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2021 1500 136"WB High top
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My van arrives end Dec/early Jan. I've been studying and planning for the past five months. It's a weekend warrior build, used for business travel to various pet / rescue / fashion events, along with some east coast summer beach explorations. My must-haves were a full bath, a kitchen, a tiny house vibe, and the feeling of space.

My van has back windows and a window in the side door. Since I will at times be in cities, I want to go as stealth as possible. I have no heat or AC planned at this point. I bought a Maxxair fan, and a Domenic Heki mini skylight, so there will be cross-ventilation. I'm insulating with havelock wool, with polyisco on the floor and possibly the ceiling, (depending on how far 2 bags of wool goes).

My goal so far has been to be electric only. I bought 2 Renogy 100 AH lithium batteries, and, depending on the roof space after installing the vent and skylight, either 300 or 350 W of solar panels.

I found a 35" x 21" shower pan where half of the pan is raised above the other half (I guess for a toilet to sit on). I plan to let it fit over the rise between the cab and cargo area, eeking out a few extra inches of floor space. I got an
Isotherm Cruise 42 fridge with only 14" of depth (because the compressor can sit separate.) So The kitchen will also snag a few extra inches. I'm planning to put the water heater either under the sink, or (preferably) between the two seats in a cabinet, if that fits.

My ceiling is tin squares. I want to keep the weight down, and aesthetically I like it (I'm a designer, so aesthetics rule.) Also, I'm doing the conversion myself, and 10' shiplap would be tough for one person.

I didn't like the idea of people being able to watch me sleep, so I added shutters (plus they cover up the door, which screams "van" not tiny house). Insulated window covers can sit behind them, and they easily fold back, for visibility while driving or for great light.

I expect some of this will change when I actually get the van. I know I'll have a ton of questions once I get to work, especially re: the electrical system. Right now, I'm still learning...


68911
 

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Unless you sit very straightbacked and far forward, the cab step up is farther forward than the back of the seat. Even then the lip before the seat base is not much. The ceiling height drops right above the cab transition also for the overhead shelf.

Roughly 14-15 inches between seats at the skinniest portion (buckles & trim). Blocking access to the rear will lose any stealth points though. People will notice you closing yourself in the back of a van.
 

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I think your design is drop-dead gorgeous. The reality is that you will be making many changes. Your drawings are nice and square—the van isn’t. Once you get your van, spend a lot of time mocking things up—one of the most fun parts of the build, IMHO.

I found a 35" x 21" shower pan where half of the pan is raised above the other half (I guess for a toilet to sit on). I plan to let it fit over the rise between the cab and cargo area, eeking out a few extra inches of floor space.
You won’t be doing this.

I'm planning to put the water heater either under the sink, or (preferably) between the two seats in a cabinet, if that fits.
Access to the gas tank is between the seats. Best to keep that accessible.

I agree that putting the kitchen behind the cab looks wonderful on paper. In real life, you lose one of the best features of a van. Particularly as a solo woman, you may want to reconsider losing the ability to go directly between cab and the back. Sometimes it’s safer to not have to open the door and sometimes you just don’t want to—rain, cold, etc. You would also lose visibility through the slider while driving. This is critical at angled intersections. Some folk here have had near-accidents because of the blind spot.

Your bed area looks particularly inviting. Be sure to leave access to the vertical black plastic panels. They provide access to rear lights, etc.

Please keep us updated. This will be a fun build that I will enjoy following.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I think your design is drop-dead gorgeous. The reality is that you will be making many changes. Your drawings are nice and square—the van isn’t. Once you get your van, spend a lot of time mocking things up—one of the most fun parts of the build, IMHO.



You won’t be doing this.



Access to the gas tank is between the seats. Best to keep that accessible.

I agree that putting the kitchen behind the cab looks wonderful on paper. In real life, you lose one of the best features of a van. Particularly as a solo woman, you may want to reconsider losing the ability to go directly between cab and the back. Sometimes it’s safer to not have to open the door and sometimes you just don’t want to—rain, cold, etc. You would also lose visibility through the slider while driving. This is critical at angled intersections. Some folk here have had near-accidents because of the blind spot.

