Our van kitchen has and will continue to evolve, and we thought we would share where we are in the process.
It started as a simple plywood counter with the drawer cabinet we are still using. We got the cabinet from Ikea, and we highly recommend them for cabinets and of course all the other marvelous stuff they sell. We love Ikea! This was enough as a starting point to at least have some counter space on some of our early trips.
We have now switched from our Cabella cooler to an ARB 50qt fridge freezer.
Toe Kick Space Under Counter Cabinet
I wish I could remember where I first saw using the toe kick space under the counter cabinets so we could credit who inspired us. All I can remember specifically is that it was in a tiny house on wheels. Finding extra space is gold in such a small space!
We used strong magnets to connect the cover of this space.
We used 2×4’s and Itso cube trays that we already had around the house to create the space underneath.
In front of each space is a 12×12 tray with a 6×12 tray behind it. We plan to add labels on the back of the cover for easy reference as to what is located where.
So far, the plan is to have tools, batteries & cables, and automotive items stored here.
Shelves Above The Counter
We used our OXO 1.7 qt containers on the 2nd shelf and pint jars and Yeti tumblers on the bottom shelf to determine the depths. The very top shelf depth was pretty much chosen to be close to the shelves by our bed.
Our Kitchen Sink (really a bar sink)
A friend gave us our sink basin (previously used). I have seen people also use a nice stainless steel mixing bowl for their basin. We thought having a deep sink would be helpful since it would be a smaller sink.
Water Storage & Grey Water
Another decision that really depends on what you consider the pros and cons, we did not want to deal with paying for and installing huge clean water & grey water storage tanks.
We ended up getting 2 Ozark Trail Desert Patrol 6 gallon water jugs from Walmart. These were extremely affordable at $13 each.
Water Pump & Faucet
Many van lifers seem to be choosing an electric pump or handle pump at the faucet. We chose a bulb pump after researching this for some time.
This was very inexpensive at $18, and it allows you to save water. You pump the water with your foot, so you save water by pumping only as much as you need. Also, and this was huge for us, versus a handle pump this allows both of our hands to be free while using the sink.
We also chose to not have a water heater, so this meant we only needed a single hose connection. Therefore, we chose a Water Filter Reverse Osmosis Faucet Chrome Tip as it was both inexpensive ($8) and exactly what we needed. I did have to chisel out about 1/4 inch on bottom of counter since the faucet did not extend far enough through the counter to both anchor it as well as attach the hose and use additional hose clamp (note: only 2 came with the pump bulb kit above).
Kitchen Sink Doubling As Bathroom Sink
Since our kitchen sink will also be our bathroom sink, we installed a swivel extendable mirror to the right of our sink. We liked this mirror so much that I ordered a second one for the bathroom in our house. It was very affordable at $24 and excellent quality for the money.
Pattie already owned a stove she used for festival camping, so that was a simple decision for us. Still, I did do a little research to make sure we were making a good decision. While I have not done any studies myself, there is the idea that propane is better than butane for the cost alone. Additionally, a 20 lb. propane tank will be much cheaper than 1 lb. tanks. From what I could find, you will need to make sure that the item you are using allows for 20 lb. connection or possibly an adapter. Another stated dislike for butane was that it supposedly has trouble lighting at lower temperatures. We plan on trying to be warm enough that this will not be a problem for us.
One problem we encountered with using our stove outside the van was wind. As I was looking for a link to our stove, I came across a windscreen for our stove and ordered one immediately. This would have helped us immensely, I believe, when we used a stove toaster. I felt it took far too long to toast our bagels to be worth the fuel burnt, but Pattie suggested it would probably have been a lot faster if it weren’t for the wind. This will be another experiment we need to do soon. The great news is that a windscreen was very inexpensive at $11 and the toaster was only $6.
We wanted our stove to be easy to get to and out of the way for more counter space. Therefore, we built 2 spaces under the counter just for this purpose. The stove fits in the top shelf along with foil beside it. Additionally, the shelf right below the stove will hold our fry pan. We are currently shopping for a new one.
For Safety In Our Van Kitchen