Designing Our Home on Wheels

In Camper Conversion, The Van by Dane + PennyLeave a Comment

One would think planning 45 square feet of living space would be pretty simple. However, the prospect of designing this tiny space to share with another human, fitting within it everything we would need for a year, travelling throughout all types of weather and wild – well, it didn’t feel so easy! I had never travelled in a campervan, never mind designed one, but I knew living in a poorly organized space could be the death of some otherwise beautiful moments for us.

So, I started with the basics asking myself these questions:

  1. How would we want to use and move within this space?
    ie: Will we want to cook inside? Eat? Work? Have seating for others?
  2. What are we going to need to store in it?
    ie: What dishes, cookware, electronics, and types of food storage do we need to plan for? And, what about our sports gear?

These two basic questions kept me busy researching for weeks because, to be honest, I had little idea what we would need to bring just yet or what layout would be the most comfortable and efficient on the road. To get the process started, I began making a list of all the fixtures and equipment that would determine critical dimensions of the cabinetry, ie: refrigerator, sink, water tank, stovetop and asked Dane to do the same for the gear he was sourcing that would need a home inside the van: auxillary battery, inverter, amp, hi-jack, and what-not.

Finding a fridge with enough cubic inches to last us off grid for a few days but not so deep that our already very narrow bed was sacrificed further was a real struggle. Likewise, finding a sink shallow enough that we were left with cupboard space, yet wide enough we could wash a pot… I never imagined it would be so difficult! Dometic, Smev, Novakool – I could nearly list off their entire product lines by the time we placed the orders for our equipment. In Europe options seemed to abound but in North America we were limited to only a handful of manufacturers and a few suppliers with equipment that was mostly designed for land yachts, not compact campers.

Armed with the dimensions of the various equipment options, I drafted layout after layout comparing the costs of different appliance and fixture combinations for each plan. In evenings after work I would review them with Dane, then make adjustments until, several weeks and bottles of wine later, we found a plan we were both excited about. Then, with the exact dimensions of the van, including all windows, doors, wheel wells, etc., I drafted the layout, cabinetry and custom rock’n’roll bed in AutoCAD. Every inch was accounted for so we could be sure it would be built as we’d originally drawn and it would all fit.

Here’s a little peak at our plans…


Delica Camper Layout 1


Now it was time to begin converting this passenger van into the tiny house we dreamed up for our not tiny adventure!




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