Campsite decorating might not be high on the list of every #vanlife enthusiast I know. But we all love looking at the gorgeous scenery outside, and we enjoy snuggling up inside our van or RV, especially during the colder months. Making our surroundings beautiful can apply as much to the inside of the RV as to the outside. Adding extra charm to our campsite is the perfect way to accentuate your surroundings and create a little oasis while sitting outside.
In the picture above by Danielle of @slo.gathered.home we can see how much impact you can achieve by adding textures to different elements of the outside, making it absolutely dreamy!
RV patio decoration is a great way to extend your living area. Whether you are boondocking off-grid or set up at one of your favorite campgrounds. Having a few basic campsite decorations means the difference between squatting atop a fallen log full of ants or watching the wood fire burn while swinging on a comfortable hammock!
If your idea of heaven is being outside with a cool drink, inhaling the scent of campfire food, and having nothing standing between you and the view – then it’s time for you to up your campsite decorating skills by following through on some of these easy campsite decorating ideas.
When you decorate outside your camper, the results are well worth the little bit of effort it takes. This post will show you how easy RV patio decoration can be.
Let’s start with campsite decorating basics
How much room do you have inside your RV for transporting and storing campsite decorations? Before you jump into the exciting world of RV outdoor living ideas and start buying RV patio decor essentials, please make sure you have space to store them.
RV patio decor storage ideas
1. Make a list of any item that can double up as something you will be able to use outside. This list might surprise you – kitchen utensils can double up for use around the campfire cookout; rubber mats laid out to handle foot traffic inside can be placed outside too; interior cleaning supplies can double up for outside use, for example, the stuff you use to clean the oven can be used to clean the campground barbecue area (just make sure the cleaning supplies you use on the barbecue grill grid are organic; ditto goes for solar-powered lighting, spice and seasoning racks, and windproof candles.
2. Not everyone wants to haul a family-size RV camper or trailer around with them. If you have a pop-up trailer or sweet teardrop camper, you might want to read my post on how much they offer in storage space. For everything you need to know about what your RV class and trailer model offers you space-wise, read more here.
3. Have a family meeting, or sit down with your partner, and discuss how they would like to decorate outdoors. Believe me, when I say that kids have some really good ideas – my son asked me if I could buy a collapsible box with a lid for toy storage on the RV patio; somewhere he could put his toys instead of leaving them on the ground. There’s been no more stepping on Lego bricks or losing precious items since we got it. And as for storing the box inside the RV, it’s a fold-up dream.
Likewise, if you are a couple or retired, your RV patio decorating ideas should be on the same page. A shy partner might not like the thought of hanging out a welcome sign or a personalized flag; likewise, a happy-go-lucky hiking fanatic might not relish their partner turning the outdoor living room into a glamping site!
Campsite decorating essentials
You might choose to sit outside during a balmy summer’s day to watch the sunset; what about huddling around your campfire cooker or propane fire pit on a chilly afternoon in the fall? No matter where you choose to camp, these are some campsite decorating essentials to make the experience so much more rewarding.
- Solar bug zapper for indoor/outdoor use (can double up as an emergency light)
- Weatherproof cushions (for making that fold-out chair more comfortable and can double up as somewhere for kids to sit)
- The best folding chairs your budget allows (if you have a toy hauler or RV with extra storage space, and lightweight comfortable chairs will suit your outdoor living area)
- Shade umbrella/awning curtain / portable gazebo (can double up as windbreaks or sun shades when you visit the beach)
- Sunblock cream for all the sunlight you’ll be soaking up!
A few campsite patio rules to keep in mind before putting on the glitz
At campgrounds and RV parks –
- Make sure you aren’t infringing any campground rules/regulations before setting up your patio outside area
- Check with your neighbors before stringing up flashing string lights; it might keep them awake if they like to sleep with the curtains pulled back
- If the campsite is pet-friendly, check there are no pets with the idea of marking their territory on your new RV patio rug (see portable fencing)
- Ensure the plants you use to decorate your RV outside are non-toxic for children and pets
- Check nothing is placed outside your demarcated camping ground boundary
- Before setting up your birdfeeder, check the campground for cats
- Not every campground / RV park provides barbecue areas or fire permits, so if your campground has a burn ban, a propane fire pit might be the solution
And for when you are camping in your RV off-grid, in a parking lot, or boondocking:
- Make sure nothing can blow away in a sudden gust of wind, especially plastics, and tableware
- Look for a couple of convenient stones if you need to weigh down any lightweight items, such as used paper plates, plastic cups, and tablecloth edges – or else use handy little picnic table clips
- Check portable fences have been erected safely and securely if you have children and are camping near water
- Bring all food inside after eating; wash and rinse utensils you can’t trash.
Cute and cozy campsite decor
These campsite decorations might not be essential, but they are so cute! If you want to stamp your patio area with a taste of your personality and worldview, consider sticking one of these around your RV’s outdoor space.
1 – Outdoor Rugs
This is a somewhat controversial item to add as the first thing on the list because I’ve read of people considering outdoor rugs unnecessary unless you are camping at the beach or on uneven surfaces. But after camping in a variety of places, from the desert to the beach. I have to disagree. My outdoor rug is the first thing that I set up whenever we arrive at places, and our green (faux-grass) turf was the first thing we purchased when we started living full-time in our 5th wheel toy hauler.
