This 72-Square-Foot Van Is an Organized Home with Multifunctional Features

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Credit: Emily Soon
I love the curb appeal of my van house. When you open up the slider, you are greeted by my kitchen and living room/dining room combo, with a peak-a-boo view of the bedroom. It’s a welcoming view to come home to.

Name: Emily Soon
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Type of home: Van conversion
Size: 72 square feet
Years lived in: 5 months, owned

Credit: Emily Soon
I’ve lived the first five months of my vanlife in winter. It’s been cold and I’ve spent the majority of my time indoors. It’s slowly warming up and I’ve been finding my way up to the roof. One day I have dreams of adding in a deck, but for now, blankets and the cold metal roof will do just fine to take in the views.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: My home is a self-designed, professionally-built van conversion. I bought it as a cargo van and had a builder bring my layout to life. It was initially built for me to travel Canada from north to south and coast to coast, as a means of not having to be tied to a schedule or look for accommodation along the way. As travel has been restricted during the pandemic, my “campervan” has become my home instead. I am a solo female vanlifer, although was recently gifted a pet fish from a friend’s daughter to curb potential loneliness. So I guess there are two of us in the van these days.

Credit: Emily Soon
Having a fully functioning, well laid out kitchen with enough counter space was important to me. I have all the mod-cons of a house, just on a smaller scale.

I’ve lived rather minimally for about the last 10 years, living in 300 square feet or less. I am a very organized person. My space reflects exactly that, as it is a well-organized, visually minimal space. Furniture is multi-purpose, storage is absolutely everywhere, and everything is nicely hidden away behind cupboard doors to keep visual clutter at bay. The inspiration for my color palette is from my time living and exploring Australia for the past decade. From the sandy-colored couch cushions to the red earth bedding and the crisp white walls, my space reminds me of adventures along dusty roads, roaming around white sand beaches, and swimming through crystal clear water.

Credit: Emily Soon
It’s my dining room, living room, home office, and bathroom all roped into a 6’ x 2’ space and I couldn’t be happier with it. I spend the majority of my time in this space and am glad I opted for 4” high-density custom-made foam cushions – they’re a dream!

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Multifunctional, considered, and spacious retreat

Credit: Emily Soon
Having a toilet was an important part of my build, but I didn’t want to sacrifice anything to have it. I designed my dinette/couch area around the Nature’s Head Composting toilet. The toilet is housed in one of my bench seats. Due to the height of the toilet, as well as the foam cushion, I added in a step up between the two benches to avoid foot dangle when sitting at the table. Under this, I was able to sneak in a drawer with a lockable latch for a sneaky, safe storage option. I wallpapered the bathroom with a roll of drawer liner contact paper I got for $6.99.

What is your favorite room and why? My bedroom is my retreat. I’m lucky enough that I have designed a layout that allows me to keep my bedroom just for sleeping. It takes up 40 percent of my home, but the other 60 percent is very high functioning. I specifically designed the height, so that I could have a 6” foam mattress, I had the ability to sit up straight in bed, and have a bun in my hair! From the soothing tropical vibes of the wallpaper to the beautiful hues of my bedding, I absolutely love to climb my little ladder and retreat into my bedroom each night. It feels like I’m in a secret little cubby house.

Credit: Emily Soon
The bedroom is my retreat. From the hand-dyed locally made muslin bedding, to my floral wallpaper, the bedroom feels cozy, warm, and like a haven.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last things I bought for my house were some fake plants from IKEA! I’m terrible with keeping plants alive. I’ve killed plants that I’ve been promised are death-proof. With temperatures very sporadic in the van and every day like a thousand mini earthquakes, I decided fake plants were my best bet. They’ve added a sense of lushness to my space that I didn’t realize I needed until I got them.

Credit: Emily Soon
When it’s not the dining room/home office, it’s my lounge room/entertainment area (when it's safe to have visitors over!). The passenger seat swivels to not only provide another seating option, but also to really open up the space. A secondary table mount with small DIY coffee tabletop acts not only as a table for the couch, but for the swivel seat or an extension of the kitchen if needed.

Any advice for creating a home you love? If you are planning to build a van, I always suggest prioritizing your lifestyle and designing a layout around how you live. Otherwise, you will be living your life the way your van wants you to, and you’ll just end up frustrated and unhappy with your home. Take your time to think about what you will realistically be storing and how you will organize it. I think we often underestimate the realities of what we need in our day-to-day life.

Credit: Emily Soon
One of my non-negotiables was a closet to hang clothes in. I envisioned a closet full of all my favourite pieces. So far it’s been jam packed with coats over winter, but one day! I was lucky enough to get 10” x 55” closet built into my layout without sacrificing any other must haves.

This submission’s responses were edited for length and clarity.