a Blog About Adventure Travel for Kite-Surfing and Cycling with a Custom Built Van
Van Overhead Storage
Van Overhead Storage

Van Overhead Storage

When we designed our new shower and water storage, we had to take out our closet. To replace the missing closet in our van, we built an overhead storage unit. The new storage is larger and more functional than our previous design without feeling cramped. 

Researching Overhead Storage Ideas

In our original custom van build, overhead storage was designated for board storage. With a series of bungies, we were able to store up to four boards at a time. With the addition of a roof rack, we no longer needed space for a paddle board or surf board inside the van and therefore had room for overhead storage.

At first, we wanted to create a space that could be folded away. We looked into attaching hanging canvas shelves. Jade didn’t like this concept and immediately said no. 

Then we considered buying a cool pre-made soft storage unit from Vanlife Outfitters. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find the right size and the price was way more than we would have spent building something on our own.

Finally we decided to just go for it and build custom overhead storage.

Building Our Overhead Storage of the Van

Since the walls and ceilings are rounded, we needed to find a tool to help us create the correct form. We found a Contour Gauge Tool Set on Amazon and it was great for cutting the odd-shaped end pieces. 

For the design, we started by cutting the base piece using a 2’x 8’x 3/4” piece of plywood. The base is 16″ x 82.25″. On the one end, we cut it on an angle to create a triangular shelf above our bench (reference base diagram below).

Next we attached a 2”x 2”x 82.25’ board along the wall as a support piece. Then we built the front frame of the closet using 1”x 4”x 6′ piece of aspen cut into 3 13″-pieces and a 2”x 2”x 66.25″ board. The created the upside down U, you see above. We then attached the front frame to the top of the baseboard and finally attached the entire unit to the ceiling. 

Overhead Van Storage
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Attaching the ceiling

Before adding the end pieces, we attached the 3rd 13″ support beam to the face of the closet.

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Center Support Beam

To close off each end, we used our handy contour gauge set to make two custom shape pieces (16″ x 13″ with a weird back).

As a final touch, we added a trim piece along the bottom edge of the storage unit.

Final Features

Keeping with our black and white design, we painted the interior and frame of our new storage unit black and the exterior white. 

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We ordered 6 (10.5”x10.5”x11”) black canvas bins as drawers for our clothing. To hold the bins in place while we are driving, we added a bungee across each section. 

Overhead Van Storage
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Bungees and Bins in Place

For final touches, we added a zig-zagging bungee under the closet for hang-drying laundry and towels. Additionally, we added hooks across the top for hanging other jackets and clothing. We have found that you can never have too many hooks in the van. 

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Under Closet Bungees

Storage Design

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Overhead Van Storage Design


  • Jigsaw
  • Handsaw
  • Drill (x2)
  • Contour Gauge Set


  • 2 – 2”x 2”x 8’ board
  • 1 – 2’x 8’x 3/4” plywood
  • 1 – 1”x 4”x 6’ board 
  • 1 – 1”x 2”x 6’ board (trim)
  • 1” Screws
  • Coat Hooks
  • Double Prong Coat Hooks
  • 6 X (10.5″ x 10.5″ x 11″) Fabric Cubes
  • Paint 
  • Paint Brushes
  • U Hook Mounts

Good luck working on your van and subscribe for more updates after our next adventure. ~KiteBikeVan

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