Researching different van build layouts and features is the best introduction to vanlife, and we’re here to help get you inspired.
Over the years, we have travelled in various vans, toured hundreds of builds, and seen many unique interior layouts. Finding the ideal van design varies for each person, and we love helping our vanlife community get inspired. We believe that every great Sprinter build begins with a few brilliant features that help guide the rest of the design process. Below, we’ve covered some of our personal favourite inspirations for your Sprinter van conversion.
Height-Adjustable Electric Bed
The most prominent feature we have in our current Sprinter van conversion is a height-adjustable electric bed. With just the flip of a switch, we can add more sleeping space above the platform, or storage space below.
Having the ability to customize our bed’s height based on the kind of gear we need to pack is something we greatly appreciate. Our under-bed storage gives us the capability to pack our surfboards, wetsuits, and even our bikes. This great feature also allows us easier access to our gear. By raising the bed, we’re able to reach the storage space from both inside the van and through the rear doors.
Multi-Purpose Countertop Space
Sufficient countertop space and multi-functional flat surfaces are excellent interior features to include in any van build. Depending on the length of the van, you can decide if you have room for one or both – but having multi-purpose features can make all the difference.
We love seeing layout designs that embrace functionality in our inspirations for Sprinter van conversion. For example, having a portable stove that can be stored away when not in use creates empty countertop space for working or hobbies. If you prefer a built-in stove, recessing the range and having a stove cover adds more usable space. You may also want to consider a sink cover to add even more flat surface area to your countertop.
Our favourite van builds always include some sort of hideaway table. There are many ways to incorporate a table that can be stored away, like installing a vertical mount that supports a removable tabletop. Similarly, a floor-mounted base can hold a post and tabletop that can also be stowed away. If a van build includes a stationary bed, we recommend the option of a pull-out table with drawer slides.
Whether you prefer a single, bigger table or multiple smaller ones, a folding table design is another creative way to use space wisely. Folding brackets create a “pop-up” surface, while a murphy-style table drops down. If you love to cook outside, consider installing a folding table on the inside of your rear doors for use when they are open.
Water- and Scratch-Resistant Materials
Whether for floors, cabinets or countertops, utilizing building materials that are water- and scratch-resistant helps alleviate the stress of potential damage.
We recommend using ultra-light and waterproof materials. Laminate and vinyl are particularly adventure-friendly materials and widely used for van conversions. This is extra useful if you’ll be travelling with animals!
Adequate Storage Space
Even if a height adjustable electric bed isn’t an option for a particular build, it’s important to ensure enough storage space within your home on wheels. Chris from Nomad Vanz shared his favourite way to maximize storage when living small:
“Anyone who’s travelled in a van knows that storage solutions are everything. Getting creative with your interior space is key to cutting clutter and loving life on the road. To maximize storage potential in the Sprinter, we designed the Nomad Vanz Rear Door Storage Pocket System, which fits into the inset space of the rear doors. It’s the perfect organizer for tools, camping gear, clothes, and all your smaller items. Each set has the stash capacity of a large suitcase. Plus, they’re removable so they double as generous tote bags for markets and laundromats.”
Ample Window Covers
Window covers, shades, and blinds might seem like a mundane feature to include in our list of favourite inspirations for a Sprinter van conversion. However, ample window covers are key to having adequate privacy and more. They also help with light and sound, while minimizing outside distractions.
While insulated window covers tend to be on the thicker side, they offer more temperature control. This is helpful during all seasons, keeping heat in or out, depending on the weather. Keep in mind that thicker window covers will require more to hold in place, such as snaps or fasteners, and usually have to be stored when not in use.
Driver and Passenger Seat Swivels
Driver and passenger seat swivels are another must-have for us. Mercedes-Benz offers swivel seats as part of a package when building your own Sprinter and they are also fairly easy to install if your van doesn’t already have them. These add-ons increase the cabin space value by giving the front seats a dual purpose.
Though they’re excellent to have in any in any van, swivel seats are extremely useful in smaller vans that may not be able to accommodate a dinette or dedicated seating area. Even if a build contains sufficient seating for the owners, it’s always great to host travel friends you may meet along the way.
Sliding Door Mosquito Net
A feature we use daily in our Sprinter is the sliding door mosquito net. There are many different versions of van mosquito nets, but our preferred one is a wire screen door. We appreciate that this design doesn’t require any magnets or fasteners. Instead, the net is built into our door on a track, so it simply slides open and shut.
This type of door net is lightweight and easy to use, which makes entering and exiting the van very simple. We recommend it to keep any van free of bugs, while also allowing for sufficient airflow. Trust us – summer evenings have never been more comfortable.
Permanent Fixed Heater
For those that brave Canadian winters in their van, a permanent fixed heater makes all the difference. Having true climate control of our home on wheels bumped our comfort level up a notch.
Depending on whether you have a gas or diesel van, there are various install options for a permanent fixed heater that can tap into your fuel tank. This allows the interior thermostat to run off a resource that you already have, which means one less thing to worry about filling and monitoring.
When it comes to vanlife, there is no shortage of inspiration.
We love sharing our years of experience and knowledge with you. Now the next question is: which features do you love the most and what do you hope to incorporate into your van build? We can’t wait to see what you create.