Home Furniture in a Van: A Traditional, Normal Feel, With Great Organization
I’ve been saying for a long time that using home furniture is one of the best things you can do when considering how to convert your van. It has these advantages:
In today’s post I want to look at my friend Mike’s very nice van conversion. It’s not only very attractive with a lot of eye-appeal its also extremely functional. Best of all, it was very cheap and easy because he mostly used furniture he already had and simply re-purposed it to work in his van.
- It’s cheap! You probably have furniture in your home right now that could work great in your new van home if you are willing to think out of the box. If you don’t have any furniture you can use in your van, you almost certainly can get it for very little money at a thrift store or garage sales. In fact, if you keep your eye on “Freecycle” or even on the curbs of your neighborhood, you are still likely to get it for free. You can’t beat free!
- It’s easy! There is almost no skill required; you just move the furniture into the van, screw an “L” bracket into it and into the floor and the wall. And then you’re done!
- It’s functional! Many pieces of furniture have assorted drawers and shelves that not only tremendously add extra storage but also keeps it organized. You can just pile things in totes and shove them under the bed or stack them in the corner, but when you need to find that one thing you are looking for you’re going to be sorry you didn’t find a place for it and keep it in that place. Organization is the key to living happily ever after in a van!
- They feel normal. Living in a van is so far out of most peoples’s comfort zone that bringing the normal feel of house furniture with you is comforting in the beginning.
- It’s strong. Even most cheap furniture is well enough built to hold up very well to the vibrations and shaking it gets by being in a van, and you probably can’t damage it no matter how much weight you put in it. However, the flip side to that is that most of it is going to be pretty heavy. Generally that won’t be much of a problem, but the extra weight does reduce your MPG to some small degree.
To increase his organization even further he uses plastic boxes and drawers to create a place for everything and everything in it’s place. The furniture and the plastic compliment each other extremely well. Since he has a high-top, he was able to stack two pieces of furniture on top of each other and use the entire wall-space right to the roof.
Like many of us do, he has his bed across the back of the van which is also used for storage underneath. It’s easily accessible from the front or back. Being a mechanic he carries lot of tools and you can see in the picture they are very easy for him to reach.
In my experience, one of the most underused spaces on a van is the passenger side between the bed and the door. Many people don’t use it for anything at all, which I’ve always thought was a mistake. But Mike has found a great way to use the space. He found two matching end tables and set them in front of the bed. They do block access from one side-door, but that is no big loss compared to the great use of space he gets from them. You can see he has his Coleman propane stove on top of one and he keeps his propane bottles underneath it.
You may be wondering what he does about the hole left by the step into the van. It’s very simple, he built a little shelf for it to fill in the space out of scrap lumber he had on hand. It’s a very simple project and redeems all that lost space.
The little touches are important and taking out the front seat gives him a lot more room. The skylight in his high-top lets light pour in and makes it feel more open. He used a curtain rod at the top below the roof to hang a divider curtain so it is darker and he gets privacy at night.
I think this Mike has done one of the best Budget conversions I’ve ever seen. It cost him very little because he already had most of it and yet it is very attractive and extremely functional. His is an example for all of us to follow!