Campervan bed and seating. Feature image

Campervan Bed And Seating: Is Permanent Or Convertible Superior

Your campervan bed and seating are the comfortable spots where you will sit back, relax and unwind. They are the foundation for a cosy, happy and snug campervan home.

This post covers not only different seating and beds arrangements but also compares permanent VS convertible setups. Is having a permanent bed more convenient than a convertible one? Or do permanent layouts lack versatility?

We’ll walk you through the various setups to help you decide whether you’ll choose something permanent or a convertible in your campervan conversion.

Naturally, some setups work better in certain sized vans. For example, some bed and seating configurations simply won’t work in a short wheelbase. In contrast, others don’t make much sense in a long wheelbase.

So we’ll also explore the pros and cons for each campervan bed or seating set up for different size vans.

Don’t have time to read the full article and just want a brief overview? We’ve got you covered with the table below, which gives the main pros and cons of each campervan bed or seating configuration.

L shaped seating sofa in a T5 camper van which converts to a pull out bed

Don’t have time to read the full article and just want a brief overview? We’ve got you covered with the table below, which gives the main pros and cons of each campervan bed or seating configuration.

Bed or SeatingMain ProMain Con
1Widthways PlatformThe bed is always made up and ready.Uncomfortable to sleep in in a short wheelbase.
2Lengthways PlatformThe bed is always made up and ready.Takes up a lot of space.
3Permanent SeatingNo need to convert furniture.Can't be a large lounging area.
4Murphy BedQuick to convert into a bed at night.Takes up a lot of wall space when "away".
5Lowering BedAllows you to have a versatile layout.Time consuming design and install to make it safe.
6Extendable BedBedding doesn't need additional storage.Nothing can block where the bed extends to.
Potentially restrictive.
7Single BedsEasy to convert into a seat for daytime use.If you have 2 beds, under bed storage would be
difficult to access.
8Pop TopCreates additional space for sleeping.An expensive addition, if your van doesn't already
have one.
9Roof TentCreates additional sleeping space.
An expensive addition to your camper.
10Drive Away AwningCreates lots of extra space for
sleeping/seating arrangements
Only suitable for campsites - couldn't be used
for stealth camping

Campervan Sizes

As with our post about different sized vans, unless we specify otherwise we’re assuming average sizes for short, medium and long wheelbase vehicles.

So, when we talk about a smaller van, we assume it’s a short wheelbase (SWB) with a standard, low roof. This means the majority of adults would not be able to stand up inside.

For a medium van, we mean a medium wheelbase (MWB) with a standard medium roof, where someone around 5’8 can just about stand up straight.

Finally, when we discuss large vans, we have a long wheelbase (LWB) with a high roof in mind. Most adults will stand up straight in a van with a high roof, as the height is around 6’2.

A diagram showing the difference in size between a small, medium and long wheelbase camper van

Permanent VS Convertible

Permanent furniture includes anything set up all the time, so nothing has to be rearranged or altered.

Convertible furniture, on the other hand, is dual purpose, making your layout more versatile.

We’ve also included a semi-permanent category: something that’s there and ready but needs some kind of rearrangement or set up before it can be used.


Having permanent camper van furniture means you’ll never have to convert your van. Permanent beds are always set up, made and ready to jump into. If there are two of you, one can be in bed while the other stays up.

Permanent setups usually have a raised “platform” bed, creating a tonne of storage. A whole “shed” can fit underneath, perfect for bikes, canoes, surfboards, or any other bulky gear.

Like Brittany and Drew’s, a raised platform bed, means there’s a tonne of storage space underneath. In some builds, the storage space is divided, giving access from the rear and inside the van.

  • You can build the bed really high to create loads of storage space underneath.
  • Don’t have to spend any time faffing with making the bed or changing your layout.
  • Take up a lot of space – may have to compromise on other things in the van
  • Not as suitable for smaller vans, which need to make the most of the space.


These layouts require some degree of setting up but generally make life a little easier than a convertible setup. In addition, they create a versatile and spacious living space while giving the opportunity to also have a big bed.

Semi-permanent beds are generally set up (and put away) as a whole, ready, made-up bed. There’s no faff putting sheets on every night or needing somewhere to store the duvet during the day.

Dom and Missy’s setup is both convertible and semi-permanent. The two long bench seats convert into a bed for daughter Rosie, while Dom and Missy’s bed lowers ready-made, from the ceiling.

