The cupboards


The photos above are the unit flatpacked and gradually being put together. I can easily reverse this, taking it apart and putting it together time after time without difficulty. The same for the other unit. All in all I’m quite pleased with the end result.

The first Ikea Hack for the van:

I first paid Ikea a visit where I bought enough Ivar to last me a while and then I had some 9mm birch ply cut to fit into the the Ivar sides at a local timber merchant. I turned my conservatory (and at times the rest of the house) into a workshop and got started… I had more sides cut than I needed so I could use the surplus ones to make grips. My camper furniture needs to be (visibly for the insurance if nothing else) portable so grips were essential, but they needed to be integrated so I could fit the cupboards next to one another in the van. So my first job was to fit the cut birch ply to the Ivar sides.

Please click on any of these pictures to enlarge.

Then I cut the grips and some extra pieces which I will later use to connect the different cupboard elements to each other when installed in the van. My best friends during this project… clamps. Buy a good pair and they will pay for themselves multiple times.

Please click on any of these pictures to enlarge.

After making sure everything was cut to the right size it was time to put some colour on the sides. Initially I had planned to make my cupboards out of laminated, coloured campervan ply. First of all that stuff is expensive and it’s also relatively difficult to get your hands on. In addition to that, I don’t like ordering something online and then having to organise myself around a delivery that may or may not happen on the day you expect it. I’m too busy and have to stay flexible for work to be able to do that. After wasting a lot of time trying to find a solution I stumbled upon someone who used fablon to cover their kitchen cupboards and decided this was the way forward. I tried for blue but again, I had to order this online so went for red instead. I also went for self adhesive vinyl from D-C-Fix, which was easy to get hold of in local stores. Relatively expensive but I found it easy to apply and, unlike paint for instance, it looks good from the send you’ve finished. Whether it holds up, we’ll see…

Please click on any of these pictures to enlarge.

To do this to the highest standard I could achieve I used a scalpel, which I bought from a local hobby store and an old membership/credit card to take the bubbles out, gradually working my way up and taking the protective paper off as I went along. I’m really pleased with the way it worked out and with the colour.

My next job was to start building cupboards by attaching the back to the sides. This is where I started using the M6 size insert nuts and bolts I bought at screwfix. This makes it possible to take everything apart and put it back together again without wearing out screwholes and by using just one allen key.

Please click on any of these pictures to enlarge.

In all of this, cutting the ply correctly and accurately was the biggest challenge. It was all really easy if you kept your mind to it. I kept the same system for all 3 cupboards, which soon became two and a spare one. I measured it all up and had a test install in the van, fortunately, and found out it would all be a bit too wide if I also wanted to have a seating area along the side. I had to get in and out of the van somehow and the model I have doesn’t have any way of opening the rear door from the inside. So… instead of making three identical cupboards with a different top (cooker, sink, cooler), I decided to make one wider unit housing the sink and the cool box and one standard one for the cooker, as this is the unit you may want to use outside as well, if anything. This made it a bit narrower as I saved out on the width of one of the sides.

With the units being a ready made, albeit basic, shelving system, the shelves just clicked into place.

The fronts were less straightforward to build but I used a pocket hole system from Axminster Tools which made making these a whole lot easier. I’m not a carpenter and I don’t have the tools to make other connections easily. If you’re in a similar position. I would hightly recommend it. There are other, similar systems on the market. It’s important to practice first, though, to make sure things work out as intended.

This is what the initial front I made looked like, unattached with the inside facing out. I hadn’t planned for the table rail and I wish I had as I had to change it all again later on. On the photo on the right you can see the hole I cut in the top for the cool box I have. Measuring this wasn’t easy and involved a true square, a straight piece of wood, a large sheet of paper, a pencil and scissors.

In the next two photos on the left below you can see the change I had to make. After a lot of research online I found a really nice and stylish table rail. The Mito sliding table rail… I had to take the doors off and cut a bit off the top, still allowing for a comfortable placement of the hinges. I was then left with a gap at the top to which I attached a piece of ply finished in the same style as the doors.

Installing the sink unit wasn’t straightfoward at all, especially since I had to do this on my own. The Dometic sink unit I bought came with a special black rubber string that was supposed to be installed between the sink and the worktop to stop water penetration, but I found this impossible to install and ordered some Dow Corning 786 food safe silicone instead. I initially used some silicone I had still lying around but this wouldn’t set at all, even after almost a week. I had a couple of days off and ordered some instead. This worked out really well as you can see from the 3rd photo below. However… the fittings that came with the sink weren’t very difficult to get the hang of and they didn’t grip at all. I ended up with the worktop taken off the unit, upside down on a table as you would for a normal kitchen. I then carefully hand tightened one of the fittings and then I did the same with the one opposite followed by the same procedure for the other two. Then I tighted them more and more in the same order, taking care they didn’t slip or twist off. This worked and it’s still holding. After making sure it was all tight and properly installed I fixed the worktop back onto the unit (I was very grateful for installing it in a way it could easily be taken apart!) and siliconed it all. The worktop looks untreated, but it is, by the way. I used Osmo Raw, which took some effort to get hold of, but it’s great. Expensive at the same time but I didn’t use a l0t at all. The benefit is that the wood won’t yellow and will keep its colour.

