Over the years, I’ve stumbled across so many DIY blogs via Pinterest and Instagram and many keep a log of their projects. I consider myself crafty, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying I’m handy. But now that we have our van, I find myself wanting to make a custom piece or the perfect systems (maybe the Home Edit is to blame for the systems) to make our van be more comfortable and enjoyable. It's a small space so if it's not organized, it can become chaos. Thus, the purpose of this blog is to catalogue project ideas - there is no guarantee that we’ll do all of these but I needed a place to put down all the ideas swirling in my brain every night before I fall asleep.
I’m really making this blog post for me, but if you find it interesting and useful - wonderful!
Homemade Coverings for the Side Windows: After much research, we decided to create magnetic window covers with a pocket to hold reflectix during the winter. I have always been one to make projects a family affair, so we completed this project over a weekend with sewing help from my mom and measuring help from my dad. The idea was to bring together the best of all of the designs we saw online. They're blackout, insulating and have a fun pattern for us to enjoy on the inside. However, during the process Jacob and I were a bit too ambitious with our measurements. So although they fit, we need to reinforce the magnetic-ness so they're easier to hang and stay in place well. I still love our design, we just need some improvements/reinforcements.
First Attempt Created: September 12 -13, 2020
Front Windows: During our first few trips we made due with a sheet covering the front windows. We searched for an option for the front windows. None were very afforable, but we going to go with Weather Tech since we know they're a reliable company. The problem was they only listed the 2019 Promaster on their website. Jacob found an option that actually covers the cab windows with one piece. We haven't tried it yet, but we think it will be better than our bedsheet solution.
Purchased: October 2020
Ski Storage: I've been thinking about this project since way before we purchased the van. Jacob's skis are too long to lay horizontally in the back of the van but I knew I didn't want to see the skis from the living area of the van. Our original idea was to have the skis lay down in the back but instead of sticking out into the living area, to have them go into a bench. My sister and brother-in-law even gave us an IKEA piece that would work. But when we were planning it out, we realized we couldn't fit 4 pairs of skis easily (we each have a downhill and backcountry pair). Plus, this design used up a lot of valuable space. So we decided to explore how to use the space that is more difficult to use, right under the bed. And with that thought process, the ski sling was born. We're creating four canvas hanging slings which will hang from hooks and use the "negative space." They should also contain the dirt and be easy to access. They're still in-progress, so once we finish and try them out we'll report back.
Project Started: October 2020
Helmet Storage: I haven't fully figured this one out yet, but for some reason I have this likely irrational fear of my helmet rolling around in the back of the van. We both bought new Smith helmets for the season which came with helmet bags. We have an old sleeping pad with some good foam, so I plan to take the foam and put it in the helmet bag for extra padding. I have also stored my helmet surrounded by clothes or in the original box it came in.
Goggle Storage: When we bought our new helmets/goggles we also bought this goggle box from Smith. We thought it would be perfect for keeping our goggles safe during winter van adventures - based on Day 1 it is.
Purchased: Spring 2020 (Pre-Van)
Outwear Storage: When I looked at vans prior to buying ours, I liked when they had hanging for ski pants and jackets. Now that we have ours, I am not sure where that would actually go in ours. We have taked about hooks over the door. We'll see what we come up with.
Bed Extension: It turns out Jacob is about 2 inches too tall to comfortably lay flat on the bed. He said it was fine and that he could sleep slightly on an angle, but considering I am trying him to get him to love the van - I wanted it to be better than "fine" (those that know me know I hate that word). So we build a bed extension. We will be flipping the direction we sleep to be parallel with the van and now Jacob has 7 ft to comfortably stretch out on. I am pretty excited about this design, it is kept up with a dowel (with a plastic cap for a closet rod on one end to protect the floor) that slides into the closet bracket. The extension measures 30 x 24 inches which allow all of the drawers to still open. We have two pieces of 3 inch foam on it. We still need to make covers for them and create a velcro system. The idea will be that one piece of foam can also be a seat back when folded down.
Started: October 31, 2020
Seat and Step: After we decided to change our ski storage, we decided to add the bed extension and I decided I wanted drawers instead of shelves for the "seat storage." Sorry Mom, I know you had already sewn the cushion for the other storage box. We also need to use the seat as a step to get up to the bed. Originally, we were going to fasten it to the ground, but now with the extension we have decided it will be moveable. My current idea is an IKEA MALM 2-drawer nightstand. We want something that will be comfortable so we can use the bed extension as a back to form a seat and be easy to move to use as a step when the extension is up.
Cup Holders: The cab has plenty - the back of the van, not so much. This is the one project that Jacob has talked about since we first did the van rental. And every trip since then, he has said, wouldn't it be nice to be able to have a shelf or cup holder for a beverage? Stay tuned to see what he does with this one.
Pee and Poop Buckets: Don't worry, you don't actually poop in the bucket. You poop in the wag bag. But after our first van trip we realized that you need two buckets otherwise you risk that the part of your wag bag that should stay clean will get covered in pee. Also, a bonus of this purchase was buying a lid, now we can safely bungee the pee bucket in the back without any concerns of spills. Lastly, we've learned not to stack them, if they get stuck together you end up with one tall bucket.
2nd Bucket & Top Bought: October 2020
Second Table Mount: Originally, we were going to add one to the ski storage bench, but now that design has changed, I don't know if we will add a second or where it will go. We wanted one that could swing outside for cooking during the summer.
Microwave: We have a 2-burner stove that we are pretty terrible at actually taking out and using. We know we will be even worse during the winter when it will be cold and we won't want to cook outside or have a full window open for venting. We plan to get a low wattage microwave, stay tuned for where we will store it (we aren't sure yet).
Electric Water Heater: Much like the microwave, this is all about convenience which is why this is in the "extra comfort" section. Arielle Sharpe just did a van update video showing hers and now I'm on a mission to find that one. (Yes, I have DMed her on Instagram.)
Collapsible Table: When we camped with my cousin, we set up her table inside the van on the cold evening to play cards. Would be a nice option going forward and handy for the summer to have a table for outside too.