Rethinking the Van Design Part 1


Having lived with the van as a working home on the road since June 2011 we’ve come to realise its limitations with the design. The principle of having a bed and a sink are fine – in principle. We soon found ourselves needing more than that so the current layout has already become obsolete.

Firstly, the side door is more than just a door. On a good day, even in winter, it acts as a massive window; probably the biggest in the van.

I didn’t think about that when I put the kitchen opposite that, so when you’re preparing food you’re stood with your back to the door and the little kitchen window is too low to give a good view of anything but the ground.

What I should have done is put an L-shaped seating area there so that when the door is open we can sit comfortably, eat properly at a table while admiring the view outside. This idea means a complete reinstall of the interior with the kitchen having to be moved to the opposite side, between the sliding door and the bed.

The bulkhead between the cabin and the rear has to go too while the double seat at the front will be replaced with a single so we have easy access to the back from inside the van. The days of getting out to get back in are soon to be history.

The bed is another issue. We started with a fold down bed would give us a living space at the back of the van. It didn’t work for us so I cut the frame up and made a permanent bed which was much better. The only problem with that was that we couldn’t stretch out because we literally had one spare inch if we lay with our feet flat against the side wall.

Sleeping diagonally was one remedy but the best solution would be to raise the bed so that the base of the mattress is flush with the horizontal strut that runs the length of the van. That would give us an extra five to six inches of bed and reduce the risk of us becoming a pair of Quasimodos.

The final addition would have to be a log burner. We wanted one from the outset for that cosy feel and winter friendly living space but I couldn’t fit the one we had into our little home. Luckily the excellent Neil at Evil Engineering in Wolverhampton has provided the answer to that with a neat little burner that will warm our living space all night long. He said we’d be wearing flip-flops and shorts in there while it’s -11 outside.

All this is food for thought and the drawing pad, graph paper and thinking cap are coming out. It’s time to get serious again.

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