Campervan Project #4: Custom Kitchen

In our haste to get ready to start our first trip on time, we did not film the building of the kitchen cabinets, so we just show you the final product installed on our YouTube Channel: Custom Kitchen. We built the sink cabinet and the refrigerator stand out of birch plywood, using techniques similar to the building of the Versatile Lagun Table. Both cabinets bolt into the T-track of the van and can be removed by loosening the wing nuts.

The sink cabinet has no bottom or back except for the two braces in the back for structure and for bolting to the T-track.   A 4.5 inch deep hinged door with shelves is on the front which is held closed with a window sash latch. The cabinet door has three shelves on the inside, two of which are designed to hold standard spice jars and one taller shelf to hold taller items such as small bottles of oil or salad dressing. The bottom of the door is a 3.5 inches off the floor of the cabinet to serve as a toe-kick. The top of the door is below the level of the bottom of the sink, a little over five inches down from the counter top. This allows space to mount a power strip on the front of the cabinet, since the power outlets are located behind the cabinet.

A standard small bar sink (Kindred Essentials All-in-One Kit 15-inch x 15-inch x 6-inch Deep Drop-In Bar or Utility Sink - paid link) is mounted in a plywood counter top on top of the cabinet. The right side of the counter is limited by the driver's seat position when Right Buddy (RB) is driving as she sits further back than Left Buddy (LB) does. The counter extends several inches behind the sink, overhangs the cabinet door in the front, and also by a few inches on the left side.  This provides some workable counter space in addition to the cutting board that fits over the sink. (See our video on the Cutting Board Sink Cover). The drain of the sink is connected to a flexible hose that fits down into a six gallon jerry (Reliance Rhino-Pak Heavy Duty Water Container - paid link) can to serve as our gray water tank.  LB added a rubber gasket in the jerry can cap to provide a good grip and seal around the drain hose. The jerry can fits in the cabinet, along with canned goods, mixing bowls and a waste basket. We later added another shelf inside the cabinet along the side opposite the gray tank. This holds additional items like oatmeal, raisins, dry milk, instant coffee and sugar. Changing or dumping the gray tank is as simple as pulling the flexible tube out of the jerry can and lifting it out of the cabinet (after moving the waste basket out of the way). We have been traveling with a spare gray tank jerry can just in case we don’t have a convenient place to dump the gray water.

To finish things off, along the right side of the sink cabinet, we mounted a small hand broom and dust pan along with a small fire extinguisher. The front of the sink cabinet door has also become the place to put our national park stickers that we are collecting along our trip. Time will tell if there is enough space there to stick them all on.

The stand for the refrigerator holds the 28 liter Dometic refrigerator that we bought from VanDOit. The stand is a box with a bottom and about a nine inch opening in the front. Along the back on the outside we attached a narrow additional box with an open back that has a cross brace that bolts into the T-track. The main box is large enough to hold our butane camping stove along with cooking pots and other items. A small bungee cord across the opening of the main box keeps the contents from falling or sliding out.

The narrow box in the back is just wide enough to hold butane fuel bottles (Livart Volt Butane Gas Cartridge - paid link). The fridge sits on top of the main box, held in place along the long edges by angle brackets. The narrow sides of the fridge are held in place by the side of the sink cabinet on the one end and the two-person bench seat on the other. We had to remove one handle of the fridge on the end by the sink cabinet in order to get it to fit in the space. It is held in place by friction only, but we are pretty confident it would take quite a large bump on the road to get the fridge to unseat itself off the stand, if at all.

To complete the functionality of our custom kitchen, we purchased a thirty inch hanging cabinet from VanDOit and we use the Lagun table that we built. The hanging cabinet holds our instant pot, electric tea kettle, dishes, silverware, cooking utensils and paper towels. The Lagun table mounts into the floor and expands out over the bench seat and electrical cabinet to give us four feet of counter space to use while cooking, while still allowing access to the fridge. The only thing missing from our kitchen is more storage for produce and dry goods. We store those in the back of the van. Our immediate kitchen storage is set up to allow us to have breakfast and late night snacks without needing to go to the back storage. We’ll explain how we organized the back of the van (aka garage) in a future blog post, so stay tuned by subscribing to our blog on our website and YouTube channel!

(RB)