Van Clothes Closet - How deep to be useful? Alternatives?

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
I wanted to limit this to the Van section because we tend to have tighter spaces than the generalized RV folks. This question goes out in particular to Westy owners and anyone else who has an upright cabinet or closet in the Westy style.

I'm about half-way through a big re-do on my Van's interior layout, which includes new custom cabinets and improved storage. One of the things I was planning to do, and have always wanted, is a westy-style rear closet on the driver's-side rear quarter area. I'm plagued by a lack of cabin-accessible space for clothing, in particular, so we end up with three small duffle bags (one each) that end up getting moved around the cabin for the entire duration of a trip. The notion that I have to move a set of bags every time we transition from driving to camping to sleeping to driving really drives me bonkers.

I've been scouring the web looking at closet/cabinets from Westfalia and a million home-built examples, and I get excited at the idea of being able to have a home for that stuff for the duration of a trip. The dozens of origami Delicas I've looked at have convinced me I can squeeze a cabinet almost anywhere, but then I start taking measurements and reality comes crashing down. I just don't have space for a very deep cabinet.

One compromise I've made in my re-design was to decide to keep the conversion-van bed mechanism I've been using. It has it's flaws (not 100% flat), but it's all-steel construction and comes from an RVIA-certified vendor, so I don't worry about the safety aspect of strapping my 6 year old into a booster seat and barreling down the freeway at 65mph. A custom Rock-n-roll bed with Westy hinges would be nice from some perspectives, but I just can't wrap my head around the wood construction. So given that, the bed is mounted where it must be mounted, and the seat back sweeps past the area I would be putting the cabinet into. At best, I can probably build a cabinet that's 8-10" deep (depending on the particulars of the construction) at the "bottom" (waistline of van), and tapers up to 5" or so at the extreme top. Is it even "worth it"?

My best idea is to use sliding bypass doors and divide the space with a shelf, which should create a set of small "cubbies" for our clothes but keeps everything out of the way come bed-time.

Too Long, didn't read: How deep does a clothes cabinet/closet need to be to be useful?

Any alternative ways to store clothes in a vertically "stacked", but shallow, way? I've looked at trying to emulate the stacks of modular soft boxes I've seen in the Earthroamers, etc., but can't figure a way to "rack" them without essentially building the same closet system anyway. At which point, I'd just rather add the doors and be done.

Thanks all!

EDIT: Found a photo that more or less shows what I'm dealing with. Seatbelt reel and trim plastics on left side will be removed, but seat back limits depth of cabinet.
IMAG0404.jpg
 
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Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
Sure, I get there's a wall of text there!

I want to build something like these:



A minor variation on the standard Westy/Vanagon rear cabinet.

The problem, as stated above, is that I can't control the width of the bed. The seat in this photo limits the depth from the side glass out to the center of the van:
IMAG0404.jpg.

The depth of the cabinet from the driver's side glass to the moving seat back would make the cabinet about 8-10" deep at the widest part, then obviously it tapers as the glass come up to the top of the van. Trying to figure out if that will be a usable depth. If others have really shallow closets or cabinets that they find useful, then I want to hear it.


One alternative idea is to use a soft closet or cupboard piece like this:


Not loving the aesthetics, but it would be cheap/easy and lightweight compared to building any sort of wood closet/cabinet up against that window.
 

Mwilliamshs

Explorer
The vanagon westfalia clothes closets hang clothes side by side across the van, not front to back. They're accessed from the front through a hinged door. By doing this they can cram a dozen or so hangers in them. I don't want to sound smug but why not just fold the clothes you want to store and measure what size shelf would fit them? Or put them on a hanger if that's the plan and measure that? Some cardboard mock-up is likely in order. Might also visit a Lowe's or the like and checkout they're prefab closet units.

Here's lots and lots of dimensions inside a Vanagon Westfalia link
 
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Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
The vanagon westfalia clothes closets hang clothes side by side across the van, not front to back. They're accessed from the front through a hinged door. By doing this they can cram a dozen or so hangers in them. I don't want to sound smug but why not just fold the clothes you want to store and measure what size shelf would fit them? Or put them on a hanger if that's the plan and measure that? Some cardboard mock-up is likely in order. Might also visit a Lowe's or the like and checkout they're prefab closet units.

Here's lots and lots of dimensions inside a Vanagon Westfalia link
Thanks for that! I was right in guessing the Westy closet was closer to 14-15" deep. I know the traditional westy access is via the front door, but I like the idea of side-sliding access for convenience and accessibility from the bed. I won't be hanging clothes, they'll either be folded onto shelves or packed into cubes or other soft storage.

I have already begun the cardboard mockups, which is how I know what my limits are. The main point of the thread was to search for other's experiences and seek any "left field" ideas before I start ripping plywood.


Read your build thread but can't find details of that seat and its hinges. Can you point the way please?
Seat is from a MarkIII Dodge Conversion van. $100 on Craigslist. Got very lucky on the width, nearly perfect. Had to cheat it slightly to the curbside to clear the unibody "frame" rails underneath, and extend the street-side mounting bracket. It isn't just a set of hinges, it works on a slightly different action versus the VW style Rock-n-roll bed. (The advantage being that it doesn't elevate the surface when folded to a bed, whereas the VW hinges raise the seat about 4" when going to a bed.) Given how it's built (under-springs, etc.), narrowing it would a significant bit of work. Some day I may take it to an upholstery shop and see what they can do with it.

Thanks again for your input! :D
 
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Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
Don't have my book with the exact measurements with me, but roughly 54", from memory, depending on whether you measure with the armrests or not. It fits between the factory trim plastics at the belt-line with a couple of inches to spare...
 

Desert Dan

Explorer
I want to build a westy type of cabinet but on the driver's side of the van so I still have 180 degrees visibility on the right side of the van.

Do you want to hang your clothes in it like a closet?

If you want to keep your existing bed the width of your cabinet is pretty limited. You might be able to cut down your folding seat back and build a wider cabinet??
 

T.Low

Expedition Leader
O ff the top of my head, could you remove the plastic contour on the passenger rear, then move the bed over towards passenger side to gain more room for cabinets on driversides? That could net you 4-5"?
 

TeleSteve

Adventurer
I am currently trying to layout and build the same thing in a express van with a very similar seat. I will be removing the arm rest on the driver side for about three more inches of closet space and may remove the other side to shove the seat over for some more.
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
Hey Tom, no I can't move the seat any farther to the right without a major re-do. The seat flange bolts through the floor, and those holes are about as far outboard as I can go. I don't have a good picture handy, but it's right up against the pinch seam where the wall and floor are joined near the wheel well.

As a trade off, that curb-side trim will eventually be removed and I'll build a matching cabinet that's slightly deeper than the cubby bins that are there now. Since I've reconfigured seatbelts, etc. that whole side holds a lot of tools, bottle jack, etc. right now.
 

Accrete

Explorer
our rig to yours it not exactly apples to apples but...
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In our Chevy full size conversion we have a usable closet on the street side of a full size bed. It works out to be about a foot deep by seven feet long and has more than enough space for my wife's and my gear (clothes go in the one with black sliding doors). The forward two-door closet is actually a fold out bath/shower area. Leave it to a MacGirlver to come up with that one!
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Here is a shot looking toward rear doors:

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: ) Thom
 
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