16 Design Ideas for Van Kitchen Layouts
Author: Carey deVictoria-Michel
We won’t tell you exactly how to design the kitchen in your sweet van home. Each van is unique and the fun is in making it your own. There are lots of things to think about though when making up your design. Here are a few design ideas to consider including in your kitchen galley. The Freedom Vans build team adds the features listed below in kitchen layouts. These 16 simple ideas will help improve the quality and function of your kitchen galley while you’re out adventuring in your van.
Kyleigh, co-owner at Freedom Vans, pointed out that a van design can be very dependent on the perspective of the client, or the person who’s going to live in it. Different people find different things to be important. Some people are going to care way more about storage for their outdoor toys and gear, while others might care more about cooking and the kitchen galley. Some might be happy cooking on a simple induction, single burner stove, while others might want a four burner, propane stove top. In the end, this small space can be made to fit just your needs.
Our designer at Freedom Vans, Abby, gave insight into these simple and straightforward suggestions. These suggestions can improve the function, comfort and usability of the kitchen space. A poorly designed kitchen in a van can lead to a lot of daily stress while out on the road. A thoughtful and nicely designed kitchen can make life real relaxin’.
Let’s jump into this list!
– Counter Space
Having enough counter space makes a huge difference. Most clients look to extend counter space as much as possible. Below, there are more suggestions on how to do this. Expanding counter space can happen in creative ways. Including a modular dinette table can make for a nice addition when cooking and eating meals.
– Flip-up Counters
Adding flip-up counters in any free space can do a lot for adding counter space. You can add flip-up counters at the end of the kitchen. Or, try cutting boards that slide out from under the counter top. Also, consider one on the back of a kitchen galley that flips out of the sliding door. If it flips out at standing height from standing outside the van, that can make for a great snack and drink table after a day out on the trail. *Check-out the photo gallery below to see some photo examples of counter design.
– Cover for Sink
This is simple, but genius! Make sure to have some sort of cover for your sink. This will add more counter space. You can even go for a custom cutting board to cover the top perfectly. There are some examples of sink covers from a few of our builds in the photo galleries. Check-out our ‘Logan’ build with a nicely laid out kitchen galley with a combined kitchen and two burner stove with glass covers.
It is likely that you will pick a small sink for your kitchen space, depending on your needs. The sink might depend on how much you like cooking, and how important that space is to you. For basic use in a typical van, a smaller and more shallow sink will probably do the trick. Consider the space in front of the sink and below the counter. You can install a little flip out storage space for toiletries in front of the sink, using the space under the counter.
A lot of people like the semi professional faucets. They can really be too big for a van size kitchen galley. Although, if that’s what feels right, then go for it. A pull out, spray faucet can be good for functionality in the smaller sinks in a van.
– Soap Dispenser
Install a soap dispenser next to your sink. You will use it all the time.
– Bucket vs. Jug
Speaking of cleanliness, most vans will choose a jug or a bucket to store gray water from sink drainage. Consider using a bucket. It is easier to clean and empty. Also, if you don’t have a toilet installed then a bucket can be an emergency back-up. You can even hang a bag in there for more ease in clean-up. A jug works just fine too, but there are upsides to a simple bucket method.
– Fridge Door
This is also simple, but try and design the placement of you fridge in a way where the door opens to a space that will not get in the way while you’re cooking. If the door opens away from the kitchen galley, then you can reach in there easily. Consider having it open towards the entrance of the sliding door. Then, you can reach in and grab a drink at the end of a hot day.
Having a freezer is worth it. You can have ice on hand for cold drinks or for nursing injuries. You can also freeze ice packs for taking a cooler out on a day trip. And, who doesn’t love a frozen burrito once in a while, and you might as well make a margarita to go with it. A few of our vans have had the Isotherm Cruise refrigerator installed which has a small freezer and can run on AC or DC.
– Stove Top
The main note on stove tops is whether to go with an induction cooktop or a propane burner. In the end, this could be about preference. Both have upsides. The upside to propane is that it won’t draw from your energy bank. You won’t have to worry about running out of energy at the end of the day and not being able to cook. Some people might not want to deal with storing a propane tank. Cooking over flame is a totally different vibe. Go with what’s most important to you. ‘Apollo’ a van conversion done in 2018 has a unique example of a four burner propane stove top and was built for a client who had a particular love for cooking. He also went with a deep set sink and a semi-professional faucet.
– Power Draw
Make sure to consider the power draw of all your electrical appliances. You’re going to want to be able to run the essential appliances at the same time without causing any outages or blowing a fuse. Plan ahead for this to save yourself any trouble down the line.
Design your electrical with a DC outlet on your countertop. An outlet over your counter will be good for electric water kettles, blenders or chargers. This too is pretty simple, but if you miss this simple feature then your kitchen could become much less efficient.
– Flush Cabinets
This might be more about style preference, but consider using flush handles on your cabinets and drawers. A pointy or hook type of handle will snag on clothing and be easy to bump into. Flush surfaces along the kitchen can make it easier to move around in and easier to take gear in and out of.
– Rounded Corners
Rounded corners on cabinets and counters will feel better if you ever bump into them. It is a small space and if you are moving around back there while your partner drives, it can be easy to lose your balance and bump into a corner. This might save you a few bruises.
– Drawers v. Cabinets
Think about what you need to store when you choose how much storage will need to be in drawers and how much will be cabinets. Drawers can be a more secure type of storage. More items will rattle, move around and fall over in a cabinet than in a drawer. Some items will be big enough that you will need some cabinet storage. Maximizing drawers might bring more function to your kitchen storage. Side note: try out foldable dishware for compactibility.
Lastly, wire or install lighting into the bottom of your upper cabinets. Having good lighting on your counter tops will make cooking much more enjoyable.
Best of luck in your kitchen layouts!
Well, that’s all folks! Feel free to comment below on some of your tips and tricks. There is endless potential in van design! This trend will only continue to grow it seems, as this year has brought much interest to world of van conversions. Freedom Vans was featured in Business Insider last spring in an article discussing the surge of interest in #vanlife during the events around Covid19. The New York Times wrote an article a few months later on the subject of this booming industry emphasizing how the appeal of life in a van has grown greatly this year.
Although some of us might feel like there is a rush to get that van ready, It will be worth it in the end to take your time designing and coming up with your plan before jumping into the build. Keep in mind the small details to improve the overall quality. It really is about the little things in these little spaces.