Planning

Getting Started

In my case, I had 1.85 metres long by 1.82 metres wide to play with and just enough room to stand up, so planning a space that is comfortable to live in yet has plenty of room for storage took a lot of careful planning. I wanted a space that gave me the room to cook, sleep, relax & clean as well as having plenty of storage for my clothing, equipment, food plus other items.

I decided on the Mercedes Sprinter MWB as I think this will tick all the boxes when it comes to space, as well as being a very solid reliable van, trusted by thousands all over the world.

When it came to planning the interior build of the van, I took a lot of time to design a space that would work well with the minimal space I have. I need to be able to fit in all the requirements required to live and travel comfortably as well as having a space that will give me room and will not give me the feeling as if everything will get on top of me.

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Washroom

First things first – where do I put the washroom?

As the side door is on the left side of my van, I will be having the cook area on the opposite (right hand side) side as this side gives me one long continuous wall to build the large one piece unit that will combined the kitchen, wardrobe, gas box and storage. This by design only leaves the left side towards the rear of the van to install the washroom.

Also, fitting it here will give me enough room in front of the washroom to install the rock and roll bed. So now I know where I will be building the washroom, now I need to do some exact planning.

When it came to planning a functional washroom, I would need a space that would give me enough room to wash comfortably, fit in a toilet as well as not take too much room inside the van meant planning it to the exact millimeter.

The first item I bought for the van was the toilet. I had to choose the exact model of toilet I was going to install inside the washroom as these sizes are exact so all the sizes for the washroom was based on the width of the toilet.

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Side Unit

Now I know where I will be installing the washroom, this leaves the planning of the side unit. I decided I will build one continuous unit that would stretch along the whole wall starting just from behind the driver’s seat to the rear door.

Doing it this way would give me a nice clean look as well as less work as I can combine all the units into one.

Kitchen

The kitchen I built it just wide enough to fit a full size sink with room for 2 gas hobs. I also built in 2 unit’s underneath that would then house a fridge + extra storage room.

Wardrobe

The wardrobe is large enough to fit in quite a lot of clothing as well as shoes.

Electric Box

Below the wardrobe is where I have housed the electric cupboard. In here, I house both the leisure batteries as well as the 240v inverter and the fuse box.

2 Large Shelf’s

Further on towards the rear of the van I installed 2 large shelves. The top shelf is used to store all the bedding and the bottom shelf neatly fits the laundry basket.

Gas Box

At the very rear is an accessible door that you can get to from the back of the van when the rear doors are open. In here I have housed the refillable gas tank as well as the LPG water heater above and just enough room to store a few tools too.

3 Storage Crates

Above the wardrobe, 2 shelves and gas box I built 3 wooden crates that are fully removable. I use these to store food and other items.

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Planning Tips!

When you first set out designing the perfect interior of the van, you can use the good old fashioned way of pen and paper or use cad software. There are quite a few good programs out there that you can use completely free.

  • www.sketchup.com – An excellent tool from Google that you download to your computer. It can be a bit challenging at first, but once you get the hang of it you will soon be designing your interior in no time.
  • When I had a final floor plan that I decided on – one of the first things I did was to mark out the space to scale in the back of the van with duct tape. The beauty of doing this is that it gives you a real view representation of what your space will become and if you don’t like it, you can simply change it fast and easy as you have not yet made any physical installs to the van.

    Structure

    Wood, wood and more wood!

    When it came to choosing the best product for the interior of my build, I went with timber batons to create the structure then cladding to finish. Yes, there are many other materials out there you can use when it comes to fitting out your van, especially if you want to save weight, but for me, I like the look, smell and feel of real wood.

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    Structure Tips

    If you are weight conscious then I would recommend going with lightweight ply. I actually ordered some samples of this but when I worked out how much I would need it far out reached my budget, but nonetheless a very good workable product.

    Design

    Raw wood and bohemian style

    The beauty of converting a van into a camper is that you can make it however you want. Just a simple search on the internet will give you hundreds of images that give you tons of brilliant ideas and inspiration.

    For me though, the problem with most modern self builds was that many looks very similar. I wanted a space that was complexly unique that I would never get tired living in that also looked raw and genuine.

    I love the look of a colourful bohemian bedroom design. I like the way it makes you feel – it give you a sense of peace and beauty.

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    Wood Stain

    Now you might have noticed a bit further up that in fact the wood in the van started out in it raw form – a nice golden pine look. For some, this might be the perfect look that you’re after but for me, I prefer that deep dark rich look that a wood stain gives to freshly treated wood.

    It also adds to the nice smell of wood that is already there too.

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    Carpet

    For me, having a nice thick carpet under your feet is one of those little luxuries we are so use to in the UK. Choosing a hard type of flooring as in the way many other self-build projects go was out the question for me.

    I wanted something that would add to the style of the interior, as well as being easy to clean and give me a nice comfortable feeling under my feet when I am not wearing shoes. Combine the carpet with a nice thick underlay underneath, then you really notice the benefit of having nice comfortable flooring in the van. It also helps with insulation too which is an added bonus.

    And the beauty of being in a van is being that the total flooring area is small, it takes me under an hour to change and the carpet is never over £15 to replace.

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    Design Tips

    I don’t think I can give you many tips when it comes to design as this is your own vehicle and it should be exactly how YOU want it. Break the rules, go crazy, after all its you that has to live in it.

    One of the best places though to find tons of useful inspiration is of cause Google as well as local groups on Facebook.

    A good few Facebook Groups and Pages:

    Self Build Campervans
    #VanLife
    Self Build Campervans and Real Life

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