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Hi, I just bought a van and have spent some 60+ hours researching. Trying to settle on a layout before getting into the details of every inch. Need space for a bike or two, and also need space for mobile offices. Thinking of converting part of the raised bed into a workstation, and using the swivel seat as another station. The annoying thing here is the location of the toilet, which seems a bit inconvenient as a seat. Thinking propane system up the right, electric up the left. Anyone put propane+gray water beneath sink/counter?
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Why do you want or need propane, especially inside the van?
 

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The convertible bed looks a bit complex. Do you need two “normal” workstations? Is this for two people who need to work simultaneously?
 

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I find it helpful to have different desk orientations (a U shaped seating section in the rear, my van is usually parked on some sort of angle and don’t want asymmetry in my body for too long). Also, I use a raised bed in the rear as a standing desk height, may want to consider.
 

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@aaronmcd

Congratulations on your recent van purchase.

Your floor plan looks similar to ours. I would think if you had a pullout desk that just slide out from under the bed that might be a solution for a work station, but I don't even know the model of van you have purchased.

It is great that you started this thread with a floorplan & section, we would also need to know your “needs” vs “wants”. Looks like it you are keeping it basic which is a good thing. The more we know about your “intended” use the more design ideas we can provide you here.

My main opinion at this stage for you is “Design” is everything. A good simple design is a great start to a successful project.

Another point I can think of is; it looks like you have designed your conversion for a single person use. If that is the case, you may want to consider a design that can incorporate a double sleeper (if things change for you or for resale value down the road). If we can keep our designs flexible or convertible “with ease” I think that is a good thing.
 

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The front half of your van is similar to our design. I suggest putting a box underneath your feet behind the swivel seats. If you don't your feet will be dangling in the air when the seats are swiveled around because of the 6" bulkhead behind the seats. The box we did is approx 9" high and 14" wide running all the way from the drivers side to the sliding door. The top lifts up so you can store a lot of stuff in it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The convertible bed looks a bit complex. Do you need two “normal” workstations? Is this for two people who need to work simultaneously?
Yes it could be too complex - just an idea. I figure there has to be some way to remove part of a bed that isn't too hard to build. Yes, 2 people 2 workstations. One thing I haven't even thought of yet is where to put a litter box...

I find it helpful to have different desk orientations (a U shaped seating section in the rear, my van is usually parked on some sort of angle and don’t want asymmetry in my body for too long). Also, I use a raised bed in the rear as a standing desk height, may want to consider.
My wife would be fine with a standing desk, so that is something to consider. The fixed bed would get back some under bed storage and simplicity.

Congratulations on your recent van purchase.

Your floor plan looks similar to ours. I would think if you had a pullout desk that just slide out from under the bed that might be a solution for a work station, but I don't even know the model of van you have purchased.

It is great that you started this thread with a floorplan & section, we would also need to know your “needs” vs “wants”. Looks like it you are keeping it basic which is a good thing. The more we know about your “intended” use the more design ideas we can provide you here.
Don't even know yet. I'd probably be cool with moving into it full time and traveling. My wife is thinking shorter term, but still several weeks at a time.Either way, 2 work-from-home-away-from-home stations are needed. So far I haven't given up on fitting in at least one bike, thus the raised bed. We are pretty minimalist already and won't need extra stuff. Just a bike and some tent camping (backpacking) gear. We have a cat who might not like it but we intend to try. He won't last forever but in the meantime gotta find a way to deal with litter.

My main opinion at this stage for you is “Design” is everything. A good simple design is a great start to a successful project.
The more I research the more difficult design seems. So many things to consider, including what order I have to do everything. How to fasten everything. How to build cabinets. How to wire electronics. How to cut a hole in the roof.

Another point I can think of is; it looks like you have designed your conversion for a single person use. If that is the case, you may want to consider a design that can incorporate a double sleeper (if things change for you or for resale value down the road). If we can keep our designs flexible or convertible “with ease” I think that is a good thing.
2 person use. Double bed. Was thinking of making a section of the bed convertible for a second workstation. The pull out or standing desk ideas might be better.