I absolutely love how much the look of your rig can change by changing the outdoor rug, and having a dirt-free area for the kids and the dogs is amazing!
Below you can see an example of the patio area created by Libby from @behrnecessitiesrv on IG, she didn’t only add layered rugs to her outdoor area. But also set up a mini-pool, creating an adorable and practical area for both grown-ups and little ones.
2 – Hammocks
Don’t knock a hammock until you’ve tried it. They are super-comfortable and take up little to zero storage space. Out of the way of ants and dampness, you can even decorate your hammock with an insect net if you want to snooze away those balmy post-cookout afternoons in peace.
If you are full-time RVing, building something like the setup Chelsea created below is such an amazing idea.
For those of your camping in treeless campgrounds, you can also get standalone hammocks.
3 – Tablecloths and other coverings
A few campground picnic tables are better off covered up, let’s be honest. And while it has been proven some hardwoods are capable of absorbing and killing 99.9% of bacteria (the same number as most kitchen sprays), you still might want to protect little fingers from picking up splinters by laying down an outdoor tablecloth made of vinyl. Vinyl is the perfect table covering because it is heavy enough to withstand strong winds and also wipes clean.
4 – Blankets
5 – Strings of lights
Although these are complete non-essentials, nothing makes a mark like a string of fairy lights decorating your campsite. The really good news is that you can get solar-powered ones or shop around for rope lights, canning jar solar lights, or even remote-control timer lights guaranteed to keep the rodents away from your RV.
NOTE OF CAUTION: If you are in close proximity to other campers, please consider using outdoor lights, keeping in mind how they could affect your neighbors. Just as you have to be careful about noise, lights can be intrusive for light sleepers and for those wanting to enjoy start nights. (This is especially applicable when using very bright LED lights)
6 – Wooden chopping boards
While we are on the subject of the amazing antibacterial properties of hardwood, a beautiful wooden chopping board is lovely for slicing bread, pizza, or steak. It’s one of those versatile pieces that double up for both inside and outside the RV (always follow sanitary guidelines).
7 – Personalized items
If you are loud and proud about your sports team, celebratory festival, or party theme, then it’s time to say it in words and colors. And let’s face it, no campsite decor is complete without at least one of these cute and cozy campsite decorations hanging on your patio.
Adding a welcome mat, or a vinyl decal to your door like Bethany aka @simplecatlady via IG. It is the perfect way to add some personality to your outdoor area and door.
8 – Don’t forget about your door!
One simple project we did with the door of our 5th wheel was to add peel-and-stick wallpaper when I changed our RV lock, it added so much impact when the door is open. And to the inside when the door is closed.
Painting your door, as we saw before, can add so much charm! I love this green door below by Rachel.
Must-have campsite decor items
Your comfort is at stake here, so this is no time to look for cheaply-made eyesores. Remember that, just like an ordinary chair, your camping chair must be built to last for the longest time, so durability, comfort, and longevity are key factors when looking for the best camping chairs.
Checklist: back support; cupholder large enough to handle any size drink; height adjustable so everyone in the RV can use it; easy to clean; folds away to fit your available storage space.
Here are my 3 camping chair price points picks to suit every budget:
Of course, if you are stationary, you have so much more flexibility because size, weight, and portability are not as important. So in this case, you can choose regular chairs and 100% base your selection on your style and comfort.
If you have a family like me who are die-hard barefoot-in-the-summer types, then you need an outdoor carpet. Not only are they a really nice way to lay the foundation for your campsite patio setup, but they also protect bare feet from thorns and dying bees lying in camouflage among the leaves and grass! Outdoor carpets save your RV door entrance from being cluttered with sand and debris from outside too. Have a look at buying a welcome mat if you want to be double sure what’s outside doesn’t come inside your RV.
Not only can this must-have campsite favorite item double up as a card table or games table when you go out camping, but it can bring a much-needed touch of elegance and convenience when you eat outside. This is a brilliant camping item to have, especially if you have not been able to snag a campsite spot next to a campground picnic table.
The Screened-in Canopy Tent / Screen Room
If you have had one too many summer night cookouts ruined by bugs, it might be time to get an outdoor gazebo-style screened tent. These are styled like gazebos but have walls made of transparent, bug-proof netting. Some models even come with sun/wind panels you can use to cover the screens.
If you put a carpet down on the ground inside a screen tent shelter, it can become the most outstanding place to sit, sleep, and play in summer. When you get to your campsite, you can erect this pop-up tent over your picnic table if you dream of keeping the wasps at bay. The larger your gazebo-style screened tent is, the more storage space it will occupy.
There are so many model screen rooms, it allows the avid campsite decorating fan to go wild. Some are adaptable to fit around your RV’s awning and turn your patio into more of an extension; some are standalone and can be used for sunbathing when the screens are rolled up to look more like a gazebo.
Honorable mentions for campsite decorating:
- Padded saucer chairs
- Portable side tables
- Zero-gravity camping chairs
- Heavyweight removable hooks
- RV awning
- Step covers
- Privacy screens
- Folding garden lattice panels
- Temporary decking floor (remember to weatherproof the wood)
No matter what your campsite decor dream, theme, or style is, if you follow a few outdoor living basics, your RV exterior will be as comfortable as its interior.