With a little creativity, and supplies from a floral or craft supply shop, you can add color to your motorhome interior.
By Ken Wilson, L13812
We finally had our new motorhome, a diesel-powered 40-footer complete with slideouts. Its gleaming-white exterior was emblazoned with beautiful graphics in several shades of brown. The interior featured beige carpeting, white leather furniture, and oak cabinets, all tied together visually with decorative fabrics on the dining chairs, pillows, bedspread, and window treatments. The interior designer really did a great job.
Nevertheless, we discovered a problem. Despite that beautiful decorating job, the longer we lived with it, the more we realized that the many shades of beige gradually were overwhelming us. After a few months, we noticed that a bright book cover, a potted plant, or a colorful sweater became a welcome break.
We made several attempts to brighten up the coach interior. We found that floral arrangements seemed to do the best job. For the next several months, we had a series of fresh flowers in the coach. They all looked great, but had very short lives.
So, we decided to switch to silk flowers. We tried several different arrangements, but still wrestled with having to put them away when we moved. Therefore, we started looking around for a spot in the coach where we could display the colorful silk flowers and not have to worry about storing them.
The area in the front of the coach between the curved ceiling and the cabinets, and above the windshield, looked like a good candidate. It was visible from almost anywhere in the motorhome, even the bedroom area. This space ran the full width of the coach; it was about 5 inches tall in the center, and tapered to 3 inches on each end.
At this point, I decided that I needed a great deal of help. While I can design a wiring circuit in my mind or visualize how a cabinet should be assembled, I draw a complete blank when it comes to anything related to decorations. I decided to enlist the aid of my wife, Pat, and our two daughters, the three creative members of our family. We held a “family meeting” to talk about and plan the project. After they described what they wanted to do, I could imagine how it should be put together, and how it should be hung, but I still could not visualize how it would look.
The next step was to decide on colors, flower types, design, etc. You could do this ahead of time, but I would suggest that you work as we did. At this point, all we had concluded was that the flowers should be arranged in a “spray” shape to fill the space available, and that their colors should blend with the interior of the coach. With my “designers” leading the way, off we went to a series of shops that specialized in silk flowers and other decorating materials. All I could do was push the cart and follow them up and down the aisles as they enthusiastically discussed, selected, compared, put back, and picked out flowers and other supplies. We ended up with a couple of bags full of silk flowers, greenery, floral wire, a hot-glue gun, and tape. The creative team members told me what they wanted to do, so I got busy devising a “foundation” onto which they could mount their purchases.
The space we wanted to use had several covered buttons that snapped onto the heads of screws. These screws attach the panel to the coach. Once I snapped the covered buttons off the two middle screws, it was a simple matter to use these screws to attach picture hooks. Instead of holding up pictures, they would be used to hold up the foundation of the floral spray.
The next step was to decide on the foundation. After a little thought, I decided to use a strip of wood. The actual dimensions of this strip are not critical (ours is about 3/16-inch thick, 1-1/4 inches wide, and 36 inches long). A wooden yardstick would do a good job. We attached the strip simply by hooking it on the picture hangers that were attached to the screws. If your coach does not have these convenient screws, and the spot you’ve chosen is covered with woven headlining material, you might use drapery pins. If it is covered with vinyl, you might consider some sort of hook over the edge of the panel.
Once we decided on the foundation and the method of attachment, it was time to start on the creative part of the project. The women laid their purchases out on the floor and started working on the arrangement. The flowers they selected were mostly white, pink, and yellow — three of their favorite colors. These colors also blend well with the interior of the coach. In addition to color, the flowers were selected for their long stems. Remember that this arrangement will be a little more than 4 feet long but only a few inches tall, so long stems were a necessity. If your favorite flowers come in bunches, you can always cut them apart and attach them to the rest of the arrangement.
The flowers and greenery were arranged and loosely laid out on the floor, starting with the outer ends first. Remember that each successive layer of flowers will cover up the stems of the previous flowers. Do the same thing for both sides, working from the outer ends of the arrangement in toward the center. Once you have your arrangement laid out, step back and look at it. Make sure this is what you want, because at this stage, you can easily move pieces around to balance things out. At this time, you can shorten the stems of some of the remaining flowers and greenery to cover up the stems in the middle of the arrangement.
Once everyone was happy with our arrangement, it was time to gently remove the stems in the same order they were laid out, starting with the ends and working to the center. Anchor the ends of the floral wire to the outer ends of the wood foundation. Then take a couple of stems at a time and tightly wind the wire around them, securely attaching them to the wood strip. I would suggest that every few stems, you firmly attach the wire to the wood strip, so that if a wire breaks, you will lose only a few stems instead of all of them. Carefully remove the remaining stems from the temporary arrangement you laid out, and firmly anchor them to the wood strip with the floral wire.
When you reach the center, use more wire or hot glue to attach the flowers with the shortened stems. The nice thing about silk flowers is that you can move them around by bending their stems and even slide them in and out a little bit, as long as you do not completely pull them out from under the floral wire that attaches them. If you are not satisfied with the results, all you have to do is clip the floral wire on the back of the arrangement, take everything apart, and start over. You might have lost a bit of effort and time, but you gained experience, and probably know how to go about your second try.
When you are satisfied with the results, hang the foundation over the hooks, and you are in business. Now, you can sit back and admire your project. Just remember, however, that admiring the flowers while you drive could be hazardous to your health!