Monday, November 3, 2014

What if: Interior, some thoughts on cupboard doors and drawers

I know from experience that traveling with open cupboards, uppers or lowers, is just asking for a mess after the first tight turn, but so far I've left doors off my drawing because I also know doors can get in the way and they add weight.

I’m not sure what the alternative would be other than the bungee-corded netting I’m using as shelves for lightweight things in the van. It's pretty light weight and I could hook them in place over the various cupboard openings for travel and unhook and stow when parked.  But, in addition to be a bit cumbersome if I’m on the move a lot, at $22 per 8”x24” net that could get nearly as expensive as doors with all their hardware.

I suspect that eventually I’m going to end up putting upward opening hinged doors on the uppers and maybe sliding doors on the lowers, (Sliding doors don't swing out into the space you're trying to stand in at the same time.) but for now it’s easier to visualize the space without them on there.

So about those doors:

Remember how the pipes to Grandma’s kitchen sink used to freeze in the winter because they were up against an outside wall? How you had to leave the cupboard doors open on cold nights so heat could get in there?? Well an RV is pretty much nothing but outside wall and despite marketing hype, just about as well insulated as Grandma's, so I’m a firm believer in vented cupboard doors, pipes or no pipes.

Some of the vented cupboard doors in one of my past designs

The van doors. The lattice is painted to mimic the runner I cut to fit the floor

The doors I built for the van are frames with hand-made, half-lap lattice set into them, but something lighter like coarse burlap or even screening would also work. In fact imagination is the only limitation here.

There needs to be a frame for mounting hinges and latches and keeping the door – well – door shaped, but as for what fills in the rest? Anything that breathes yet is strong enough to corral an errant mug sent flying by that last pot-hole will do.

Here you can see a little of the runner the van doors are painted to mimic

In another rig I hand-made vents from the same walnut the frames were built with and then set them into bird's-eye maple panels

Close-up of the walnut vents

And the drawers:

You might have noticed that I didn’t include any drawers in this camper.

It’s not that I don’t like drawers; in fact we are drawer people. They are so much handier for getting into and finding stuff than cupboards are, especially low cupboards where you have to get down on hands and old, abused knees to reach in.

A few of the drawers in our living space, which was not yet finished at the time of this photo, .
In our 380 sq. ft. of living space we have a total of 44 drawers and I have another 26 out in the shop. Having built every single one of them from scratch I’m not averse to building a few more, but the hard truth is drawers, for all their advantages, are also not the most efficient users of space once I account for clearance on the sides, back and for the drawer slides. But more importantly in a small RV, drawers are heavy. I still have the weight of the original cabinet to which I then add additional wooden boxes, and the slides themselves are no lightweights either. It all adds up.

Not counting the pull-out pantry, which by the way is really heavy, I’ve been living with a single drawer in the van for several years now and find that acceptable.

For this camper I’m going one further and planning on using narrow vertical baskets hanging on the wall at the aft end of either countertop for storing flatware, knives, stove lighters, etc., you know, the stuff that’s in my single drawer right now. There are some nice looking ones commercially available or I can build my own, customized to my particular needs.

Next time, the final installment on the interior layout

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