Cooking areas for camp trailers and huts can be everything from a funky old table to something straight out of a high-end RV coach. We opted for something in between.
Since we’ve only got about 9 feet of width across the interior of the trailer, I downsized the counter depth to 18 inches from the usual residential depth of about 24 inches. Cabinet uppers were likewise downsized, and a smaller vent hood was purchased and installed (will run from PV system once that’s done). I built the cabinets in my shop, using plywood scrap from the trailer wall and floor build (3/4 and 5/8 CDX plywood). Click all images to enlarge.
Ever since early days as a carpenter, I’ve enjoyed hacking together paint-grade cabinetry. It’s amazing what you can come up with for minimal money and time once you have a basic system figured out. My method involves keeping everything as simple cubes, constructed with 3/4 inch plywood or particle board.
For the base unit kick space I’ll sometimes offset the floor upward a few inches and cut a corner off the sides, but adding a kick space later by tacking material to the base can be quicker and easier. An air stapler speeds up things such as slapping on the face frames, but I usually screw the carcases together. Cutting everything perfectly square and dimensioned is key, which usually requires the use of a good quality table saw but can be done with a skillsaw if you’ve got the patience. Trick with drawers is to use good quality steel guides, and again dimension carefully. My drawers use a visible “trim face” which is applied after the drawer is installed and functional. The trim face can be adjusted during install to give the appearance of the drawers lining up perfectly, as variations in rough paint-grade materials can make fine adjustments difficult.
I had the steel counter top made at a sheet metal place. It’s glued with silicone to a 3/4 ply substrate, fastened from underneath for later removal if necessary. Perhaps the toughest part of making the base unit was cutting down a stainless steel sink so it would fit the downsized cabinet depth. An electric jigsaw and patience were key to get a finished looking product out of that.
Perhaps the biggest issue with this small kitchen (as it is with most small RVs) is kitchen counter space. I cut a couple of cutting boards to fit over the sink. A fold-away sideboard to the left of the sink might be an easy and effective solution. The counter length was limited to 8 feet due to concerns with seating space and firewood storage on that side of the living space. If I had it to do again, I’d stick with the 8-foot length as it works for the amount of floor space we have, and was easy to build using 8-0 plywood.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.