Living in a tiny home, be it settled down or on the road, means that there is less space to store your belongings.
When we prepared to move into our self-built camper van, we regularly scanned through our wardrobe and selected a few items to donate.
Eventually, we ended up with about five sets of clothing each. Most items are relatively practical and most suitable for hiking and other adventures in nature. However much clothing you may own, you will have to store it somewhere within your camper van.
But it doesn’t stop with just clothing; your pots, pans and other kitchen utensils need to be stored somewhere; most people like to have a pantry, some gadgets like a laptop that you bring along, and etcetera. You’ll need to create a functional place for all of these items.
Building a functional wardrobe/closet is hence an important part of any camper van conversion project. We share our wardrobe design to inspire you to create your own! Looking at other designs helped us a great deal during our camper van conversion.
Finding a location
When we decided on a lengthwise sofa bed, we knew that it would have to leave space for our large water tank. At the height of our mattress, which is 118 cm (4 ft) in width, the living area is approximately 150 cm (5 ft) wide. This leaves space for a closet that is approximately 30 cm deep at that height; and our water tank perfectly fits in that space, too!
A little lower in the van, the walls are wider and the wardrobe is about 10 cm deeper. Near the ceiling however, it’s just 20 cm in depth. The van is clearly curvy, but we’d found this to be a perfect location (as many others have) to build our main wardrobe/closet.
The main structure of our closet consists of two thick sheets of ply acting as uprights. These are 18 mm (0.75 inch) thick and are approximately 180 cm (6 ft) high and run from flooring to ceiling. These planks are sturdy enough to securely hold the entire wardrobe structure.
We had previously built a wooden structure around the wheel arch at this side of our camper van, which would function as a base for our leisure batteries. We rested the two sheets of ply against either side of this base, and bolted them down to increase the strength of the structure.
Since the backdoors of the van curve inwards, we had to shorten the upright at the back of this wheelbase to an approximate height of 160 cm. The top shelf of the wardrobe was connected at that point, and we added another short piece of ply to run up to the ceiling a bit further forward, to prevent items from scooting off.
In between the two uprights, we added four shelves. Each shelf then rests on a beam attached to the upright at either side. As the shelves are quite long, we have also chosen to attach an horizontal widthwise beam at the back of each shelf to increase its strength.
The bottom shelf covers the leisure batteries, and runs slightly higher than the area on which we rest our feet whenever we’re seated on the sofa bed (about which you can read every detail here). We decided not to fix this shelf down so we can easily lift the shelf and access our leisure batteries at all times.
This shelf is held in place by a structure that Jordy built in order to mount our Lagun table. We can easily lift the shelf to reveal the leisure batteries in case we ever have to reach them.
We also installed a small vent in the middle of the shelf to allow for air flow. This will help prevent the batteries from overheating. This shelve does not have any doors or bungee cord, so we only store large items there such as extra blankets, towels, and coats.
The doors of a wardrobe are of course of utmost importance in a camper van. Nobody wants to to find all their belongings scattered throughout their home on wheels after a drive. A wardrobe without some kind of door is asking for trouble.
Making perfectly closable doors in a curved van though, is an art of its own. We didn’t dare to burn us on it.
With the height of our sofa bed it would have also been difficult to open the doors whenever it would be in the bed position, as the mattress would prevent the doors from opening.
When scrolling through Instagram, we were very lucky to find an awesome alternative; bungee cord!
Bungee cord is available in a wide variety of colors and thicknesses. You can find a perfect match for every type of interior you may have.
That’s not all. You can also create your own patterns to fit not only your interior, but also the type of items you plan to store.
For large items, such as blankets, clothing, and board games, you can opt for an open structure and let the cords run up and down at a further distance. For your pantry on the other hand, its best to go for a tight structure that even keeps the smallest items from falling out.
A downside of such a wardrobe would be the fact that its content will always be visible. If you do not keep your belongings neat and tidy, your mess will be at display at all times.
This system thus doesn’t lend itself to stuff your wardrobe full with all your leftover stuff. This wardrobe is most suitable if you’re dedicated to keeping it tidy.
Just about anyone can install this
Installing bungee cord in your wardrobe is very easy. Especially when compared to making doors!
All you basically need is bungee cord and some closed eye hooks. Regarding equipment, all we used is an electric drill with a small drill bit and a pair of pliers.
Remember to consider the location of the closed eye hooks when building the structure of you closet. We ended up adding an additional beam above our closet to attach the hooks. The pressure of the bungee cord is higher than you would think, our ceiling could never support it!
We’d recommend you start by deciding the pattern you would like your bungee cord to have. When done so, put a dot in the location for each of the hooks and pre-drill the holes.
It is possible to screw in the closed eye hooks by hand. Your hands will get really tired after installing one or two hooks, however! Therefore, we used a pair of pliers to easily screw the hooks in.
All that’s left to do now is to pull the bungee cord through the closed eye hooks. For large wardrobes, this takes a surprisingly long time! We’ve actually added a time-lapse of us doing this in one of our daily vlogs!
Did you like this blog post and want to read more? Click here to go to our main camper van conversion page! Here, you can find a neatly organized list of all blog posts related to our van conversion project.