Converting a van into a livable space initially seems overwhelming for many of us, enough so that it can be challenging to decide where to start. Don't let that stop you. Start with something small! With some planning and creativity, you can create a comfortable and functional home on wheels.

Choose the Right Van
The first step in converting your van is to choose the right one based on your needs and affordability. Consider fuel efficiency and the odometer mileage if it is spacious enough for you and has been well-maintained. Don't get too hung up on waiting for the perfect van. Start with what you can. I have seen many van lifers begin with the minivan they already own. For them, it was all about getting out there and enjoying life on the road.

Plan Your Layout
Once you have your van, the next step is to plan out your layout. Before starting this process, evaluate your priorities for how you want the space to be used. What are your priorities? If you plan to work remotely as a digital nomad, desk space may be your priority. Whereas if your passion is all about camping, you may focus more on space for camping gear. Use software like VanSpace3d to help you plan or sketch it all out on graph paper for sleeping, storage, cooking, and living space.

Insulate Your Van
Before you start building anything, you'll need to insulate your van to keep it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Research your choices before making your final decision for the type of insulation that best fits your use. You can choose between several types of insulation(or a combination of them), including foam boards, spray foam, wool, or products like Thinsulate.

Plan For Ventilation
Ventilation is crucial to preventing condensation and keeping your van cool. Consider installing windows and a roof vent such as Maxxair to improve airflow. Ventilation is critical for moisture control in your van.

Build Your Bed Platform
A bed is usually the most significant furniture in a van, so you'll want to build a sturdy platform to support your weight. Decide if you want it to stay in a fixed position or prefer something that folds down, similar to a futon. Make sure to consider headspace in your design. Can you sit up fully in your bed?

Install a Kitchen
A kitchen can be as straightforward or as elaborate as you want. Consider installing a small countertop, a sink, and a portable stove or cooktop.

Create Storage
Storage is key in a van, so consider building shelves, cabinets, and drawers to keep your belongings organized. Consider storage for everything you make inside your van. For example, if you build a small bench with cushions for seating space, add hinges to the top piece to open up the storage space below.

Add Electrical and Plumbing Systems
You may want to install an electrical system in your van, depending on your needs. This could include options such as shore power, house batteries, and solar to power your lights and appliances. Or you may be more comfortable starting with a portable power station. You may need a foot-powered pump if you have added a sink and faucet. Last on the list is your plan for toilet options. You might consider a composting toilet if you will often be boondocking.

Finish the Interior
Once all the major components are in place, you can start finishing the interior of your van. Consider adding curtains or shades for privacy and decorating with plants or artwork. Make it comfortable, but above all, make it you!
Couch Property Wood Interior design Living room

Hit the Road
Many people will tell you that once your van is complete, it is time to hit the road and start your adventure, but the reality is you should be taking your van out on at least some weekend road trips during the entire build process. Why? Because this is how you will narrow down your needs so you can adjust your plan as you go.

Initially, you might feel you will be OK with just a portable power station, but after a few camping trips, you realize you also need shore power. Or, you may discover that you need an additional seating area and want to look into adding a swivel to your passenger seat to face your living area. You will only find these things when you are out on the road, using your van.

With some creativity and elbow grease, you can create a cozy and comfortable home on wheels that will take you wherever your heart desires.

What are you waiting for? Let's get started!