How do you feel about the big trend of RV renovations, tiny homes, etc.?

Andrea: I am excited to see this trend continue in our industry! I am equally excited to collaborate with some of these renovators and continue to build the excitement for our industry as well.  Everyone has their own style and personal needs, and I love seeing people put their own touch on each RV whether they are new or old! I follow tons of RV renovators and love what they come up with and seeing how they overcome the obstacles we deal with daily in the production of these units.