  • Possible to have a separate permanent seating or dining area.
  • Quick and easy to change into a bed. Once down, it’s ready-made up.
  • Some designs are more time consuming to design and build.
  • Take up wall/ceiling space when put away – may lose storage space or van height.


Although the thought of rearranging your camper and making the bed every night may seem like a bore, convertible furniture gives your van layout flexibility. It gives you much more space during the day.

In smaller vans, where creating space is a priority, convertible furniture maximises the space and creates additional storage underneath the seating/bed.

Verity and Michael have managed to have a large bed without having to sacrifice space. They have two bench seats and a table during the day, then the table lowers to the height of the seats, forming their platform bed.

  • The flexible layout makes the most of the small space.
  • Can fit a seating area, table, bed, wardrobe and kitchen into a small space.
  • Rearranging the van and making the bed every night can become a chore.
  • Need additional daytime storage for the sheets, duvet and pillows.

Permanent Campervan Bed And Seating Ideas

Permanent beds or seats may mean making sacrifices elsewhere because there will be less space for either your seating, kitchen or shower. Is a big bed worth sacrificing living space for?

Generally, having a permanent bed means that you’ll have a smaller seating area. However, this isn’t necessarily a problem, as the whole bed and the great outdoors provides plenty of space to relax.

Widthways Platform Bed

widthways platform bed allows vans smaller than a long wheelbase to have a permanent bed. In addition, it has creates under bed storage and lets you have room in your build for a kitchen and a seating area.

If you want a widthways bed, but your van isn’t wide enough for you to sleep comfortably, it is possible (albeit costly!) in some vans to have flares installed that expand the width. Learn more, with Mark 1 conversions.

Mark 1 conversions are the main UK importer and installer of Flarespace side flares
A widthways platform bed, a small galley kitchen and permanent seating in a long wheelbase camper

Underneath Jake and Emily’s platform bed holds 2 bikes; climbing, windsurfing and kayak gear; electrics; diesel heater AND a fridge. Jake is 5’10 and he sleeps at a slight diagonal, otherwise, his head and toes touch the walls.

Short Wheel Base:

  • The bed is always made up, ready and waiting for you to hop in.
  • Although the platform couldn’t be as high as in a MWB or LWB, you’d have lots of under bed storage.
  • The bed can be a maximum of about 5″6 (width of the van with no insulation).
  • There wouldn’t be space in your layout for separate seating.

Medium Wheel Base:

  • You’d have space for a good-sized kitchen area (that you can stand up in).
  • There may be room for a seating area, so two travellers can have different sleep patterns.
  • Including a shower/toilet in your build would restrict the amount of space for seating.
  • It can only be as long as the width of the van – potentially uncomfortable for taller people.

Long Wheel Base:

  • Space in layout design for other elements such as a kitchen, seating or shower.
  • Building a high bed can provide lots of underneath storage – perfect for bikes etc.
  • If the bed is built high, then there’s limited headroom while in bed.
  • Can only be as long as the width of the van – potentially uncomfortable for taller people.

Lengthways Platform Bed

lengthways platform bed creates a lot of storage space, which is ideal if you’re carrying a tonne of stuff. Just make sure your storage is designed in a way that you can easily access all your things.

These beds work best in long wheelbase campers, as they’re the biggest. However, they would completely dominate the space in a smaller camper, although it could be an option if you’re not living in your van full time.

A smiling lady sits on a lengthways platform bed while talking her partner who is sitting on a permanent camper van seat.

Charlie and Dale have a permanent bed and also two permanent seats. The seats also convert into a mini platform bed. This middle insert is a storage cupboard with padding on top and just slides out from under the bed.

Short Wheel Base:

  • If the weather allows you to sit, cook, and eat outside, you may not need indoor space.
  • It could work for shorter trips away but, it’d be very restrictive for long term travel.
  • Virtually no additional space to cook or move around in your camper.
  • Impractical storage space: you’d have to go outside/remove everything to get one thing.

Medium Wheel Base:

  • Extra space and headroom would make moving around easier than in a short wheelbase van.
  • Although it would work for shorter journeys, it would be very restrictive for long term travel.
  • Despite having more room, still very limited space to cook and move around in the van.
  • Potentially impractical storage space: would need access from inside and outside the van.

