Searching for the best campervan kitchen ideas for your van build? Here’s everything you need to know about the best van kitchen designs.
A campervan kitchen is one of the most important areas inside your van – it is where you’ll cook your meals, wash your dishes, and make your coffee. It also allows you to whip up some epic food creations if you’re a foodie, or simple meals if you’re only after sustenance.
As a van also only offers limited space, it is of the utmost importance to carefully plan and design your kitchen before going ahead with your van conversion. The last thing you want is to cut out spaces or drill unnecessary holes in the body. Remember the most important camper van saying – measure twice, cut once.
This article aims to provide you with campervan kitchen ideas that will inspire you for your own kitchen conversion inside your van. So, let’s get exploring all these ideas for the ultimate camper van kitchen!
Campervan Kitchen Ideas – Designing Your Campervan Kitchen
When it comes to van life, your camper van kitchen is vital, from its layout design, the appliances inside it, and the list of considerations when it comes to the various options.
Let’s start off by taking a look at the various campervan kitchen layouts and design options for the ultimate van kitchen suited to you and your van.
Campervan Kitchen Layouts
One design doesn’t fit all, period. Every van and every individual is unique and personal preference will dictate what you include in your van kitchen.
Below are a variety of different van kitchen layouts that you can choose for your custom van kitchen.
A single-wall kitchen is a type of van kitchen layout where everything is fixed along one side of the van. In other words, all your appliances and counter surfaces will be in a line along the side wall of your van.
The advantage here is that you won’t block your van door and getting from the cab of your van into the back won’t be difficult. It’s a great use of the space within your van and one of the most popular van kitchen layouts.
A split kitchen layout allows you to have your counter and appliances on separate sides of your van. As the name suggests, this splits your kitchen in two and separates the cooking and prepping areas.
While this can be a great idea if you have the space, it is often not possible due to space restrictions within most vans.
An L-shaped kitchen allows you to have a side and a wall in one kitchen area. This means you can have an appliance area to the side, with the remaining appliances in the wall area of the “L”, or vice versa.
It can be a better use of the space within your van and frees up areas behind the driver’s seat, for instance, for other storage space, or simply allows for a free-flowing walkway access to and from your side door.
This is a great idea if you have extremely limited space inside your van, or you don’t have standing room. This will, therefore, allow you to stand upright outside of your van while you do your cooking. It can also have a slide-out mechanism, or be built in, with the former being a great space-saving option.
The upside here is also that your cooking will all be done outside, allowing you to fully ventilate your cooking area, preventing any odors or foul smells from lingering.
The downside, unfortunately, is that you won’t be able to cook if the weather is poor, windy, or extremely cold. At the very least, it will be highly unpleasant and not worth the frozen fingers.
The side-door kitchen layout is great if you are planning to also install a shower in your van as it frees up some space. It’s also a great kitchen option for being able to cook delicious meals with a view as well as having great ventilation as the door can be opened when cooking.
A big consideration here is to ensure that you leave enough room for yourself to get in and out of the sliding door. The last thing you want is to snooker yourself on your van life adventure and make it unpleasant getting in and out of your van.
This is essentially the inverse back door kitchen setup. Here, the kitchen is inside the van but faces the back walls. You’re able to open the back doors if the weather is good and this, again, allows for unparalleled views and natural ventilation.
The downside is that this option is not suited to vans with limited space and height restrictions and it can also be in the area where the bed is best suited.
A front-facing kitchen setup is located behind both the driver and passenger seats, facing forwards. This creates a barrier between the cab and the living area of the van, which some people enjoy and you can still see out of the front window for those scenic views.
Others, however, see this as a major downside as you’re not able to access the living area from the cab and always have to get out to do so. This can be a serious inconvenience, especially when the weather is poor or if your partner wants to grab a snack or cool drink while you’re driving.
Campervan Kitchen Appliances
Some of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make when you’re designing your camper van kitchen is what appliances to include and what appliances not to include. You want to be comfortable when on the road and embrace the van life movement, so it is important that you have the right appliances to fit your needs.
All camper van kitchens are different depending on individual preference, and this will influence what kitchen appliances you deem necessary inside your van. What we might deem campervan kitchen essentials, you might see as campervan luxuries.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common appliances that you should consider for your DIY campervan kitchen.
A stovetop/stove is one of the most common and essential appliances for cooking inside your van. It’s going to allow you to rustle up some awesome meals on the road inside your camper van.
As an alternative to a fitted stovetop, it’s also possible to have a portable stove that is mobile and you can use inside or outside your van. It will enable you to cook food wherever you are and it will also mean you have more counter space inside your van – a win-win situation.
