This article is for the DIY-ers. The ones who like to get their hands dirty. The ones happiest when they know they’ve built exactly what they wanted. If this sounds like you – or you want to start killing the DIY game – then read on for custom van ideas for living on the road.
Perhaps you already bought your dream recreational vehicle and you can’t wait to start your next adventure. If you didn’t buy a pre-converted sprinter van, chances are your dream vehicle will need a little love before life on the road can begin.
To help you start your van conversion journey, we’ve put together our top custom van ideas that are sure to make your livable vehicle the ultimate home away from home.
Custom Cabinets Are All the Rage
No matter which alternative living vehicle you choose, it’s safe to say that space will be a challenge. Minimalism will become your new best friend and you’ll need to get creative when it comes to fitting all your belongings into the back of a sprinter van, skoolie, or camper. Enter custom cabinets – a great custom van idea to maximize storage within the dimensions of your specific vehicle.
#vanlife inspo: Ramblin’ Farmers
These full-time road warriors (and their three pups) live out of a converted 2008 Chevy Bluebird skoolie, AKA Magpie the Bus. They travel around the country and work as freelance organic farmers, committed to ecological agriculture and alternative living.
When transforming the interior of their skoolie, Logan and Cheezy placed high priority on storage space, which is why they custom built all of their cabinets by hand.
Product Highlight: HanKsHideawayShop
Looking to prioritize cabinet space in your van? Check out HanKsHideawayShop on Etsy. They make cabinets of various sizes and also do custom orders. We particularly love this rustic mountain cabinet. It’s the perfect style for life on the road.
Keepin’ It Clean
While there are many external means of showering when living on the road, such as campgrounds and gyms, having an in-van shower means you never have to plan around finding one.
Water storage limitations are something to consider and you will lose space, but 24-hour access to your own shower kind of sounds worth it to us.
Where the shower will be placed depends on your van’s dimensions and layout. We’ve seen showers behind the driver’s seat, by the sliding door on the side, or in the back next to the bed. Wherever you can make it work, make it work.
#vanlife inspo: actiVan Conversions
Husband and wife duo, Megan and Chris, convert Mercedes Sprinter vans into gorgeous homes-on-wheels. Their sleek, modern style makes the small space feel big and bright.
For a look inspired by Chris and Megan’s designs, incorporate backsplash tile in your standing shower space. Spare the unnecessary weight and use stick-on tiles. No grout needed.
Space Saving Hack: Use your standing shower area to store your portable toilet when you’re not getting lathered up.
Product Highlight: HomeArt Stickers
Want to make your van a showstopper and not just a necessity? Check out HomeArtStickers on Etsy for a large variety of stick-on tile, wallpaper, and floor designs that will definitely add a pop to your new home on wheels. We especially love this Antalya pattern
The Sleep Zone
Depending on your van’s space and layout, there are quite a few different ways you can incorporate a comfy bed.
Two popular bed layouts we love are the table-to-bed conversion design and the loft design. Both have their pros and cons depending on the lifestyle you’re looking for.
#vanlife insp: Custom Crafted Vans
Sara and Alex James initially sold their home to live out of their converted van but ended up finding a new business venture. Now the duo design and sell vans so other people can fulfill their own dreams of living life on the road.
And when it comes to creative van layouts, they’ve thought of everything and have created mobile living spaces for everyone from the single outdoorsman to the family of four. We highly recommend checking out their designs for your own custom van ideas.
This convertible table-bed area design (seen here in a 2019 Extended Promaster Van) is great if you want extra space during the day or want to entertain more. The con? You’ll have to make your bed every day.
This loft bed design features a full-time bed with extra storage space underneath. There is a small seating area in front of the bed by the kitchen so you don’t completely lose a dining area, but entertaining might be a little cramped. Luckily, house guests aren’t common when you’re living on the road.
Product Highlight: Decor on Chairish
Since every camper van is unique, most beds are custom-made to fit. Once that part is done, you still need to decorate it. Chairish has a large (and unique) collection of vintage blankets, quilts, and throw pillows to make your home on the road comfortable, cozy, and stylish.
Boho Cotton Throw Blanket, available on Chairish.
Pair of Custom Boho Striped Pillows, available on Chairish.
One of the coolest parts about life on the road is the ability to live off the grid. But if you’re not attached to a hook-up at a campground or KOA, you’re on your own in the wilderness. That means you’re responsible for keeping the lights on, the shower warm, and the beer cold.
This is why we love the custom van idea of putting solar panels on top of your alternative living vehicle, which equals more self-sufficiency and cleaner energy use.
#vanlife insp: One Chick Travels
Kaya Lindsay is a writer, filmmaker, photographer, and rock climber who lives the #vanlife in her custom converted 2006 Dodge Sprinter van. In addition to her blog, her website features an entire van conversion cost breakdown and videos on each step of the process. This highlights her installation of solar panels on the roof of her van.
More Great Advice: Be sure to check out Kaya’s Vanlife Essentials for her favorite items to always keep on hand when you’re living on the road.
Product Highlight: Solar Panels on eBay
Depending on the needs of your van and lifestyle, a solar panel might be a great feature to include in your van renovation. Here’s one we found on eBay.
Renogy Solar Panel Kit with Charge Controller Home, available on eBay.
Whichever vehicle you’re taking on the road, these custom van ideas are sure to make your recreational living set up really feel like home.
And if you’re not the DIY type, there are a plenty of companies who will be happy to do your custom van renovation for you. In addition to actiVan Converstions and Custom Crafted Vans, check out Little House Trailer Company and Celicia the Shasta.
Have you found the perfect camper van (or the big and bulky materials needed to convert it), but having trouble figuring out shipping? We got you covered. Get a free shipping estimate online today from uShip.