Storage

Chapter 14: Storage

One of the most challenging and important topics when converting your van is how to plan and construct your storage space. It definitely helps to set up a kind of analysis in which you take your general space requirements into consideration. Ask yourself: What exactly do you need space for and how much space do you need? Be it the clichéd shoe cabinet, a desire for designer caps, or, for taller people, a larger closet. But not only your clothes have an influence on the size of storage space you need. Those who like to read (old school and not eBooks) need storage space for their books. Those who like to drink tea and feel like packing all the varieties available may need an extra storage for their tea. Outdoor hobbies like surfing or diving may also occupy a little storage space. Whatever it is, you will need storage, and the only question that needs to be answered is how much. And that is exactly what you have to ask yourself. We know that it’s not that easy. We’ve all packed our suitcases to go on a trip and realized afterwards that you packed way more than you actually needed. But if you deal with the subject of storage at an early stage, you can definitely reduce the chances of having to fight space problems.

The storage space and the optimal use of every square inch are the biggest challenges in mobile home construction. The planning of all necessary furniture and equipment is the challenge, which is perfected only by providing sufficient storage space for the user. It is therefore the supreme discipline of self-converting.

When you’re building out your van, you’re going to realize that you have way too many things. We recommend putting every single item you want to have in your van in one big room, to get a visual understanding of how much stuff you actually have. Our friends @vacayvans took all their kitchen items and literally measured each pot/pan/plate to make sure the cabinetry just fit everything. You’re going to want all of your material things to have a “home,” whether it be a hook, cabinet, or drawer. Think about the details of using your space– where will you put your laptop when it’s not being used? Where will you charge your phone? How much storage space do you make possible by this piece of furniture and how much storage space might you block with it? Compare the alternative designs that you have considered and decide which combinations of function, design and storage space works best for your campervan. It’s amazing how much space you can make available if you pay attention and question it!

Van Shelves and Cabinets

Chances are you’re going to need to build some storage compartments on your own, whether they be shelves or cabinets. Here are a couple great videos that explain how you can effectively build your own storage.

Top Cabinets

When building top cabinets above your bed, make sure that you have enough space to be sitting upright in your bed without hitting your head on the cabinets.

Shelves

Tip: Depending on the way your van is setup, and if you plan on putting heavy things on your shelves, you may need to use additional support such as L brackets.

Tools Needed

Bed Storage

Ideally, you use most of the space below your bed as storage space. This is prime real estate. Depending on the style and layout of your bed, you can really maximize this area for storage space. You can use pull-out drawers under your bed, in fact, many van lifers will build pull-out kitchens under their bed. We talk about the numerous ways of building a bed to suit your storage needs in our Kitchen and Bed chapter.

Tip: Remember the bedding. If your bed is planned to serve different purposes during day and night – so if it’s not only a bedroom but a living room, kitchen, and office at different times of the day – you will also want to stow your pillows, comforter, and cushions if applicable. And that is often cumbersome. So remember that whilst planning your storage and interior.

Storage Access

It’s also important to think about shelf doors and flaps. Your storage space will usually be behind a door or flap. Depending on how much space is available, it may happen that a normal door isn’t the best solution for you. If you want to be able to access a storage compartment at any time, it can also be very clever to install a sliding door instead of a door with hinges. For a more open sense of space, open shelves are a very nice alternative to receive storage space, without closing it by doors or flaps. Of course, it’s most important to protect stuff from falling out. But there is an ingenious solution for open shelves. Our friends @wander.horizons have secured their open shelves with elastics, which are stretched at intervals of 1.5 inch top down. So you can take things off the shelf by pushing aside the elastics, but while driving these things are secured and won’t fall out. The elastics are available in many different colors and diameters and are actually a pretty cheap solution. So you have a beautiful design for small money and open storage space in your Campervan.

Elastic Cords for Storage

Photo Credit: @wander.horizons

Van Storage Accessories

Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag – This rooftop carrier has 15 cubic feet of space and is designed to fit all roof racks.  Keep in mind that it may be a bit difficult to have roof storage if you’re using solar panels.

Waterproof Roof Top Cargo Bag

Fruit and Veggie Hammock – a fruit/veggie hammock is a staple of camper vans. They’re super practical and look great!

Fruit and Veggie Hammock

Wall Coat Rack – For a jacket, hand towel, or anything else that you use on a daily basis, you will want it easily accessible. There are a ton of ways to get creative with hanging up your items, but if you’re looking for the easy route, go with a simple coat track.

Wall Coat Rack

Hanging Shoe Organizer – This doesn’t necessarily need to be used for shoes. Since the shoe organizer is pretty large, we would recommend cutting sections off to place in different parts of your van.

Hanging Shoe Organizer

Hanging Basket – This can be used to store pretty much anything including wet dishes. However, we would recommend drying your dishes by hand to save space.

Hanging basket

Suspension Ceiling Hooks – If you have something long and awkwardly shaped such as a surfboard, we would recommend using bungee cords or a sturdy rope along with these ceiling hooks.

Suspension Ceiling Hooks

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van life kitchen and bed

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electrical and solar panels

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