Long Wheel Base:

  • Good for taller people or if you want more space while you sleep.
  • Room in the van for other elements, like a kitchen, seating and a shower.
  • There may not be space for a large, relaxed seating area.
  • Some compromises may be needed about what to include unless in an extra-long wheelbase.

Permanent Seating

Permanent seating means two travellers can have different sleep schedules. In smaller vans, permanent seating is possible if there’s a separate sleeping area, such as a pop-top roof or additional bell tent.

Having a permanent bed alongside permanent seating may reduce the seating space. This means the seating won’t be big enough to fully recline on, although you’ll have the whole bed as chill space.

Permanent bench seats next to a widthways platform bed in a camper van conversion with blue cupboards and kitchen units

Some small permanent seats allow for more kitchen space or two opposite facing kitchen benches. Michi and Nina chose to have one long bench seat, giving them a kitchen as well as a seat by the door to enjoy the view.

Short Wheel Base:

  • Can have a comfortable seating area if there are additional sleeping arrangements.
  • A single person can use a bench seat as a single bed, so no need to convert seating.
  • Pop tops, roof tents, and bell tents are expensive additions.
  • Not a good set-up for full-time van living as the additional sleeping setup isn’t very stealthy.

Medium Wheel Base:

  • Space for separate seating with a table if a sideways platform bed is installed.
  • Large, comfy table seating area possible with pop-top or additional sleeping arrangements.
  • Having a large seating layout will compromise on the bed and kitchen size.
  • Only room for a small seating area (if that!) if you include a shower or toilet cubicle.

Long Wheel Base:

  • Could have a platform bed above permanent seating, but very little headroom in the bed.
  • If the seating has a table, you don’t have to clear work, etc., off when you go to bed.
  • Having a permanent bed may mean reduced seating size – not much room to lounge.
  • Having both a permanent bed and seating will reduce space for shower/toilet/kitchen.

Semi-Permanent Campervan Bed And Seating Ideas

Semi-permanent layouts share the versatility of a convertible layout, while also enjoying the ease of a permanent setup. Although the bed will require some setting up, the bedding itself stays in place.

As with convertible layouts, semi-permanent furniture allows more flexibility in your camper. During the day, you can have a spacious seating area. At night, a large, comfortable bed that’s ready to hop straight into.

Murphy Bed

A murphy bed allows you to have a large sleeping space, without compromising about what else to include in your camper. When the bed isn’t in use, it folds on hinges into a space in the camper van wall and is secured in place.

Suppose you’ve got a larger van and your priority is to have a versatile space without having to go to the effort of totally rearranging your van every night. In that case, this is a good option. However, it wouldn’t work in a SWB.

Murphy beds can take up storage space, however; Laurén’s large bench seats double up as storage units. She also doesn’t need to store bedding anywhere, as it’s strapped to the bed and folds away ready-made.

Medium Wheel Base:

  • Creates an open floor space once the bed has been put away.
  • Could create a large bed if the edge of the murphy bed met the edge of a bench seat.
  • You lose storage space on the bed wall, and there’s no under bed storage.
  • Quite heavy to fold down and to put away, which could be problematic for some people.

Long Wheel Base:

  • Very quick and easy to convert into a bed and similarly simple to put away.
  • As the duvet and pillows are strapped to the bed, you don’t need additional storage for them.
  • Might be problematic if two people have different sleep schedules.
  • Dominates the space in the van when “down” and takes up wall space when “up”.

Lowering Bed

A lowering bed drops down, ready-made, from the ceiling. It doesn’t take up potential storage space, although it will reduce the amount of headspace available. This bed isn’t suitable for smaller vans, as there isn’t enough space.

Unfortunately, installing a lowering bed can be a pain. Buying a mechanical or electrical system may be the safest option. Still, it can be very costly, while designing your own pulley system may be cheaper but is very time-consuming.

A Couple of Adventurers have a bed that lowers on a pulley system in the extra high top van. It really maximises the space in their camper, although they had to swot up on their GCSE physics to get their bed in the air!

Medium Wheel Base:

  • Allows for a large, separate seating area underneath the bed.
  • Duvet, pillows and everything stays on the bed, so it’s ready to get into once it’s lowered
  • Added depth to the ceiling will change the amount of headroom.
  • As with a platform bed, widthways may not be comfy while lengthways takes up space.

