Vanbuild weekends #8 and #9 : Kitchen wall, control panel and lights, ceiling

Hello my dear readers,

The last 2 weekends have been super busy, we are finally doing some “visible” work on the van – meaning we are installing things we will see once the van is finished. Until now, we did a lot of ground work : invisible framing, insulation and foundation work. It feels good to be able to project ourselves and see what the van will look like once we are done.

Kitchen wall :

Finishing the kitchen wall was harder than it might seem, we had to create a custom frame around the window, install a fake backsplash (that I loooove) and finish installing the white slats on a very uneven surface. That was our main challenge, creating a flush wall.

This is the list of stuff we used :

  • backsplash for the van : a great waterproof peel and stick backsplash. It’s very easy to cut to size and to overlap the pieces. We added some Loctite glue to their stickers just to make sure it wouldn’t move no matter the weather.
  • wooden slats – shiplap
  • frame wood – furring strip

There is no A,B,C steps or 1,2,3 process for this as we had to do everything custom. We worked hard to make sure our wall is level and had to measure several times and adapt each measurement to our van walls. If you are interested in knowing how we did for insulation behind those walls, go check out this article as well as this one.

The result in pictures :

Lights and control panel :

Something I have not found information about on vanlife blogs is how to connect your LED lights strips to your 12V system. I had an idea in my mind and wasn’t sure so I hope this article will answer any questions future vanlifers have.

This is the list of things you will need :

Here is what you will have to do :

  1. Cut your LED light strip to the size you desire following the cutting lines.
  2. Solder your positive and negative 16 awg wire to your light – you can follow the steps given in this youtube video.
  3. Connect your positive and negative wires to the OUT of your dimmer
  4. Now take another strand of positive and negative wire that you will connect to the IN of your dimmer on one side (with a small screwdriver)
  5. At the end of those wires, attach connecting rings to each wire and add electrical tape around your rings to protect from any direct contact with electricity
  6. Connect the rings to the fuse box
  7. Connect your fusebox to your battery to make sure your lights work

Our control panel is nicely organised as you can see below but we had in mind to hide it as much as possible with a fake panel door. To create this we assembled shiplap pieces together, a couple of hinges & a coat of paint and the trick was done 🙂

Ceiling :

Finishing this article on a very positive note with progress we are really proud of! Our ceiling is almost done. We have a short circuit with our fan at the moment so we don’t want to close the ceiling until this is fixed. However we did make a huge step forward with it and more than half is installed. We are leak free after installing our solar panels which is also great news :).

For the ceiling, we used the same shiplap as on the walls but instead of painting it white, we used a stain finish called PURITAN PINE. It gives the wood a beautiful, warm color we really love.

To install the ceiling, we measured several times and custom-made each piece to fit our ceiling perfectly. Before that we installed a few framing furring strips on the metal frame of the van to ensure everything would be level. We insulated with rockwool and ductape.

A small timelapse of us working on the ceiling because it’s been a while 🙂 As you see, it’s cold and it’s getting harder to work outside for long hours.

Next step is to fix our fan obviously, finish the ceiling and then move on with the bottom of the wall and closing the bed area.

As usual, any comments/questions/tips or concerns are always welcome 🙂


Bobby and Coco

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