Design The Best Conversion Van Floor Plan For Your Needs
Although every one of us are living and traveling in our own campervan, our needs and requirements are all different. This means your own conversion van floor plan & layout can be wildly different than someone else’s.
In this article, we discuss some of the points to think about when designing your own DIY camper van layout and some of the strategies that we used when we did our own campervan conversion.
We will also show you how we created our own digital campervan floor plan and give some advice how you can do it too. You DO NOT need prior graphic design experience or expensive software. Even Microsoft Paint is enough!
Table Of Contents - Design Your Conversion Van Floor Plan & Interior Layout
Why Is A Good Conversion Van Floor Plan Crucial?
It may not seem like it from the beginning, but designing the best possible camper van floor plan & interior layout to fit your needs is extremely important.
If you plan to be like us, then you’ll be traveling, living, and sleeping in your campervan almost every minute of every day. The van is where you’ll cook, it’s where you’ll hangout during bad weather days, and it’s also where you’ll work.
And so, even if you fancy yourself an outdoors person a good chunk of your time will still be spent inside your campervan.
So a conversion van that is not designed to fit your needs and requirements ultimately makes van life less convenient, less comfortable, and ultimately less enjoyable.
Get Camper Floor Plan Inspiration from Social Media
Check out our van tour. But you may want to turn on English subtitles.
When we first began dreaming about possible campervan floor plan designs, we knew absolutely nothing at all. Only that we wanted to fit in a bed and a kitchen. But no specifics.
So we did what many others do; we watched lots (and lots!) of van build tours on YouTube. And we quickly discovered that there were so many different campervan floor plan options and layouts that were wildly more complex than we originally thought.
No two videos we watched had exactly the same floor plans. Every campervan had its own unique designs based on what the builders themselves thought was important for their own van life journey.
The more van life videos you watch, the more you’ll see what you like (and want in your own van), and what you don’t like.
Take Floor Plan Notes While You Watch
As you watch these van tour videos, make notes about what you like.
Perhaps you like the way a campervan’s pull-out bed feature works. Or the style of the upper cabinets. Maybe you realized someone has the perfect campervan sink & faucet combo that you want as well.
And by the time you’re ready to start designing your own campervan floor plan and interior layout, you should have a good list of things want to have in your own van build.
Select Your Vehicle First
Deciding what vehicle you’ll be driving will have a big influence on your overall campervan floor plan design.
Once you have the length, width, and height dimensions of your van, you can begin properly desining your dream campervan layout.
There so many questions to answer that it can be difficult to select the best vehicle that fits your needs.
To learn more, head over to our article with advice on how to choose the right vehicle for your van life adventure.
After some back and forth, we decided to purchase a Ford Transit commercial van for our campervan conversion. Long story short, we absolutely love our Ford Transit and wouldn’t change if given the option.
Learn More: Why We Love Our Ford Transit Conversion Van
Prioritize your Conversion Van Needs
In such a limited space as in a campervan, we can’t have everything we want in life. We all have to decide what is essential for us and what we can compromise on.
Below is a list of questions we thought about when designing our van layout. We ranked these criteria in descending order of importance, with the most important being first.
Is The Physical Size Of Your Camper Van Important?
Clearly the bigger your van, the more flexibility you have with your campervan floor plan design.
However, we prioritized having a compact van. We knew we wanted to spend considerable time in urban areas, driving and parking in tight spaces, and didn’t want to stand out too much when driving in developing countries during our drive down the Pan-American Highway to Argentina.
Therefore, we wanted a van no more than 20ft (6m) long.
Want A Dedicated Living / Dining Room?
We wanted our campervan to be more than simply a utility vehicle. We wanted our van to also be our home!
So we prioritized having more than just a bed and kitchen in our campervan. We wanted a dedicated space to hang out during the day, to eat, to work, and to host friends for drinks and game nights in our tiny home on wheels.
Our solution with our compact van: To be able to have a bedroom, a kitchen, AND a living/dining room, we decided to go with a convertible bed instead of a fixed bed. During the day we would have our living space, and at night this space would become our bed. It gets inconvenient at times, but we love our convertible campervan bed and have zero regrets.
Want An Abundance of Countertop Space?
We wanted to be able to cook lots of meals in our van. This means, having ample countertop space to prepare, cook, and clean. If the kitchen space is camped, cooking becomes frustrating and isn’t an enjoyable process.
And if cooking isn’t enjoyable, we’ll end up spending even more money to eat out.
What Large Items Do You Want To Bring?
A large part of your eventual campervan floor plan design will depend on what large items you want to store in your van. These items can be:
- Bicycles and/or surfboards
- Espresso machines
- Cassette toilet
- Large inverters
- Fresh & grey water tanks
Think about all the big items you want to bring with you. Make a list of them. And when you begin sketching out your layout, design spaces specifically for these bulky items.
Go Back: DIY Campervan Build Guide
Want To Have Lots of Storage Space?
We’ll be the first to admit, we’re not exactly the most minimalist people you’ll ever meet. And maximizing storage capacity, while not on the top of our priority list, is still important to us.
Some people maximize their storage by installing a fixed bed. The area under their bed becomes a “garage” for them to store most of their bulky belongings. But because we decided against a fixed bed in our van build, we didn’t have the same storage space luxury.
Our solution with our compact van: Without a dedicated “garage” to store our stuff, we opted for lots of upper cabinets. Consequently, we now have over 17ft of upper cabinets storing all of our dry food, clothes, and electronics.
Want To Have A Toilet Or A Dedicated Bathroom?
Wow! Wouldn’t that be nice to be able to boondock anywhere you want and still be able to shower and use the toilet while inside your van?
We definitely would.
