Man using DECKED custom van shelving

Filmmaker Sergei Boutenko shares his custom van shelving build

Sergei Boutenko sitting on custom van shelving build

If the idea of bundling your belongings into your van and embarking on the adventure of a lifetime appeals to you, you may be interested in a recent blog post by filmmaker Sergei Boutenko who has done exactly that.  Van conversions are rarely straightforward, but with a bit of planning and thought you can achieve a very practical DIY fit out without breaking the bank. In this blog post, DECKED Australia will be looking at the process Boutenko followed and offering some tips on how you too can build the van of your dreams around DECKED shelving units for cargo vans.


The Inspiration for the Build

As a filmmaker and author, Boutenko spends about half the year on the road. Not one for spending big on hotels, in 2016 Boutenko set about building his own ‘minimalist home on wheels’ on a shoestring budget. Based off a 2013 Mercedes Benz Sprinter Van, his original DIY setup costs came in at just $1,200 – a fraction of the price it would cost to purchase a preconfigured van. 

A man of many talents, he is passionate about sustainable living, foraging, health foods, adventure and getting the most out of life. His first van conversion enabled him to achieve his goal of adventuring and working on a budget, giving him the ability to deliver workshops, attend book tours and save a tonne of cash in the process.

In 2019 he released a new video highlighting Van Conversion 2.0. Whilst this is a much more elaborate project with a total cost of around $13,000 , he has a lot of fresh new ideas and solutions to inspire others looking to set up their own van. Let’s jump into it!


Van Conversion 2.0 – Shelving Systems

Anyone who has lived in a van long-term knows that keeping organised is essential. With limited floor space available, care must be taken when designing van storage areas to limit their encroachment on living quarters whilst also allowing easy access to the things you need on a regular basis. For van conversion 2.0, Boutenko has made use of Decked van shelving and the van vault slider drawer system to store his film equipment. In his own words, he believes them to be ‘complete game changers’.

Whereas before all his equipment would fly around the cabin during sudden braking, he now enjoys secure storage and easy access to all his essentials. Opting for a two-drawer custom built tool boxes system, he stores the following components in each:

Left Drawer (Working Drawer):  Anker PowerHouse Battery for charging devices, light kit, tool boxes, tow rope, tow hitch and other roadside assistance gear.

Right Drawer: Tripods, camera equipment, camping gear and miscellaneous equipment.

Man using DECKED custom van shelving


DIY Modification for Increased Versatility and Practicality

There’s no shortage of ideas when it comes to enhancing the versatility and practicality of a custom van build, and Boutenko borrowed the idea of carpeting the top of his DECKED box from fellow adventurer @idarado on Instagram. This has two benefits, the first being that it helps to stop items placed on the top from sliding around. The second is that it has also expanded sleeping space, enabling him to sleep 2-3 guests comfortably atop the storage area. This has taken the total sleeping capacity for his Sprinter Van from only 2-3 people on the top bunk to a new total of 6.


The Benefits of DECKED Drawers

Boutenko has discovered a number of key benefits of installing the DECKED van shelving system, which are highlighted below:

  • Watertight– No leaks or risk of damage to your drawers and their contents.
  • Customise to Suit– Use them purely for storage, or drill drain holes to store live fish. The possibilities are endless.
  • Dividers – Easily attach dividers for an organised, clutter free storage system.
  • Padding – Using a piece of gym/yoga matting, you can create inexpensive DIY drawer padding to avoid rattles and provide added protection for your belongings.
  • Storage Nooks – More than meets the eye, the DECKED drawer system contains handy storage nooks which can be used for miscellaneous items such as allen keys, bolts and tripod parts.
  • DECKED D-Box Tool Boxes– Designed to fit perfectly inside the sliding drawer, your tools are always close at hand.
  • Secure – No more equipment rolling around and posing a safety risk to vehicle occupants.
  • Lockable – Work van security systems are a great idea, and DECKED Mercedes Sprinter Shelving adds an extra layer of security. Lock both the van and your DECKED slide out drawer for dual layer security.
  • Quick and Easy Access– Simply slide out, grab what you need and slide back. No more climbing into the van to get your most used items, wrecking your back and knees.
  • Easy to Remove – Need to free up space? The entire system can be removed with ease in around 15 minutes, enabling you to use your van for other purposes such as receiving a large shipment of goods.
  • Sleeping Space –By adding a piece of carpet, 2-3 people can sleep comfortably on top of the DECKED box. Carpet also provides extra grip for cargo placed on the surface.


DECKED Is the Ideal Sliding Drawer System for Cargo Vans

As Boutenko has shown, the DECKED system can help individuals overcome their storage challenges and build a complete van setup around the drawers. With a 1 tonne payload, you can enjoy convenient and secure storage below and versatile space up top. This has given him the ability to quickly customise his Mercedes Benz Sprinter van according to his needs, creating the ultimate van setup for work and play.

DECKED is now available in Australia and has been modified to suit Australian vans and utes by Chevy, Ford, Holden, Isuzu, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, RAM, Toyota and VW. If you’re interested in building your own setup down under, check out the product page on our website and GET DECKED today.

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