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Tips to design the floor plan of a truck camper

Having already converted a truck into a camper, and knowing exactly what we liked and what we did not like about it, we thought we would design the floor plan of our new project in no time….. but it wasn’t as simple as that!

Our MAN-KAT1 is more than one metre longer than our previous truck, which makes things more complicated: more space means more options!

It took us over 6 weeks to decide (and agree on!) the floor plan but we are now sure we have found the perfect layout for our travel needs.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how we approached the challenge 🙂

Making a list of must-have and nice-to-have features:

Our starting point was a list of all the features which are necessary for us and where we were not willing to compromise.  This was a rather easy step for us because we had a clear idea of what we wanted:

  1. A fixed double bed with plenty of storage underneath. For many people it is not a big deal to make up the dinette every night, but for us it is!
  2. A bathroom with toilet and shower.
  3. A sitting area for at least two people.
  4. A garage for at least one motorbike.
  5. A relatively large fridge + a small freezer.
  6. Lots of storage space.

Our list of “nice-to-have” features included:

  1. An additional bed (a guest bed).
  2. An oven.
  3. A good size sink in the kitchen.
  4. Windows on both sides (driver’s side and passenger’s side).

Considering your travel style and needs:

At the same time, we started to reflect on how we are going to use the truck (duration of trips, destinations, weather conditions, etc.) and what our travel style is.  We tried to make a connection between our travel style and the implications it has on the layout of the living area.  For instance:

  1. We normally travel to warm destinations and we eat outside a lot, so having the entry door close to the kitchen area makes life much easier for us.
  2. Having some basic outdoors cooking facilities also comes in handy.
  3. We like wild camping, therefore we need to be able to store plenty of fresh water.
  4. We plan to use the truck in winter or in colder climates from time to time, thus a good heating system is a must.
  5. We cook nearly everyday while travelling, but we do not spend hours preparing our meals.  We need a spacious kitchen but we do not need a huge one.

We also reflected on what is not so important for us.  For instance, we do not need a television.  We are not planning to work while travelling, for this reason we do not need a super comfortable sitting area.   We might occasionally have guests, but we do not need to build the living unit based on the needs of our potential guests.

Researching and looking for inspiration:

Having established what was important for us and what was not so important, I started to do extensive research on the internet to get some inspiration on different layouts.

Afterwards, I drew draft after draft of layout plans based on what I had found on the web and adapting it to the size of our living unit.

I then used cardboard to mock up different layouts and exhaust all options, the obvious ones and the more unusual ones.   At this stage, we felt overwhelmed by the myriad of possibilities, and that is when I started using the above mentioned lists: all layouts which did not included all our “must-have” and at least several of our “nice-to-have” features were immediately discarded.

At the end, we shortlisted two layouts and we considered the pros and cons of both.  We were still undecided, but we both preferred one layout.

Testing the layout:

On a cold Saturday afternoon, we visited one of the biggest motorhome dealers in Germany in order to see the different layouts “live”.  It was at this stage that we were nearly sure we had reached our decision.

Finally, our container / living unit arrived, so we grabbed a roll of tape and some cardboard boxes and we marked out the large objects (kitchen, cupboards, fridge, etc.) on the floor and walls.

We made sure we were happy with the size of the bathroom, with the amount of space between the kitchen and the bathroom, with the height of the bed.  It was only then that we were fully satisfied with our layout and we were ready to move to the next step.

Let the work begin:

The fixed double bed with plenty of storage underneath was a must-have feature for us, which implied that the bed could only be at the back.   For this reason, as soon as the container was emptied and cleaned, we started building the frame of the bed, as it was the only piece of the puzzle we were 100% sure of.

Taking the vehicle for a test run:

Once the bed was ready, we took the truck out on a dry run for a weekend.  We still had tape on the floor and on the walls to mark the bathroom, the dinette, the kitchen and to see if our chosen floor plan was as good as we thought.

It was only after this trip that we were sure we were finally sure that we had found the perfect floor plan for our truck, so we could proceeded with the work!

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