Your bed area looks particularly inviting. Be sure to leave access to the vertical black plastic panels. They provide access to rear lights, etc.

Please keep us updated. This will be a fun build that I will enjoy following.
Thank you! I wish the **** thing would just arrive so I could get started. Once it's here, the first thing I will do is play around with the layout/proportions. I had this 300 sq ft apt in LA (including closets and bath). it looked painfully small when it was empty, but with furniture it didn't feel small at all. The furniture just had to be smaller than it looked. The van will be like that too.

So both you and Somebodyelse said the same thing about the kitchen layout. I need to think about that. I'll put the water heater in the back. It started out there, I just thought it should be closer to the faucets. Above the kitchen is an open "window". In the drawing there's a lace curtain there so it looks totally shut off but it's not. When driving there will be visibility, and I could possibly climb through it, or crawl through the kitchen cabinet???? Or get rid of the tall cabinets and have a lift up counter... Definitely something to think about. The one tall cabinet might go anyway if it screws up visibility when driving. I have a ton of cardboard from all the stuff i ordered, so I figured I'd somehow do cardboard mockups of this part, to make sure I can see and it all fits without feeling crowded. My goal is to avoid having no floor space except the narrow ally so many builds end up with.

Too bad about the shower. I was hoping to get an inch or two, at least for the studs to sit on. My biggest need was a narrow width so this was a good one, even if it can't reach over the ledge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Your bed area looks particularly inviting. Be sure to leave access to the vertical black plastic panels. They provide access to rear lights, etc.

Please keep us updated. This will be a fun build that I will enjoy following.
Good to know. I was wondering about that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Unless you sit very straightbacked and far forward, the cab step up is farther forward than the back of the seat. Even then the lip before the seat base is not much. The ceiling height drops right above the cab transition also for the overhead shelf.
Well nix that idea! maybe I can at least get some of the framing up on the ledge. This area is the most difficult to think about without having the van. The one on the lot that I measured had a metal wall between the cab and cargo and a double seat, so I didn't really get a good view of what I will be getting.

Roughly 14-15 inches between seats at the skinniest portion (buckles & trim).
I'll put the water heater in the back.

Blocking access to the rear will lose any stealth points though. People will notice you closing yourself in the back of a van.
I hadn't thought about that. Hmmmmm... I agree with you. Gonna figure out a solution. It's not totally closed off. that's an open space above the kitchen, with a lace curtain.
 

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I have seen crosswise kitchens with a flip-up counter in the aisle, but you should also consider that with the crosswise kitchen you are negating the use of swiveled cab seats—about 15 precious square feet lost. And those cab seats will be much more comfortable than your benches. I agree that as-is, they don’t fit your aesthetic, but you can find a way to remedy that. (I totally understand your emphasis on aesthetic. More than once MrNomer has rolled his eyes when I nixed something because it didn’t look right. I don’t apologize—aesthetic is just as important as any other consideration.)

i also abhor the aisle and was able to avoid it in my 136”.

proeddie used the fool-the-eye principle of smaller cabinetry successfully with his 9” -deep upper cabinetry.

Your shower pan is quite large, maybe unnecessarily so. If you can settle for fabric walls, you can have a larger upper area slanting down to a small pan. Bonus: fabric walls are ripe for creativity.

Lots to think about.
 

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I agree with @Somebodyelse & @MsNomer here

I think your design as posted is beautiful.

Also one of the best features we love about our Van, is the ability to get into the back from the cab seats.

I believe you should build your van for yourself & not for “resale”, but for regular size people and larger the drivers seat needs to be close to all the way back & a bit of a slope on the seat back. I have attached some photos to show this. Our van came with a factory cargo partition we removed, I was very uncomfortable in the driver’s seat with that partition in place.