But, if push comes to shove, having a built in shower room or bathroom is the least of our priorities. And by prioritizing all the other above issues, having a toilet & shower room was just not going to happen.
To be honest, we did have a porta-potty cassette toilet when we first began van life. But we never used it. Not even once! And we ended up throwing it away later to free up even more storage space.
How To Create A Digital Conversion Van Floor Plan
We have no 3D modeling experience and don’t know the first thing how others create those gorgeous van interior sketches using fancy software. But the good thing is that you don’t need any fancy software to design your own van interior layout.
All you need is:
1. Any drawing software: We used a 10-year old version of Adobe Illustrator, but you can achieve a similar result with free & simple software, like Microsoft Paint.
2. Precise LxWxD measurements of your campervan.
You can find the exact dimensions of a Ford Transit, Mercedes Sprinter, and Dodge Promaster here.
Steps To Create Your Own Camper Van Interior Layout Sketch
All we did to create our own van conversion floor plan on our computer software was to use the rectangle tool to make our layout.
Trust me, you don’t need to hold a degree in graphic design to use the rectangle tool.
But there is one major rule to follow:
Everything must be to scale.
Whether you are using the rectangle tool to create the outline of your van, or the interior furniture, or even when putting in your large items into your overall design, everything must be to scale.
We set our drawing software to inches (NOT pixels) and decided on a 10:1 scale. This means our van layout design would be exactly 1/10th the size of reality.
Step 1: Designate Van Interior Area
Once you know your campervan’s interior area dimensions. Use the rectangle tool to draw out this space.
Our Ford Transit interior dimensions were 131″ x 66″ x 76″ (LxWxH). So using our 10:1 scale rule, we would create a rectangle with dimensions of:
- 13.1″ x 6.6″ (birds-eye view)
- 13.1″ x 7.6″ (side view)
Step 2: Build In Your Furniture
Now we were ready to build in our counters, benches, and cabinet spaces.
Again, whatever interior furniture you put into your sketch, it must all be to scale.
In our case, we used colors to separate our bedroom/living room space (in blue) from our kitchen space (in orange).
Read Also: How To Build Back Benches For Campervan
Step 3: Fit In Your Large/Bulky Items
Once we knew the basic layout of our interior furniture, we began to place in our large and bulky items.
For us, this included our:
- Fresh & grey water tank
- Propane tank
- House batteries
Though we didn’t own these products yet, we went on Amazon to get their dimensions. This way, we could still keep our campervan floor plan sketch accurate to scale.
Our First Conversion Van Floor Plan Sketch (A Bird's Eye View)
We created the sketch above when we first designed our van interior. It’s a bird eye’s view of our campervan’s floor plan. You can see we included:
A convertible bed: The blue area in the back of our van is our U-bench area, which acts as a living/dining/socializing room during the day. And at night, this space will become our bed.
Lots of countertop space: We have a 72″ long counter behind the driver’s seat and an additional 20.5″ counter beside our sliding door.
Space for our large/bulky items: Because our large items are properly encased in our furniture, we know they will fit when it comes time to building our counters and benches.
Everything in the diagram above is to scale.
Side View Of Our Van Conversion's Interior Layout
Above is a side-view of our van interior design. Here you can also see the space we created for our fridge, propane tank, sink, and two water tanks.
In this view, you can see just how much upper cabinet spaces we designed into our van’s layout.
Camper van Ceiling View
We even made a mock-up of our cedar plank ceiling. Here you can see each of our individual cedar plank boards.
The six black circles are our LED lights and the grey square near the middle is our MaxxFan ventilation fan.
Learn More: How To Install A Beautiful Cedar Plank Ceiling
What We Love & Regret About Our Conversion Van Floor Plan Design
In this section we share, after 2+ years living and traveling in our campervan, what we love and regret about our van’s layout.
What We Love About Our Conversion Van Floor Plan
Having A Social Space
Our dedicated space for dining, hanging out, and socializing is perfect for us. Though it’s not often, we love hosting people over in our campervan for dinner and board games. Below we managed to fit a record SIX people around our dinner table.
Having Large Kitchen Counters
Before van life, we didn’t think we would be placing so many things on our counters. But now that we’ve been living in our van for some time, we’ve come to appreciate having an overabundance of counter space.
Learn More: Campervan Kitchen Tour
No Bathroom Space = No Problems!
We thought briefly if we wanted to build a shower/toilet room in our van, but quickly decided against it because of the space it would require.
We’re so glad we didn’t design a dedicated bathroom space into our campervan’s floor plan. Being without a toilet isn’t as difficult as it might seem at first and we rarely find ourselves in a bad bathroom situation.
Learn More: Do You Need A Campervan Toilet? We Don’t!
What We Regret About Our Conversion Van Floor Plan
No Swivel Seats
Due to poor planning and poor placement of our diesel heater, we did not end up installing swivel seats. This is a major regret for us.
No Putting A Water Tank Under The Van
All our fresh water tanks are inside the van. Had we planned a bit better, we could have installed a much larger fresh water tank under the chassis of the van, freeing up even more space inside.
No Safe Propane Solution
The most dangerous aspect of our campervan is that we live and sleep with our propane tank inside our van without proper propane ventilation. But with a bit more planning, I could have cut a hole through the floor of our van and installed a propane vent.
Learn More: Our Campervan Build Regrets
Final Thoughts: Designing Your Own Conversion Van Floor Plan
We hope some of the ideas we discussed in this post help you on your van layout design journey. There’s so much to think about and plan for, but we thoroughly enjoyed this planning and strategizing process.
Take your time and write out the aspects of van life that are important for you. If you do your homework, we think you’ll come away with your very own amazing van layout and build!
Go Back: DIY Campervan Build Guide