Maximize Your Van Space With These Conversion Tricks


Imagine the open road beckoning, your trusty Ford Transit ready to take you on countless adventures. But wait! Your gear is everywhere, cluttering up precious living space and making for a less than ideal journey.

Don’t fret! With some tweaks to your camper van conversion, you can transform your camper van from utter chaos to zen-like, maximizing every square inch of available space.

As an experienced van life enthusiast, I’ve learned the ins and outs of optimizing my home on wheels. And remember, organizing isn’t just about tidiness; it’s about living free from unnecessary burdens and embracing simplicity. Once you sift through these transformative tips, you’ll be ready to work on your camper van layout, embrace simple living, and hit the road with confidence.

Optimize Your Interior Layout

Embarking on your van conversion process, it’s crucial to optimize your camper van layout both interior and exterior. Start by assessing your needs, prioritizing what matters most, and be willing to make multiple sketches of your campervan layout.

Think Cubic Feet, Not Square Feet

First, you’ll want to transition your brain from looking at your camper van layout in terms of square feet—meters—to cubic feet—meters. Consider using this tool and your transition will open up your mind and help you realize there is more than enough space and help you design the best campervan layout to meet your unique needs.

Assess Your Needs and Prioritize Everything Your Camper Van Layout Must Have

Before sinking your life savings into a plush, king-sized bed that takes up the whole van, let’s get real about what you actually need for your new lifestyle. It’s essential to apply needs assessment strategies in order to prioritize effectively.

This isn’t just about a comfy bed—it’s an arsenal for freedom. Make a list of must-haves and wants, then rank them based on necessity and frequency of use. Remember, this is your mobile sanctuary away from societal constraints; it should reflect you and your dreams.

The van life lifestyle is more than sacrificing everything, but it does come with compromise. As you begin your journey, you’ll want to list off everything you need in your van build, everything that would be great to have, and the absolute dream scenario.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself.

  • What will the sleeping arrangement be like? A permanent fixed bed platform with garage space underneath, a Murphy bed, a convertible bed, bunk beds, or a new creative way?
  • Do you need extra sleeping space? Perhaps a guest bed?
  • What size bed? An RV Queen sized bed, a double bed, or twin? Or do you need a full sized bed for your long legs?
  • Will you have a built in bathroom inside your van? A full bathroom can take up valuable space—would you be satisfied with an outdoor shower?
  • What kind of toilet will you use? Composting, a small portable toilet, or a chemical toilet?
  • How much will you cook? How much counter space do you need for preparations? Counter space can double as work space in your van floor plan.

Using Vertical Space Efficiently

Don’t get overwhelmed or underestimate the power of vertical space when converting your van! Many overlook this area, but it’s a hidden gem for more storage and functionality.

Think about how you can use every inch from floor to ceiling—and consider how much head room you need. A popular approach is installing shelves or cabinets up high—depending on how much headspace you need—perfect for storing less-frequently used items.

Next, think about incorporating Murphy beds—a wall-mounted bed solution. These beds fold up against the wall when not in use, freeing up valuable square footage during the day.

If you can’t imagine life without caring for plants, vertical gardening is another creative way to make efficient use of wall space. Not only does it add a touch of greenery to your mobile home, but it might help satisfy that desire for putting down roots.

Remember to be innovative with your vertical spaces! Use them wisely and they’ll reward you with ample room for relaxation and activities without feeling cramped.

As you continue optimizing your campervan conversion, remember there are a ton of campervan layouts out there. But that doesn’t mean your van layout can’t be unique to you.

Use Multi-functional Furniture

Stylish van interior with seating and computer monitor.

(Photo Credit @GoandLiveFree)

Consider the magic of multi-functional furniture as a solution to your limited living quarters on wheels. Adding pieces that offer multiple functions to your daily life is a great way to take your small space and turn it into the van design of your dreams.

Convertible beds are one of the best ways to save space in your camper van floor plan. A convertible bed can be your dining table with storage underneath the bench seats—often housing your electrical system—and offers large sleeping spaces at night.

You can incorporate your driving cab as an addition to your seating area by converting your driver and/or passenger seat into swivel seats.

If you want a large dining space, a seating area, and a fixed bed, you could consider a Happijac Bed Lift. This can give you a dining space under a bed, function as a great space for bike storage, or make room for more sleeping arrangements—like a large bunk bed that feels more like a permanent bed than a transitional space.

There is more space to be saved in our next category. Let’s look at appliances.

Invest in Compact Appliances

Stylish kitchen in a van with storage, sink and stove.

(Photo Credit @GoandLiveFree)

Just like a well-packed suitcase, every inch of your mobile abode counts, so it’s crucial to choose appliances that fit snug as a bug in a rug. When you’re living the van life, size and energy consumption matter immensely.

Embrace compact versions of essential appliances like refrigerators, stoves, or heaters for your van conversion. These devices are specifically designed to be space-efficient and energy-saving.

