Think Out Of The Box When Designing Your Skoolie Kitchen

What Makes The Ultimate Skoolie Kitchen?

The ultimate skoolie kitchen is possible for you and your skoolie.  All you need to do is plan a little and then put your plan into action. It really is that simple.  Let us explain. 

There is no reason why any of us should not have an epic kitchen in our skoolie. After all, you are the master designer of your tiny house on wheels.  Do not let the unimaginable or desirable aspects of your ideal kitchen not come to fruition.

It seems as though people build their kitchen in their bus like it was an afterthought or just a checklist item on their build.  Little to no imagination into the process.  Countertop, sink, refrigerator, stovetop, done. 

It’s very cookie-cutter in most skoolie builds.

That is understandable though.  Most of us get our ideas and inspiration from looking at Youtube videos,  That is what most skoolie kitchens look like.  

A countertop on the left or right side with a sink and some kind of cooktop.  A thin pantry on sliders for cans and spices and cabinets underneath or above or both.  

Think Out Of The Box When Designing Your Skoolie Kitchen

Don’t just do what you have seen other people do with their skoolie kitchen design.  Don’t hesitate to do something you have never seen in a skoolie or RV before.  It’s not easy granted, because you have never seen it before.

live edge cedar from merritt island, fl

Don’t let that hold you back though.  Brainstorm with someone on some different and interesting, yet functional, skoolie kitchen layouts.  If you want inspiration, check out this post on The Best Skoolie Floorplan.

One of the ideas we are kicking around for our current skoolie project is to put the kitchen in the very back of our skoolie so that it is a “U” shape kitchen with lots of counter space and storage.  

Putting a kitchen in the rear of your bus is certainly not an idea many people have approached.  Think about it for a second thought, it is kind of brilliant really.  

All of the space available and your living area can be right next to it for an open floorplan design.  

Think about putting your kitchen in the middle of the bus with an “L” shaped countertop.  This design will break up the “galley” or walkthrough kitchen that is mostly seen in buses.  

You can even go as far as installing a fold-down counter for additional counter space or possibly a fold-down counter for a breakfast bar.  

Just remember, creating a unique design you will be happy and proud of is what building and designing your own skoolie project is all about!  

Cooking should be fun and creative.  By designing a fun and creative kitchen, how could you not cook up some amazing dishes?

Planning out your kitchen is the first step in figuring out how much the kitchen is going to add to your overall skoolie cost.  Either the sky is the limit or your skoolie project budget is the limit.  

Think Out Of The Box When Designing Your Skoolie Kitchen

Don’t let your budget muffle your creativity.  You can still build a unique and amazing kitchen on a budget.

Obviously, we can not give a specific cost for what a skoolie kitchen is going to cost you.

What we can do, however, is throw some numbers and costs out to you so that you will have an idea of a range of what it may cost.

By the way, you can take a look at this post we wrote on School Bus Conversion Costs.  

Skoolie Kitchen List

There are some items that go along with your skoolie kitchens like tomato soup and grilled cheese.  These are items we could live without, but we just don’t want to.  

skoolie kitchen list

We all have those items that are necessary when we are meal prepping, cooking, or just living life while lounging about.

Here is a partial list of our skoolie kitchen must-haves!

Cast Iron

Whether it’s a cast-iron frying pan or a dutch oven.  Cast iron cookware is by far our favorite cookware we have ever used.  It heats evenly and when properly cured and used, it is the best non-stick cookware ever.  

A few accessories to go along with your cast iron cookware we have mentioned below.  If you do not get the accessories, don’t bother with the cookware.

  • Chainmail for cleaning
  • Oil for preservations
  • Silicon handles

Berkey Water Filter or similar system

We have used the ZeroWater water filter, the Pur Plus water filter, and a Berkey water filter system.  The Berkey is by far the most expensive upfront.  

However, in the long run, the Berkey is not only the best tasting water, but it is also the best value over a few year periods.  

The filters in the ZeroWater and Pur Plus water filters need to be replaced every 45 to 60 days.  While the Berkey filters only need to be replaced every 2-3 years.  

We are extremely happy with our Berkey.  Love that there are no plastic parts and that the water is always fresh and crisp.  We have been using it every day now for about a year and have no complaints at all.

Unbreakable Dishes

Having dishes in your skoolie that are unbreakable to at least very difficult to break is probably one of the greatest ideas you will have.