Long Wheel Base:

  • Quick and easy to lower at night and put away in the morning.
  • Duvet, pillows and everything stays on the bed so it’s ready to get into once it’s lowered.
  • If the bed lowers over the seating area, then it’s more difficult to have different sleep routines.
  • More difficult to design, build and requires skilful assembly to make it safe!

Extendable Bed

Extendable beds are a good option if you want a good-sized bed and a large seating area without compromising on floor space during the day.

In a short or medium wheelbase van, the extendable bed would be used as a seat during the day. A larger van could also push back to create a comfy platform (complete with duvet and pillows), perfect for napping.

Jayme and John, from gnomad home, have an extendable platform bed. The bed is still usable during the day, which gives enough space to relax or nap without preventing the other person from going about their day.

Short Wheel Base:

  • The whole underneath of the extendable bed could be used as storage.
  • A fully extended bed would nearly fill the van, making a cosy sleep nest!
  • Couldn’t have any furniture in the space where the bed would extend.
  • The storage space underneath the bed would be difficult to access.

Medium Wheel Base:

  • As all the bedding can stay on, there is no need for storage space for the duvet.
  • Gives the flexibility to enjoy more space to move around during the day.
  • Restricts layout as nothing can get in the way of the extending part of the bed.
  • Not an ideal arrangement if there are two people with different sleep schedules.

Long Wheel Base:

  • Gives the flexibility to include other elements in your van conversion.
  • Easy to convert and bedding is all already on – don’t need additional sheet storage
  • Restricts layout as nothing can get in the way of the extending part of the bed.
  • Extending rearranges the van layout, so isn’t good if you have different sleep schedules.

Single Beds

If you’re travelling solo, or you have kids, or if you and your travel buddy want your own space, then single beds could be an option for you. If you require more than one single, then you’d need a medium or long wheelbase van.

Single beds could either be permanent, convertible or semi-permanent. Like any campervan furniture, having semi-permanent or convertible beds will make the space more adaptable.

A man working on an apple laptop, sitting on a single bed in a camper van conversion.

Chad and Paul (with their dog, Orlando) have two modular single beds. The beds can also be used as love seats and as a stand-up desk. This makes the space in their super versatile! For them, single beds are a marriage saver!

Short and Medium Wheel Base:

  • Creates a lot of space in your conversion if you’re a single traveller.
  • Easy to convert the bed into a seat for daytime use.
  • If you decided to have two single beds, there would barely be any room for anything else.
  • A single bed means you couldn’t ever have friends over for sleepovers… if you get my drift.

Long Wheel Base:

  • If the beds doubled as seating, then there would be space to include a shower and a toilet.
  • Very easy to have different sleep schedules as there would be lots of additional space in the van.
  • Unless the beds were built as high platforms, you would lose a lot of storage space.
  • Permanent beds in addition to permanent seating would take up a lot of space.

Pop Top Bed

While some semi-permanent setups only work for larger vans, a pop-top roof works for vans of all sizes. That being said, they’re most common on short wheelbase vans or micro vans.

Pop-tops are semi-permanent as they need collapsing when you drive. So while you are camped, they can stay assembled with the bed ready-made up inside. But unfortunately, pop-tops make stealth camping difficult.

A VW T5 camper with a pop top roof and an awning, set up ready for camping in the sunshine

Having a pop-top allows Katy’s family of five to travel in their VW T5. Katy and her husband have a rock and roll bed in the main section of the van, while the three kiddos share the pop top roof.

Short & Medium Wheel Base:

  • For singles or a couple, a separate bed area could allow for permanent seating.
  • If you’re travelling with children, the pop-top creates extra space for sleeping.
  • An expensive addition to your conversion, if the van doesn’t already have one.
  • The fabric sides reduce the insulation in your van – impractical for long term use.

Long Wheel Base:

  • It can be used as an additional sleeping area to create even more space inside the van.
  • If you’re travelling with children, the pop-top creates extra space for sleeping.
  • The fabric sides reduce the insulation in your van – impractical for long term use.
  • Usually unnecessary, as there’s already so much space in a long wheelbase camper.

Roof Tent

Similarly to a pop-top, a roof tent provides additional sleeping space, so you can either have extra space or permanent seating in your conversion. Most roof tents can be set up within a couple of minutes.