Energy efficient appliances not only save on power but also ensure less strain on your battery system. Moreover, they reduce environmental impact—an aspect close to the heart of any freedom-loving van lifer.

Space saving gadgets come in handy too; think collapsible kitchenware, nesting pots and pans, foldable chairs and tables—small changes that make a big difference.

Next up… let’s explore how to get creative with hidden storage spaces throughout your vehicle for even more efficient use of space.

Get Creative with Hidden Storage Space

Practical pull out storage nested under the bed in a van.

(Photo Credit @_forever.sunday)

You’ll be surprised how much storage space you’ll discover when you start searching for it. In every nook and cranny, there’s potential for hidden storage that can make living in a van feel less cramped and more organized.

Van conversions are not just about the aesthetics; they’re about functionality too. So let’s get creative with secret compartments that can take your mobile abode from cluttered to cozy.

  1. Underneath Furniture: Ever thought of utilizing the space under your bed or seats? An innovative underfloor solution could be creating pull-out drawers beneath these areas, perfect for stashing away clothing, kitchen supplies or outdoor gear.
  2. Behind Panels: The walls of your van can serve as disguised cabinets. Design secret compartments behind decorative panels where you can store books, electronics, or even additional bedding.
  3. In Floor Compartment: This might seem like an extreme measure but installing a hidden compartment in the floor of your van is an ingenious way to utilize every square inch of space you have.
  4. Between Bed Supports: Creating specific storage compartments under your mattress and between those supports can offer a lot of space.

Remember, the goal here isn’t just to maximize space—it’s also about enhancing convenience and maintaining a sense of freedom on the road.

With these clever storage solutions in place, you’ll find everything has its place—improving organization and making life on wheels feel downright spacious! Who knew that tiny home living could offer such grand possibilities?

Install a Roof Rack, Cargo Box, Bike Racks

You’ll be amazed at how much extra storage you’ll gain by utilizing the outside of your van. Simply installing a roof rack, ladder, or storage compartment to your van to increase your space. The benefits of this upgrade are twofold: it frees up valuable interior room and also allows you to tote around bulky items.

If you’re an adventurer at heart who loves kayaking, biking, skiing, and more, a roof rack installation could be just the ticket. Installing one doesn’t take too much time and offers big returns to keep your adventuring heart satisfied.

As for cargo boxes, they serve as an excellent addition to any van conversion project and increases camper van layout options. They offer secure and weatherproof storage that’s perfect for stashing bulky camping gear like sleeping bags, camping stove, and more.

A rear bike rack opens up tons of space under a fixed platform bed and still allows you to bring your mountain bikes.

Be sure to get high-quality compartments and racks that are lockable. By investing in them now, you’ll open up your camper van floor plan possibilities and can enjoy your van build without worrying about these larger items.

Now imagine this: no more clutter in your living area! No more tripping over loose items strewn about because everything now has its place either in the cargo box or strapped onto the roof rack. But don’t stop there! Once you’ve maximized your exterior storage space, turn your attention inward. It’s time to optimize your interior layout and create a cozy yet functional living environment within your van.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some affordable van conversion solutions that could do the work for me?

Considering your budget, there are a lot of possibilities for discovering the best camper van layouts. You can hire it done, buy an already built solution, or customize it yourself with the help of Project Van Life and their Van Life Academy.

Can I install a bathroom or shower in my van, and what would be the ideal spot for it?

Absolutely, you can install a bathroom in your van. Ponder the game of Tetris: placing “Portable Toilets Pros & Cons” and “Optimal Plumbing Solutions” strategically is key. Ideal location? Rear or middle for balance and accessibility.

What type of insulation is best for a van conversion?

Reflectix and spray foam are great insulation materials for your van conversion. Another popular option is using sheets wool too.

Proper insulation installation is crucial to maintain a comfortable temperature. It’s a game-changer for maximizing comfort while embracing the freedom of van life.

How can I install solar panels on my van for more energy-efficient living?

Who needs a house when you’ve got natural light? Installing solar panels on your van, add a DC to DC charger, and you’ll be ready to be off grid.

You’ll want to wipe off your panels regularly to maximize your solar harvest and check your caulking seams yearly.

What are the legal restrictions or requirements when converting a van for living?

Legal restrictions for van conversions vary, but vehicle safety considerations are key. Think seat belts, windows, and proper ventilation. Conversion costs can be hefty, so budget wisely for a safe, roadworthy home-on-wheels.


So you’ve got the road calling your name and a van ready for transformation. Don’t let space limitations cramp your van floor plan. With the previously mentioned thoughts, you’ll turn that cozy cubby into a spacious sanctuary.

From fixed beds, roof racks, sunshine coming in that sliding door to hidden storage throughout your camper van conversion layout, you’ll make every inch count.

Remember: size isn’t everything in the camper vans—it’s how you optimize it! Pack up those compact appliances, get creative, and hit the open road with confidence.

The post Maximize Your Van Space With These Conversion Tricks appeared first on Project Van Life.