We all know that camper vans are notoriously confined so every bit of space that you can save means more space for other essentials (or luxuries).
Read Next: Check out our ultimate buyer’s guide to the best van stoves.
Having an oven in your camper van is a great way to cook a wholesome meal or bake some delicious bread and other pastries if you are a baking enthusiast. Luckily, there are some great options for camper van ovens that come in the form of portable propane campervan ovens.
The only downside, unfortunately, is that they can be seen as luxuries inside these tiny homes on the road due to the small space inside. However, they are awesome to have in a van kitchen and if you have a little bit of extra counter space, you should definitely consider installing one.
After all, you want van life to encompass homely comforts so that life on the road is nothing short of spectacular.
Related: Be sure to refer to our post on the best campervan ovens.
Your refrigeration system is one of the most important aspects of your camper van kitchen as it will keep your beers cold and your food from spoiling.
There are a number of different mini fridge options when it comes to van refrigeration and again, depends on how much space you have available to you. Fridges can also draw a lot of power so this will ultimately determine what type of fridge your van can handle.
However, most RV fridges are designed to draw as little power as possible, using either AC, DC, or solar power to run. There are also a variety of different options available such as top-loading fridges and your standard upright camper van fridges.
A top-loading fridge is a great option if you have a small van as you can hide it under a chair, below the kitchen counter, or behind the driver’s seat.
Related: Check out our roundup on the best campervan fridges.
A sink is another one of the campervan kitchen essentials. It is where you will prepare food such as washing vegetables and fruit and is also where you will wash dishes and hands. A kitchen sink is a household necessity and, so too, is it a van necessity.
Again, there are many different options available on the market that range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars. But a sink is a sink, and there’s not really any point in spending huge amounts on one.
There are also some great options that benefit vans with limited counter space and have covers that create additional working surfaces.
Read Next: Check out our review of the best campervan sinks.
The plumbing system inside your van will ensure that all the necessities can function to their optimal level. This encompasses fresh water, grey water, black water, heating, and pumps to move the water around your van.
You will also need to store water inside or outside your van for a supply of fresh water on the road. If you’re doing your own custom van conversion, you’re able to design your own system that suits your needs.
Related: Check out our post on everything you need to consider when it comes to your campervan plumbing system.
Campervan Kitchen Considerations
When it comes to camper van kitchen ideas, there are a number of things to consider with regard to the design and installation.
There are certain considerations that are necessary to bear in mind so that you don’t end up shooting yourself in the foot and having a poorly designed kitchen floor plan.
Let’s take a look.
Propane vs induction cooktop
There are a number of cooktop options available inside your van. These can be propane systems or an induction system and each has its pros and cons.
A propane system, whether fixed or portable, means that you can have heat to prepare meals wherever you are. Induction, on the other hand, requires an electrical outlet to function so can be limited in its usage.
The system you decide on depends on the type of van life approach you’re going to take. If you’re always going to be at sites that have electricity, then induction is the way to go. If you’re going to be more adventurous and be out in the wild, then propane is better suited to your needs.
To Oven or not to oven, that is the question
Many van lifers regard an oven as a luxury. However, if you enjoy baking and cooking using an oven, then it might be a great addition to your van. Many vans don’t have the necessary space for the addition of an oven so it’s not really an option for these types of vans.
Top-Loading vs Front-Loading Fridges
The different fridge option has their own pros and cons attached to them. Let’s take a look at the options:
A top-loading fridge is more efficient at keeping food cold and is also more durable than a front-loading fridge, but they have a bigger floor footprint and also require packing and unpacking to reach items at the bottom.
A front-loading fridge has a smaller footprint and it’s easier to access food, but they’re not as energy-efficient, and food can shift and fall after long, bumpy drives.
How much kitchen space
Again, the topic of space comes up. Vans don’t have a lot of it so taking up a large portion of the area for the kitchen can be unwise.
It will take away space inside your van for other installations that are just as important, for example, a desk to work at which facilitates van life.
Water and Plumbing Consideration
Water supply and plumbing is another highly important aspect to think about and can be a simple, manual system with a removable container or a highly complex system with pumps, heaters, and waste storage systems.
This will again depend on the size of your van and your requirements, which will dictate the type of system that you choose.
Proper ventilation of your van is crucial, especially if you’re going to be cooking inside. Cooking creates smoke and other smells and these need to be removed otherwise they will cause your van to smell and can also create other problems such as dampness and rot.
Make sure to have extractor fans and other systems in place to remove these odors to prevent potential problems in the future.
Related: Be sure to check out this post on what you can do to ensure proper campervan ventilation.
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