HomeSweetVan II: Transit Build Designs
Before we had really decided to buy a new van, we came up with all sorts of design ideas. We had a lot of time on our hands and love thinking about designing. We also were able to see a lot of other vans in person and got really inspired. The design process started with larger design ideas and then progressed into how everything would fit together.
Most of our designs started out on paper, with different layouts and drawings showing where big items would go. Just top-down views. As we got closer to a final design, we started laying everything out in a 3D modeling program. There are many out there that you can use if you're interested in doing something similar, with the most reasonably priced one being Google Sketchup. I used Solidworks, which is a much more expensive license (mine is from a former company that went bankrupt, but the license never expires). We used Ford's drawings to have a rough layout of the interior space. It's not perfect, but is at least close to what the actual inside will look like.
The largest item by far is the bed. After looking into other options for the bed, including a Cyrus Sutton style folding bed, we decided to use the same bed lift, so that comes with some additional complexity since it moves. Since the bed is so large, there aren't a ton of options on where it can go. After looking seriously at putting it somewhat in the middle, it just made the most sense to place it in the same spot, all the way in the back of the van. Also shown is the rough height of the floor, including insulation, subfloor and bamboo!
The Transit we're looking at is a full 4' longer on the inside and it shows here! All that space!!!! The bed in our current van takes up nearly 2/3 of the total inside space. Here, it's less than half! We also added some bedside storage for books and a fold down shelf for our personal items.
Since the bed moves up and down, it limits what you can do under the bed. You can't have any permanent item higher than where you want the bed to go down to. Luckily we love our hang out area underneath the bed and the storage it provides. We made a couple small changes to this setup, including backs on our benches, which will provide some extra storage. We've also added removable, adjustable tables! We're really excited about this addition. The table top will be stored behind the bench backs and the tubing will slide down into the bench. We'll have the ability to move these to five different locations with very little effort.
We still have over 7' of space to work with in front of the bed. With all this space, we decided to add more space for storage. These two tall storage closets will hold our clothes and gear. We'll have a small hanging storage area for coats and nicer clothes, which we'll need when we get real jobs.
Our kitchen area has a bunch of changes, the biggest being a Dometic stovetop oven combo! This is one of the new additions we're the MOST excited about. We're already dreaming of the roasted veggies and cookies we can bake!! Our last van did not have a built in stovetop as we wanted to cook outside as much as possible. We still want to limit the amount of food smells in the van, so we'll put a fan above the stovetop to blow out the smelly vapors when the sliding door is open. A lot of VW's have the stove by the sliding door and it makes a lot of sense to cook as close to a door as possible. We'll also be using a lot more drawers than our current van to be able to see all our kitchen supplies more easily.
The biggest change in our main kitchen area is the size of the fridge. Our fridge will be about double the size of our current fridge and has a real freezer (ice cream!!!). We'll be installing the same sink and faucet, but using a larger built in fresh water tank and installing the grey water tank under the van. We'll also have a propane powered hot water heater, which will make washing the dishes so much more enjoyable!
And finally, we'll be adding a swivel seat in this van. We tried one out in our Sprinter and found it squeaky and at an uncomfortable height, so we'll be looking into all the options and picking something we'll definitely want. The benefit here is that we'll be able to have a place to sit and be comfortable when the bed is down. And you see the same adjustable table that is installed in the back has another place in the front.
All in all, the design isn't changing too much. We really enjoyed our layout and the living space it provides. Our changes are mostly small or aesthetic. The big difference really is the size of the van. The extra length, width and height we're going to have to work with is exciting both for the design portion and the living portion. Can't wait to share the progress with you all!