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The Van Conversion Series: Designing Your Layout

Friday 6th December 2019
By Ely Power
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By Ely Power

Discover The Best Van Layout Ideas For Life On The Road

When it comes to van conversions, the layout will make or break your camper. The good news is that designing this floorplan is often the most exciting step of your DIY project! 

With endless possibilities, you can tailor your new living space just how you like. You can dream up the optimal design, envisioning how all of its bits and pieces will come together to create your ultimate home away from home. 

But it’s not all fun and games (or more specifically, Pinterest boards and saved Instagram posts). Planning your van conversion layout calls for careful forethought and practical analysis. You’ll have to find the best way to fit everything you need into one compact space, all whilst making sure it stays comfy, stylish and functional. 

Not sure where to start? We’re here to help you source some awesome van layout inspiration, as well as determine the best interior design for your travel lifestyle and personal taste.

As a van owner, you can earn over $10,000 each year by hiring it out on Camplify. As a holidaymaker, Camplify helps you to find the perfect rental so that you can experience the joys of van life without having to own one yourself. 

Interested? Learn more about Camplify here.

What To Consider When Designing Your Floor Plan

To get the ball rolling, ask yourself the following questions:
  • How many people will be travelling and sleeping in your van? Are your pets coming along? The more passengers, the more berths and living space needed.
  • Are you tall? This will influence bed placement and how much headroom is required (if you’re over 6 foot, we recommend a lengthwise bed).
  • How much storage space is needed? We suggest only bringing the necessities, as you’ll need somewhere to store everything you take with you.
  • Do you want natural lighting? Windows will make your living space feel larger and brighter, but they are less private and prevent storage space.
  • Do you need work space? If so, include a comfy lounge area with some sort of desk or table.
  • Do you want to cook inside the van? Then make room for a full kitchenette, complete with food storage and a water tank.
  • Are you bringing large belongings, like a mountain bike or surfboard? Unless you hitch them on top, you’ll need a smart layout that fits sizeable items inside your van.

The Van Layout Checklist

Even Weight Distribution

Make sure to balance the van’s weight distribution so that it remains stable and easy to manoeuvre on the road. To do this, place heavy items - like batteries and water tanks - strategically around your van so that their weight isn’t all on one side.

Two Birds, One Stone

To live successfully in a compact van, you should include dual-purpose features wherever you can. Designing your layout with this multi-use approach will help you to maximise functionality while taking up as little room as possible. For instance, a dinette that transforms into a double bed will save you heaps of living space!

Storage For Key Essentials

There’s no point in creating a camper that can’t store the critical features needed for van life! Your layout has to accommodate key items - such as water tanks, gas tanks, batteries and so on - in a way that actually makes sense. That means considering all of the pathways and space needed for proper functioning before you focus on aesthetics.

Perfect Kitchen Placement

You can make a functional living space no matter your floor plan’s orientation. So where should you install your kitchenette? Well, that’s up to you and your priorities. 

Placing your kitchenette beside the sliding door will make it super easy to refill your water and gas tanks, while installing it behind the cab creates a lovely private space inside the van. Putting it at the rear makes for awesome views whilst meal prepping, whereas building kitchen drawers that pull out from the back is best for those who love to cook outside.

Popular Campervan Conversion Layouts

There’s no special layout that will suit every single van lifer and their unique adventures. However, the classic designs below are a great starting point (and source of inspiration) for more personalised floor plans!

The Cab-Side Kitchen

This design places your kitchenette right behind the cab, acting as a barrier to the rest of the van. As a result, it offers more privacy and cosiness, while at the same time making room for a large open space in the rear. That means you’ll have the freedom to choose from a lengthwise, crosswise or convertible dinette double bed! You can also store your water and gas tanks right next to the side door, making for easy refills.

While this layout welcomes all sorts of flexible design in the rest of your van, it does mean you’ll have to get out of the cab and enter your living space from the side door, rather than enjoying direct access from the passenger seats.

The Convertible Dinette

This smart layout lets you enjoy a spacious lounge and dining area during the day, as well as a double bed at night. What’s more, you can even build in extra storage under the bench/bed!

Easy organisation and quick dinette-to-bed conversion means that you can truly maximise your inside space. On the flipside, you will have to make the effort of changing this ‘dining room’ into a bedroom every time you want to hit the hay. In theory, we might sound lazy but we promise you’ll feel the same way when all you want to do is curl up and fall asleep after a day of adventures!

The Lengthwise Bed

This layout usually includes a sofa set up during the day, the frame of which pulls out and converts into a lengthwise bed for comfortable sleeps no matter your height! The kitchenette is placed either at the rear of the van or in pull-out drawers at the very back, if you don’t mind cooking outside.

This type of floor plan is awesome for easy access and simple organisation, as you can install cabinets and shelves down each side of the van and even add more storage beneath the bed. The only downfall to this layout is that the bed can take up a lot of living space, leaving much less room for dining and day-time lounging.

The Fixed Crosswise Bed

This might just be the most common van layout, as it means more floor space than a lengthwise bed and offers more opportunity for a fixed sleeping area. A solid, tried-and-tested option, its greatest advantage is the massive amount of storage space within the bed’s platform! This floor plan is perfect for those bringing along larger items or tons of belongings.

Unfortunately, what you gain in storage you lose in living space. With none of the extra room offered by a convertible dinette, things can get a little cramped if you plan to spend a lot of the day indoors. 

Bringing Your Layout To Life

Photo by Chance Centeno on Unsplash

Now that you’re armed with a whole bunch of van layout ideas, you need to make them a reality. 

Putting pen to paper is the easiest way to hash out everything in your head. Find yourself some graph paper, a ruler, and a pencil (with a rubber, of course). Then get sketching! Draw your proposed floor plan to work out how everything will fit together. Always make sure to scale your layout - otherwise there’s not much point to this step.

Once you’ve confirmed a basic layout, test it out in the actual van. Use painter’s tape or go as far as to trial it to scale with cardboard cutouts. Sounds like a pain, we know. But if you make the effort now, it could save you a significant amount of time in the future by highlighting any problems before you begin the real build!

Hire A Van For Design Inspiration

Need some more van layout inspo? We’ve shared 19 campervan interiors to inspire your inner ‘The Block’ contestant. 

That said, the smartest way to find out which arrangement works best for you is to experience the different designs first-hand! Rent campervans with various floor plans to trial your travels and learn exactly what you want. That way, you can be completely confident in your layout, creating a gorgeous, cosy and functional van all your own.

Campervans For Hire On Camplify

Hendrix - Drifters Campervans

Experience laidback luxury with the timeless style of wooden finishes and white decor in this beaut of a campervan. 

Hire Hendrix here.


With a horizontally-placed double bed at the back, you can enjoy beautiful views while you kick back and relax. 

Hire Vanderlust here.


Combining vintage charm and clever functionality, this retro VW Kombi is Instagram goals. 

Hire Willow here.

The Roaming Van

Light and airy with a floating double bed for maximum storage space at the rear, this camper will show you how it’s done. 

Hire The Roaming Van here.

To find out how Camplify can work with you and your RV, register today here.

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