DIY Campervan Conversion ideas – 13 Big Questions, Answered!

I know, Believe me I know….

You are racking your brain trying to come up with decent campervan conversion ideas, right?


The first question people usually ask when they dive into this minefield,

is this;

whats the best van to convert to a campervan?


Let me stop you right there.

This may sound like a reasonable question…
It is EXACTLY the WRONG question to ask!

Every van you see on the road is suitable for converting into a camper,
From a mini van like the ford transit connect,
to a long wheelbase sprinter.

They are all designed to carry substantial loads for long distances,
And thats what a camper is,
A large load carried for a long distance!

The real question you need to ask yourself
is this.
What is the purpose of my camper van build?

To answer that,
You must figure out what you need, to find campervan conversion ideas that suit you!

Are you a footloose 20 something surfer,
who just wants rock up to a beach car park and surf all day?
Comfortable surroundings would not be a major concern in this case.

You probably want
A van long enough for your surfboards
a raised platform for sleeping
and room for your wetsuit starage box.
Throw in a camping stove and a cooler box and your done!

If you are a couple with three kids on the otherhand,
Your needs are in an entirely different universe!

You need power outlets,
You need onsite water and power hookup,
You need a food prep space,
You need a reliable cooking setup with ample food storage,
You need a comfortable sleeping setup,

preferably a permanent sleeping setup!

You may need toilet facilities, maybe.
you need a table and seats to eat indoors,
You need to store a LOT of clothes and shoes ect!

Do you see what I mean,
Differing needs
require diffent solutions.

In this article I am going to go through 13 common problems,

and give you some great campervan conversion ideas to solve those problems.

Sit back,
Grab a coffee,
And dive in!

Here’s a video on how I chose my van and the mistakes I made!

Now that you know what your requirements are.
Its time to tackle the big questions that follow.

Whats the best type of van to convert to a camper for my requirements?

There are three usual suspects in the camper van world.

Surfer dude, family and retiree.

Surfer or biker dude usually takes the rough and ready approach to converting his van.
he needs a place to store surfboards or bikes.

This usually takes the form of a raised sleeping platform across the back of the camper.

This is framed out using 3×2 timber and sheeted with plywood.
The space underneath the sleeping platform
serves as storage for wet and muddy surfboards or gear.

Some people go with a hinged platform for ease of access.

The seating area is usually to the front of the sleep / storage area.
usually a bench seat from an old buss
or swivel seats conversion to the driver and passenger seats.

The Family man however,

is looking for something far more comfortable!!

If you take the standard three kids, two parent family,
That requires three single beds and one double bed,
There are a few different ways to achieve this.

You can use an overlapping bunked bed arrangement,
similar to a sailboat arrangement.

The leg room can overlap in order to achieve more space,
You can use a stepped storage boxes to enter each bunk,

This innovative van places three bunks around the main bed

and manages to sleep five people with relative ease!

A second hand bus seat is reused to create three seats for the kids,

The table is removable to allow for more space.

And the front seats swivel around

to create a dining area for the whole family out of the rain.

The kitchen is a permanent fixture
With a double gas stove and a fridge underneath.

This campervan conversion is a perfect solution for travelling with three small kids to campsites with toilet and wash facilities.

It is very possible to go a day or maybe two,
using just a portable toilet.

But This will stretch your storage capabilities quickly!

The more experienced among us may want to go for something a bit more luxurious for their van conversion.

On to the next question.

Heres a video on my camper layout:

What is the best layout for a camper.

This also depends on the situation,
You may intend to keep both the side access door and back door in use.
In that case you are constrained to the galley type setup,
With possibly a fold down bed on one wall of the van,
The kitchen and storage setup on the opposite wall.

If you wish to put in windows into the van,
This will limit the amount of wall space available to mount storage.

You might go for the option of blocking off the rear of the camper.

This gives you another wall to build against,

You can build a toilet in that space
or put in a bunk bed arrangement like the sprinter conversion achieved.

There are really two considerations to take into account when thinking about campervan layouts.

1; where is the kitchen and food prep area going to be,

2; where is the sleeping area going to be.

If you put the bed in the back,

That will place your kitchen to the mid section of the van,

And if you like to keep the kitchen out of the way to the rear of the van,

That leaves the mid section for the bed and dining area.

So there are compromises to be made everywhere!

Lets go back to the family setup and see what layout will actually work!

Take this sprinter van conversion for example,
The beds have been tucked away nicely to the rear of the van.

The builder used a bunk setup to achieve beds for three kids
and a double bed for the parents.

The back wall was blocked off
This gave another wall to build off.

And underneath the main bed created a storage section for all the essentials.

This storage section can be accessed form the back doors,
Which are still operational,
But only for access to the storage area.


Should I fit a window to my camper?

The real question is this.
Do I need a window in my camper?

If you are travelling with passengers, especially kids!

Then the answer is yes!

If you like sitting inside and people watching,
(who doesn’t love a bit of people watching!)
then the answer is yes again!

There are a few considerations here again.

If you put a window in the midsection of a van,
It will reduce the storage space / buildable space in the van.

So windows really only suit a longer wheelbase van.


If you are stuck with a shorter van,
One solution to consider is a roof window.

These windows can be purchased in a wide range of sizes,
They let in a whole lot of light!

This solution will allow for more buildable space in a smaller van.


Heres a video on my own roof window:


do I need a pop-top roof for my van conversion?

The pop top is a neat solution when used to sleep in.

It allows far more area in the main body of the van to convert to kitchen and dining space.
It will improve the long term functionality of the van conversion,
Let me tell you,
after a few weeks tucked up inside the van,
You are going to experience a little cabin fever!
So a little extra space to live in will go a long way towards a comfortable life!

It does help when you dont have to look at the bed all day long!
especially if it a bit messy,
if you have messy sheets taunting you all day long!

It could fry your nerves a bit!!

A pop top is an option,
But a hard top raised roof conversion is also a good conversion idea.

Both solutions are similar in price,
But the hard top will weather a bit better.


it will tend to add slightly more value in the long run, if thats your thing!

Whats the best kitchen setup for a campervan.

The kitchen is always a lesson in frugality and compromise!

As a general rule,
storage space is the key in kitchen layout within your van.
A fridge is a great thing to have,

And it is extra storage space so dont forget that.

There are a range of sizes of fridge and cookers available.


You could use a plugin cooler box as a portable fridge solution.

Think about overhead storage for food and utensils.

The food preparation area is key to a successful build,

You can use a fold out table

to expand your preparation area while cooking,


And then fold away when finished.

The kitchen will be as good as your imagination allows!
so take the time to plan it carefully.

Heres a short video on my kitchen setup:


Do I need a toilet and shower?

This is a tricky one,

And it is one of the pivotal campervan conversion ideas you will have to tackle!

If you have a toilet,

it allows you some freedom in where you camp at night.
You could take advantage of a bit of freestyle overnighting at a secluded beech!
Or head off to the mountain tops for the night.

Without a toilet on board,
You will be limited to camping at designated campsites with facilities.

While this may be a dissadvantage to the footloose singleton.
A campsite is a nesessity for a family,
As there is always a need for some entertainment and distraction for the kids!

So there you have it!

13 campervan conversion ideas, to give you food for thought while planning your campervan build.

If you have any suggestions, leave a comment below.

Good luck with your planning!

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