Where do I put my clothes? As a new van dweller, there are so many things to consider in your design. When you’re living in a tiny home and practising minimalism, it can be easy to forget that you still need clothing (and storage), lighting, bookshelves, and shoe organizers.
Although it does seem appealing to not worry about these details, your van life adventure will go a lot smoother with adequate clothing and storage.
We’ve compiled a list of tips for storing clothes and shoes around your bed. Additionally, we have some lighting and design hacks for your nightstand area. For more about bed design and storage, see here.
Vanlife blogs will tell you that you need to sort and purge most of your belongings before starting. While this is very true – you simply don’t have the space for extra stuff in a tiny home – you will still need specific items that might not be easy to buy once you’re on the road.
It will be easier for you to pack the right things if you know where you’re travelling. For example, the weather in Central America will be considerably different than in northern Canada. You might hardly wear those shorts now, but they’re going to come in handy when it’s 35C every day.
So, pack with your travel destinations in mind and don’t just pack stuff you use now. Because a change of lifestyle will change what you wear as well.
Here are a few things to consider while sorting:
- What do locals wear in the places I’ll be travelling to?
- What clothes are comfortable?
- What clothes make me feel good?
- What clothes do I love wearing?
- Can I fold and store this easily?
- Does this have specific cleaning requirements?
- Can I wear this in a variety of situations?
A lot of time is spent creating infrastructure in your van to utilize every corner, but something as simple as changing how you fold your clothes could save you even more room! Find a method that works best for your clothes and your space and experiment with different and new techniques.
Dirty clothes are an often overlooked fact of life. Unfortunately, dirty clothes don’t disappear even in vanlife. Having a system before setting off will make your vanlife journey go smoother.
It’s helpful to use airtight, waterproof containers to store clothes in between washes. Storing used sweaty or wet clothes in your van will quickly smell the place up, so put them in a container as soon as you change out.
Here are some dirty clothes bags to consider.
Both of these bags can be sealed and tucked away for laundry day.
You’re going to want to have lighting in your van, and when designing your sleeping area, it’s worthwhile considering what type of nighttime lighting you prefer. Do you like mood lighting? Do you need a reading lamp? Do you need bright lights in the bedroom?
You’ll want to consider things like
- Electricity sources
- Colour temperature
Here are some efficient lighting ideas for your sleeping area
- LED Strip Lights. Waterproof and fit into any space.
- LED Strip Lights. Change colour and temperature. Can be Alexa or Google Assistant controlled.
- Panel Light. Bright, concentrated light is excellent for working.
- Reading Lights. Attach to your bed frame or above your bed. They also have a USB port.
- LED Fairy Lights. Essential for a whimsical boho feel in your van.
Van Life Bed and Clothes Storage Ideas
Now that we have the basics underway, here are some tips for organizing your clothes and bedtime essentials. From things you probably already have to van build ideas, you’re sure to find some hacks for clothing, shoe, and nightstand table storage.
Starting with the most basic clothing storage idea, hooks. You can’t put enough hooks in your van. Purchase hooks or even use a nail. It’s a fast way to hang clothes and coats up that requires no construction skill and is incredibly affordable. Mount hooks on the van backdoor and others inside on the walls by the side door for an easy way to place your coat or sweater after going outside.
- Quick Fist Clamps
Fist Clamps are an excellent option for garage and clothes storage in your van. Hang up backpacks, shovels, or ropes inside. They’re easy to use and will keep your heavy stuff out of the way.
- Bedside “Table”
Although you might think now that you don’t need to build in a space for your nighttime necessities, trust us, it’ll save you space and keep things tidy in the long run. This structure can be slipped between the bed and van walls to store your phone, books, magazines, and other items you can’t live without. You can also build a cup holder to store your water bottle. Your van design will feel more like home if you include these details.
