Designing the van part 1 – What do we need?

Having got over the trauma of losing heavily on the red Mercedes and being happy with the purchase of the Renault we needed to decide what we were going to do with its interior to make it a habitable, off grid living space.

As previously mentioned in another article, we knew we wanted a kitchen, a seating area and a permanent bed as well as a good range of storage for clothes, camping equipment and food so the conundrum was how we’d squeeze it all in.

The first job was to measure the internal space and draw a scale version on some gridded paper. Then it was a case of working out how big each area (kitchen, seats and bed) needed to be and drawing them to scale too. One simple idea was to cut the shapes out and try fitting them on the van ‘grid’ which gave me the option to shift them about and try different configurations without having to keep drawing things.


A rough look at the plan for the van. The lined box shows where the bed would sit when in use, the orange boxes show the seating area and the green box is the little kitchen area.


In the end I opted for a full size, fold down bed which rested on the seating area when in place and folded up and away when not in use. When down there was enough space to use the kitchen and when folded up the van was quite spacious. The kitchen was placed opposite the side door and it needed some windows to deliver much needed light.

I thought this configuration would be a good compromise and set to planning a way of making it happen.

Things like the water heater, water pump, water storage, taps, wiring, gas bottle and lighting had to be factored into the design too as well as clothing storage and the like. The van had several places which offered options for such things and I planned to utilise them fully as the building work progressed.

But first, where to begin?

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