These photos taken with the seat all the way back & the slope back to where we have it set. Our typical seat position is a few inches closer to the steering wheel (these photos are showing the most extreme case of the seat about as far back as it can go

68934


68935


FYI, I really like how you designed the dual or triple purpose bed/table. Smart way of “vanishing” the rear wheel wells & giving the illusion of space.👍
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I agree with @Somebodyelse & @MsNomer here

I think your design as posted is beautiful.

Also one of the best features we love about our Van, is the ability to get into the back from the cab seats.
Thank you! I'm gonna figure out a way to do that and still have the kitchen where it is.

I believe you should build your van for yourself & not for “resale”, but for regular size people and larger the drivers seat needs to be close to all the way back & a bit of a slope on the seat back. I have attached some photos to show this. Our van came with a factory cargo partition we removed, I was very uncomfortable in the driver’s seat with that partition in place.

These photos taken with the seat all the way back & the slope back to where we have it set. Our typical seat position is a few inches closer to the steering wheel (these photos are showing the most extreme case of the seat about as far back as it can go
Boy, your pictures really show what I'm up against! I'm small, but what if I travel with a taller person who does some driving? I wonder if there's a way to either cut off the shower pan, or somehow slant/notch the wall. For the design to work the shower needs to extend approx 35" from the ledge, but I don't need 35" of interior shower space.


68936
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have seen crosswise kitchens with a flip-up counter in the aisle, but you should also consider that with the crosswise kitchen you are negating the use of swiveled cab seats—about 15 precious square feet lost. And those cab seats will be much more comfortable than your benches. I agree that as-is, they don’t fit your aesthetic, but you can find a way to remedy that. (I totally understand your emphasis on aesthetic. More than once MrNomer has rolled his eyes when I nixed something because it didn’t look right. I don’t apologize—aesthetic is just as important as any other consideration.)

i also abhor the aisle and was able to avoid it in my 136”.

proeddie used the fool-the-eye principle of smaller cabinetry successfully with his 9” -deep upper cabinetry.

Your shower pan is quite large, maybe unnecessarily so. If you can settle for fabric walls, you can have a larger upper area slanting down to a small pan. Bonus: fabric walls are ripe for creativity.

Lots to think about.
Good ideas! I'm a sit on the bed/sofa with my laptop person. Even at home I never sit in chairs. So the swivel seat doesn't mean much to me. I did consider getting it, but the dealer said I had to get both seats as swivel seats, and that cost over $1,000. So I nixed that idea. But if I feel claustrophobic with the front shut out I will rethink EVERYTHING!
 

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Sometimes it helps to think outside the box, such as making things do double/triple duty. Our highest priorities included a large shower. But dedicating that much space to one thing crowded out other important things. We ended up putting the "bathroom" in the middle of the van and now the shower doubles as the hallway between the kitchen and bed. The swivel cab seats also double as our only dining/relaxing seats. Aesthetics are really important to me, as well. I have a hard time building something without a vision that inspires me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Sometimes it helps to think outside the box, such as making things do double/triple duty. Our highest priorities included a large shower. But dedicating that much space to one thing crowded out other important things. We ended up putting the "bathroom" in the middle of the van and now the shower doubles as the hallway between the kitchen and bed. The swivel cab seats also double as our only dining/relaxing seats. Aesthetics are really important to me, as well. I have a hard time building something without a vision that inspires me.
That sounds so cool! I think that's the fun about designing a van: fitting your personal needs in a tiny space, finding the balance between function and aesthetics. My shower will double as a closet. I will be traveling to people / matching pet fashion weeks all across the country, and I need to hang 10 human garments. Not all the trips will be like that, but 8-10 / year will be. I don't need tons of storage, but I will need that.

I decided to nix the tall cabinets and add a passage way to the cab, either with a drop down counter, or a "cabinet" (if I need more storage space) on wheels (that can be locked in place) but that I can be move to get through.

Thanks everyone for your GREAT advise!!!
 

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Thank you! I'm gonna figure out a way to do that and still have the kitchen where it is.



Boy, your pictures really show what I'm up against! I'm small, but what if I travel with a taller person who does some driving? I wonder if there's a way to either cut off the shower pan, or somehow slant/notch the wall. For the design to work the shower needs to extend approx 35" from the ledge, but I don't need 35" of interior shower space.