- Bedside Caddy/Storage
A simpler version than up above, and something that requires no construction is this affordable gadget. With one large pocket big enough for a kindle or iPad and three smaller ones, you can fit your nighttime necessities within easy reach. Attach the cady to the frame of the bed for a smaller version of a bedside table. You can also use Velcro to hold it in place if the bedframe isn’t enough.
- Clothing Cubbies
Build cubbies under your bed to place your shoes or folded clothes. Easy-to-access, and use the space you have below your bed. They’re also multifunctional and straightforward to build. Combine them with drawers or attach a sliding door to cover it up, either way they’re an excellent addition to your design.
- Dome Clothes Shelves
This is a unique way to utilizing all the space in the van. You can find van build blueprints for this nifty van closet. It also is reminiscent of a unique library design that is very aesthetically pleasing. We love the rope design that makes it easy to access your clothes while keeping them secure during travel. Seeing all your clothes also can be helpful when deciding what to wear.
- Front and Back Closets
Use that ceiling space! Make a small closet/drawer area above the bed in the back or near the cab in the front. Some vans have a media centre that can be gutted out and converted to a ceiling cabinet. In other van builds, you may need to make it yourself. Either way, making use of the space above your head will do wonders.
- Rope Closet
Store your clothes in easy-to-access shelving. We like the adjustable roping that keeps your clothes in place when driving. This design is also convenient if you don’t want your clothes piled up in bins or tucked away in difficult to access closets. This design can also be altered to make the dome clothing shelves up above (tip #6)
- Built-in Wardrobe
If you want to stick with the traditional closet options, do it! You can use innovative folding techniques to use the space or just hang them and fold them up normally. You won’t regret building regular shelving for your clothes – in fact, it’ll make getting dressed easier when you stick with habits that you’re used to. You can even create a small wardrobe to hang up clothes if you so desire.
- Clear Airtight Containers
When in doubt, purchase clear plastic containers available at IKEA and amazon. Stackable, affordable, and different sizes make them a great way to stash your clothes out of the way while still seeing what you actually packed.
- Vacuum Storage Bags
Even after sorting and purging, you’ll probably still have some clothes that are out of season. That, and extra bedding or backup blankets. Vacuum storage bags will suck all the air out of your items, making them easier to tuck away and leaving you more space!
- Stuff extra clothes tightly in cushion covers
If you have a seating arrangement, you can put some extra clothes on the cushion covers. Although this is only a temporary solution, it’s a great way to tidy up miscellaneous clothing or bedding that you don’t know where to put.
- Space under the cushions
This is a hack to consider when designing your van build. If you’re including seating in your van, consider making the seating structure open and close so you can place clothes or other items out of the way. A little bit like a treasure chest full of van life storage.
- Mesh Bags
Cheap and easy to use, mesh bags can be another clothing solution especially for smaller items like socks and underwear. The best part? You can hang the bag up anywhere or stuff it into the extra space you have. Mesh bags are also helpful for dirty laundry and other delicate items.
- Hanging Closet Organizer
This contraption looks a lot like a shoe rack and can indeed be used for shoes. But it’s also useful for purses, clothes, scarves, or even the outfit of the day. With small pockets along the side, you can fit even more items in it. We also love that it does not need to hang over an actual door. String it up behind the passenger seat or attach it in the van backdoor.
- Clothes Storage Container
This large capacity container made of soft bamboo material is a great way to store clothes. With a clear opening, so you can see in, you can remember what you packed inside. It’s also useful for packing other items like quilts, sheets, or even toys.
- Use the space under the bed
We wrote a whole article about utilizing your under-the-bed storage area. Check it out here for ideas on structures, shelves, drawers, and containers you can use to organize the plenty of space below your platform bed.
- Shoe Storage Case
Tuck your shoes out of the way with this convenient case carrying up to 8 pairs of shoes. If you don’t want to see your shoes lying about, this is the best choice for you. Portable and small, it can easily fit under the bed or between seats.
Do you have any closet and bedroom hacks for your van build? Let us know in the comments down below!