When we first started remodeling our pop up camper, making space to store our gear was a top priority. We loved all the storage space we had under the dinette cushions, but hated how difficult it was to get to that space. Early into our remodel, we decided to add access doors to the dinette storage cabinet, and it was one of the best modifications we have ever made.
We can fit a lot of gear in that space. Look at all that room! Of course, it is usually a whole lot messier than that picture, but accessing it is a breeze now. Since it has been quite a while since we posted the tutorial for this modification, some of you may not have seen it. I thought I’d give you all a refresher. If you’ve already seen this post, we will be back with a brand new feature later this week. If not, pull up a chair and settle in. For those of you thinking about adding access doors to your dinette storage cabinet, don’t be intimidated. It really is an easy project and we’ll show you everything you need to know.
Adding Access Doors to Your Pop Up Camper Dinette Storage Cabinet
Our Coleman Santa Fe pop up camper is on the smaller end of the pop up scale. We only have a 10 ft. box, and with five people in the family, storage is at a premium. When we bought the camper, we wanted to make sure we had a place for everything. We store our camper fully packed — except for food and clothing–so we need every inch of storage space available! 😉
We started by fixing the rubber wheel well which is located inside the long cabinet we built. This part of the cabinet was basically unusable before. If you set anything on top of the rubber wheel well, it would cause the rubber to sag and rub against the tire. Mr. TypeTwoFun built an enclosure around the wheel, which serves as a shelf that holds quite a bit. I grabbed some plastic shoe box bins and chalkboard labels from Target, and it makes things so much easier to find. And isn’t it CUTE? I can even fit my tackle box first aid kit in there.
To hold all my cooking utensils, I used some wire 3M Command Hooks. I simply attached them to the inside of the cabinet doors, and now I have a place to hang all those tongs and spoons.
Another Command storage solution was this basket (similar to this one). It attaches to the inside of the cassette toilet cabinet and holds all the cleaning supplies we need while camping. I was surprised at how perfectly it fit. I love those Command products!
While we are on the topic of storage… We have quite a bit of storage space under the dinette benches. I was actually pleasantly surprised to discover just how much stuff we could fit in there. I packed those things full! The problem is that once we are all set up for camping, the dinette is always made into a bed for one of the kids. Accessing the storage space under those cushions is a feat in and of itself. I was cussing and throwing things on our first trip! 😀 As soon as we got home, we decided that we definitely needed a better way to access those spaces.
So I put Mr. TypeTwoFun to work. First, we sketched out an opening so we could cut an access hatch. Once we were satisfied with our measurements. We drilled a hole in each corner and used a jigsaw to cut out the panel. Then I sanded the cut edges and used paint to touch everything up and make it nice and pretty again.
While the paint was drying, Mr. TypeTwoFun used some 1×2 pine lumber to make a door frame. You can get as fancy as you like here, but we wanted our doors to match the rest of the camper. We simply used a router to round the edges and create a channel for the cabinet door face to sit in. It looks a lot like a picture frame at this point. We used glue, corner clamps, and a couple of brads to hold it all together. Then we cut some 1/4″ MDF to fit the inside measurements and serve as a cabinet face. A little glue, paint, and matching brushed nickel hardware, and you can’t tell which cabinet doors are original and which ones we built.
Don’t they look amazing? I’m pretty proud of this project.
We used some magnetic catches (like these) to keep the doors closed while we are on the road. I can still stuff those little storage spaces full, and they won’t come swinging open while we are driving. The best part is that I can access them whenever I need to–no cussing involved… mostly. 😉
Got any storage tricks up your sleeve? I’d love to see them! You can show them off on our Facebook page here, or use the comment section below to brag a little. 🙂
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