Conversion furniture and fittings - Camper Van Life (2024)

Deciding what to put in your camper van conversion is something you should decide from the start. Planning your layout is essential before you start buying or making any interior parts. What you fit to your camper van will be mainly determined by your intended use of the vehicle, the size of the vehicle and your budget. If you haven’t already, then look at the example layouts of other peoples camper vans. This will give you a good idea of the options available to you. Most people will build their camper van as a living area on wheels, with somewhere to sit, cook and sleep. Many people have specific uses for their vehicles, such as surfing, windsurfing or motocross, and special consideration has to be paid to these special requirements. People with large families need vehicles with a large number of beds. Building your own camper van is perfect for these groups of people, as the vehicle is tailored to your needs. It is always better to only fit the features you really need. Don’t fit something just in case you need it. Space is valuable, and you do not want to carry unnecessary weight.


Seating is probably the most important thing in the living area of the camper van. The seating needs to be comfortable, and you need enough seats for everyone, including any expected guests. Here are the typical seating configurations people use:

Across the van seating

Conversion furniture and fittings - Camper Van Life (1)

The classic seating arrangement of the VW camper van is perfect for small vehicles. It makes great use of space. 3 people can sit on the seat, more if there are children. It is possible to convert the front seats of the van so that they swivel around. This makes a nice social area with everyone facing each other. Making use of the front seats like this is a great way to maximize the resources in your van. The seat in this example converts into a double bed. It pulls forward to occupy the empty space. This is typically called a rock and roll bed. If making the seating yourself, consider using the space under the seat as storage. Fitting doors to the front of the seating box, rather than the top, makes access much easier. The downside to this layout is that the back end of the van is permanently separated from the front. This does leave lots of storage space in the back. This layout works best in small vehicles, especially those where you cannot stand up, such as low height VW Transporters, Ford Transits, etc. For a really cheap solution you can bolt a small futon in place of the seating area.

L shape, or along the van seating

Conversion furniture and fittings - Camper Van Life (2)

L shape, or along the van seating, is good for bigger vehicles, particularly those you can stand up in. It allows more room to walk around. If you want to be able to walk between the living area and the cab you can just have seating along the side of the van.

If you intend to use your camper van for other things, such as occasionally moving furniture, transporting bikes, carrying surfboards, etc, this layout is great as it is really flexible, and allows lots of things to be loaded.

This layout is also good for panel vans as you can sit on the seat and look out of the open side loading door.

Cupboards can be added above the seating area, and other items, such as surfboards can also be stored there.

Under the seats there is plenty of room for storage.

Seating products

Conversion furniture and fittings - Camper Van Life (3) Rock and Roll bed seating system

Excellent engineering and well proportioned, they will fit into any flat bedded van.

£930.00 Buy


Storage is important to consider when planning and building your camper van. If you camper van is for weekend use, or for sports, then storage can be kept to a minimum. But, if you are building a camper van for long trips, then plenty of storage is vital.

Tall cupboards are a great use of space.
Conversion furniture and fittings - Camper Van Life (4)

Overhead lockers are good above the kitchen area
Conversion furniture and fittings - Camper Van Life (5)

Small cupboards can make use of small spaces
Conversion furniture and fittings - Camper Van Life (6)

Kitchen areas typically have their own storage.


Where you put the kitchen area often depends on where you put the seating. If you are using the class VW across-the-van seating arrangement (see above), then you will almost certainly have to put the kitchen area behind the drivers seat. If you are planning on L-shape type seating then you have a few options.

Kitchen area behind the cab
Conversion furniture and fittings - Camper Van Life (7)

The quickest and easiest way of fitting kitchen cupboards is to buy pre-made units from DIY stores. Some adjustment is normally necessary to allow fitting to panel vans, as the van walls are never flat. I created my kitchen unit entirely from 9mm plywood, as this maximized my limited space.

Conversion furniture and fittings - Camper Van Life (8)

Kitchen products

Conversion furniture and fittings - Camper Van Life (9) VW T4 Kitchen Unit

This MDF camper van kitchen unit is ideal for the self build/DIY market and can be sanded, painted, wrapped, covered, laminated or sprayed.

£230.00 Buy


If you have a medium or long wheelbase vehicle you can consider fitting a dedicated bathroom area. Short vehicles don’t have enough room typically.

When fitting a bathroom area, most people make a dedicated bathroom. Inside you can add a wash basin, perhaps one that folds up against the wall when not in use to save space.

A toilet can be integrated into the van, which requires the vehicles be parked at the right place on the campsite to empty it. A much easier option is to use a regular portable toilet, and secure it to the floor of the bathroom.

If you don’t have a bathroom area you can use a portable toilet, and store it away in an easy access cupboard when not in use.


Many people fit showers in their camper vans, only to find they do not use them. Showers use a massive amount of water. If you use the shower regularly you have to fit a large clean water tank and a large waste water tank to collect the dirty water. Carrying large amounts of water in a vehicle is not a good idea. Water is heavy and upsets the balance and handling of the vehicle, as well as making it drive more slowly whilst using more fuel. If you intend to stay in campsites every night they you do not need a shower, as you can use those on the campsite. If you intend to free camp then you might want a shower, but consider a water efficient shower. Many people fit a tap with a hose to their kitchen sink. They then pull the hose out of the back of the van and shower outside with it. It’s a good idea.

Furniture Examples

Here are some examples of how people have built their furniture. Hopefully the examples with give you some ideas.

Seating area with pull-out bed

The seating area, with the bed retracted.