Your skoolie, even with air-ride suspension, is going to be bumpy and rough at times.  Especially if you do a lot of off-road back-country camping.  

Whether you prefer metal, plastic, or Corelle ware, choose a type of dish that you like and enjoy eating off of, but also, is not going to break easily while you are headed down some dirt road.  

Organization Trays

Having good organization in your skoolie is as important as having toilet paper in your bathroom.  One without the other is a recipe for disaster and disappointment.

We use organization trays in our kitchen drawers, pantry, and bathroom. 

Having the ability to categorize and organize your belongings makes living in a tiny space so much easier.  You would be amazed at how easily you can lose something you use every day in such a tiny place.  

Table Cloth for Outside

This is an item we didn’t realize was so important when camping in National, State, and country campgrounds. We have stayed at all of these places and even RV parks occasionally and regretted not having a table cloth.

Camping somewhere with a picnic table is great!  We love picnic tables!  The problem with picnic tables is that they get old and many people do not clean up after themselves.

Picnic tables can be pretty nasty, so having a table cloth to drape over it makes it a completely different experience when eating and lounging outside.

Best to get a PVC or plastic-coated table cloth that is easy to clean is our recommendation.  The less laundry you have to do while nomadically traveling, the better!

Reusable Steel or Glass Bottles

Having a dedicated stainless steel or glass bottle for clean drinking water is a game-changer if you do not already have one!  

Being able to fill your water filter pitcher, your drinking glass, or for cooking with a container that has no smells and no residual chemicals is a luxury we never want to do without again.  

Broom and Dustpan

However, you choose to clean your floors is your own personal preference.  We prefer a good ol’ fashion broom and dustpan.  

Living in a tiny home, much less a tiny home on wheels, you are going to need to sweep your floors every single day.  If you have children or pets, plan on needing to sweep and dust at least twice a day.

You may choose not to, but that doesn’t stop the dirt and dust from accumulating on your floors.  

Skoolie Kitchen Ideas

This is your kitchen man!  This is where all of the food magic happens.  Do it upright and have fun with this part of your build. 

This is not the part of your skoolie project to be lazy or accept the status quo of skoolie building.  This is the part of your conversion that can be innovative, unique, and original!  You can have all of that and be as functional as the best kitchens for the best chefs!

skoolie kitchen ideas

Let’s look at some of the common areas of a kitchen where thinking outside of the box can mean the difference between an epic skoolie kitchen and one just like everyone else on Instagram.


Where are planning on keeping your food?  Can, dry and non-perishable food to be exact.  What about your spices, coffee, tea, bread, and fruit?

Having a pantry to store all of your food doesn’t have to be boring and cumbersome.  We made that mistake on our first build.  Having deep cabinets will hold a ton of food and things, but it is also chaotic and messy.  

We love the idea of pull-out cabinets or pantries.  They are slim and easy to keep organized and you can make use of the entire depth of your cabinets.  


This is the one part of a skoolie conversion almost everyone neglects to consider and plan for.  Where are you going to throw your trash?   It seems like such a waste of precious space to make a dedicated area for a trashcan.  

You are going to wish you had every time you go to throw something away if you do not!  We didn’t on our first build and we wish we had of.  We sort of did on your Sprinter conversion and it has been much better.

For our current skoolie project, we have designed our floor plan with a dedicated space for a pul-out trash can from underneath our cabinets.  

Out of sight is the main attraction and motivation.  We do not want to look at our trashcan in our living space this go around!


Are you green conscious?  Do you do all you can do to protect this blue marble we call Earth?   Recycling while living in a house or apartment is much easier and more practical than recycling in a skoolie.

It’s not about the desire or care to protect our environment, it is about using up that precious square footage.  

Think about putting a recycling can or bag right next to your garbage can.  When you are throwing things like plastic, cardboard, soda or beer cans away, crush them down for more efficient storage in the recycling can.  


Puck light here, puck light there, here a puck, there a puck, everywhere a puck puck.  Okay, so puck lights are a great lighting choice for a skoolie project.  

The problem with that is that everybody and their cousin uses them for their build.  It used to be a cool, innovative, and efficient source of light for your bus.  Now, they have gotten somewhat boring and unimaginative. 

