If you’re in the process of converting a bus or camper van into a motor home, you’ll need to design the floor plan before you can get into all the other logistics. This step is extremely important as it will determine every other step in the conversion process. The kitchen, bathroom, sleeping arrangements, dining, etc. must be strategically placed to ensure the most comfortable and practical living situation in your vehicle. Are you ready to get started? Here are ten tips to help you plan out that perfect floor plan.
Of course, we all want to tap into our creative side, but consider the practicality of the layout. For instance, I love big bath tubs, but it’s simply unrealistic in a 12 X 7-foot space, so I went with a small shower pan instead. Be prepared for your lofty ideas to change along the way.
Consider your Needs
Refer to your need’s assessment. What’s most important to you? My ability to sleep comfortably was more important to me than having a nice bathroom, so I sacrificed bathroom space in favor of sleeping and sitting areas.
Look for Inspiration
There are hundreds of floorplan ideas online. I frequented Instagram and Pinterest to come up with the perfect one for me. Don’t be afraid to take your time when planning out the interior. You’ll want to get it right the first time.
Make a Visual
Draw up a sketch with proper measurements or use a more sophisticated app for planning your floorplan such as 3D Sketch. You can be as elaborate or simple as you want, but when it comes to measurements and fitting all the living arrangements together, you’ll want to be exact.
Keep it Simple
It’s obvious living in a vehicle will require some significant down-sizing. You won’t be able to fit everything you have in a house. Think of what you’re comfortable sacrificing.
Consider Electrical and Water Needs
Are you going to have plumbing? A toilet? A shower? Electricity? Mini fridge? You’ll need to have a plan regarding your water and electrical needs before you start adding all the furniture and other items. Will you have a water tank mounted beneath your vehicle or inside of it? Planning the electricity and water will determine much of the layout in your vehicle.
In addition to the interior of the vehicle, you’ll also want to take measurements of the outside from ground to roof. I once drove my short bus into a parking garage without realizing my vehicle was too big for it. I nearly got stuck! Thank goodness I was able to barely back it out. Also bear in mind that any insulation or walls or flooring are going to take up a few inches. Factor in your construction materials.
Keep it Safe
You don’t want a shelf full of heavy books right above the driver’s seat. Nor can you store a propane tank inside your vehicle. Electrical components cannot be next to fuel tanks and many electronics require venting space. Place items practically and remember you’ll often be in motion. Consider what a speed bump might do to your furniture arrangement.
Strive for Dual-Purpose
Save space where you can by making items multi-function or dual-purpose. My bed is a futon for additional seating. I have storage ottomans for both my clothes and a sitting area. Check out some of the crafty Murphy furniture online!
The ceiling and spaces above windows often get left out. What can you install in these areas to accommodate all your needs? Is there any way to utilize your ceiling? Every nook and cranny can serve a purpose but remember to have enough space.
Consider Weight Distribution
Many people forget about distributing weight. You don’t want heavy items all in one area or one side. Make sure weight is evenly distributed across your floorplan. The same goes for water tanks or any items mounted outside the vehicle.
Mark your Layout
Once you’ve got a layout planned, use some painter’s tape or chalk to mark out your floor plan. Recognize the space taken up by large furniture pieces or cabinetry. How much moving around room do you need to be happy?
Designing the floor plan was a lot of fun, but many of my original ideas ended up changing along the way. Remember above everything else to be flexible and have fun with your skoolie conversion!