Planning a Layout in a LWB Mercedes Sprinter Campervan Conversion
Firstly, if you haven’t already, go onto social media and look at other van layouts. No doubt there will be some that grab you and others that don’t. This will be a great starting point to begin to visualise what you want.
Try Before you Buy - Hire a Campervan
Next try and either go and look at a van with the layout you think you want or, ideally, hire one to try it out. You may well find that something you absolutely thought you needed isn’t actually that essential and you could make better use of the space or vice versa. Quirky Campers have a great range of handcrafted, quality self build camper vans available with a whole host of different layouts to try.
Drawing and Planning a Campervan Layout
It’s then essential that you spend lots of time sketching out different layout options. It doesn’t really matter how you do this as long as you’re able to be creative. You can use a 3D drawing app, get really technical with CAD drawings or simply scribble it down on a piece of paper.
If you fancy having a go at building your camper van with software then Sketchup is the way to go and it's free. There is a really easy Sketchup tutorial to do this here to get you started.
Marking up up a Campervan
Once you know the layout you want then mark it out on the floor of the van. We marked ours out on the floor at various stages with masking tape so we knew how much space we had and made adjustments as we went on. We wanted the van to be open plan and feel spacious as we had seen a few vans that felt really cramped. Most had showers and toilets separated off and full length beds but they just felt cramped and claustrophobic.
Should you have a Width Ways or Length Ways Bed in a Campervan?
After looking at lots of conversions with width ways and length ways beds we decided to opt for a width ways bed to keep the spacious feel in the van. As with most self build van conversions they seem be an on going project. After a while we felt the transverse bed in the sprinter (one of the more narrower vans available) was a bit too tight. We therefore designed a really simple pull out bed system which extends the bed for sleeping but goes away in the day to keep the space free. It takes 20 seconds to set up and makes use of the seating cushions.
Shower or no Shower in a Campervan?
Along the same themes, it was decided not have a permanent shower taking up a lot of room. We do have a pop up shower which is quick and easy to use when needed- see our blog on how to keep clean in a campervan to see how this works.
Storage Hacks for a Campervan
I could almost write a blog just on this itself!. When living full time in a campervan- storage is also key. We therefore built lots of it in.
Garage space: There is a massive garage space under the bed which holds all our adventure gear (including a bikes), water and the fridge.
Garage cupboard: A small part of the garage has been sectioned off which is accessed from inside the van which gives us a large area under the bed for stuff that we need access to on a daily basis.
Under the bench seats: Make sure you maximise the space under the bench seats by using partitions (this makes things much neater). Under ours is dog food, the toilet, toiletries and large clothing items that take up a lot of room.
Under the cab seats: In a sprinter there is tonnes of storage under the front passenger seats and drivers seat- make use of it! We store extra food and non-everyday items under ours.
Wall cupboards- We didn't want too many wall cupboards because they can make the van feel claustrophobic. We therefore only have 2 on one side of the bed. These contain every day clothes in either stuff sacks or pouches to prevent chaos.
Kitchen cupboards- Ours not only have kitchen items in them they also have gadgets, books and art materials.
Shoe box- Footwear left by the door can cause arguments and also lost shoes! It was decided a neat little shoe box cupboard by the door should be built to nip this in the bud!
Shelves- We have small shelves dotted around the van which have spices (we love cooking), essential whisky supplies and an ipad shelf next to the bed for movie nights. Be careful how you keep things secure on shelves- we use sugru and magnets to prevent movement whilst travelling.
Cab storage- depending on what van you have you may find little hidden bits of storage in the cab- make use of them! In the sprinter there is extra useful storage over the sun visors and storage compartments in each door.
Kitchen-it’s where the magic happens!
Firstly- read our blog on ways of cooking in a campervan to see if you need an oven. They use up a lot of space and are really expensive. You will be surprised how quickly you can adapt to not having one and you can cook virtually anything in an Omnia oven. How much kitchen space you need will depend on if you live in your van and how much you like to cook. We love cooking and have a lot of ingredients to store so have quite a large kitchen. Other people may need to store much less as they only have their vans for holidays and don’t enjoy cooking. These people can have smaller kitchens and much larger living areas or a smaller van if they want to.
Adapting your Campervan Conversion
Remember- the beauty of building your own van is you can change if things don’t work for you. For example- we opted for a 12 volt cool box kept in the garage instead of a fridge inside the kitchen. We did this to not only save on costs on expensive fridges but also we didn't to loose too much kitchen cupboard space. This works most of the time but as we have lived in the van and cut down on belongings we could actually make space in the cupboards for one. This will mean we don’t have to make the cold morning walk of shame to the garage for some milk!
As always - please do contact us if you have any questions and feel free to leave a comment below.