View attachment 68936
It will become clearer for you once you have your PM and can measure the interior directly & have the parts on hand to design into your plans.

The drawings you posted are a great start to what I would reference as "Concept Design Drawings". In Construction; "For Construction Drawings" are created from concept drawings.

Eventually if you can create (in your head, a computer file, or on paper) "For Construction Drawings", you can build from these.

For my build I only had "crappy concept hand sketched drawings" & never did produce "For Construction Drawings". My style of planning was a rough idea and then field measure and build to the interior 3D of the van. To do this I needed the actual equipment and materials in hand.

In regards to your shower base; I think the shower base would fit under the drivers seat if the end butted up against the cab floor riser; then the issue would be to build a shower wall that allows the driver's seat to come back as far as you need. Of course the more that wall encroaches into the shower the less space a human has when standing in the shower.

The trick to Van design/build is getting double or triple use out of the same 3D space.

Changes and Compromises to be expected in DIY Camper Van Design/Builds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It will become clearer for you once you have your PM and can measure the interior directly & have the parts on hand to design into your plans.

The drawings you posted are a great start to what I would reference as "Concept Design Drawings". In Construction; "For Construction Drawings" are created from concept drawings.

Eventually if you can create (in your head, a computer file, or on paper) "For Construction Drawings", you can build from these.

For my build I only had "crappy concept hand sketched drawings" & never did produce "For Construction Drawings". My style of planning was a rough idea and then field measure and build to the interior 3D of the van. To do this I needed the actual equipment and materials in hand.

In regards to your shower base; I think the shower base would fit under the drivers seat if the end butted up against the cab floor riser; then the issue would be to build a shower wall that allows the driver's seat to come back as far as you need. Of course the more that wall encroaches into the shower the less space a human has when standing in the shower.

The trick to Van design/build is getting double or triple use out of the same 3D space.

Changes and Compromises to be expected in DIY Camper Van Design/Builds.
I like how you separated the two kinds of drawings. And you're right, until I actually have the van and can see how it all works no decision is permanent. My design background is mostly in fashion, but it's the same thing with a dress. the first drawings just let your mind play with possibilities. And the dimensions of the van get very screwy around the area where I want the shower and kitchen.

on a non-van note... This cracks me up. I dress dogs, and this one I dress a lot just published a book, "Wear the **** mask" She's getting tons of press. She was on The view today, and now Katy Perry asked if we would make a dress for Izzy to match Katy for her instagram account. Yes, it's an extremely silly profession, but really fun. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·

How cool! Yes, you're going to be fine. I’ve said for years that woodworking is just sewing with boy toys. Design it, cut out the pieces, put them together. And here you get to do everything your way. We offer advice, but we wouldn’t want you to always do as we say. ;)
LOL! I love that! Sewing with boy toys... 😝 I actually took woodworking classes in college as part of the design program, so I feel very comfortable with that. The electrical has me mildly terrified, but the more I learn, the less the terror bites.
 

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I also never got around to 'for construction' drawings. I had multiple concepts in mind and steched out then had to constantly adjust because I'm used to 90° angles. Not even the floor is in square. It's more of a fly by night affair of getting important pieces to go in and then jigsaw puzzle/tetris the unused spaces together, IMO.

The terror is the main aspect of electrical systems. I'm an idiot and I've only blown up twice. I've told a number of helpers/apprentices the same, it's really not hard once you stop thinking about it. Overcoming the fear and just doing the right steps will make it seem easy. The 12v won't even hurt to touch like 120 does. Make it safe and if you blow something up, it's always replaceable (although hopefully not expensive).
 

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The OP is wise to have a healthy respect for electricity. Do lots of research and ask lots of questions. Lots of knowledgeable people here. 12V is not usually dangerous but if one is ambitious and wants to, say, run a small microwave, that'll be 100+ amps and now things can get dicey. I speak only as a noob in this regard but I've personally seen things get extremely hot messing with high currents.
 
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