Top tips for the perfect campervan conversion
Make ‘Van life’ a reality
If you are dreaming of a view like the one above, then you are not alone. Our love of the mobile home hit a peak here in the UK last year as campervan registrations rose to 71% higher in July 2020 compared to July 2019, according to the industry body the National Caravan Council. Many of those purchases were by families who had never owned a campervan or motorhome before.
The ability to have some form of holiday during the pandemic highlights the fact that these leisure vehicles offer a unique kind of freedom, as well as providing respite and relaxation. If you are new to van life, caravanning and touring, then you are joining the many new entrants into this large community. There is a wealth of information out there on how to choose your vehicle, but we’ll be focusing here on the interior and the infrastructure of your vehicle.
Here is our list of top tips for creating your perfect mobile home-from-home.
Install plenty of insulation
There’s nothing worse than being cold in the early hours and boiling hot by lunchtime in your campervan. You’ll be wasting precious energy trying to keep things the right temperature. Plenty of insulation will be needed using a variety of materials. This includes covering those parts of the van that act as thermal bridges i.e. transfer cold or heat between places. The worst offenders are the wheel arches and the metal ribs along the walls and ceiling. As part of the insulation process also remember to include a material that will act as a vapour barrier.
You will also need to factor in a method of creating a decent flow of air through the van. For example, you can cut out a skylight, add side windows and vents to prevent condensation build up. For more details on insulating and creating proper ventilation visit Gnomadhome.com and Climbingvan.co.uk – the latter has prices of UK supplies of materials with links.
Use the ceiling and walls to personalise your space
It’s common for timber cladding to be screwed into the ceiling. This adds weight and a small loss of height to the van. Instead you can use our flexible bamboo wall panelling to clad walls and ceilings, as shown in the above van conversion. The thin slats of bamboo (2.5mm thick) are stuck to a fabric mesh backing and easily install onto the curve of the ceiling. This bamboo cladding can be cut with a hand saw or jigsaw to create holes for downlighters or around the frame of a skylight.
This cladding on a roll is a quick and economical method of updating an old van conversion. You can even use the slats to refresh the front of cupboards and kitchen doors, as shown below right. Jo and Liv chose Autumn Wheat and Vanilla Stripe bamboo wall panelling to update their van as featured in the photos here.
Include home comforts you cannot live without
When choosing your model of base vehicle you would have already decided the amount of facilities to have. If you do want a toilet and shower, then one of the most spacious vans to convert is a Mercedes Sprinter with a long wheel base.
All vans will have worktop space to sit a camping stove on top, but why not install a purpose made hob, such as the one in the photo below. If you include a small sink too, then a tap with a rinsing nozzle and a chopping board insert is a must.
If you are refreshing an existing campervan, you could easily change the look by adding bamboo plyboard worktops and cupboard fronts. The 20mm High Density Tiger board (shown below as a chopping board) is solid enough to take on even the most enthusiastic onion chopping and makes a beautiful table top.
Bring the modern kitchen splashbacks into your van with a brick tile pattern around the sink, cupboard and seating area. You can use normal ceramic tiles, but we have a lighter alternative to this. Our Bammura Bevel bamboo tiles (shown below) weigh around 100g less per tile than some conventional ceramic tiles and come in squares or brick shape with an attractive bevelled edge. They are easily installed with impact adhesive and can be oiled, varnished, stained or painted to fit with your colour scheme.
Build in lots of storage space
If you intend to take your office on the road too, then somewhere to stash your devices safely and have them accessible is crucial. Just as a hinged worktop is ideal for extending the preparation and serving area in your van, a flip-out or slide-out surface for a laptop can be included in your fit-out. Our 19mm bamboo plyboard works well over a short span, and the 40mm plyboards for a broader desk area.
Possibly the most commonly included storage area in any campervan conversion is the ‘garage area’ or under bed space. Depending on the width of your van and which way you want to sleep, creating a raised bed is pretty much essential. This is because it will include some or all of your amenities such as gas canister, electric batteries, fresh water and waste water storage. In addition to this you’ll have space to keep outdoor items that get muddy and spare supplies. In the examples below, these van owners have chosen to make everyday use of the space underneath their beds. The stylish conversion shown on the left even has a pull out table and bench.
We hope these 4 tips for converting your van interior will get your creative juices flowing.
In case you need a little more to get you moving, watch this time lapse video of a van conversion:
And this couple in Essex who have have taken campervan interiors to another level:
- For your campervan worktops see our Bamboo Plyboards>>
- Consider Bamboo Wallpaper for your walls and ceiling>>
Here’s to your new adventure. Bon voyage!