Roof tents are generally only used for cars and small campers. Still, they could be fitted to a larger camper to give additional sleeping space if needed. They attach onto roof racks which can be bought for any vehicle size.

A classic VW crewcab van with a roof tent on top

Michel’s roof tent for his T2 crew cab offers him a more comfortable night’s sleep, as the back doesn’t have much space for a tall person! It’s quick and practical for him to set up when he needs it.

  • Provides extra space for your camper so you can have more layout options.
  • Quick and easy to assemble into a sleeping area – many designs only take two minutes.
  • The roof tent might limit the amount of space available for roof storage.
  • An expensive addition to your camper, most roof tents cost over £1000.

Drive Away Awning

Like a roof tent, a drive away awning provides additional tent space, so there’s no need to cram everything into your camper. Drive away tents can be used with any size camper and come in various styles and sizes.

If you’re staying at a campsite, you’d assemble the tent on arrival and then leave it standing while you drive away to explore the area. So it wouldn’t be suitable to use while stealth camping.


Martin and Alison have a super fancy bell tent awning. This allows them to enjoy all the comforts of glamping, which they otherwise wouldn’t be able to fit into Absinthe, their VW Kombi.

Want one of your own? Find out more about bell tent awnings.

  • Creates a lot of extra space for additional seating or sleeping arrangements.
  • Can easily drive the van away without having to pack down your entire setup.
  • A stove and chimney can be installed in the tent to keep you toasty.
  • Not as practical for shorter trips, as lots of time needs to be spent assembling and disassembling.
  • Only suitable for staying on campsites -impractical for stealth camping.
  • An expensive addition to your conversion, especially the bell tents.

Convertible Bed And Seating Ideas

If there’s space, many vanlifers opt for a permanent bed. However, convertible layouts make your conversion more versatile. Although more common in smaller campers, convertible beds and seats can be used in vans of any size.

If you’ve got a brain like Nemi’s, it’s also useful to have a clear distinction between the work/eat/play/slob area and the bed where you sleep. Pulling the bed out can act as the brain’s cue to get ready for relaxation and sleep.

Rock And Roll Bed

These are most commonly seen in short wheel base vans, but there’s no reason that one couldn’t be installed in any larger van. They’re readily available and are quick and easy to convert from a seat into a bed with the pull of a handle.

If you’ve got children, this would be where they’d sit when you’re driving, so the seats need to be safe. Seat belts can be included, and most new models have been crash tested.

Noemi and Dustin love that the space in their camper is multifunctional because of their rock and roll bed. They also love that the bed lets them save on space.

Short and Medium Wheel Base:

  • Super quick and easy to convert, taking the faff out of converting the bed.
  • Designed specifically for campers, no measuring is required and they’re quick to install.
  • Not much storage space underneath so they waste precious space.
  • They’re quite large and they don’t allow much design flexibility in your conversion.

Long Wheel Base:

  • They allow a lot of space in the conversion for adding other elements into the build.
  • Would have room for a large kitchen, onboard shower and toilet.
  • The bed would be smaller than something else you could build into a long wheelbase.
  • You could probably design something that works better for space in a long wheelbase.

L-Shaped Sofa Bed

An L-shaped sofa that converts into a bed gives ample space for two people. The entire area under the seats can also be used as easily accessible storage.

This layout could be used in any van size to maximize the available space. Two people can comfortably slob out on the sofa together and the bed can pull out as far as you need it to.

We love our extendable, L-shaped convertible sofa bed. During the day, there’s plenty of space for us to both sit comfortably and can also stretch out. The bed converts into a small double so we could also fit in deeper cupboards.

Short & Medium Wheel Base:

  • Plenty of room for two people to sit/work/eat comfortably on the sofa.
  • Quick and easy to convert into a bed -pull/slide out and flatten the foam mattress.
  • The “made” bed dominates the space; not ideal for 2 people with different sleep schedules
  • The bed needs converting every night and bedding needs setting up and storage.

Long Wheel Base:

  • Would allow for a lot of flexibility about other elements to include in the build.
  • Room to design a very deep, comfortable sofa which pulls out to a large bed.
  • The bed needs to be set up every night and sheets all put on.
  • Would need additional storage for the duvet and pillows.

Table Bed

During the day, a table sits between two opposite facing bench seats or U-shaped seating. At night, the table lowers and bridges the gap between the seats creating a solid platform for a large bed.

