As part of the Phase 1 project, I constructed these privacy curtains for my van camper, using inexpensive parts from Big Lots.
- An adjustable shower curtain rod with rubber ends (at least the width of the space you want to hang curtains across)
- A set of blackout curtains with a sewn-in loop for the curtain rod
- Picture hangers (or small “S” hooks)
- A razor blade
- Strong fingers or a tiny pair of needle nose pliers
I bought my curtains and a 60″ long (about 1 .25 diameter) curtain rod from Big Lots, a chain of discount stores. But I’m sure you can find similar on Amazon. $8 for the rod, $15 for the curtains. Be sure that when you pick your curtains, you get the ones with a loop sewn into the top, for the shower curtain rod. The ones with pressed in rings will leave a big privacy gap. Hold the curtains up to a light to see if they do indeed block light and provide privacy.
Now pull the rubber end caps off of the curtain rod.
Make as small a slit as possible to fit the picture hanger through the rubber end. This slit should be about 1/4 of the way across the diameter. This is because you want the rod to hang down from picture hanger. You’ll see when you slip the straight part of the hanger under the plastic trim. If you put the hole in the middle, it will force the rod up against the ceiling headliner.
Use the needle nose pliers to wiggle the hanger through the rubber cap like so.
When you are done, it should look like this:
After both rubber caps are modified, slide the hooked end under the edge of the plastic trim. IMPORTANT: My van does NOT have side curtain airbags. You do not want to put a brace (curtain rod) between the panels containing the airbags. Doing so could cause serious injury or death if the airbag deploys. If you have a vehicle with side curtain airbags, you will need to hang the rod from the headliner.
After both endcaps are attached, shorten the rod, hold it in position, and then extend the rod until it fits securely in the end caps. This is usually done by twisting the two sections of the rod, relative to each other. Notice in the photo that the end caps touch on the top only. The hooks are what hold the rod in place, not the tension as would be the case in a shower.
I use the seat back grab handles to stow the curtains when not in use.
Six ceramic magnets (a few bucks at Home Depot or a crafts store) hold the curtains closed.
A note about measuring the width of the vehicle. Keep in mind that the curtains have to go “around” the back of the seat. So if you measure EXATLY to width they will not reach the edges of the vehicle. That’s what is going on in this photo. With my front window screens on it doesn’t really matter for my situation. But if I did it over, I’d buy curtains that are twice the width of the opening.
Also pictured is my AWESOME Coleman cot. This is what I sleep on and it’s comfy, quiet, and can fold up when not needed. $75 on Amazon
You can find all of my technical and minivan camper conversion DIYs, linked here.
–Darren at OdysseyCamper
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*I’ve noticed that many sites only recognize the discount during the week, so call ahead to be sure. Even with weeknights-only, this saves me at least double the membership fee each year.