Now that the floor has been laid, the time had come to work out what would be the best use of space for us two (and our three cats). We did a quick bit of research on all sorts of different campervan conversion ideas, but in the end we decided that we had to create our own.
So, I turned to Google Sketchup (a free 3D modelling software) which I am so glad I learned to use. It will allow me to try out different ideas before we actually embark on the building the real thing.
Before I make a start though, I need to head outside with my trusty tape measure and accurately measure the inside of the Transit. Measuring done and all the figures jotted down, I set about creating a scale model of the interior in Sketchup.
Once we had the vehicle modelled, then came the discussions! There were things we had to take into consideration, namely the cats. We went back and forward quite a bit while deciding on what would be the best layout for us. But, we got there in the end!
Our campervan conversion ideas have now been created in virtual reality! The picture below is the final layout that we decided on.
There are two seating areas (that will make up into a double bed). There’s a wardrobe and a toilet/bathroom in the back (left) corner. And in the opposite corner, is the kitchen. This layout should make the most of the available space whilst remaining comfortable and practical.
Another reason for choosing this particular configuration, is that the gas, water, wastewater and toilet can all be accessed from the back doors without disturbing the living area (or letting the cats out). There will also be a sliding door to partition off the cab. This will be useful when we need to get in and out of the campervan without the cats escaping! Shutting the cab off from the main living area will also give us more privacy and provide somewhere for the cats and cat litter overnight.
Turning our campervan conversion ideas into reality…
All we’ve got to do now is turn the 3D model into a reality. And get hold of the fixtures and fittings! Luckily, we’d joined up to Freecycle (a network of people who give away their unwanted items to other members). The aim of Freecycle is to prevent stuff going to landfill, and as they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and that is the way it worked out for us!
As luck would have it, a generous Freecycler was giving away a caravan 3-way fridge, and sink. We snapped them up. The guy who gave them to us had intended to fit them in his own campervan project one day but never got around to using them. We assured him that we’d put them to good use. Then just a few weeks later, another Freecycler offered a set of caravan cushions. Perfect, just what we needed.
We already had water containers, and a gas bottle left over from our caravanning days. We’d also kept hold of our Porta Potti type caravan toilet, so in keeping with the recycling theme we’ll be reusing all of these in our conversion.
If you are thinking of putting a toilet in your diy campervan, then check out our article Campervan Toilet – what are your options.
We were all set…
Using the computer designed layout and the newly obtained bits and pieces, we were able to mock-up the design. We used masking tape on the floor to mark out the seating areas, wardrobe, toilet, and kitchen. Then we pretended to use the space to see if it worked. It did… mostly. Just a few adjustments to the size of the bathroom and we were good to go.
Word quickly spread about what we were doing, and my wife’s uncle raided his garage and gave us quite a lot of timber and plywood. This came in very handy. We also bought a couple of sheets of 18mm MDF.
Now we had some materials, I could start work on building the main kitchen base units.
It was starting to take shape. The water containers and gas bottle are hidden behind the sink unit. Next to the fridge is a space for a bin, and above that is a space for a cutlery drawer.
It’s great to have a plan and to actually be able to start building!
My advice, if you’re doing your own conversion…
If you’re not sure how to best use the space in your base vehicle, I’d recommend really thinking through what the different layout configurations would be like to use. Think of any potential problems and iron them out at the planning stage. Also if you are on a tight budget, check out Freecycle – you never know what you’ll find.
I would also strongly recommend using Sketchup to experiment with some different campervan conversion ideas. It will prove to be an invaluable tool (and will save you a lot of time in the long run). If you’re thinking I don’t know how to use 3D design software. Don’t worry, Sketchup is really easy to use and there are tons of helpful Youtube tutorial videos. Go on, give it a go!
If you’d rather do it old school, then get a pen and paper and some accurate measurements, and then experiment – as long as everything is to scale you should be okay.
Cost so far £371.00
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