Chapter 14: Camper Van Kitchen

Building a kitchen in your campervan will make van life much easier. It may seem daunting to fit your entire kitchen into your van conversion, but with some strategic planning and purging of anything except the essentials, it’s not a difficult task. Your kitchen doesn’t need to be anything extravagant, you’ll just want something that can at least provide quick and easy access to your kitchen appliances. Your van kitchen will ideally need space for a stove and/or oven, sink, fridge, and storage for cooking accessories and utensils.

In this chapter, we highlight numerous DIY kitchen layout options for any type of camper van. The size of your specific van will play a big role in the layout of your kitchen, so you’ll need to plan accordingly. Another big factor to keep in mind is whether you will be primarily cooking inside or outside. If you’re traveling to climates with inclement weather, cooking inside is a very nice luxury, and it’s far more stealthy. When cooking inside, keep in mind that you’ll likely want to keep a window cracked.

DIY Camper Van Kitchen Ideas

Side Door Slide-Out Van Kitchen

This is my favorite kitchen design for low top vans that are shorter in length. I like this pull-out option for low top vans in particular because you can stand up to cook without hitting your head. And if you wanted to cook inside as well, you could place the stove on the inside countertop.


slide out side door van kitchen

(Credit: @roamingwithrob)


Back Door Slide-Out Kitchen

This is a great design if you have a van short in length. It allows you to have more room towards the front of your van for a longer bed, more storage, or whatever else you need space for. The only downside to this design is you’re required to cook outside, so unless you live in a warm climate with minimal inclement weather, this may not be your best choice.


pull out back van kitchen

(Credit: @the_life_of_sandy)

Basic Materials for a Slide-Out Kitchen

Drawer Runners – You will need 2 heavy duty drawer runners for sliding from under the bed. You will need to purchase more if you want them for pull-out drawers.

drawer runners

Birch Plywood – We recommend purchasing a large piece of plywood and cutting it up into whichever size pieces are needed to fit into your van.


Birch Plywood

Hinges – If you want to have a sink, we recommend using hinges to allow the sink to lay flat when not in use.


Knobs – You may also want to purchase knobs or handles for the kitchen cupboards.

wood knob

Kitchen Parallel to Front Seats

This option is great for vans shorter in length. The downside to this option is you will not be able to access the front seats from within the van. You could, however, split the kitchen area into two sections to make a walkway to the front seats. For the van pictured, they will need to exit the van to access the front seats anyway because they have 3 seats.


traditional van kitchen parallel to front seats

(Credit: @therollinghome)



Kitchen Parallel to Side Walls

This option is best for high tops and sprinter vans because you’ll want to have a clear walking space to the front seats.


traditional camper van kitchen



Split Kitchen Design

She has her sink and stove parallel to the walls and her fridge next to the side door facing the back of the van. This is a great design if you have a large fridge or want a little extra cabinet space under your sink or stove.


conversion van kitchen split design

(Credit: @divineontheroad)


Side Door Kitchen

This is a good option for optimizing space in your van, but you will need to be careful when closing the doors because it will cause things to fly around if not secured well. As you can see this is used on a VW van. Keep in mind that this will not work on a sprinter van because they have sliding side doors. However, there are numerous other cargo vans that have doors like this. This may also work on the back doors of your van.

vw van side door kitchen



Trunk Kitchen

This isn’t the ideal kitchen option for a van conversion because you’re forced to outdoor use only, but if you have a small van, it may be your only choice.


Camper Trunk Kitchen

Installation of Kitchen Counter, Cabinets, & Sink

We encourage you to build your camper van kitchen in your own creative way, however, some direction is always helpful. This video will give you a good idea of how you can install your kitchen, including the kitchen sink, which is a bit more technical.

Kitchen Accessories

Magnetic Knife Bar

Magnetic Knife Bar

A magnetic knife bar is great because it frees up countertop space that a standard knife block would take up. This knife bar is made of some serious magnetic power so you don’t have to worry about your knifes flying off. And you can, of course, use the knife bar for other things besides knives like scissors or a whisk.

Plastic Plate and bowl set

Plastic Bowls and Plates

Using materials like glass or ceramic will make a rattling noise when you hit a bump in the road and can easily scratch or break.

Gorilla Grip Original Drawer and Shelf Liner

Drawer Liner

This will keep things from sliding and rattling around in your drawers.

Bamboo Travel Utensils

Avoid metal utensils and silverware when possible 

Every time you hit a bump in the road you will hear the metal utensils rattling. Metal is certainly more effective, so you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons for this one. A decent option is something like bamboo. It gets the job done and is easy to clean.

Fruit and Veggie Hammock

Fruit Hammock

I’m sure you’ve seen these fruit/veggie hammocks in camper vans before. They definitely a staple of van life. They’re also very practical and pretty dang cute!

mug straps in van

(Credit: @therollinghome)

Coffee Mug Straps

Mug straps are another staple of van life. They make it so your mugs aren’t in a cabinet rattling against each other in a cabinet. There are tons of these on Etsy, and they’re pretty easy to DIY.

Plastic sauce containers

Plastic Sauce Containers

A lot of sauces come in glass containers which will rattle around if placed in cabinets. You’ll be better off transferring these sauces into plastic containers.

Quick-Drying Kitchen Dish Towels

Quick Dry Towels

You will almost certainly be drying your dishes by hand, which is why a towel that absorbs more water and dries quicker is a must.

Unbreakable plastic Wine Glasses

Plastic Wine Glasses

These are just another thing that will rattle around and potentially crack in your van while driving. They might not be as classy but your wine will still be delicious.

Grease Splatter Screen

Grease Screen

If you’re cooking greasy foods in your van, you won’t want to get grease all over your blankets, sheets, clothes, etc.

Collapsible Colander and Strainer Set        collapsible Silicone Food Storage

Collapsable Items

Collapsible Strainer

Collapsible Tupperware

Collapsible anything is great when you’re living in a van. Space is sparse so you need to make room whenever possible.

All tools needed for your Kitchen Conversion

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camper van bed

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camper van storage

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