Vanbuild weekends #12 and #13 : Creating cabinets and starting our kitchen

Wow, the New Year is starting strong for us! We got issues with our drill as well as our jigsaw and were forced to buy new ones. This tiny mishap ended up being a lucky event for us. Our new tools work wonder and we now work faster and more efficiently. So today, I’ll share how we made our cabinets (in the kitchen and in the “bedroom”). I’ll also show you what we started doing in the kitchen.

I. How to : Making cabinets

When it comes to cabinets, what really mattered to us was to find a simple design that would accommodate all our needs.

In the kitchen, it’s important to have overhead cabinets that won’t hang too far and prevent you from having a good flow while you cook. The kitchen cabinets will carry our dry foods mainly + a few cups/glasses so we did not need to plan for shelving and different levels. In the room, on the contrary, we knew we had a lot of dead space and that we could make a bulkier version. Additionally, for our clothing, it made sense to plan at least 2 levels to make organising easier.

Making cabinets will require the following things :

  • screws, drill
  • 1/2 in plywood (1cm)
  • nails, hammer
  • Framing wood (1in by 3in)
  • Cabinets hardware (locks, hinges, handles, hydraulic hinges or gas)
  • Jigsaw
  • Paint

To make cabinets, you will first have to design a structure. The main task is to create a template that will follow your ceiling curve. Because each van is different and definitely not square or straight. To make that template you can either use maths and measure everything or you can try to draw the curve (use 1 pen to follow the curve and 1 pen to draw). Whichever method you pick, it WILL require adjustments and re-doings to make it perfect.

Once your template is made and you know how many compartments you’d like and the length of your overall cabinetry, you can cut each piece of the assembly. Here, we wanted 3 compartments on 69 inches so we cut 4 pieces according to the template (2 exterior pieces + 2 dividers). And we cut 1 big flooring : 69in long and as wide as we wanted our cabinets so 12″ in the kitchen and 15″ in the room.

To assemble all the pieces together, we picked some framing wood and inserted it on 3 or 4 main support points. For this step, you will need to cut inlets in your dividers (the 2 center pieces). The assembly is then quite easy. Like a puzzle, each piece has its spot in the construction and you can either nail it or screw it (depending your preference). We used both fasteners depending on what was the easiest and strongest fit.

Once assembled, we painted the cabinets and then cut doors to size. We installed the doors with hydraulic hinges and gas holders that allow the door to remain open while you look through your cupboard.

II. Creating our kitchen

We just started working on the kitchen this weekend. Like for every stage of this built, we made a fantastic drawing ‘it’s not stupid if it works!) haha. The point was to find space for everything (our stove, our water system, dog stuff, a trashcan etc).

The funny story about the kitchen is that we initially had picked up a piece of furniture close to our trash (that was in wonderful condition I swear!) and thought we would try to adapt it to our build. It was a great idea but actually the piece of furniture was too small (only 16″ wide). Now our kitchen is custom-made and 20″ wide. We earned 3″ precious inches of storage.

To create the structure, the main concern for us was to get the right wood. We want our kitchen to be sturdy. For this reason, we used 2 by 2’s and 1/2 in plywood. And that’s all I can share with you this week because obviously we are far from being done. Catch up next week or the week after, once we are done with the kitchen :).

Next steps :

  1. Creating and installing doors
  2. Paint in blue
  3. Install in the van
  4. Prepare butcher block (hole for the sink and stain + epoxy)
  5. Install water system and butcher block


Coco and Bobby

Follow live on instagram (story highlights) at @fannychn

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