A UK on-line community and information
resource for European motorcaravanners.

 
   
 
Interior Layouts
 
 
Important Considerations:  Motorhome layouts are one of the most important things to consider. Compared with a house there are many more restrictions on space and many compromises have to be made to get everything into such a small space.  Each body style will also have its own characteristics and force certain compromises on the designer.  Smaller motorcaravans and narrower campervans will limit designers more than a big motorhome.  All this aside you will undoubtedly have a list of things you need in your motorhome.  Some are obvious of course like how many beds you require but others may be more flexible like how big the beds are, how many seat belts, how much kitchen worktop and so on.  This list will vary greatly from person to person too.
 
There are several well known, even classic, layouts with variations on dining, sleeping and lounging arrangements that are known to satisfy the traditional motorhome market.  Add to these the many novel arrangements introduced over the years to suit changing tastes and the increasing trend towards family use plus all the variations in basic motorhome body styles and suddenly the number of permutations seem almost endless!  In the end though all designers are stuck with one thing and that is the basic size of a reasonably large human being - otherwise they limit their sales to a small group of people!
 
Example layouts: (not necessarily to scale!)  Here are a few examples to think about, starting with a classic Hymer '544' layout similar to our own. In this design there is a large 6'10" double bed across the front of the motorhome while amidships there is a dinette plus side couch arrangement that converts into a large double or a ¾ double plus a small single bed. This arrangement lends itself to large picture windows so can appear very light and airy but forces a rear kitchen often of very modest dimensions. It is a very compact layout, the whole can be fitted into just over 5½ metres in the 544K while its slightly bigger brother is just over 6 metres long - nominally 20 feet. The 544 interior is fitted to two different body types with a drop-down cab bed in the a-class and an overcab bed in the c-class. The mid dinette lends itself to carrying passengers since it is situated between the wheels and also can be fitted with seat belts for two or even four passengers. Variants with side couches or l-shaped longing in place of the dinette both offering more sprawling space for two but removing the ability to carry belted passengers.   Variants with side kitchens add workspace but remove lounging and restrict both window size and position.
 
Here's an ingenious variant (left) from Eura Mobil with an in-fill converting the dinette plus couch into a full seating and lounging area.  I hope the in-fill is removable to allow passage from cab to lounge without going outside, if it is and stowable too it's an excellent addition.  The alternative design (right) is for two or four people but has no rear belts and a very uncomfortable ride behind the rear wheels for anyone mad enough to sit in the back unbelted.  I'd have thought this was a good layout for two with the option of the high overcab bed or a convertible caravan-type lounge bed.  Beds across the motorhome are always longer than those running along it.  This design would also work in an a-class with drop-down cab bed in place of the over-cab version in the luton.  
 
Low-profile bodies can't provide the cab or overcab bed, so a different layout is needed if several people are to sleep in the motorhome. While multi-purpose seat-beds can be used anywhere there is a trend towards fixed beds for an easier and more comfortable lifestyle. While some will think permanent beds are a waste of daytime living space, those who've converted two bed-seats from seat to bed and bed to seat every night and morning for three weeks might disagree!  It's also true that fixed beds generally have better mattresses and without the lumps and joins of multi-part arrangements. This example from Autostar has a fixed rear bed and full dinette in line. It's important to check with this sort of layout that the beds are still full length - you can't assume they'll always be 6'3" like at home.  In this design the kitchen and bathroom are necessarily on the opposite side normally with a mid door. The window area on the kitchen side is quite restricted and so the motorhome is much less light when the door is closed; fitting one of the modern large 'Heki' style rooflights can help here. This is a good illustration of the minimum length of a normal motorhome - in night mode add the length of two full sized beds to the cab dimensions and add in the structures plus the bumpers and you come up with about 20 feet or 6.1M.
 
Here's another way to incorporate a fixed bed in a low profile illustrated by Bürstner. Apart from the massive storage under the fixed bed, there are two very interesting features here - the offset bed and the 'maxi-salon' (A French term).  The kitchen has an impressive curve creating both style and space for bed and bathroom access while the half dinette & couch convert into a ¾ double at night but also work with the cab seats during the day to form a dining room. The use of the cab seats in place of part of the dinette allows a shorter vehicle overall and benefits from the extra light coming through the windscreen. The success of the design depends very much on the engineers' skills in making the bed easy to convert and the table(s) versatile enough to accommodate four in comfort. Some manufacturers still have some way to go!  The downside is the lack of double glazing in the cab making effective blinds or silver screens vital.
 
In complete contrast there are those who just break all the rules and do it completely differently.  Just look at this luxurious Orlando model from the French company, Notin.  They've designed in a conventional bedroom with central bed with all round access while the lounge to feels elegantly 'domestic' even though it includes the kitchen.  The decor is very soft too.  This is elegant living by anyone's standards and definitely not any kind of standard design - certainly not for just 2 berths in a vehicle of over 7metres.
 
How about this 27' a-class mini-monster with three double beds, one fixed, one cab drop-down and one dinette based, plus a generous bathroom. It's plainly a much larger motorhome but one that surely expects a family of six to spend quite a lot of time outside or at least eating in shifts!  In fairness to Bürstner this layout does seat six if you include one swivelling cab seat and that small couch but it's hardly the farmhouse table!!  So those compromises so apparent in the smaller 'van are still here even in a big motorhome - unless of course this is purchased for four people and the dinette is just for eating?  Other problems crop up now though, a body this size with extra furniture will weigh more so the available payload is potentially rather less - just when you have four or even six people and that massive storage under the rear bed and want to carry more gear - ho hum!  Variants include a much higher rear bed with 'garage' under, or a u-shaped convertible lounge at the back in place of the fixed bed or bunk beds in place of the double, even an L-shaped mid lounge that effectively removes the rear seat belts. A heavier duty chassis or about 4, 5 or even 6 tonnes mplm is also available to carry extra payload but with some licensing complications as discussed elsewhere. 
 
At the other end of the scale is the more modest hightop or campervan. This example is quite a substantial and well equipped long wheel base offering from Timberland with a classic interior based around a sliding side door with galley style services at the back. This one has a side couch with a slide out bed mechanism, ideal for two but offering only one rear belted seat. The swivelling cab seats form part of the dining arrangements.  Variants include two belted rear seats that convert into twin beds or make up into a double with various inserts - inevitably less comfortable than when made with fewer pieces.  A few have a metal-framed double vehicle seat that folds out and inverts to form a flat double bed.
 
The classic VW layout was dictated in part by the original rear engine design, having a forward facing twin seat just in front of the engine compartment. This converts easily into a double bed using an ingenious pull out mechanism. The kitchen is normally along the wall opposite the sliding door and the swivelling cab seats are an important seating area in themselves. Full height cupboards can be omitted completely leaving a very spacious feeling all-round view out through windows although this does mean there won't be a dedicated toilet and/or shower. These campervans are quite car-like to drive being extremely compact, typically 15'8" x 6'1" and only about 6'6" high in 'pop-top' form, this is often one of their main attractions.
 
Garage models & MOTs:  Please do note that a large garage modified to be capable of carrying a motorbike or even a small car may cause your van to be classified as a 'living van' for testing purposes and that would mean HGV plating every year from new - even if the vehicle isn't basically an HGV!!!  Please do see the note and link on the base vehicles page.
 

 
© All material copyright Motorcaravanning.com and/or Neill & Dilys King 1999 - 2013 unless otherwise stated.