If you have done what we did and watched hours of van life videos, you have seen some 'Show vans' as we like to call them. They have a spot for everything and are always clean and organized. If you take this journey with us, you will quickly discover we are not 'Show people,' and while we are clean, we are lived in and a bit disheveled. lol
The other thing you will see is that each person brings what they enjoy with them. Many do youtube videos and websites for income and travel with the equipment required. Everyone has a bed they put up and take down each day to provide 'living space,' and many opt for fixed kitchens. We do not fall into that group. I am always sitting with my legs up on the couch and quickly discover that I prefer to stretch out as long as Tom can sit upright. So we decided to set up the futon permanently. You can't stand in our van, so a walkway is pointless.
The bed we bought has a 6'3" couch side, perfect for Tom to stretch out to sleep, and a one cushion footstool area that typically stays up like a chaise end. The other two cushioned area is a fold-down and roll-under section the size of a crib mattress. We found that removing the footstool section and sliding the rest as far back as possible (adding a 12" board, so I fit) increased our storage underneath and is a comfortable place to hang out in. Now we can sit and sleep with no adjustments needed, and if one of us is sick, the other has a place to sit, work, cook and eat without issue. I like my feet hanging over the end of the bed, so this setup is perfect for us. Unconventional but perfect.
The shelving between the bed and driver's seat is now a closet for our current season clothes, and at this moment, the lower section houses our battery bank (now up to 400 ah AGM batteries). Our control area is along the top shelf here. A power bar runs off the 2000 watt pure sine inverter under the driver's seat. We opted for a second 3000 watt modified sine inverter as redundancy and used it. Look for more information about our power set up in the Electrical tab.
We added a shelving area along the passenger's side of the van extending into half the opening of the two side doors. We recently built cabinets over the shelves and a fold-down extension table. A fold-down extension table (doubles as the cabinet doors) allows us to use 1/2 the space to cook or eat quickly. The table folds open again to double its size for larger meals, board games, or computer work.
We use this cabinet for our pantry and put a magnet knife holder on the outside to hold daily used utensils.
I have a sweet tooth and love to snack, so Tom built a snack cupboard and medicine cabinet. We made a flower box for the top of the snack cabinet to help with the feel of home, and Tom mounted his Xbox on the medicine cabinet behind the 32" Smart TV.
Along the back of the van is the Garage. We have our refrigerator and Kitchen electrical appliances (kettle, toaster, fondue pot, 8" skillet & griddle). As well as the first aid kit, two camp chairs, camp table (for cooking outside), BBQ, tripods (camera and telescope), telescope, metal detector, generator & fuel tank, diesel heater fuel tank (on a hinge so we can swing it out to fill).
Under the bed is a 15-gallon freshwater tank (hooked to a pump for showers, cooking, and drinking), a hydraulic jack and jack stands, propane canisters, off-season clothes, and tools.
On the roof racks are our two inflatable kayaks, and on the hitch are two mountain bikes and, most important, a two-seater garden swing (who doesn't have a garden swing in their van).
We have a 10x10 ft roof-mounted canopy extending over the side doors and a rear panel on the passenger side.
We installed a cell booster to ensure that we could get a signal out or in an emergency, regardless of where we were.
Last year we upgraded and added another 200-watt solar panel bringing us up to 300-watts.
Finally, we built a cabinet between the front seats, housing our portable toilet and dirty laundry. We use public restrooms, so there is no need to have the 'bucket' accessible, but it is good to know it is there in a pinch.
Please check out the video tour (when uploaded) for a visual tour, but as you can see, we found a way to fit as much as we can enjoy inside this metal box and still have room to relax and enjoy every minute.
One piece of advice would be to do your research but build the van that works for you.