Looking for small camper van interior ideas? You’re in the right place. I spent nearly three years living in (and building!) my dream camper van. It wasn’t the biggest on the market, so we had to get creative with the space and come up with unique solutions to make the most of the bite-sized interior.
Luckily, my friend is an architect with an eye for design and a passion for beautiful spaces. In this article, I dish out everything we learned about making a cozy home on wheels, with plenty of small camper van interior ideas to try out yourself.
12 Small Camper Van Interior Ideas to Maximize Space and Comfort
Build Multi-Functional Furniture
The most important way to maximize space in a small camper van is with multi-functional furniture. This means creating furnishings that double as storage space, with plenty of room to stash clothes, appliances, gear, and more.
You’ll quickly discover that small campers get cluttered fast, so the more space you have to pack away your belongings, the better.
There are lots of methods to create multi-functional furniture, like the good old-fashioned bench seating with space underneath. But you can also get creative with it. Tik Tokers Court and Nate built a small stool moves around and holds all of their dog’s toys inside (she’s sitting on it in the picture below). We did something similar in our van (also pictured), but theirs looks way nicer!
Have Different Kinds of Lighting
Lighting can make a huge difference to a small space, especially if you have multiple kinds to set the mood. What we found works best is to have a brighter, stationary light in the front portion of the van for practical use: cooking, cleaning, and actually bringing light into the space.
In the back near the bed, it’s nice to have string lights to create a cozy atmosphere and a movable reading light that you can use before falling asleep.
There are tons of electric and battery-powered lights to choose from – we personally used stick-on strip lighting, fairy lights, and magnetic reading lights that held onto the exposed metal in the interior of our van.
Pro Tip: Set up your string lights outside one night for a romantic dinner under the stars.
Opt for Bunk Beds When Possible
If you have a small camper van but more than two people, it’s best to opt for bunk beds if possible.
Despite contrary beliefs, you don’t need tons of space for bunk beds, just enough headroom over the main bed to fit another on top. Though if you’re rocking a pop-top van, you’ll have plenty of room to for a lofted bed for friends or kiddos coming along for the ride.
TB Outdoor Rentals offers both bunk beds and pop-top vans, so if you’re not ready to get into your own build, you can experience it in the short term with us. Click here to see camper van rentals.
Or Use a Floating Bed for More Storage
The biggest challenge when it comes to small camper van interior ideas is storage, so it pays to do whatever you can to maximize space for personal belongings. When we first bought our van, it had traditional bench seating that converted to a bed. Not only was the design impractical for accessing what was stored, but we couldn’t fit our bulky suitcases anywhere.
So we stripped the benches from the van and created a “floating” day bed with two seats that had additional storage at the foot of the structure. At nighttime, we added a piece of wood in between the seats with a cushion on top to make a queen sized bed.
The major benefits of this design for the small interior were:
- Tons of accessible space under the stationary day bed for large suitcases, surfboards, ski gear, and other big items that didn’t fit in the previous design.
- It was more practical! We spent way less time setting up our bed at the end of the night and way more time hanging out inside the van since we had such a comfortable chill-out area.
Segment the Space
It may seem counter-intuitive to segment an already small camper van interior, but it actually sets clear divisions between different “rooms” and gives the space a unique look.
We broke up our interior with a small wall to separate the kitchen from the bedroom area. Not only did it make it look that much cooler, but it gave us additional storage space to hang items on both sides of the wall.
There are tons of ways to execute these small camper van interior ideas. Other than a wall in the middle of the van, you can segment the space with a bed that folds up to create a distinct outdoor hangout space stemming from the back of your van, like the TB Outdoor Rental van pictured below.
Click here to see more camper van rentals in California and Arizona.
Create a Cozy Indoor Kitchen
Van life comes with its own set of challenges, like rain and wind, which make cooking on these days miserable. Save yourself the struggle and build a cozy kitchen inside that you can stow away when not in use.
All it takes is a high-quality propane stove (ours was industrial with two burners, but you can easily get away with a camp stove), a small metal sink (easiest to keep clean), and a pump tap connected to water tanks. You don’t have to go all out with electrics to have a fully functional kitchen in a small campervan.
