When I bought the van, there were no rear seats. The upholstery on the walls and ceiling and the carpet was still in place and in good shape. It was perfect for what I needed. I started taking measurements, assessing what I needed to take with me, what I wanted to take with me, and studying other van and RV layouts. After a couple of weeks, I had an idea of what I wanted.
There were a few key elements that I was going for:
Neatness - I hate cluttered spaces. Living in a van and not having clutter would be tough.
Simplicity - Repairing stuff sucks. The less complicated everything is, the less I have to fix later.
Security - I don't want to be worried about my stuff while I'm away from the vehicle.
Comfort - It's my home. It's gotta be comfortable for me and Lola.
So, with those things in mind, I got to work.
The Bikes. I decided my bikes had to come and they had to be stored inside, away from the elements and sticky fingers. I knew I wanted the kitchen/office space to be adjacent from the side doors too, which meant the "bike box" had to go beside where the bed would be, at the rear. I removed the wheels from both mountain bikes and measured for the smallest space they could fit into. Unfortunately, this left me with exactly enough space for only a twin size bed. Kind of a bummer but no big deal. The bikes are more important.
The Gear. All my expensive camping, hiking, climbing and camera gear had to be safe, even in the event of a break-in. I decided it would be best stored under the bed, which I over-built with thicker wood and a 2x4 frame. I installed a good lock and disabled the power locks to the rear doors so there's no access without the keys - period.
The Kitchen and Workspace. I wanted the 'kitchen' to be across from the side doors, behind the driver seat. It was mostly a matter of finding the right cabinetry to fit the space. I never cooked much in my apartment and I was pretty sure that wasn't going to change in the van. Dirty dishes weren't a problem for me. So, after a lot of thought, I decided not to install pressurized water or plumbing. Fresh water is in two gravity fed 1.25 gallon dispensers that are mounted to the end of the counter. The same goes with a cook surface and refrigeration. I have a Jetboil that I love using and figured I could do the majority of what I needed with it. When it came to refrigeration, every time I looked into my apartment fridge, there was usually beer and a couple of random salad dressings that may or may not be expired. Not enough to warrant a refrigerator purchase. That's three entire systems (plumbing, cooking and refrigeration) that I don't have to buy and install now and I won't be fixing later. I made the counter top out of cabinet grade plywood and put a rim around the edges to keep things from sliding off. The cabinets and shelving are sized to hold fabric storage cubes that I use for daily use items and they keep everything nice and neat. The counter top extends about two feet next to the bedside where I can post up and edit photos, etc. I built the bed to be the height of a typical chair so I can sit comfortably.
Electricity. I would love to say that I can go without electricity - but no. Not a chance. I installed a 100+ amp-hour marine battery under the bed that's charged by the vehicles alternator. From there, under the counter is a 1000 watt power inverter that'll run just about anything I could ever need. I also installed USB charging ports and 12 volt sockets at the head of the bed and up front by the drivers seat. There's power everywhere - and it's great. A solar panel may be in my future but, as of now, I haven't needed one. I installed two 8ft strips of LED lights in the ceiling. They're remote controlled and have adjustable brightness. They change colors and dance too. Pretty awesome. Ventilation comes in the form of two 12 volt fans that blow wherever I want. I also installed a marine engine room blower in the high-top that exhausts hot air out of the van.
The final product is pretty great. My van is super comfortable and it's exactly the way I want it. It's mega private inside and usually a nice temperature. I even have enough floor space that I can unfold a chair and kick back. Hope you enjoyed the more technical side of things. The journey starts in 22 days!