We’ve seen #vanlife take the world by storm since the pandemic hit, with clever DIYers turning all manner of vehicles into places they can tour, sleep and stay in. If you’re worried about the cost involved in a project like this, you may be interested to know that this clever couple managed a total transformation for under £1,000!
Using budget materials, they turned a dated second-hand vehicle into a light-filled, Scani boho style décor that they can use for family holidays. Not bad when you consider that buying a new caravan can set you back thousands of pounds.
Boho inspired caravan makeover
Alice Rayment, a wedding stationery business owner and mum of two from Somerset, and her husband Dave bought the caravan from Facebook Marketplace for £4,000.
‘Having always enjoyed camping with friends, it was definitely something we wanted to carry on once the kids arrived,’ Alice told money-saving Facebook group DIY On A Budget UK and Latest Deals. ‘After a few trips setting up the tent with the kids in tow, though, we realised we needed something sturdier for our adventures. With the cost of living crisis and the pandemic, holidays abroad were less and less viable for us, so buying a caravan felt like a great choice for us.’
With a strict £5,000 budget to achieve their dreams, the couple's biggest expense was the caravan, an Avondale Dart 556-6, leaving them £1,000 to spend on the décor.
The dated décor wasn’t the only problem the couple had to deal with… soggy walls, smelly carpets and damp, water ingress were also on the list.
‘We named the caravan Connie, and once we’d had her serviced and once we’d identified the areas that needed urgent attention, we tackled them first,’ says Alice. ‘Luckily, Dave is very handy being a plumbing engineer so we were able to do a lot of the work ourselves.’
The orange wood wasn’t to the couple’s taste, so Alice began by removing all the cupboard doors, sanding them back to the original pine wood and staining the for a rustic look. After
‘I popped out the inserts and replaced them with cane webbing for a more modern look,’ she says. ‘Then I painted the cupboard units in a hardwearing wipeable paint from The Little Greene Company.’
The old upholstery has certainly had a glow up, with neutral fabric and some plush cushions to keep it cosy.
‘Originally we were quoted £1,200 to have the seating re-covered professionally, which was simply out of our budget,’ says Alice. ‘So, after a lot of research, trawling Instagram and YouTube for some more budget-friendly DIY options, we discovered you can easily do it yourself for a fraction of the price.’
Together with the wood now painted white, and some faux sheepskin rugs on the floor, it makes a cosy space for the family to relax.
In the kitchen area, the cane webbing works a treat and the black sink and tap make a modern addition to the small kitchen ideas.
‘We created the worktops ourselves, using 18mm chipboard flooring, and covered it in sticky-back vinyl from the DC fix range,’ says Alice. ‘The herringbone tile effect was achieved using sticky-back tiles we found on Amazon.’
The sweet dining area sits in between the living and sleeping areas and has the same neutral palette, with boho-style cushions and an illustration-style wallpaper.
‘We used regular household wallpaper to give the caravan an up-to-date feel,’ says Alice. ‘For our flooring, we used offcuts of carpet we had left over from re-carpeting our house, so it didn’t cost us a penny! Even if you don’t have such things lying around, carpet shops sell offcuts for £20 to £30, so this is a great option if you can’t afford a caravan specialist flooring company.’
‘My top tip for anyone looking to do something similar is not to be intimidated,’ Alice continues. ‘With a little research, chipping away bit by bit, and a lot of elbow grease, amazing things can be achieved. We were total newbies to this before we gave it a go!
‘It’s also a good idea to reuse and upcycle anything you can get your hands on. Our curtains, for example, were hand-me-down sheers from my mum. We repurposed them for the caravan and they’re perfect.’
The kids’ sleeping area consists of sweet bunk beds, each with its own sheer curtains to pull across. They're so pretty they wouldn't look out of place in a kids bedroom idea, let alone a caravan.
‘Now Connie is finished, we’re looking forward to a summer of weekends away on the coast, and festivals with the kids,’ says Alice. ‘We’re over the moon that we were able to achieve our dream caravan at such a fraction of the price of buying brand new.’
What do you think of this caravan makeover? Has it inspired you to consider buying a used van
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Laurie Davidson is a professional stylist, writer and content creator, who lives and breathes interiors. Having worked for some of the UK’s leading interior magazines, styled homes up and down the country and produced sets for TV shows, adverts and top brands, it’s safe to say Laurie has had a pretty exciting career. Find her on Instagram at @lifeofaninteriorstylist or over at lauriedavidson.co.uk
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