We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how we wanted our kitchen to look.
With limited space, we knew we had to be smart about the sizing of items and minimizing the potential for things to break or rattle when we hit the road.
Below is the list of everything we have incorporated and LOVE for our Van Kitchen Build Out. These items have all been tried and tested while going up backcountry roads and hours of highway driving.
1. Kitchen Sink
I love love love this 17in Copper Sink because it’s a perfect size- it’s deep enough to clean pots and throw dishes in there, but small enough that it doesn’t take up that much space on the counter. The unique copper hammered look is also a plus. I wanted it to be unique and stand out- and that’s exactly what we got. Don’t forget the drain, also!
I definitely wanted our van to feel like a home and preferred a long neck faucet. It’s great to give the whole sink a rinse down and potential for a good hair rinse. We get a lot of compliments on this one and I think the function and look are a win-win!
3. Back Splash Tile
All admit- this isn’t essential. However, this is by far the show stopper for our kitchen. The first thing people see is the beautiful subway tile backsplash, a way to tie in the kitchen, and extra space for vertical usage. The secret here is it’s actually a stick-on! So easy to put up- just use some type of medium behind to stick it to and voila- a beautiful kitchen!
When we first moved into the van, we brought along our beautiful ceramic plates and bowls. That was a mistake. It felt like any tiny bump of turn, they were going to shatter. The rattling was insane when going off-roading and we decided enough was enough. We aren’t ones for buying plastic items, so we made sure to find a set of dishware that was eco-friendly, sturdy, and looked good. In comes our bamboo plates and bowl set. I was pleasantly surprised when they arrived because they looked and felt great!
5. Pots + Pan Dividers
As mentioned above, the same rattling and clanking noise goes for our pots and pans. We like to put the padded dividers in between each item to not only help dampen any noise- but it actually helps protect their integrity. We used these dividers when we were in a traditional home to keep them from scratching and scraping. If you aren’t concerned about getting the pots and pans scratched, I still think it’s a great idea to separate for noise control.
6. French Press
Coffee is life. I could write a whole post on this topic but for now, I’ll keep it brief. We had a glass french press in our household for over 4 years. Used it every single day and I absolutely loved the simplicity and taste of a freshly pressed cup. When we were deciding what to bring into our van, we knew the glass was a big no-no. However, we brought our press anyway. After a couple of close calls, we decided to buy an Insulated Stainless Steel French Press just to make sure it can keep up with the ruggedness of van dwelling. As you can tell, I’m one for ascetics and function, and wowie this one is a beaut. I love the black contrast with the wooden handle. It comes in other colors as well! The best part about this is that since it’s insulated, the snoozer in the family can still enjoy hot coffee long after it’s been brewed!
This one is a bit tricky- the fridge situation in vans is truly up to your preferences and budget. The top of the line fridge for energy efficiency and price would be the Dometic Fridge. However, we didn’t want to have a cooler-type arrangement, so we opted for an AC Mini-Fridge that has truly be great. BONUS- it has a separate compartment for the freezer! So hello ice cubes, ice cream, and frozen meals! Just be mindful that is not intended for van life, so the doors swing open at times.
8. Water System
We have a very simple water system and plan on upgrading- but this is a great option for a smaller budget and time sensitivity to get your system up and running! We have a water pump and four 7 Gallon Water Jugs. Two are always being used- one fresh, one grey. The other two are our backup. We really like how slim the jugs are- a key for van living.
We started off with an induction stove, but our solar couldn’t handle the pull. We then switched to a one-burner butane stove- but quickly realized how dangerous the butane was as well as the pain of having one burner. We are ending up with a two-burner, propane cooktop that we can use in and out of the van. A good option would be the Coleman 2-Burner Propane Stove. Almost any grocery/wal-mart/outdoor store will have the propane canisters, which is huge!
10. Collapasble Items
Living in a van means limited space. It’s important to make sure that you bring in only the essentials, and what better than having the essentials also be collapsible? We loved our Collapsible Colander and Collapsible Storage Containers. Both are silicone and very sturdy. It truly helps with saving space when not in use, but very valuable items indeed!
I hope this list helped you find some products for your new van kitchen- I truly hope you enjoy your build-out and know just how exciting life will be once you hit the road!