I’m making an installation that doesn’t need a leisure battery or external power so I installed a whale tap onto the sink, which will be more than sufficient for what I need it for (so he says now)…

For making the cooker unit I more or less used the same procedure with some adaptations of course. I bought an Origo 1500 spirit stove which I fixed to horizontally installed drawer slides so I can slide it out to fill, to use elsewhere or just to make the unit lighter should it be too heavy if I need to remove it from the van. I drilled two holes in front of the cooker and made a wooden stopper which can be fixed down by two hand tightened screws to stop it from sliding out while in transit.

The thing I’m struggling with now is to secure the two units in the van in a way that it can (visibly and in reality) easily be removed as and when needed. Again, very slowly I’m getting somewhere but finding the parts I need is an ongoing struggle… Any suggestions on how to fix furniture to an NV200 in a non-permanent way always welcome!!!

List of materials:

  • Ikea:
    • 4 Ivar sides
    • 2 shelves 40sm wide
    • 2 shelves 80cm wide
  • 1 sheet of 9mm birch ply
  • 1 sheet of 12mm mdf (which I had and used for the doors)
  • a small piece of 6mm ply I had lying around for the little drawer and finishing the cooker unit
  • 1m of timberboard 50cm wide for sink unit
  • 1m of timberboard 40sm wide for cooker unit
  • 5 lengths of wood 18mm by 44mm for door frames and fixing worktops to units
  • 4 lenhths of stripwood 6mm by 12mm for finishing off doors
  • 4 rolls of self adhesive vinyl (doors are covered both sides)
  • 3 Regular Nickel-backed Push Button Door Catch
  • Dometic sink
  • Origo 1500 cooker
  • Whale V Pump (hand operated)
  • Flexible Reinforced Blue 12mm Hose (per Metre)
  • Waste Water Hose 19mm (per Metre)
  • 2 Kampa 10 Litre Water Container
  • 4 drawer slides (only 3 used)
  • Mito Sliding Table Rail
  • from Screwfix:
    • 1 bag of Joint Connector Bolts BZP M6 x 30mm 50 Pack (61843)
    • Cross Dowel Bolt M6 x 50mm 50 Pack (78664)
    • 1 bag of Insert Nuts Type D M6 x 20mm 50 Pack (61859)
    • Easyfix Wooden Dowels 6 x 30mm 100 Pack (1360T)
    • Screw-Tite PZ Countersunk Screws 3 x 12mm 200 Pack (76358)
    • Easydrive Flange Head Flange Self-Tapping Screws 8ga x ½” 100 Pack (8979H)
    • Quicksilver PZ Round Head Woodscrews 8 x 1″ 200 Pack (18997)
    • Quicksilver PZ Round Head Woodscrews 6 x 5/8″ 200 Pack (15768)
    • Angle Braces Self-Colour 19 x 19 x 1.2mm 50 Pack (67412)
  • small pins
  • wood glue
  • 750ml of Osmo Polyx®-Oil 3044 Raw (only used a fraction!)
  • 120 grit sandpaper (lots of!)
  • Dow Corning 786 Mildew Resistant Food Safe Silicone

List of tools:

  • set of screwdrivers
  • set of allen keys
  • clamps
  • hand saw
  • mitre saw
  • electric jigsaw
  • hand jigsaw (for the finer work)
  • pocket hole system and screws
  • silicone gun
  • power drill
  • range of drill bits:
    • 8mm for drilling holes for insert nuts
    • 6mm for connection screws
    • 2mm for predrilling
    • 25mm hole saw
  • rasp and file
  • spirit level
  • punch
  • small hammer
  • tape measure
  • scalpel for cutting vinyl
  • small true square
  • large true square
  • metal ruler (useful for all sorts of situations but mainly used for cutting vinyl straight)
  • Silicone scraper rubber set ( I have a similar set to these and they’re invaluable in my opinion – makes it quick and easy to get a professional finish when applying silicone)

Dislaimer: I am not paid by or get any benefits in kind from any of the companies mentioned nor do I promote the use of any products I mentioned. The opinions on this page and this website are mine and mine only.