We have tried something different we have not seen in another conversion of any kind so far with our ceiling lighting.  We install hundreds of individual 1/16th of an inch fiber optic strands that are connected to a light engine.

It gives our ceiling a night starry sky look.  We can’t imagine having a ceiling in our conversions with one now.

Yes, it is a ton of work, but for us, it is so worth the labor involved to make it happen.  Check out Tiny Starry Ceilings, they can make it happen for you even if you already have a ceiling installed.   

The objective here is to think out of the box and make your lighting choices something that not only illuminates the inside of your bus but also awe and inspires others to think big when designing their conversion.  

Hanging baskets

Hanging baskets are a great way to make use of space under cabinets, over countertops, corners, and other areas that are just wasting air space.

Baskets are ideal for fruits and vegetables, bread, gloves, and hats, or your wallet and things you would hold in your pockets.  

Metal roof magnets

If you have decided to keep the original metal ceiling in your skoolie or perhaps you have opted for a different kind of metal ceiling, then magnets are going to be your best friend and your newest obsession.  

Being able to hang something or attach something to your ceiling via magnets is both smart and simple when it comes to design.  

We have friends who use magnets and their ceiling to keep their window curtains hung, hang fruit baskets, hats and one has a beautiful wall tapestry hanging from their ceiling.  

Something as simple as a magnet can make and expand your entire decor and design to new levels of style and ease.  

Drop-down counters are one of our favorite accessories and design extension.  

This can be something that drops down and then flips up for more counter space, workspace, craft, or utility space.  

By flipping up a fold-down countertop piece you can easily and quickly go from 3 feet of kitchen counter space to 5 or 6 feet in just a few seconds.  

It will not cost you any wall space or additional square footage of your floor space.  Just bonus table space!

Skoolie Kitchen Appliances

It’s not a requirement to have appliances in your skoolie kitchen, but it sure does make cooking and eating much more enjoyable!  

What kitchen appliances are a must-have in your skoolie?


Whether you choose to use a convection stovetop, propane camping grill, or an electric stovetop you need something for cooking.   Having something to heat your water, cook some soup or make some delicious food makes life in your skoolie a home.  

kitchen cooktop
Mass Unbound Skoolie Kitchen


This is something we chose not to incorporate into our first skoolie 
build, but wish we had of.  We put a full oven with a three-burner 
cook-top in our second DIY conversion and are so glad we did.

We really have not used our oven as much as we thought we would
of.  Other than baking cookies occasionally and a pizza once in a 
while, we have not used it.

So, we aren’t convinced the $600 price tag warrants having one in 
our new skoolie project.  


Having a way to keep your food cold is a luxury of home.  No reason 
you can’t have that luxury in your skoolie.  

For our first build, we installed a 120v 10.1 cu ft Magic Chef 
refrigerator with a freezer.  It was not huge by any means, but, it held 
everything we needed to keep cold and frozen.

For our DIY Sprinter conversion, we opted for a 12v 55-liter chest 
refrigerator and freezer.   It has been a great appliance, but we have 
had enough of the chest refrigerator and looking forward to going 
back to an upright.

For our current build on our Thomas 7 window skoolie, we are trying 
to decide between a 12v upright at right around $1,200 or a 
refrigerator similar to what we had in our Thomas HDX.

We are heavily leaning towards the 120v Magic Chef because of the 
price alone and the difference in efficiency is not that significant.  

Skoolie Kitchen Sink

We remember installing our kitchen sink in our Thomas skoolie.  It was like laying the foundation of a house, but for our kitchen. 

Having a kitchen sink is a familiarity of having a real home as much as it is a functional and integral part of nomadic living. There are three basic sink styles you can go with. 

skoolie sink
Maas Unbound Kitchen Sink


The flush-mounted sink is clean and very contemporary-looking.  The 
sink mounts to the underside of your kitchen counter and have no 
visible seams on the top of your counter.  

Sit up Top

A sit-on-top sink is the simplest to install.  It basically rests on the 
top of your counter.  The lip of the sink itself sits and is sealed with 
caulk on the edge of the hole you have cut out of the counter for your 

Be sure to seal and caulk it to prevent any leaking or seepage from water that splashes onto your counter.  


The bowl sink is a nice touch for a throwback or old-fashioned look 
and feel. It sits on top of your counter and has a hole for a drain in the bottom that connects directly to your drain hose leading to your grey tank.  