The front half of your van is similar to our design. I suggest putting a box underneath your feet behind the swivel seats. If you don't your feet will be dangling in the air when the seats are swiveled around because of the 6" bulkhead behind the seats. The box we did is approx 9" high and 14" wide running all the way from the drivers side to the sliding door. The top lifts up so you can store a lot of stuff in it.
Ho wide does the box need to be? I'm not sure where the front of the seats end up when swiveled around.
 

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Not sure if this was suggested already but you could do a double booth setup and the table drops to make a bed. That would solve the 2 person work station problem and provides a lot of storage.
If you have the room, you could build it forward like in these pics and that would leave room near the back doors for the bike. If you don't have the room, you could always install a bumper mount bike rack for the bike.
e1f1f382764f60d804dc9d11a893f93c.jpg
a9d5ef140d54f29db7451410ef20ca00.jpg
 

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Actually, looking more closely at those pics, it looks like the whole thing is elevated and there might even be room underneath for a bike from the back.
 

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I will tell you what I have learned working out of a van for years (not all day, but for hours at a time on some days).

Use the van seating to sit in to work, your back will thank you. Figure out how to get a table into place to use the seats that come in the van. They will be FAR more comfortable than anything you build out of wood, aluminum, or steel, even with cushions. The are more adjustable (even in the most basic model). This applied to my 1989 Dodge B350 and my 2018 Promaster alike.

If you are going to sit and use a computer, write, read, etc, you will be more comfortable in the van seats unless you actually install seating in the rear.
 

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I was thinking the same as @jracca

use the factory seats swivel & a couple of collapsible tables/work stations

then a full elevated bed in the back that you can get a couple of bikes & other gear under

If that does not work for you, one swivel seat/work station & a work station @ the bed (standup or otherwise)

If you can design “spaces” in your van for dual or triple functions IMO those make the best designs. Our slider area is a way in & out, our fridge slides into that space, & we both sit on the floor In that space with our feet on the outside ground, we also access the fridge from the outside thru that space
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I was thinking the same as @jracca

use the factory seats swivel & a couple of collapsible tables/work stations

then a full elevated bed in the back that you can get a couple of bikes & other gear under

If that does not work for you, one swivel seat/work station & a work station @ the bed (standup or otherwise)

If you can design “spaces” in your van for dual or triple functions IMO those make the best designs. Our slider area is a way in & out, our fridge slides into that space, & we both sit on the floor In that space with our feet on the outside ground, we also access the fridge from the outside thru that space
Oh fridge at the sliding door is a good idea.
 

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Yes it could be too complex - just an idea. I figure there has to be some way to remove part of a bed that isn't too hard to build. Yes, 2 people 2 workstations. One thing I haven't even thought of yet is where to put a litter box...


My wife would be fine with a standing desk, so that is something to consider. The fixed bed would get back some under bed storage and simplicity.


Don't even know yet. I'd probably be cool with moving into it full time and traveling. My wife is thinking shorter term, but still several weeks at a time.Either way, 2 work-from-home-away-from-home stations are needed. So far I haven't given up on fitting in at least one bike, thus the raised bed. We are pretty minimalist already and won't need extra stuff. Just a bike and some tent camping (backpacking) gear. We have a cat who might not like it but we intend to try. He won't last forever but in the meantime gotta find a way to deal with litter.


The more I research the more difficult design seems. So many things to consider, including what order I have to do everything. How to fasten everything. How to build cabinets. How to wire electronics. How to cut a hole in the roof.


2 person use. Double bed. Was thinking of making a section of the bed convertible for a second workstation. The pull out or standing desk ideas might be better.


Ho wide does the box need to be? I'm not sure where the front of the seats end up when swiveled around.
The front of the seat hangs a few inches over the bulkhead. I made my box 14 inches wide which should for most feet comfortably. If say anywhere between 13" and 16" is good.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The front of the seat hangs a few inches over the bulkhead. I made my box 14 inches wide which should for most feet comfortably. If say anywhere between 13" and 16" is good.
Oh look at that, you already said how wide it is and somehow I missed it. Good to know for planning even if it's not the exact final size.
 

