I mentioned a while ago that one of the ways I’m conceptualizing the van space is in terms of how many different rooms do I want the space to be able to turn into. There are some neat videos out there about people who’ve done similar things in small apartments (here‘s one in Hong Kong, and here‘s one in New York). What these folks (and folks like them) have done in their own small spaces is going to inform my approach to the van build.
Room 1: study.
I’m planning on achieving this by having a fold-away standing desk, one that hovers over the foot of my bed. I imagine two closed book shelves facing each other across the space, the front faces of which fold down to open up the shelving and provide the desktop.
I had been planning on selling my desktop pc and buying a laptop, but I’m thinking now that the van will need a house computer. It will serve for work, gaming, as a media center, etc. So I’ll likely just sell the case to my pc, and build all the components into one of the selves of these bookcases.
Room 2: bedroom.
I am still hoping to be able to finagle a fixed bed. My current bed is a (high-end) futon, and I never fold it up into couch mode. I want a fixed bed with fitted sheets, likely a full mattress.
I thought a fixed mattress was a given till I poked around in the back of that fucking lemon I went to look at a few weeks ago. Now I’m less certain that I’ll be able to swing a fixed full mattress in a 144″ WB sprinter, but we’ll see.
Given that I’m already giving the bedroom a lot of space, I want to dedicate resources to making it comfortable. I imagine that sleeping in the van could be difficult, with the noise and insecurity of being “out and about,” so I plan to counter that as much as I can. I want a memory foam mattress, a weighted blanket, a 12v electric blanket, nice sheets (I already have nice pillows), and space on both sides of the bed for phones, glasses, etc. I should sleep two people if they are very friendly (read: “spooning naked” levels of friendliness), or one luxuriantly.
Room 3: kitchen.
I plan on doing the kitchen in a modular way. The first module (running floor to ceiling, and about 24″ wide) will include a utility sink (they’re cheap, and I want to be able to wash clothes, boots, etc., in it) with two 7 gallon water tanks beneath it (one for fresh and one for grey), and a dish rack mounted above it (both the drying rack and the permanent storage of my dishes). Above that can be some additional storage. The next module (also floor to ceiling, and about 30″ wide) will have all my kitchen appliances, including the fridge, my induction cooktop, my pressure cooker, my bread-maker, and a water filter. (The idea of dumping the water from my dehumidifier into a water filter like that reminds me of the Fremen stillsuits from Dune. So I’m for-sure doing that.) Nearly everything in this module will be build like a pull-out drawer, including the fridge and my main cooking space, which will include the hotplate and the instantpot.
I plan on having no dedicated counter space for the galley. Instead, there will be multiple counters that can be pulled out (or down) to work on, including the desktop for my study.
Room 4: lounge.
This is the “I woke up on a Saturday morning and smoked a joint, and now I want to lay around and play video-games” space. It will likely occupy the same physical space as the bed. “Bedroom” is the default configuration for that physical space, so it will need to be able to transform into a lounge for watching cartoons or playing video games or leisure reading.
I’m thinking there an be a screen dedicated to this lounge-space built into one of the side walls of the van, over the bed. I can sit up sideways on the bed to game or watch movies.
Room 5: gym.
I’m talked about this one before, but I’m planning on storing my folding exercise bike under the bed, and also having space for my new resistance bands. I’d also like to have a pull-up bar. One can consider the shower a part of this or a part of the bathroom; we’ll take it to be part of the bathroom for now, even though a shower would not be so critical without the gym built into the van.
The equipment can be stored wherever, and the main open floor space in the van transforms into exercise space.
Room 6: workshop.
I’m already planning on rebuilding the interior of the van after one year of living in it, operating under the assumption that I don’t know what I’m doing at this point, and I’ll want to change things after being in it for a year. So I’ll need to keep my tools with me, and will need space to work.
I’m planning on having a “workshop” space that folds out of the back of the van, from under the bed. I’ve got a folding work table that I’ll be able to set up between the open doors, possibly with a tarp overhead, and I’ll have tool-boxes and more counter space that can slide out on heavy duty drawer slides.
Part of my long term plan is to be able to park this van on a piece of land and transform that land into a homestead (that I then either retire onto or sell). I’ll need a workshop for that. I’ve been playing with the idea of building a bigger workshop into a trailer that my van can pull, but I’ll need something smaller with me for now.
Room 7: bathroom.
This is largely a toilet and a shower, so far, built into a space under the foot of the bed on the passenger side. The very lowest portion of this cabinet will be a slide-out shower pan, with the shower head being fixed in an overhead cabinet. I’m taking a lot of inspiration from this shower build, but plan on making the shower pan into a large, 10″-ish tall drawer. There are still some details to work out here.
The toilet will pull out from the space above the shower pan, and will be a Nature’s Head.
Oops, time for work. More later.