Remodel of the Van?

Van Remodel

The top is toward the front of the van… The bed (grey) is by the rear doors.


Hello and welcome to the blog.  First, a note about Jennifer.  After a visit to Dr. Lisa, Jen is making a terrific recovery from whatever had made her so ill.  She’s a sturdy little girl.  Thanks for the kind messages!

Christmas Border2a

It’s been almost five years since buying the 2007 Chevy Express and converting it.  I’ve been contemplating some exciting changes this year.  The living and leisure wants and needs have changed as a result of life events such as moving into a homebase.  The last few days have been spent re-assessing what is needed / desired in the “home away from home” and here are some ideas I’m tossing around for the sleeping area.  All cold item storage will be up front (as it is now) in coolers.

Kitchette II

The kitchenette – pretty much unused – is no longer needed. The TV will move all the way to the left, replacing the paper towel holder.  All that will be left of the counter you see is an 18″ mini desk / food serving area.


Here are the highlights of the planned changes.

  1.  The longitudinally-mounted bed will change.  It will become transverse-mounted at the back of the van.  The bed will still be a regular width twin mattress though I must shorten the length of the mattress a bit.
  2. The kitchenette is going away!  While it looks pretty cool, it’s never used any more and the cupboards are too shallow and awkward.
  3. The blu-ray player (stored in a kitchen cupboard) is going in the house.  I will just use a laptop for movies!
  4. The televison will remain on the wall but will be moved to where you now see the towel rack.  There will still be a little counter top/desk directly below the TV set to allow for the laptop to sit there when charging and/or for a meal to be consumed.  There may be a tiny cupboard below the counter for plates and silverwear.
  5. A small nightstand (very simple and secured to the bed frame) will be located next to the head of the bed (across from the TV).  It will hold the CPAP machine and provide a place to organize medicine.
  6. All exisiting open wiring will be housed.
  7. The bed platform will be paneled off to keep curious kitties from getting into things which might harm them.
  8. Gone will be the 2500 watt inverter (or at least relocated).  Back in late 2014 I started using a smaller pure sine unit which is more efficient.
  9. There will be storage under the bed, most of it being accessible through the back doors.
  10. The microwave will be moved under the bed, accessible from inside the van and only energized by shore power.
  11. There will be a REAL chair in the van.  This will make it far more enjoyable to sit and crochet, watch movies, enjoy a drink, etc.  (It’s not easy drinking Diet Coke while horizontal!)  I’m planning to make a seatcover to match the color of the walls.
  12. New flooring…  Once the van is stripped down, I intend to recover the entire floor with linoleum.  It will make cleaning so much easier!
  13. The cats’ litter space can be cleaned and used for storage when they are not along.  Note the small space allocated for the food and water by the bed.
  14. I’m thinking about also putting a shelf above the litter pan to hold the crockpot and the “hotpot” hot water heater…
Jesse and Serena

This chair is going to reside in the van. It sits pretty low.


I’m pretty excited about the upcoming changes to the Express van.  I’ve tested the transverse bed idea by stretching out on the current bed and putting my feet across to the counter top on the other side.  It looks like it will work.

The first phases of work will involve removing a lot of stuff from the camping van including the bed frame, mattress, microwave cabinet etc. Thankfully, there will be very few costs involved along the way.  Much is being downsized and/ or recycled, saving bucks.  If all goes as planned, I hope to have it all together as the weather warms up later in March.

Stay tuned for more details!

Thanks for visiting!

Brad, Jesse, and Jennifer
Jones County, Iowa


 376 total views,  1 views today

Bookmark the permalink.

About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

10 Responses to Remodel of the Van?

  1. Danny in Thomasville, GA says:

    I like the idea of a real chair! I may take a look at what Goodwill has. The chair pic looks real comfy. I only use my van to camp for 1 night, Wednesday, once amonth @ a Corp of Engineer campground an hour away, Lake Semnole.
    Sitting on edge of bed is not comfy. I could probably get a comfy chair for less than 50 bucks at Goodwill.
    Looking forward to pics showing transformation.
    Caucus going on close to ya?

    • VanTrekker says:

      I agree about sitting on the edge of the bed not being comfortable. I’m kind of nervous about performing surgery on all that work that was done before but I think it will be for the better. I tried a plastic chair before but it sucked. 🙁

      I was going to go caucusing but just am not comfortable in loud, crowded settings. Instead, I’m just sitting in the recliner (with Jesse) and we’re watching the results beginning to trickle in. It’s kind of predictable so far… Trump and Cruz are neck and neck with Cruz just barely ahead (probably a lot of people who think he’s more electable). Hillary is about 6% ahead of Bernie… again predictable. Jeb must not have heard the starting gun… He’s only getting 2% so far…

  2. my_vantasy says:

    Hi! Did you ask Jesse if you could put his chair in the van? He looks pretty convinced its his throne to oversee his kingdom. So glad to hear Jennifer is on the mend. A van rebuild is always interesting–good luck and share your progress.

    • VanTrekker says:

      I think he will approve. I bought that old chair second hand at a garage sale back when Dad’s house was emptied out. Jesse pretty much took it over. I hope he enjoys it in the van. Hopefully the new layout will be cleaner and more convenient. It’s going to be fun camping in 2016. Thanks for the note!

  3. Jo says:

    I like you remodel plans. I have been racking my brain trying to figure out a way to get some kind of chair in the camper. Since the truck is only a midsized Dodge Dakota there isn’t much room and yes sitting on the bed is a back killer, no matter what I have tried. I am still looking for a conversion van but they sure are hard to come by. Can’t wait to see you changes. Have fun with it

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks Jo! You’re right about the back killer thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve choked when eating or drinking while on the bed. I’m excited about the changes. Next week will begin the disassembly process. Though it will be 30 degrees outside, the space heater will be on inside. 😀 There will be pictures!

  4. Laurie and Yoopie the Stealth Van says:

    the bed in my van goes across the back. I raised it to the point where the van sides bow out the most for max length and also to fit plastic drawer units under…I am only 5′ tall so no problem!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Laurie. That’s how I plan to do mine, too. Where the sides are the widest is perfect. I’m normally a side sleeper and there should be enough room. One extra benefit is that I was told by the doctor to keep my feet for over-extending due to plantas fascitis. The wall will kind of be like a footboard. Useful, accessible storage is a great thing!

  5. Pleinguy says:

    Your plan for re-doing the van looks interesting. Making adjustments to fit current needs is a good idea. Eager to see how it turns out. Good luck!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks for the note! I’ve been working on a project plan for the endeavor. The weather is so cold and nasty that some of the work will have to wait a bit… but planning never hurts. There are now a LOT of ideas on the new about putting a bed in the back end of the van. Gotta love the ‘net! I’m hoping to make the van pretty much just a rolling living / bedroom… even having some carpeting this time around, a lamp for over the arm chair, etc. 🙂