No matter what your van life goals are, making your van home feel cozy and inviting is essential. You want your camper to feel like home so that when you return after a day of exploring, you feel relaxed. Whether you’re doing van conversions or simply decorating your camper van, there are lots of ways to add some character to your campervan and make it feel a bit more homely inside.
We’ve come up with some tips to add those finishing touches and inject some homely aesthetic to your campervan. Check out these ideas and the saying “home is where you park it” will definitely ring true!
1. Invest in a kitchen
When designing our van layout, one of our top priorities was a comfortable kitchen and cooking area. We want to make sure that our tiny home on wheels can function like a regular home. This way everyday cooking and living will be more comfortable and fun for the whole family; plus, having a decent kitchen setup can improve our family’s overall health and quality of life and also helps us to save on expenses.
2. Make a dining & work area
If you’re planning to work on the road or are traveling with family, creating a multipurpose dining and work area could be fantastic to include in your van interior design.
We prefer a convertible bed to a fixed bed. A convertible bed means the bed converts between a day mode and a night mode. Most convertible bed layouts are similar to a dinette design. There are two benches on either side and a walkway in the middle. A table is in the middle either attached to the ground or to one of the benches. This creates a nice living area!
In order to switch to bed mode the table fits down in the middle walkway to create a flat surface across the entire width of the van. The cushions move down and there you have a bed!
Having a convertible bed can give you everything you want. At night you can have a full size bed space for comfortable sleeping, and during the day the bed converts to a comfortable space for eating, working, socializing, or hanging out just like a regular-sized house.
3. Build bunk beds
Need van bed ideas to accommodate a family? Bunk beds are a must if you’re traveling with kids! Not only will it help save floor space for another sleeping area, but your children will have a place all their own where they can relax or play up and out of the way!
4. Comfortable bedding
We believe in a great night’s sleep, whether you’re at home or away in your campervan. Many of us hikers and campers are used to improper sleeping arrangements. You might find no issue settling with a sleeping bag. However, it’s important to remember that traveling in your van home isn’t camping, and shouldn’t be treated as such.
Plus, proper sleep can improve your immune system, increase performance and productivity, and boost your mood. You don’t want to find yourself in poor health on the road! Investing in comfortable bedding is a must if you want to make your camper feel like a true home away from home.
Go with real and cozy bedding, and add some throw pillows or decorative blankets. You’ll be spending almost a third of your time in your bed, so it’s worth splurging a little.
5. Include a full bathroom in your layout
If you plan to take long trips or live in your van full-time, a bathroom is almost a necessity. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but a simple toilet and shower make all the difference in the world.
One of the best parts of having a bathroom in your van is that it makes you more self-sufficient. You won’t have to rely on gas station bathrooms, camping toilets, or the great outdoors. Since you won’t have to choose a location that has bathrooms within striking distance, your range of campsite options has just expanded.
6. Put in a skylight
Skylights are perfect for any van design because they will help bring in lots of natural light during the day, and they allow you to sleep under the stars at night without having to camp outside. Not to mention, a skylight will help open up your van’s limited space.
7. Design an outdoor deck
You don’t have to give up precious indoor space to have an area when you can enjoy dinner with family or friends! Creating an outdoor deck at the back or on the side of your van allows everyone to gather for meals rather than finding room to sit inside your vehicle.
One huge upgrade to our vanlife setup was adding a whole outdoor living space at the back of our van. When we are staying somewhere longer than just a day we always set up our backdoor deck (we even have an upper deck!). This makes it feel like our own outdoor patio. Plus, we can also use this deck for extra counter space when preparing meals, as a desk while working on the road, or for lounging outdoors!
8. Incorporating a wooden map
After all, campervans are the perfect vessel to explore the world from, so what better way to demonstrate that than by having a map in your van? Our wooden world map from Enjoy the Wood is our favorite interior decor piece in our tiny home on wheels. Expertly handcrafted in Ukraine from the highest quality birch wood, Enjoy the Wood‘s World Map is not just a decoration, but a statement piece that brings the beauty and wonder of the world to our campervan wall!
The best part is that we got to pin the countries (and regions) we visited and have our travel bucket list in front of our eyes! This is a fun way to document your travels, and even spark up interesting conversations with people you might meet on the road!
9. Hang some plants
Nothing says home to me like some greenery in and around my house (or van in this case!). Not only will plants add a pop of life and color into your campervan, but they will also actively enrich the air in your campervan with oxygen! Fasten some planters to the wall or hang them from the ceiling with a few command hooks near the window so they get optimal light.
You can choose some sturdy plant types that require low maintenance. To protect your plants in the van, be sure to properly secure them so they stay stable while driving.
10. Incorporate a swing
Bring the fun inside with a swing! This is a great addition for van lifers of any age. Plus, it’s easier to store when not in use!
11. Add bookshelves
Building a bookshelf into your campervan is a great way to store your books while on the road and it also doubles as an awesome piece of campervan decor! There are a few different prime locations for bookshelves in campervans. We built bookshelves on the inside of our van’s backdoors.
Taking your favorite books on the road with you is a great way to stay entertained, and building a bookshelf in your van will help keep your van organized, as well as make your van super homey and cozy.
12. Hang your favorite artworks
Another great way to up your campervan decoration game is to hang up your favorite artwork! This can include prints, paintings, collages, sketches, and posters.
