Updated: Jan 21
This year we took on a bit of a surprising - somewhat spontaneous - project. We decided after our bad experiences renting and also wanting to save up for our big move and buying a house to move back home to my parents to save all of what would be our rent and bill money so reach our deposit/renovation budget quicker! But doing this came with the sacrifice of having our own space, somewhere where we could just be by ourselves, watch movies, spend time alone etc. At first we were simply going to stay in the house and use my parents very very small spare room but suddenly my boyfriend and mum had the crazy idea of buying a caravan!
This was super spontaneous, I mean we literally viewed it the day after seeing it for sale online and we bought it the same day we viewed it!! The caravan was actually the perfect solution for us because it gave us that independent space we needed as a couple moving back home after having our own place for the last year and a bit.
Before we get into the renovation details I will touch on a few things you need to know before doing what we did if it's something you're also interested in doing!
Firstly, the legality of living in a caravan. Now you will have to call your local council to find out their exact rules for having a caravan on your land (if you aren't parking it on land that is your own or your family's then this won't apply because you will be -I'm assuming anyway- parking up on a caravan site - this is a very costly option and defeated our goal so we didn't even bother looking into that-), the rules for us were stated as: we can have the caravan on our land and use it however we liked -as a spare room/working space etc- as long as it wasn't an independant space. So basically we aren't allowed to have a functioning bathroom or kitchen, we have to rely on the main house. This for us was fine because we had always gone into this idea with that being the case, I didn't want to use a tiny kitchen/bathroom when the main house is literally right beside us with everything we needed.
Secondly, the functions of the caravan. When it comes to buying a caravan my biggest piece of advice would be to take someone with you - in my case it was my dad - who will be able to look at everything there and then and make sure it all works. Our caravan is a 1997. So everything was a little dated and therefore it was super important to make sure everything worked like it was suppose to. You'll need to check that the electrics work, the gas works for heating and that there is no water damage or significant damage anywhere on the caravan. Luckily for us, everything was completely fine!
So let's jump in!!
Here are some photos of what the caravan looked like when we bought it!
Everything was wood, which was great because it was easy to repaint, the floor was a really gross and really badly cut linoleum, the cushion covers...they speak for themselves...the only thing that was a plus and didn't change was the curtains which were luckily green!
The first thing (after cleaning the whole thing really really well!) I did was choose a paint colour for the cupboards. I knew I wanted to go for a dark green and then a white at the top to brighten and also make the space look slightly bigger. But I also had to match the paint up with the wallpaper.
I decided to wallpaper the back wall and I saw on Pinterest the Morris & Co. Pimpernel wallpaper and after I saw it no other wallpaper came close to being the one. We took a curtain down from the caravan and went to colour match it to the wallpaper and ended up choosing the colour scheme bullrush/russet. I got ours from John Lewis for £88 per roll (we only needed one), I didn't include a link because they don't have it online!
After the wallpaper was matched to the curtains we then went for paint and chose Valspar Tuscan Hills, you can grab this from B&Q for around £31 depending on the size. The white we grabbed from Wilko and it was the shade moonlight white.
See that new floor in the photos? Yeah that's right! We changed the floor to vinyl wood! So we started by taking up that linoleum and seeing that actually the floor underneath...wasn't so great. There was a section that was uneven and dipped when you stepped on it which scared us into thinking there was water damage. Turned out is was just beaten and old. So cue DIY dad. My dad measure out the whole floor of the caravan, created a map, and cut a new floor from plywood (I didn't get an exact price for this but we sourced the big sheet of it from homebase). We then put the linoleum back down (for extra layers and warmth) and then attached the wooden floor. Now this levelled out the whole floor of the caravan, made it sturdy and meant that we had 3 layers of floor now including the actual floor. But it didn't look pretty and really that's all that matters right? So I sourced wood vinyl from B&Q! They are basically stickers that look and feel like wood! We ended up needing about 4 packs which were I think £15 each, which I then cut to size and shape and placed on top of the plywood which worked as a great base for them to stick to. We now have a really amazing looking wooden floor!
The cushions have been recovered, the picture above is actually missing the back cushions so check out the gallery at the end to see those. We bought a thick white fabric and foam padding to redo the cushions. The originals weren't bad at all, they were actually in great condition, they just looked bad so we washed them, stitched the padding around them to even them out and make them comfier and them covered them with the white fabric.
The back cushions it on a pull out bed frame in the middle of the two sofas to create the bed which was very uncomfortable before we redid the cushions! Now we sleep easily on there! That cost about £40 to do!
The marble tiles - You can see above that there are marble tiles backing what would be the kitchen of the caravan (the cooker is hidden under that black cover which is posing as my place to put pretty things!! The sink is under the wooden cover beside it which is actually posing as a hideaway for an extension lead with our phone chargers etc!) anyway, originally there was a nasty old looking wallpaper...? I think? Hated it. We actually found tile stickers when we were sourcing the plywood in homebase! They were pricy at £19.99 a pack for 4 stickers...we needed 4 packs....horrible choice. They look amazing and were easy to put on but we later did the same with the used to be shower and we found vinyl stickers in our local pound stretcher for £1 per tile....much cheaper. The tile stickers are water resistant too so if we do end up using the sink ever they will be fine!
Handles - I hated the original handles, they were just old and just..... no! So I found these vintage brass handles online for £70 for 30 handles. One of the more expensive purchases but god did they make a difference!!
The back room - What would have been a shower/bathroom has become a walk in wardrobe! We have the already built in wardrobe with a shoe cupboard at the bottom and shelves and we also converted the shower into additional wardrobe space by adding a tension rod and a bookcase for shelves! The cupboard and sink area serves as storage for underwear and socks and a makeup/getting ready vanity. The sink is actually broken so we plan to remove the sink entirely and create a top for the counter to make it a proper vanity table! As you can also see we did sticker tile the wardrobe space too! And we used up the remaining wallpaper to cover up the walls and make it extra cosy! The vintage style hooks are from homebase and Sainsburys!
Other small bits - We installed a plug system under one of the beds - we drilled wire holes to bring the extension lead into the bottom cupboard where the PS4 hides, up through the back and to the monitor we have sat there now so no wires are seen and everything is set up!
We added clear boxes under the sofas (the whole bottom is two large cupboards) which we use for bedding and extra blankets. The fridge is hooked up with all of the other electrics so we use that for snacks and drinks! The heated is gas operated which we couldn't change but it worked perfectly! The cupboards were all cleaned out really well and now house mostly books and other bits we brought with us. The ceiling hatch needed replacing which cost £50? I think?? We added a small tension rod by the door to add a curtain.... and the rest is just aesthetics!
In total the caravan process cost approximately £1700-£1800 including buying the caravan itself. This was the equivalent of a months rent and bills for us. So while it seems like a big chunk of money, for us it was one more month of paying out that money to spend the next year not paying out that money and saving it!
I've included photos below of the caravan which are more up to date with all of the stuff inside!
But that's it I think!! If you guys have any questions about anything please drop them in the comments below!!