This setup works in any size van conversion. It gives you ample seating and table space as well as a large bed. However, it can be time-consuming to convert due to completely rearranging one end of your van.

Blix and Bess have a U-shaped sofa with a detachable table, giving them a very versatile living area. The tabletop is used to create a platform for them to have a large bed. Super smart!

Short Wheel Base:

  • Underneath the seats would provide a lot of storage that’s accessible from within the van.
  • Lots of lengthways room for two or more people to sit at the table.
  • Potentially not enough roof height, meaning you’d be stooped/squashed at the table.
  • Needs to be long enough to convert into a bed, restricting what else can fit in your van.

Medium Wheel Base:

  • Underneath the seats would provide a lot of storage that’s accessible from within the van.
  • Lots of lengthways room for two or more people to sit at the table.
  • Needs to be long enough to convert into a bed, restricting what else can fit in your van.
  • Need additional storage space for the duvet and pillows.

Long Wheel Base:

  • Space to create ample seating for more than two people – perfect for families.
  • Building a higher raised platform means creating lots of storage space underneath.
  • Would need to covert the table and seating area into a bed every night.
  • You lose the table and seating area when the bed is converted.

Additional Campervan Beds

Nearly all of the scenarios above relate to one or two adults sleeping in a van conversion.

But what if you’ve got extra bodies on board that also need somewhere to sleep? The options below are for if you have little sproglings or visitors that need somewhere to sleep in your camper van.

Bench Seat Bed

Not only will kiddos need somewhere to sleep, but they’ll also need safe seating while you’re travelling around. Bench seat beds combine the two, by converting from a secure seat into a bed.

This means that sleeping arrangements can occupy space that’s already being used, saving room throughout the rest of your build.

Two convertible single beds in a camper conversion

This conversion from Nomad Vanz uses seats imported from Europe which have surpassed safety standards. They’re on slider rails, meaning these additional passenger seats can either convert into single beds or push together.

  • The seats convert quickly and without hassle into beds, with just the pull of a lever.
  • Because they convert from passenger seats they should have been safety and crash tested.
  • Not very aesthetically pleasing, but would look cosy enough with the duvet on.
  • The additional bedding would need storing somewhere during the day.

Bunk Bed

Bunk beds can be installed in your conversion as either a permanent fixture or something that converts from other furniture or parts of your camper – like mini murphy beds!

Alternatively, a bunk could be a single bed, suspended from the ceiling above the main bed in the camper, or a little pod or platform built from the frame of the main bed.

A smiling lady sits with a dog on a camoer van bed, while her daughter sits in a camper van bunk bed

Mars and Ash had this super adorable bunk bed in their previous camper conversion. At the time, they told us that the only downside was that their daughter had nearly outgrown it and that they occasionally bumped their heads.

  • Can be built into most size vans, although would be a very snug fit in a SWB if you have a standard roof.
  • Gives children their own personal bit of space in the camper.
  • Reduces the amount of space you have onboard for other things.
  • If more than one bed is needed, the layout would need careful planning to maximise the space.


Although outside hammock-ing is weather dependent, some van lifers also have one in their van. It can be somewhere to chill, or a spare bed, or can be a perfect sleeping spot for a kid.

Alternatively, you might choose to have a hammock as your main bed. Like any convertible bed it would need setting up each night, but would otherwise give you more room in your camper for other things.

A man sits in his hammock in his campervan conversion

Matt can set up nifty a hammock in his van, so they don’t have to sleep on the floor if any of his friends sleep over.

  • An ideal chill-out zone, that could be set up either in or out of your camper.
  • A cheap, bright and cheery option for either a bed or slouchy seating
  • A very cheap or flimsy hammock would cause back problems if used constantly.
  • Not an ideal, long term option for couples – however much of a cuddly sleeper you are!

Small Seating Area Ideas

Perhaps you don’t want to include a large seating area in your camper conversion. Plenty of builds forgo seating to include a larger kitchen area or incorporate a shower or toilet.

Some vanlifers are happy to either use the bed to relax, sit on cushions on the floor, relax on camping chairs or sit outside on the grass…or sand! If you choose not to have seating, these are some of the available options.