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Based on your further description, I recommend against the convertible bed. Consider instead one workstation behind the drivers swivel seat. The other workstation can either be behind the passenger swivel (I think KOV has done a fold up desk there) or at a dinette seat in front of the bed with a table that pulls out from under the bed on drawer slides.

That said, this has been my Covid workstation and will continue in the van: Link
 

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In a van, everything has to do triple duty.

Some conveniences go away.

For example, is there a way to make a combination "wet area" that combines ALL of the needs of a shower, sink, toilet, etc into a 3x3 foot print?

A large refrigerator / freezer setup can be used to store ALL food related items, including paper plates.

There isn't much water in a van, so consider to not wash dishes (yes those dreaded word - paper plates and cups) and only "reheat food " instead of "cooking".

Skip installing a full water system. Use a gallon of bottled water to take a shower.

Reheat pre-made frozen meat instead of frying it in the van.

Combo convection microwave oven.

A bench and a bed become one item.

Mount the bike on the back door when feasible, move it inside only when really required.

From my perspective, the part assigned to electrical might be too small to really work for your likely needs in a mobile office.

Just some thoughts for squeezing out some space.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
In a van, everything has to do triple duty.

Some conveniences go away.

For example, is there a way to make a combination "wet area" that combines ALL of the needs of a shower, sink, toilet, etc into a 3x3 foot print?

A large refrigerator / freezer setup can be used to store ALL food related items, including paper plates.

There isn't much water in a van, so consider to not wash dishes (yes those dreaded word - paper plates and cups) and only "reheat food " instead of "cooking".

Skip installing a full water system. Use a gallon of bottled water to take a shower.

Reheat pre-made frozen meat instead of frying it in the van.

Combo convection microwave oven.

A bench and a bed become one item.

Mount the bike on the back door when feasible, move it inside only when really required.

From my perspective, the part assigned to electrical might be too small to really work for your likely needs in a mobile office.

Just some thoughts for squeezing out some space.
Thanks for the thoughts. As far as conveniences going away, we are both comfortable with backpacking for a couple nights, but I don't think my wife wants the extended backpacker experience for several weeks at a time. We are good with minimal conveniences though.

"wet area" - I intend to buy a composting toilet, sink with gray water, and shower outside when available.

"paper plates" - We would much rather use plastic dishes than make waste. When we backpack I use a few ounces of water to wash our 2 dishes, and I drink the gray water. A few extra ounces for the convenience of basically RV living seems reasonable.

"water system" - Like I said, when we backpack for a few nights we are fine. But for more than that I would need (very much like) to proper wash my hair, and I'm not gonna cut my hair. I will put in a proper water tank.

"reheat food" - We always cook food. Never had a microwave dinner in my life, nor do I want to start now, but I might install a 600 watt microwave for leftovers. A portable cheapo coleman seems reasonable, and could be moved outdoors for cooking when weather is nice.

"bed and bench become one, bikes outside most of the time" - I am mostly set against this, but this may be SF bias - I've had several bikes stolen. From 3rd floor balcony, from being locked up in well lit attended downtown garage in the middle of the day, from inside a store when I turned my back for 20 seconds. I like my bikes secure, but might consider sketching up a layout with bikes outside while we are awake and in the middle of nowhere. But still, they would need to be inside if we are near town or asleep. Also the raised bed provides extra storage options. Something to think about.

"Electrical too small" - This I really have no idea. I'm a structural engineer. In other words, I hate black magic such as electricity. I was thinking 2400 Wh (2-12V 100Ah LiFePO4 batteries), 400 watts solar, battery to battery charger (I have a 220 amp alternator if that makes a difference), charge converter, fuse box. The fancy ass batteries save space vs the older lunks and last more charge cycles with less maintenance. Basically I just assigned a space as a "design development" placeholder. It could spread out if needed.

Here is a revised layout idea. The fridge by the door was scrapped - Top open fridges are pretty long and I like the cook stove by the door, plus trying to balance weight a bit by keeping the fridge on the driver side. Open to revisions of course. Scrapped the convertible bed. The rear workstation could be stand up at the bed, or pull out while sitting on the toilet box. I may have to chamfer the counter to provide easy access, but that shouldn't be too bad since fridges are typically not super deep (from a quick google search of various models).
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