Monday, August 19, 2019

Converting the Van on the Cheap - Part Two

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you go through them to make a purchase I can earn a commission.  But I only link to products that I recommend based on my experience with them, not because of the commission. :)

Now that I finished the main parts...insulation, walls, ceiling and floor (see last post), it was time for the fun stuff...

I decided to build a 'chest' type structure around the right side wheel well.  This was to hold some of the van essentials, like antifreeze, oil, tools, gas can, etc, as well as my shoes.  I used the 2x2's to make the frame and the 1x4 against the wall to secure the lid to, and I used the remainder of the plywood from the floor to make the outside of the structure.

Building the frame for the van essentials/shoe compartment...

Maybe not perfect, but it is done and it totally does the job!
Next was the shelving for the other side.  I wanted it to include a countertop space to prep food, as well as a spot to inset some kind of water catch receptacle and attach my 5gallon water dispenser. Below I wanted to have some shelving for regularly used items, cleaning products, etc.

Building out the frame for the counter and shelving. 
I was super lucky in that a friend gifted me a nice chunk of butcher block that fit perfect as the food prep surface. (You can kinda see it in the upper right corner.)

I didn't get any pics of the shelving installation, but basically I made a cross support on the initial frame and then laid my 1x2's along these to create shelving just over the wheel well and under the food prep area.  The butcher block took one end of the counter and then plywood for the rest of the counter.  I made it not super tall, as I can't stand in the van anyway, so I can sit at the counter fairly comfortably.

Then I took my 5 gallon container and found this little trash can that fit perfect as a water catch.  I like that it is deeper than most of the other receptacles I was looking at.

Coming together!

As you can also see, I got a 3 tier utility cart like this that worked perfect as my pantry.  I just left the wheels off and put my heaviest jars, etc on the bottom shelves and have found it to be quite stable.  I have gone over some bumpy spots and it has shifted a little but never turned over.  And of course a little Ikea rug!  

I found a little tiny wood crate sort of thing at the thrift store and it fits 3 8oz ball jars that contain my toiletries now and I mounted that up on the wall, as well as a little wooden paper organizer.  

Then it was time for decorating! <3

I will say that Command hooks and strips are the best!  I used these strips to hang my pictures. I used hooks for all kinds of things, like jackets and towel and garbage bag.  And I found the Command Mirror which was perfect.

I added some Ikea hanging containers to hold a few plants and my kitchen utensils.

Did I mention that wet and dry erase markers work on the wall?! :D
I took a couple weeks at this point to live in the van and see what else I might want and need.  My friend had pulled out some drawers and I realized they would be a perfect fit under the bed!  So that was the next part of my build....

Drawers in!

The lower drawer now holds my dishes secure, and the upper some clothing like socks.  Then the rest of the clothing is in the plastic tubs and my camp grill fits securely next to the drawers.

As you can see, there is still some finishing stuff I can do, and a few things I still want to build out.  But those will be an update later!

I think that I spent about $600 on all the building materials and other goodies for the van.  So with the van itself, mechanic repairs and supplies and conversion, I spent less than $2500.

I have now lived in the van for a couple months and I am loving it.  It forces you to downsize and really see what you use on a weekly basis.  It also forces you to be organized, which is great, too!

I also joined the local gym to have access to showers, and so it forces me to use the gym, which is a seriously awesome motivator!

Thinking of converting your vehicle, even if just for road trips here and there?  Do it!  And if you have questions, I am always happy to help!

Happy travels, friends!

- Ash

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