This post will cover how I designed and built the kitchen in my van conversion. To design the counter, I selected the sink, and cooktop I wanted. Then I planned the countertop width based on those two items while giving me the maximum amount of walking space. Then I selected the faucets, and the largest fresh water tank that could fit under the kitchen counter. I knew I wanted to buy an 8-foot countertop to keep it simple. The only thing left to decide was the height. I read somewhere that the optimal counter height was 6 inches below your elbow. I just went with that.
The refrigerator I bought is the 80 quart Edgstar. This is the perfect fridge for vans. If it rains for weeks and my batteries get low, I can turn it off and it’ll maintain temperature for a long time. I went with a chest style fridge because they don’t lose cold air when you open the door. It only uses about 80 watts. To install it, I simply framed some wood around it to keep it in place. I used the DC power cable to wire it. I just cut off the car charger end and spliced some appliance lugs on. I had to keep in mind that the fridge vents out on the right side when deciding where to place it. Another perk of this fridge is that it doubles as a seat.
I made a basic frame with 2×4’s and 2×2’s for the kitchen counter. There were two ribs that I could screw the frame to. I used my image of the empty van to guide me. I’m so glad I made image before I covered up the ribs.
I bought the cheapest 8-foot counter top from Home Depot I could find. I cut a few inches off the back because it was much wider than I needed.
The sink I purchased was the Mustee 11 Utility Sink. I chose this sink because it was very deep and pretty inexpensive compared to typical stainless steel kitchen sinks. I can’t stand the shallow sinks in typical RV’s. This one is 10 inches deep. To make it fit with my design, I had to install it side ways. The sink came with dimensions for cutting the hole in the counter. I put the hole right in the center of the counter.
I cut a hole on the left side of the counter for the cooktop. I wanted it by the door and close to the fan so I could open the side door while I cook and use the fan to pull air through the roof.
The countertop was screwed to the frame.
When I was designing this, I tried to have as much foresight as possible. Sometimes I came up short, but every mistake has a solution. I realized I had no way to remove the water tank from underneath the counter in case I ever have to replace it. To remedy this, I drilled two holes through the counter top to access two screwed holding in a 2×4. If I remove that 2×4, then I can slide out the water tank.
I’ll talk more about my water tank in the plumbing post, but in case anyone is interested I bought it here. It was the largest I could find that would fit where I wanted it to go. Boon-Dockers always say that water is their biggest limiting factor. I didn’t want to worry about that.
I boxed off the wheel well and insulated it. This also serves as a shelf.
I made the cabinet doors thin. I didn’t use any hardwood. They work just fine. The rest of the countertop was paneled off with plywood. Someday I need to stain all this wood.
I put a basic water fill hatch on the side. I didn’t want to cut anymore holes in the van and lose stealth. This works pretty well because I can use a jerry can or a water hose to fill up. It’s the White Gravity Water Dish.
To install the sink, I just followed the instructions that came with it.
I made a hole for the faucet I selected. I bought a Stainless Steel Pull Down Kitchen Faucet. One thing I hated about living in the trailer was the tiny faucet that got in the way of everything. It was a pain to even wash my hands. Doing dishes was a nightmare. I wanted a huge faucet that was out of the way. The head is attached to a retractable hose so I can wash my hair with it and take bum showers. I like this faucet because it has a single lever. With this, I am able to quickly hit it to turn off the water without wasting much. The sink was sealed with silicone around the edges.
The other faucet is for drinking water only. It came with the Daulton filter I purchased. I’ll talk about that in a plumbing post.
The final touches are shown in this image. My grandmother gave me the mirror. The towel holder is actually just a handle. It’s much cheaper than buying an actual towel holder. The paper towel holder is just a cheap plastic thing I found at Walmart.
The cooktop I used is the Mr. Induction SR 1882 Cooktop. I wanted an induction cooktop for their efficiency. There is no wasted energy in heating a pan because the heat is generated within the pan. I selected this cooktop because it has the option of choosing the output power or choosing output temperature. The max output setting is 1650 watts, but I usually cook at 900 watts and 700 watts. When I look at the inverter, it usually shows about 10-20 watts above the setting I use. The great thing about induction cooking is how consistent you can be with things. I can set the timer to 6 minutes and the output to 700 watts to cook 4 eggs over medium. It’s perfect every time.
To install the cooktop, I just set it in place. It isn’t glued down or anything. I don’t think it’s necessary because I made it such a tight fit. It hasn’t moved at all.
I bought the perfect size cutting board at target to cover the cooktop. I found these rubber stoppers at Home Depot, and screwed them into the cutting board in a way that prevents the cutting board from moving in any direction while driving. This protects the glass cooktop, gives me more counter space, and gives me quick access to a cutting board.
I bought two pans and a tea kettle to use with induction cooktop. The maximum size of the bottom of a pan that can be used with this cooktop is 10 inches.
Once thing that I actually liked about living in the trailer was the cup holder. I bought one just like it on amazon called American Technology Folding Cup Holder. It’s perfect for a place to put my large water bottle while I drive. My 32 oz bottle won’t fit in the cup holders up front.
The final touch was a bead of silicone where the countertop meets the wall. The plastic wall makes for a good back splash.
I think the next post will be about what I’ve been up to travel-wise. I’m currently in Little Rock, Arkansas.
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