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How to renovate a caravan - Part 3

Peggers
Experienced Contributor

How to style a caravan

 

Difficulty: Intermediate

 

Once you have renovated the inside and outside of your van, the hard graft is done and your dream home on wheels is almost complete. Now it’s time to have fun and become an interior designer, putting the finishing touches to style your van.

 

This article shows you how to decorate your van. Don’t miss Part 1: How to buy a retro van and Part 2: How to fix an old caravan.

 

Steps

Step 1

The floor is your first opportunity to start putting your creative stamp on the van. If the floor tiles are in reasonable condition, you could lay something over the top of them. Otherwise pull them up and take the van back to bare wood. You can buy inexpensive timber-look vinyl flooring from Bunnings. The sheets are easy to install and can be cut to size with a utility knife. There is a large range of wood effects depending on the look you want to create.

 

1. Timber-look vinyl flooring.jpg

Step 2

To really bring the outside paint job to life, silver spray paint is needed on the windows and caravan edging. This is a fiddly job but well worth it. Tape up the windows and the metal edging all the way around the van. It may take a couple of hours to do the whole van and you’ll need a few newspapers and rolls of tape. With even spraying from around six inches away, cover all of the edges and the window frames. The silver contrast with the rest of the colour scheme takes the van to the next level.

 

2. Respray silver edging.jpg

Step 3

Add silver trims where your two different colours meet in the middle of the van. It’s really hard with either the spray or roller approaches to get perfect lines, and by adding some silver trims you can cover any imperfections but also add some extra style. I use the silver ripple trim strips used for edging carpet as they fit perfectly to the van’s contours. Cut them to size with a hacksaw and then screw in place. Caravan bling!

 

3. Add silver trims.jpg

Step 4

A splashback above the new kitchen benchtop will help complete your kitchen. There are two approaches that I take here. One is to get coloured acrylic sheets cut to size and then glue and screw in place. Bright colours can really lift a kitchen. The alternative is to tile the splashback area. Normal lightweight kitchen tiles with mesh backing are best, which you can cement on and grout for a classy look. It’ll depend on the style of van and the look you’re going for, but both give a great finish.

 

4. Tiled splashback.jpg

Step 5

Timber panels and trims are another way to give the van a classy finish. You can buy cheap wood panels that are very lightweight and normally used for cladding. By painting these lightly with white undercoat and sanding back, you get a vintage effect. If a ceiling is very rough with imperfections then these wood panels are a great way to cover faults and create a new feature. The back of seating can also become a real talking point. You can buy L-shaped wood edging fairly cheaply to finish off cupboards or areas where the caravan is slightly worn. Not only does it cover blemishes, it also gives a wonderful finish.

 

5. Timber panels.jpg

Step 6

The first two caravans I renovated had curtains; and for certain vans this is the way to go. If you want a 50s rock and roll look, then nothing beats red and white gingham. The problem with curtains is that you need to buy the material and get them made to fit by someone with sewing skills. You also need to fit curtain rods and hooks. It’s a long and fiddly process. More recently I’ve used blinds and for roughly the same price, you get a more modern effect and you can do the whole van in less than two hours. Bunnings do a great range of inexpensive blinds in sizes to fit most vans.

 

6. Blinds.jpg

Step 7

Try to retain the van’s original lights, but it can also be good to add some new lighting as a feature. A hanging light above the table in the living area looks really stylish. One other neat little touch is to add LED strips inside of cupboards to create a soothing effect at night, or to add stick on LED touch lights under kitchen cupboards as a cheap form of down lighting. There’s no limit on your creativity here, just your budget and imagination.

 

7. Add new lighting.jpg

Step 8

Hopefully your van will have an original table that folds down to form an extra double bed. But if not, it is fairly easy to fashion one. In the same wood you used for kitchen work benches, get a piece of pine cut to size at Bunnings. You can then get screw in legs for less than $10 each to attach to the bottom with plates. This is such an easy and intuitive set up – unscrew the legs and stow away at night to make the bed (it’s a three-minute job). Then reattach the legs in the morning for breakfast.

 

8. New table.jpg

Step 9

The van is almost complete. But one additional important touch is to replace cupboard door and drawer handles. Bunnings offers a huge range of shapes and materials depending on the look you want, and these come in multi-packs to cut costs. If you can selvedge the old handles then it’s good to have some original fixtures, but otherwise have a play with different styles.

 

9. Replace cupboard door handles.jpg

Step 10

Finally it’s time to dress the van and your styling skills can really go wild. Raffia baskets, plants, mirrors… just add whatever you like to finish your van. Bunnings has great accessories for storage and styling. And don’t stop inside – get a small outside fire pit and a couple of stylish deckchairs to complete your home away from home.

 

10. Add finishing touches.jpg

Materials

  • Adhesive floor tiles
  • Spray paint
  • Sandpaper
  • Masking tape
  • Screws
  • Silver carpet edging strips
  • Kitchen tiles
  • Cement
  • Grouting
  • Wood panels
  • Wood trims
  • Liquid nails
  • Blinds
  • Hanging lamp
  • LED light strips
  • Table legs
  • Door handles

Tools

  • Screwdrivers (flathead and Philips)
  • Utility knife
  • Hacksaw
  • Hammer
  • Electric drill

Images

1. Timber-look vinyl flooring.jpg

2. Respray silver edging.jpg

3. Add silver trims.jpg

4. Tiled splashback.jpg

5. Timber panels.jpg

6. Blinds.jpg

7. Add new lighting.jpg

8. New table.jpg

9. Replace cupboard door handles.jpg

10. Add finishing touches.jpg

Finished Inside.jpg

Finsihed Outside.jpg

4 Replies
Old-gal24
Super Contributor

Awesome, so much information.  I have an older van that I've done parts up but feared doing jobs like re-painting and windows ect. but think after I get a few jobs I have on my to do list I will get in and have a go at the rest of the caravan.  

 

Thank you

Jenn

Jason
Community Manager
Community Manager

It would be great to see your van Jenn (@Old-gal24). I'm sure @Peggers would be happy to give you some more tips.

 

Glad you found this series of articles to be informative and confidence-building.

 

Jason

 

wendoze
New Contributor

Thank you so much @Peggers . I've always been in love with these old vans, and you've given me a great overview of what to look for to buy & do one up. I cannot wait! (We're installing tow bar next week, but have been eyeing off little vintage vans for weeks already). One thing we want to do is possibly remove the diner area and replace with more of a bare space, so we can put more comfy chairs during the day, and maybe a camper single bed at night. Am going to look through this website for ideas around that (we don't think diner seating will be too comfy for us). Has done something like that before?

Jason
Community Manager
Community Manager

Thanks so much for joining in the discussion @wendoze. I'm sure @Peggers appreciates the positive feedback. It will be great to see what you can do with your own van. I'm sure the skies the limit in terms of what you can do. Check out Rob's most recent project - turning a van into a mobile office. 

 

Feel free to hit the start a discussion button when you have obtained your van and are kicking off your renovation project. It will be great to follow along with your journey - and I'm sure the community will be more than happy to provide advice along the way.

 

Welcome,

 

Jason

 

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