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2020/21 Off Season Van Upgrades

Welcome to our home!

At the end of 2020, James & I upgraded a few things on the van for the 2021 tour season. Our objectives were to add table/counterspace, lighten the feel of the space, & make the most of our storage space. We were losing out on some of our storage potential as our under-bed drawers were ill-fitting plastic containers that served well but wasn't the ideal solution. We also wanted the new additions to allow us to both sit down and eat a meal across from one another- which hadn't been possible before.

A pair of sunny, warm days in November in Tennessee gave us the opportunity to complete our projects. We began by removing all our belongings from the van, quite the feat in and of itself!

With everything gone, James took to building custom drawers, and I cleaned the van & painted the interior wood trim the same pale blue green of our kitchen cabinet & storage bench.

I removed the faces of the cabinets (previously dark brown) and painted them, too. The entire space was lightened.

Here you can peek a startled James taking measurements. Nothing is exactly square in the van and so everything needs measured and re-measured.

Behind him, you can also see some of our electrical setup- these 2 100hr batteries were replaced with one 300hr one a few months later. We don't typically have any issues with our completely solar electrical setup, but nonetheless we are also most likely installing a line to the engine this spring so that we never worry about running out of power.

In the process, we found we actually liked the look of this cabinet space open, and decided to leave the face off of this one permanently.

I later crocheted a twine guard for the bottom of this shelf to keep the books & other things from sliding out during drives.

Here you can also see the two sliding tables we added to the under-side of the bed, one above the center space where two large drawers will go, and one on the right above the camp stove.

Hiding from more measuring...

We used the same type of wood for the face of the drawers and access panel that we used for the kitchen cabinet. Not everything made in our van matches or lines up perfectly, either but keeping the warm light wood and same paint color throughout gives us unity.

The access panel on the left will hinge upwards, inside we have a tote bin (that comes to a certain height with off season clothing & linens), topped with our yoga mats, broom, vacuum, and the toaster oven. Getting the sizing and measurements just right here was tricky. We had a limited amount of space for the swing of the panel because of the fridge being in front of it, at the same time we already had the tote bin we wanted to continue to use as a limiting height on the other side, yet the toaster oven had to be able to fit through the opening!

Slide out table testing...

This far slide out table is about three feet long and has a weight capacity of 150 pounds. The center table and drawers are 24 inches long have weight capacities of 100 pounds.

They shouldn't be used for seating, but they'll hold up well for our purposes.

James and I celebrated the successful installation of the slide out tables with some Indian takeout, our first meal in the van seated & facing each other.

Here's what the completed project looked like...

And a little over a year later, here's what it looks like today...

The right sliding table face came off about a week after the build, but the tabletop still functions perfectly. We also added eye hook latches to the drawers and center slide out table to keep them from sliding open as we drive.

Full disclosure... We have had to replace the slides on the drawers twice (once each) because we forgot to latch them before a drive. They don't break every time we forget, but it's not pleasant to be up front & hear a drawer slam open when we go over a bump or come to a stop. We have since added a reminder note to the steering wheel and it happens infrequently now, thankfully.

This van has been an incredible home to James & I for the past 2 years together. It was built by hand with love & I think you can feel that when you peek inside.

What projects in your home are you proud of?

Thank you for reading, excited to share more with you.

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