Bungee organizer shelf in van

10 Smart Campervan Shelving Ideas for Van Life

Key takeaways

Every vanlifer knows the importance of maximizing space. When you’re sleeping, working and performing daily tasks in a vehicle, every single square meter counts. One of the best ways to keep items organized is by installing shelving.

Here are ten smart van shelving ideas worth trying out.

1) Bookshelf with Velco-Secured Bars

Bookshelf with Velco-Secured Bars
@the.states.of.the.nation on IG | Photo

Are you looking for a sturdy, easily accessible shelf for vanlife? If so, you can’t go wrong with the classic bookshelf. This shelf, which is installed along a wall, lets you store virtually anything. The entire unit is secured with a Velcro strap, which prevents the contents from falling. Benefits include:

  • Easy organization
  • Easy to store/remove items
  • Spacious and secure

Made of individual cubbies, this shelf type makes it easy to grab items and organize them by category. For example, you can use one cubby for towels, another for books, another for clothing and so on.

2) Outdoor Bar Shelf

Outdoor Bar Shelf
@leafted on IG | Photo

Vanlife and spending time outdoors go hand in hand. During your travels, you’re probably going to stop and set up camp at some point. In these cases, it’s helpful to have an outdoor bar shelf. This DIY van shelving idea involves attaching an open shelf (or plank of wood) to the van exterior using straps (which are secured to the roof). Top benefits include:

  • Saves interior space
  • Useful for outdoor celebrations
  • Easy to install

This homemade van shelving unit is helpful for carrying items you may use during an outdoor gathering, such as food and drinks. It’s not intended for indoor items, nor is it a permanent shelving solution.

3) Mini Kitchen Shelf for Coffee Supplies

Mini Kitchen Shelf for Coffee Supplies
@trafic.campervan on IG | Photo

For many of us, the first thing we do in the morning is run to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. With a mini camper van shelf in your kitchen, you can easily access everything you need for that cup of joe, including coffee powder, tea bags and sugar. Top benefits include:

  • Conserves space
  • Easy to make/install
  • Easily accessible

Not only does this small, lightweight van shelving solution save space in your vehicle, but it’s also fairly easy to build and install. All you need are planks of wood for the bottom and sides, along with a bar or rope to secure the items.

4) Multi-Shelf Wall For Kitchen Items and Toiletries

Multi-Shelf Wall For Kitchen Items and Toiletries
@soweuk_van on IG | Photo

From kitchen supplies to toiletries, there’s no shortage of items you need to bring with you on the road. A great way to store your things is through a multi-shelf wall. In this van shelf system, the wall is filled with different mini-shelves (as opposed to one large shelf). Top benefits include:

  • Clean appearance
  • Easy organization
  • Conserves space

In comparison to large shelves or bulky van shelving bins, this multi-shelf system has a clean, crisp appearance. Dividing the shelf into separate units also saves space and makes it easier to organize items. You can assign each shelf to a different category (such as spices, toiletries, kitchen utensils and so on).

5) Ikea Shelves for Spices

Ikea Shelves for Spices
@brownbirdandcompany on IG | Photo

If you want to cook in your van, chances are you’ll need space for spices. To store spices and other kitchen essentials, many vanlifers turn to cabinets. While campervan cabinets are useful, they’re also bulky and messy. To make organization easier, we recommend using IKEA shelves. Top benefits include:

  • Easy to find/manage spices
  • Maximizes space
  • Easy to install

A single shelf makes it easy to view your items (meaning you won’t have to rifle through tons of ingredients to find the right spice). Plus, you don’t have to make the shelf — you can buy it pre-made from Ikea. Feel free to play around with the design (for example, you could swap out the wooden bar for a copper one to make the shelf look more elegant).

6) Under-Counter Bungee-Secured Shelving

Under-Counter Bungee-Secured Shelving
@wander.horizons on IG | Photo

One of the biggest complaints about shelves is that they can consume valuable space. This unique van shelving idea solves that problem by taking advantage of the extra space underneath cabinets. You can store anything here, from spice jars and books to van shelf bins filled with different knick-knacks. Top benefits include:

  • Saves space
  • Discrete
  • Promotes easy organization with different shelves

Don’t forget to secure the entire campervan shelving unit with a bungee cord or rope — otherwise, you risk items falling out.

