Don’t be Afraid to Change Your Campervan

So, what do you do if you want to change your campervan? I don’t mean selling the van, but what if you feel that the current layout is not working for you anymore?

Perhaps your circumstances have changed or maybe it was never what you really wanted when you designed it and now you really want YOUR van. Well, this is what happened to us when we changed our camper to not only fit our style of camping, but also to adapt to changes in our life and the world in general…

When we bought our Toyota Alphard campervan, Kai, from Northstar Conversions we wanted him to not only be a comfy campervan, but also a mobile office. This was around the time of the lockdowns and we were living in a very cute, but small cottage. Glyn was now working from home as well as me so it was a bit cramped. I love to go away in our campervan and write my books but I thought it would be good to have an interior layout that would mean we could both easily work on our laptops there, even if was just to get out of the house and park up somewhere pretty for a couple of hours.

But Then Life Changed

Northstar did a great job of creating the ‘office’ design in such a small space and, for a while, it worked well.

We had a rock-and-roll bed that had a table for one person to work on and then also a smaller table with the captain’s chair for the other person to work on. This also meant that somebody could work on the captain’s chair while the other person was still in bed as Glyn likes to get onto his laptop early in the morning.

The kitchen was in a pull-out drawer at the back of the van which I love as I tend not to cook inside the van other than a cup of tea. If the weather is really that bad then we have some soup or go to the pub. But then life changed.

The lockdowns eased and we moved to a bigger house where we have enough room to have our own office spaces. We no longer felt the need to have an ‘escape van’ in quite the same way.

Also, although Northstar installed a pretty, deluxe rock-and-roll bed we, personally, don’t find rock-and-roll beds very comfortable to sleep on. I have heard other vanners say the same thing and I guess it depends on how sensitive you are to your ‘bedology’. To me, a super-comfortable bed is the most important thing in a campervan. Our first ever camper, ‘Trev-the-Prev’ (a Toyota Previa), was a basic set-up but the bed was a dream.

It was like sleeping on a marshmallow! Not for everybody, I know, but I have had some of the best sleeps of my life in that van.

A Rock-and-Roll Bed – That is the Question?

Also, if you think about it, a rock-and-roll bed is primarily designed to be a belted, car seat which means it has to be upholstered in a way that is more like a car seat than a bed. As we very rarely have to carry other people, we really didn’t need belted seats in the back. Of course, I realise that carrying passengers is important for some people in which case a belted, rock-and-roll bed is probably the best solution.

SO, we made the big decision to remove the rock-and-roll bed completely and have it replaced with a U-shaped bench seat with a table that would drop down into the gap at night for the bed.

Obviously, this took up a bit more space than the rock-and-roll bed in day mode. However, we found that we tend to leave the bed down most of the time when we are away so losing that space to a bench didn’t really make that much difference to our normal space. BUT, what it did create was massively more STORAGE. Yay!

We Love Our Storage

Northstar created an under-bench area where our porta potti could be stored which gave us back some more floor space.

Unfortunately, our Yeti coolbox was a bit too high to go underneath but we tend to use that as a seat or mini table anyway. They also created lots of ‘lockers’ with lift-up lids and a lid above my kitchen drawer at the back so that I can access all my cooking kit from inside. Not much fun having to go outside the van to get the mugs and spoons when it’s raining.

So, for a small campervan, we have masses of storage now and I am still working out how to use it best. As you know, you tend to get a system for your van and we are having to change ours now although for the better.

Another great thing about this design is that we can still use it as a mobile office.

Someone can still work on the captain’s chair table and the other person can work at the table within the bench seat. I also have a small table that will clip onto my kitchen drawer at the back for preparing meals. This makes me unnaturally happy!

I’ve yet to get the foam cushions for the bed as we want to try it out first before investing all that money in cushions that may not work. I have some cheap foam at home and this combined with our Duvalays should be enough for us to sleep on for a night or two to work out what the ‘cushionology’ should be. Then it’s the fun time of choosing the fabric.

It’s early days yet with our new design but I’ll let you know how it looks when it’s finished.

Don’t be Afraid to Change Your Campervan Design

However, what this has taught me is – don’t be afraid to change your campervan interior if you want to. We, as people, often change, our circumstances change and the world changes so don’t be afraid to have what you REALLY want.

Also just wanted to give a shout-out to Adam Coombe and his team at Northstar Conversions. They are very happy to accommodate quirky designs (Adam said that they have even had to design cat litter boxes in vans before so that their owners can take their cat away with them)! Northstar also has a CNC machine at their large workshop on the Isle of Wight which means that they can easily cut almost any shape in wood for the quirkiest design.

So, how would you change your campervan if you could…?

Check out my Book 'I Want a Campervan: Things you need to know before buying (or converting) a campervan ':

Checkout: Northstar Conversions Ltd:

Northstar will pay for your ferry ticket over to the island and give you a courtesy car while you are there so you can turn your visit into a mini holiday as we did. The Isle of Wight has lots of lovely walks/scenery and interesting things to do (see later blogs)

One thought on “Don’t be Afraid to Change Your Campervan

  1. I love this article.! I have a rear conversion and did have 5 seats but as I am the only one using the camper I removed the middle row of seats and built a single fixed bed. Such a joy, memory foam mattress which ensures blouse full sleep every night.

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