One of the challenges when decorating our van is how to dress up all the blank spaces on the sliding door and the back rear doors. We decided to turn these boring white wood panels into our own “National Park” galleries with wooden posters from Enjoy the Wood. As our van’s interior wall is decorated with the wooden world map to mark the countries we have been to, our sliding door and back doors help us reminiscing about our US National Park adventures. These sleek posters make beautiful conversation starter pieces that will look great in your tiny home.
13. Add personal messages
What better way to make your van feel like home than adding some words to it with felt letter boards. I’m a lover of words and stories. I grew up in a household with plenty of books and was always encouraged to read. Now as a full time vanlifer and content creator, I’ve found a whole new joy in words through hand lettering and calligraphy. I’m in love with not only the meaning of words or the story they tell, but also the shapes of different letters and words. That’s why I fell in love with felt letter boards. They remind me of simple days when everything wasn’t digital and instead written word was treasured!
The boards from Felt Like Sharing are made in the USA and this incredible company is run by a husband and wife team. In 16 bold color options, these handmade, premium oak felt letter boards are built to reflect life at any given moment. They make great interior decor items that beautifully tell our van’s stories in words.
14. Have the comforts of your home
You do not need to give up the simple pleasures of life just because you have limited space. What’s important is that you are smart about it. For example, we decided to bring our Casabrews espresso maker with us (at the same time it helps us saving money from buying coffees, $6/latte….these minor things really add up!)
With Casabrews espresso maker I feel like a real barista in my tiny home. With 20-bar professional Italian pump, this espresso maker delivers top quality extraction, resulting in a more fragrant rich aroma, smooth full body tasting espresso with that lovely rich crema on top! The results are similar to what I used to drink when I traveled in Italy. It has a powerful steam wand to create microfoam required for latte art. Impressive for such a small sized expresso maker!
The sleek and compact design makes it a high-end objet d’art that definitely upgrades our #vanlifestyle! Now I make cappuccinos, macchiatos, and Vietnamese coffee every morning for a fraction of the price elsewhere. Great value for the price and I highly recommend this espresso maker for every vanlife coffee enthusiast.
Vanlifers are often used to living a minimalist lifestyle and taking only what they need, but there is nothing wrong with keeping a few familiar items that are essential to making the space wholeheartedly yours. Your van home is all yours to do with as you please, so don’t be afraid to get creative!
15. Create some privacy
You’ll want to shut out prying eyes when you’re chilling in your van during the day. There are a couple of ways you can do this but it depends on what climate you’re in. If you’re somewhere that tends to be warm then you’ll be okay with just curtains. If you’re somewhere that’s colder and you need all the insulation you can get then you’ll probably need VanEssential insulated window covers.
VanEssential has some of the best covers we have seen at the most reasonable prices. By strategically inserting magnets all around the edges, their window covers are super easy to install/remove. The window covers lock in place perfectly and block out all light from leaving the van.
In addition to the window covers, we also installed Van Essential‘s bug screens for our side door and rear doors. The bug screens improve air flow and gives the privacy we need all at the same time. We still have a great view through the transparent micromesh; it does not block the view.
VanEssential bug screens are meticulously sized to fit perfectly and seal our van off from the outside. They provide us with privacy and optimal visibility of the outdoors while keeping our van bug-free.
Read our full review of Van Essential’s bug screens, window covers, and roof vent covers here. Your adventures will be that much more enjoyable with these perfect accessories!
16. Dress up the walls
If you’re trying to embrace the boho vibe in your campervan conversion, consider hanging up some pieces of macrame artwork and woven fruit baskets.
Macrame is beautiful, lightweight, and serves as a great piece of campervan decor. Woven fruit baskets are boho and functional.
17. Allow yourself to bring a few items that aren’t totally necessary
While these might not be van life necessities, they are familiar items that are a part of you and can therefore make your van feel more personalized and homey. For example, we treat ourself to Victrola vinyl record player. Vinyl has its charm: the analogue sound quality; the spinning of a disc rather than skipping of a playlist; the large format of a 12″ sleeve. And what better than listening to our favorite vinyls by the campfire or next to the ocean?
Victrola is a turntable specialist originally founded in 1906, with models that tend to have nostalgic designs. The Victrola Journey portable suitcase turntable is perfect for vanlifers. It literally looks like a mini suitcase and is fairly lightweight at just 5 pounds. Its contemporary design really adds to our van’s muso aesthetic.
18. Create scents of home
We often forget how much our sense of smell impacts how we feel. If you use oil diffusers or candles at home, try incorporating the same scents into your van.
19. Add plenty of storage space
Obviously, you’ll need a place to store your everyday essentials like clothes, toiletries, food, and cooking accessories. This helped us keep everything compartmentalized and organized, preventing things from getting too messy.
20. Keep it clean and organized
It’s important to be organized in a small space; your van home won’t be comfortable to live in if there is stuff everywhere. Clutter makes a space look smaller. Hence, you should always put everything back in its place. Once every week, take the time to do some general cleaning. Replace your beddings, vacuum the floor, re-organize your shelves. Doing so makes your campervan cozy and homey wherever you are.
Being in a camper gives you the flexibility to make a more permanent base for your adventure. For your camper to feel like home, it should meet most, if not all of your basic needs.
It’s all well and good making your van home look pretty, but before any of that your van needs to be functional. We hope these tips have helped you realize that even when you’re miles away from home, you can still feel at home.
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