How to make a campervan kitchen

The evolution of my van kitchen project...apologies for the slight repetition between this and my van wardrobe post regular readers... but some points are important enough to make twice!

Initial design
Firstly, plan out how your entire interior is going to look.  You want to minimise the amount of wasted space in your conversion while ensuring it has everything you really need.  Don't be afraid to ignore all the conventional wisdom on how vans should be built, this is your conversion and it needs to meet your needs.  I wanted a double bed while not sacrificing cupboard space or the ability to use the back doors of the van, so my layout is pretty unusual but it suits me perfectly.

The blank canvas
I am the kind of person who finds it really helpful to see things when I'm planning them out, so after cutting scrap bits of wood to roughly the right shape, I used these to decide on the final dimensions for the kitchen.  It is really important to consider what height you are going to make the kitchen unit - my worksurface needed to be at a usable height both when I am sitting on the folded up bed and when I am standing outside the back doors of the van.

Mocking up the height and deciding on final dimensions

Plan out the design of your kitchen.  I chose to install a gas cooker but not a sink.  A sink is really only preferable to just using a bowl if you can have running water, which means you need to install an electrical system.  Even though this sounds nice, it is still only going to give you cold, undrinkable water, which for me was too limited a solution to make it worth all the additional effort.
The design
Don't be afraid to change your mind.  The first build was done in 12 mm chipboard because I couldn't find any plywood which was light and thin enough to be suitable.  The chipboard was satisfactory, but it lacked the strength and flexibility of plywood.  So when I eventually sourced some suitable 9 mm plywood, the almost finished wardrobe got ripped out and started again!  

The almost complete kitchen... take one
Consider adding on additional components onto the end of the kitchen to utilise the additional space.  In my van, the main kitchen unit could not extend right up to the rear doors because the van door opening mechanism has to be accommodated.  But rather than waste this space, the gas cylinder compartment and an extension to the worksurface were added.
The completed kitchen unit... take two!
If you are going to install a fixed gas cooker (which is necessary to get your van registration changed from a commercial vehicle into a campervan), get some safety advice!  The gas cylinder needs to be in an individual container, ideally with a vent to the outside of the van.  Mine doesn't have a vent but it is right next to the doors, and I will have to completely disconnect it every time I move the vehicle.  I also had a professional gas engineer check the installation when complete.
Gas cylinder compartment...bit dark in there for photos!
The cooker compartment is lined with a metal coating to prevent the wood from overheating and to make things easier to keep clean.  The worksurface is topped with a thin antibacterial melamine coating that was spare from another project, basically any kind of smooth lino type thing would be perfect.

Cooker hatch complete with silver coating
And congratulations... you are now the proud owner of your very own van kitchen!

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