Small Seat

Instead of building a large bench seat or sofa area, a small seat may be adequate for your camper build. It gives you somewhere other than the bed to sit, but doesn’t take up much space.

This would suit a camper of any size, although it would make more sense in a short or medium wheelbase, where space is more limited.

A couple sit in their small permanent seat in their camper van conversion

Seb and Rose, from Vincent Vanlife have a small bench seat by their sliding door. It’s just big enough for them both to sit side by side but is beneficial to their build by giving them a large kitchen area to move around.

  • Creates room to move around in your camper, by allowing for a lot of floor space.
  • A small bench seat can also double up as a large storage cupboard.
  • The seating area wouldn’t be big enough to totally relax or slob out on.
  • If there are two travellers, then sitting side by side would be cramped.

Swivel Seat

Having swivel seats (either just one or driver and passenger) is ideal if you want a separate seating area and a spacious kitchen you can move around in.

Some options are pricey, but you can pick up a less costly one for a couple of hundred quid. If you don’t fancy forking so much out, there are often bargains to snag on eBay.

A lady sits in her passenger swivel seat playing the ukulele in her campervan

Kaya, from one chick travels, said she loves how her swivel seat opens up the space in her camper, making it comfortable to hang out in. She often works from the passenger seat with her legs up on the driver’s seat.

  • The seats are already in your van, meaning you have more space for other things.
  • Most driver and passenger seats are comfortable by design.
  • Raises the height of the seat, so if you’re short you won’t be able to touch the floor of the van.
  • Restricts space because nothing can block the seats.

Removable Seat

removable seat allows you to have a separate seating space in your conversion. It also gives you the flexibility to move the seating outside when the weather is suitable.

This way, you’re not as restricted with your layout and can sit wherever suits you. The removable seat could either be a small chair, a large cushion, a pouffe or a stool.

A lady sits on removable seating outside her campervan

Tash has a makeup station in her van, which she sits at to get ready. Having a permanent seat there would be in the way the rest of the time, so she has a super cute fluffy stool.

  • Creates the room in a smaller conversion for a fixed bed.
  • The living space in your conversion would be versatile.
  • No additional seating for guests – they’d have to relax on your bed or camping chairs.
  • Would need properly securing when you drive, so it doesn’t slide about.

Hanging Seat

A hanging seat can either be used as additional seating or serve as your only (weather dependent) seat. A great option if you want to chill in your van and enjoy the fresh air and a view.

Some hanging chairs have wicker frames, some have lots of cushioned padding. In contrast, like Jasmine’s, others are just material and rope, so pack away neatly in a camper.

A lady sits in her hanging seat in the doorway of her campervan

Jasmine’s hanging seat is an additional chair in her conversion. She said the only downside to needing space to hang the seat is that she can’t build anything in front of the door, such as a larger kitchen.

  • A super comfy seat where you could relax and enjoy the sunshine.
  • An alternative to buying a camping chair, although it wouldn’t be as portable.
  • Needs to be stored when not in use and would use a lot of space in a SWB.
  • If it’s your only seat, then it can only be used when the weather is dry.

What If The Bed or Seating I Want Won’t Fit?

When designing a layout for your campervan, it’s worth listing what you’d like in your camper and rank each thing according to how much you need it.

There are always going to be things you have to compromise on in your conversion. For example, suppose you want a fixed bed, a decent sized kitchen, and an onboard toilet. In that case, you’ll probably have to sacrifice a seating area.

Alternatively, there are ways you can compromise without making sacrifices; if you’re desperate for a permanent bed, drive away tents create additional space. Alternatively, you could have the great outdoors as your living room.

Find out more about designing the perfect campervan layout here.


So, which campervan bed or seating arrangement do you reckon suits you best?

Do you want the convenience of a permanent bed? Somewhere that’s always ready and waiting for you to dive under the covers after a long day?

Or is having a more versatile layout more appealing to you? And being able to create more space in your camper during the day.

Of course, the size of your van may play a big part in deciding which bed or seating arrangement is best for you.

As we’ve seen, some setups are only possible in larger vans, whereas others work much better in a smaller van.

Now, armed with all this knowledge, we hope you have fun as you set about designing the seating and bed layout for your camper van conversion.

When you’re ready to design your whole campervan layout, have a read of this post, and when you’re ready to build, read our guide on Converting Your Camper In Just 5 Stages.

No Comments

    Leave a Reply