Additional small camper van interior ideas for the kitchen include:
- A high-quality wooden bench top (don’t forget to varnish it!)
- Shelves for spices, dishes, and food storage
- A small cubby to hide the propane tank and to stash the stove when it’s not in use
- Fresh herbs to use for cooking
Add an Awning for the Covered Outdoor Space
If you do go with an outdoor kitchen, make sure that you have an awning to protect you from the elements. This is especially useful for smaller vans whose interiors may be a bit limiting. An awning allows you to increase your van space by utilizing the area right outside your front door.
That said, awnings are good for more than just preventing rain from falling on your camp stove. An awning attached to your van makes it super easy to hang out outside, no matter the weather. Come rain or shine, the blazing sun or even snowfall, simply pull out an awning, and you have a nice “front yard” wherever your van takes you.
Check out the awning on one of our rigs (pictured above), and click here to see more campervan rentals in California and Arizona.
Use Hooks to Hang What You Can
To make the most of your small camper van, interior ideas often include hanging whatever you can. This frees up precious cabinet space while keeping your gear close at hand. Plus, it looks super trendy for a cute camper van aesthetic.
Believe it or not, you can hang pretty much anything in a camper van, from cooking utensils to a spice rack, your book collection, and more.
The easiest method is to pick up some screw-in hooks from the hardware store and hang wire or mesh baskets from them (pictured below).
If you want to get more creative, include a wooden or metal bar in your design so that you can hang items using s-hooks (pictured above).
Invest in a Small Projector
Small camper van interior ideas can make huge upgrades to a space. Rather than watching movies on your computer or tablet, invest in a small projector to make the ultimate camper van theater set up.
If you’re on a budget. grab a secondhand projector for $50 and hit the craft store for white fabric ($5) and some picture wire with hooks on the end ($2). Add hidden loops on each wall to hang the cord from and drape the fabric over it. The whole screen set up only takes about 30 seconds.
The best part is you can also use this “home theater” outside for movie nights under the stars!
Add Wood Beams on the Ceiling
Not ready to cut a hole in the van for a skylight? Try wood beams on the ceiling instead. Though it definitely adds some weight to the van overall, it’s well worth it for the aesthetic it creates. It’s a cheap, risk-free solution and one of the easiest small camper van interior ideas that make the biggest difference.
Swivel, Pull Out, or Hanging Table
I could write a book alone on this subject, but here are some top small camper van interior ideas for a table that will maximize space.
- Swivel tables are on a metal leg that allows them to swing freely (and sturdily) throughout the van. The best one on the market is the Lagun table system. I’ve looked high and low for other alternatives, but this brand reigns supreme in the world of smart table legs. It’s easy to install, highly adjustable, and can be put in any position you want for the ultimate convenience.
- Pull out tables are built into part of the van and slide in and out of a small cubby when needed. This is a common design, but it can be limiting as the table can only be in one position.
- Hanging tables are the easiest, cheapest, and one of the most impractical small camper van interior ideas. How do I know? We added one to our van build and never used it (literally not once). They’re a good idea in theory, but man, are they annoying. Just try having a cup of coffee on one. Actually, don’t. It’ll spill everywhere with the slightest movement.
Go With an Outdoor Shower
Yes, you can build plumbing into a van, but when you’re working with a small space, it’s not the most practical to have a stand-up shower inside. A great alternative is an outdoor shower. There are lots of amazing options to choose from, like:
- Solar showers
- Pump showers
- Battery-operated showers (my personal pick).
For privacy, open the back door(s) of the van and add a cord to hang towels or a full-blown shower curtain from. This thrifty shower method is easy to use and will keep you clean wherever the road takes you.
Arizona and California Camper Van Rentals
Not ready to build your dream van quite yet? TB Outdoor Rentals has different rigs for hire that will give you a taste of various van interiors before creating your own. From pop-top vans to RVs and rooftop tents, we have every kind of vehicle with a huge range of setups available for pick up or drop off in California and Arizona.
Ready to hit the road? Click here to learn more about how to experience van life today.