Conversion furniture and fittings - Camper Van Life (10)

The bed slides out and locks into place. Conversion furniture and fittings - Camper Van Life (11)

Bed products

Conversion furniture and fittings - Camper Van Life (12) Rock and Roll bed seating system

Excellent engineering and well proportioned, they will fit into any flat bedded van.

£930.00 Buy

Clever bed idea that uses slats

The slats are stored away during the day. The slats are from wood frame bed, and are available separately from Ikea. Conversion furniture and fittings - Camper Van Life (13) At night the slats slide out on a frame. Conversion furniture and fittings - Camper Van Life (14)

Furniture kits

Furniture kits are a great way of adding an interior to your camper quickly. Check these listings on eBay.

Conversion furniture and fittings - Camper Van Life (2024)


Do converted campervans hold their value? ›

As reported by Auto Trader, converted campervans and motorhomes do keep their value longer than cars, but they will begin to lose value over time. If you keep your van in top condition, with as low miles as you can, then it's likely that your van will retain around 70% of it's value by the time you want to resell it.

Can you live out of a conversion van? ›

What's the Best Van to Live and Travel in? Mercedes Sprinter is considered to be one of the best vans to travel and live in. The high top, extra long-wheelbase vans are especially popular among van conversions. Because they provide you with more space.

Is it worth converting a van to a camper? ›

This might seem like a faff, but there are real benefits. To start, you'll get reduced insurance costs (which can be up to 50 per cent cheaper), cheaper MOTs and higher speed limits than a regular van – campers can do 70mph on a dual carriageway compared to 60mph for standard vans.

What is the lifespan of a campervan? ›

On average, a well-maintained vehicle can last anywhere between 10 and 30 years. By following proper maintenance routines and taking preventive measures, you can maximise your campervan or motorhome's lifespan.

What are the disadvantages of a campervan? ›

Cons of a campervan holiday
  • A lot of planning. Some people's idea of a holiday is to relax, sip a co*cktail, and do nothing. ...
  • Inconvenience. ...
  • Price. ...
  • Campgrounds. ...
  • Driving. ...
  • Lack of personal space. ...
  • Valuables. ...
  • We run out of cons.

What is the best van to convert to live in? ›

The Mercedes Sprinter, Ford Transit or Ram Promaster are excellent choices for family conversions. Their size and versatility make them ideal, offering various roof heights and lengths to accommodate sleeping areas, a kitchen, and ample storage for a family of four.

Can you daily drive a conversion van? ›

Yes, they are a big vehicle that may feel intimidating at first, but you quickly acclimate. The benefit of campervans over other types of RVs is that they fit in all but the smallest parking spots. This makes finding parking less of an issue.

What is the best van for full time living? ›

We consider the Mercedes Sprinter Van the best van for van life.

How much does a professional camper van conversion cost? ›

The cost breakdown for converting a Sprinter van can be quite extensive depending on the level of customization you want. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 or more. The average prices for materials will vary depending on what features you want in your conversion.

What is the best budget van to convert to camper? ›

The 7 Most Affordable Campervans on the Market in 2021
  • Mazda Bongo / Ford Freda. Pay no more than: £17,000. ...
  • Ford Transit Conversion. Pay no more than: £25,000 for a good conversion. ...
  • VW T4. Pay no more than: £16,000. ...
  • Mitsubishi Delica. Pay no more than: £18,000. ...
  • VW T25/3. ...
  • Vauxhall Vivaro Conversion. ...
  • Fiat Ducato.
Jun 15, 2022

What is the cheapest vehicle to convert into a camper? ›

The most economical van for conversion varies based on budget and needs. The popular Sprinter Van offers customization options, with used ones starting at $27,000. Other economical choices include the Nissan NV3500, Chevrolet Express, GMC Savana, and Ford Transit Cargo Vans.

What is the most reliable engine in a camper van? ›

The most reliable transporter engine

The VW Transporter T5 and T6 are two of the most popular models on the market. They are known for their durability and versatility, and they come with a range of engine options to suit different needs. However, the 2.0-liter TDI engine is often considered the most reliable.

What is the most reliable van for conversion? ›

Mercedes Sprinters are one of the most popular vans for conversions because of their durability and versatility. The space in a Sprinter is highly customisable due to its use as a cargo van. The Sprinter has a great reputation among campers, and you'll only have to ask around to find out why.

What is the easiest van to convert into a camper? ›

Ford Transit Connect - Similar to its big brother the Ford Transit, the Ford Transit Connect is a popular choice for small van conversions. With its generous load area, great handling, and affordable used purchase price, this van is a good one to bear in mind when looking for your next van to campervan conversion.

Is a converted van a good investment? ›

A Campervan is a depreciating asset – let's talk about it.

Your campervan's value will go down every year; there is no way around it. The good news? Your returns will more than offset depreciation. Plus, the depreciation write-off is going to save you big on your tax bill every year.

Is it better to convert your own campervan? ›

Buying a van and converting it yourself is a lot of fun and can result in some great cost savings when compared to buying a ready-made campervan. However, if you don't keep a close eye on your budget then these savings can soon get eaten up.

What is the depreciation rate of a campervan? ›

On average, you can expect between ten and 15 percent depreciation (depending on the make and model) during your first year of owning a new motorhome. Depreciation for each subsequent year works out at around eight percent. It's also important to note that the annual amount of depreciation slows over time.

What type of RV holds value? ›

Like all vehicles, RVs depreciate over time. You can determine an RVs depreciation by the vehicle's age, mileage, wear and tear, and the type of RV you own. Class A and Class B vehicles depreciate similarly, while Class C RVs depreciate more slowly and hold value slightly better.

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