DIY Van Conversion | Kitchen Counter + Workspace

Van Conversion
2.7.20
DISCLOSURE:

I am not a van conversion professional or professional handyman. This is a documentation of my experience and you should make your own decisions on how to build your own van, and seek professional guidance if you are unsure. This blog post also contains affiliate links, so if you click a product link and buy from the merchant, I will receive a commission fee. The price you pay remains the same, affiliate link or not. Buying through my product links is the best way to say thanks if this blog post was at all helpful to you.

Kitchen Counter

Materials Needed:

My design was to divide this space into 3, with the center measured off the width of the partner stove. I built the frame out of 2x3s and pocket holes.

You’ll notice that about 12″ of the cabinet is actually under the bed frame. While the countertop here will be useless, this allows me to utilize the space under the bed all the way back to the wheel well and still access it from the main living area via drawers. This is why the bikes are on this side of the van (shorter than skis, and allow for this space to be used.).

I added 1/2″ plywood strips to the back of the frame to keep it flush to the curved walls. I also added 3/4″ supports across the bottom of the cabinets to add support, keep the legs at right angles, and to add a buffer for doors and cabinet drawers.

I then cut the countertop to size, including cutting out the sink and fold up section above the stove.

I sealed the exposed edges of the countertop with brown silicone.

I installed the countertop onto the top of the frame by drilling up underneath the frame (2x3s) and into the bottom of the countertop. I then screwed the frame to the wall and floor. I then build the tray for the stovetop using 1/2″ ply with holes. I also added 3/4″ strips with a latex strip on top to prevent overheating of the wood and allow airflow.

I also used reflective tape on the exposed wood on the sides here. This had the added benefit of filling the gap created by the saw blade and making a snug fit for the fold-up part of the countertop. This fold-up section is attached with a piano hinge and has a silicone mat to prevent vibration against the metal stovetop while driving. The two pieces of wood holding up this section in the photo are just placeholders.

Next, I installed the sink using the manufacturers’ directions. It is sealed with silicone and fastened with the hardware that came with the sink. As you can see, the 1/4″ wall and slide out garbage cans went up at this point as well. We use the black garbage bin for trash and blue for dog food, although it would be nice to have it for recycling.

Next came the backsplash trim, foot pump, and faucet. Again following the manufacturers’ instructions. I also used a scrap end of the countertop as a buffer/trim piece on the edge so that water would not spill down the side onto the desk or down the side of the cabinet. Very happy to have that. I used some weathered pallet wood, lightly sanded and finished with Renaissance wax for the backsplash. I would highly recommend Renaissance wax for finishing any wood with a grey patina. Everything else I tried would kinda ruin the patina by making it dark and saturated looking, even once dried. The Rennaisance wax dries clear and does not really affect the patina in this way. I’d love to know if there is something else out there for finishing wood like this. This is secured with wood glue, lath screws, and sealed with silicone.

I used additional pallet wood to create the doors. These are actually created from the thick pieces of the pallet – the main frame that the thinner pieces are attached to. I cut them into 7.5″ pieces, and then ripped them vertically to create this pattern. I used a 1/4″ piece of plywood behind them and glued and screwed the pieces on.

Drawers were built with 1/2″ ply and self-closing drawer slides. I have found these keep the drawers closed for most driving, but a hard left hand turn will open a couple of them. Going to add additional drawer closers to keep them shut.

Under the sink I built a frame to store my 3 water jugs out of 3/4″ ply. They are then secured with NRS straps on two rings on either side.

Here is how I handled the drawer space under the bed:

Purpose-built storage is part of what is great about doing your own build. Here I have the perfect space built for the cast iron panini press.

I had a 3″ gap between the top of the countertop and the bottom of the bed frame that I used to create a drawer for utensils. I used 2x4s for the sides to help support the bed frame, and used a push to open slider to make sure that the drawer does not open while driving. This also lets me not use a handle and keeps the drawer looking pretty stealthy.

Workspace

Materials Needed:

I built the desk as a fold-out so that the drivers seat has room to swivel and lean/slide back while driving. I have the first 6″ attached directly to the wall so that I have room for small storage (hard drives, etc.) behind the folded up desk.

I Built a small shelf for my laptop, and attached a fabric storage bag to the wall behind where the desk folds up. I also built cubbies directly on the 6″ section at the base of the desk where I keep hard drives and computer accessories.

To give the desk support while folded down I used 3/4″ ply against the cabinet, as well as a fold out leg. I also have the Corner bracket extending 2″ past the 6″ section of the desk so that it provides support against the wall as well.

The desk is secured with a hasp lock to the overhead storage when folded up.

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