Can You Put A Garbage Disposal In A Skoolie?

Having all of the comforts of a traditional home in your skoolie is a fine idea.   It is not a realistic idea, but it is a fine idea.  There comes a time when reality meets fantasy, and almost always, reality wins out.  

This is one of those situations. 

Having a garbage disposal in your skoolie is possible.  There is nothing logistically or mechanically stopping you from doing so.  If you have the room underneath your sink, the electrical grid to power it, and the ability to install it, then go for it.

That being said, we really do not recommend garbage disposal in a skoolie.  There are some sound and logical reasons for this.  

We have been living the skoolie life since 2018 and we know a thing or two about minimalistic living while living and traveling in a tiny house on wheels. 

The worst thing about having a garbage disposal in your skoolie is the result of all of that ground-up sink food going into your grey tank.   Then all of that food is going to ferment like a putrid skunk on a country Georgia road in the middle of August.  

Actually, it is going to smell worse than the dead skunk.  Seriously, it is going to be one nasty-smelling grey tank.  Don’t even think about dropping your grey tank on the side of a back road somewhere.  The smell will follow you for days to come.   

Emptying your grey tank anywhere other than a dump station is frowned upon in the RV community.  That includes the skoolie community.  Now, the reality of it is that so many people do empty their grey tanks here and there when no one is looking.  

It’s not like they are dumping sewage on the ground, but the smell of a grey tank with food in it can smell just as bad or worse than a nasty ol’ black tank.

Is it illegal to dump your grey tank out in the open?  Best to check with local or state laws for your particular state.  

So many people we have talked to and consulted with about purchasing a skoolie and discussing what skoolie life is really like always come around to the same question.

Is it illegal to live in a skoolie?  We get that and understand the concern.  So many people unnecessarily worry about this one little question.  We have shared some good information on that topic alone here, Is It Legal To Live In A Skoolie In 2022?  

Suffice it to say, depending on what city or County or where you are planning on parking and camping, most places allow you to live in your skoolie.  

Read the blog in the link above for more information on that topic.

How Do You Make Skoolie Cabinets?

Some of us have dared to make our own cabinets.  Most people end up buying their cabinets from Ikea, Home Depot, or a Habitat For Humanity Re-store.

skoolie cabinets

Making your own skoolie cabinets from scratch is not as difficult as you might think.  For our second DIY project, we used a Kreg Jig and it made all of the difference in the world.

We couldn’t believe how simple it was to make our own cabinets.  We will never buy a pre-made cabinet again!

Running your plumbing to your kitchen is not as intimidating and complicated as you might think.  You can create and install all of the plumbing you need for a functional kitchen in easy steps with a simple application.

You can make your plumbing as simple or as complicated as you have the skills, budget, and time. 

We chose to keep our kitchen’s plumbing fairly simple.  We have friends who have designed their plumbing even simpler than ours.  

The beautiful thing is, both systems and applications are perfect for us.  Functional, reliable, and simple, that is the running theme for our builds.

We have a post, Skoolie Plumbing – Everything You Need To Know,  that goes into much more detail for materials, applications, and tools needed.  Check it out and let us know what you think about it.

We've installed all of our plumbing with Pex plumbing pipe and Sharkbite connections.  On our third build now and it has always worked perfectly for us.  

We prefer Pex piping because it is flexible and pliable.  The Sharkbite connections have never failed us and no one leaked.  We have traveled over 20,000 miles and 34 states.  

You can power or push the water through your plumbing with either a foot pump or a 12v electric water pump.  Either works, but you are going to get better water pressure with an electric pump.

Wrap Up To Skoolie Kitchen

The kitchen has always been the heart of a home.  It is where people tend to gather in social settings,  It is where love is put into the preparation of food and served to friends and family.

Living and traveling in a skoolie, a skoolie kitchen is no different than a traditional home’s kitchen.  It may not be the central gathering area when entertaining guests, but it is still the heart of a skoolie.   

On our first skoolie project, we did not plan as well as we wish we had.  Planning and preparing for a skoolie kitchen is going to be one of your biggest payoffs when you start to live and travel in your tiny house on wheels.  

Think about what you want your kitchen to be like before you build it.  Once you have that pictured in your head, now, go create and build it.  

We would really like to see what your kitchen looks like and hear about how you want to create your kitchen.

Leave us a comment below so we can connect!

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