7) Overhead Shelf for an Herb Garden

Overhead Shelf for an Herb Garden
@florence_and_the_morgans on IG | Photo

Nothing brightens up a space quite like an herb garden. Not only does the fresh greenery add a pop of color to your vehicle, but it also supplies ingredients that can be used for cooking. The easiest way to display plants is with an overhead shelf. Top benefits include:

  • Conserves space
  • Brings color and freshness
  • Functional (depending on what you grow)

By storing the garden towards the top of the vehicle, you can save floor and lower wall space. Try not to install the shelf too high, though — otherwise, it might be hard to maintain the garden.

8) Mini Shelves for Shoe Storage

Mini Shelves for Shoe Storage
@theserollinghills on IG | Photo

If you travel frequently, it’s likely you keep a variety of shoes in your car. Instead of removing your shoes and dumping them on the floor when you enter, consider installing a mini shelf for shoe storage. This unit features of two planks of wood with van shelf organizers installed in between. Top benefits include:

  • Easy organization
  • Promotes cleanliness
  • Useful for multiple household members

In addition to keeping your shoes organized, a mini shelf makes it easy to locate whatever footwear you’re looking for. To avoid creating a mess inside the van, we recommend making the shelf accessible through the back.

9) Under-Counter Shelves with Basket Storage

Under-Counter Shelves with Basket Storage
@videland on IG | Photo

Are you worried about your items falling out, but don’t want to rely on cords, ropes or other fastening materials? If so, this unique, under-counter shelf concept might be for you. Instead of throwing loose items on the shelf, put them in baskets or plastic bins. Then, place the bins on the shelf and you have yourself a super convenient van storage option. The lip of wood protruding out will ensure the basket stays in place. Top benefits include:

  • Maximizes space
  • Clean appearance
  • Secure

Since the shelf is located under the counter, it won’t take up much space. Not to mention, the lip of wood serves as a natural security system. The end result is a clean, elegant van shelf.

10) Tiny Bedside Drink Shelf

Tiny Bedside Drink Shelf
@gnomad_home on IG

Most of us keep a water bottle by our bed in case we get thirsty at night. If your floor plan layout or van bed choice don’t have side tables and you don’t want to leave your drink on the floor, this van shelving idea is worth trying. It consists of a small, bedside drink shelf that’s perfect for holding water bottles. Top benefits include:

  • Easy to use
  • Convenient
  • Promotes cleanliness

There’s no denying the convenience of having a small shelf to hold your drinks during the night. Plus, you don’t have to worry about littering your van with loose water bottles.

How to Make Sure Your Shelf Items Stay Secure

No matter which van shelf ideas you end up using, it’s important to ensure all items stay secure. Since you’re going to be traveling in a moving vehicle, there’s a chance your objects will fall off the shelves. Here are a few ways to fasten shelf items:

  • Magnets: If you’re looking for a discrete way to secure your shelves, try magnets. One magnet is attached to the item, while the other is attached to the shelf itself.
  • Bungee cables: These springy, strong cables are great for fastening items. Simply run the cable from one end of the shelf to the other.
  • Rope: Ropes function similarly to bungee cables. All you have to do is run the rope along the outside of the shelf.
  • Netting: If you have an open shelf, you can attach netting to the lower half. The net will catch any items before they fall.
  • Velcro: You can secure items by wrapping them in a Velcro strap (which is then attached to the shelving). Compared to other methods, Velcro is typically easy to set up and dismantle.
  • Wood or copper bars: For strong security, consider running wooden or copper bars across the outside of shelving. Bars are more durable than ropes and cables (but less flexible).

All of these methods are great for protecting your items. You can go with one, or try different solutions for every shelf.

Which Van Shelving Idea Should I Choose?

When choosing between different van shelving plans, it’s important to consider your precise preferences. Do you have plenty of open wall space? If so, you might want to consume it with bookshelves and kitchen shelves. On the flip side, if you’re trying to conserve your interior space, you may be better off with an outdoor bar shelf or mini shelf. It all depends on what works for you! If you have any questions about choosing or installing camper van shelving, don’t hesitate to contact our team.


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