With the weather warming, and motorhome season just inches away, it is the perfect time to get to work on your campervan. Whether you rent out your motorhome or prefer to keep it for personal use, your motorhome deserves the very best treatment. Time to give your interior a new lease of life, or get the outside looking so dashing that people can’t help but stare. Grab your tools, pull up Pinterest, and let’s get to work!
Is upgrading my motorhome expensive?
No! This is a common misconception for DIY campervan improvements. But fixing up your motorhome can be as pricey or budget-friendly as you choose it to be. You decide what you want to change, you decide how much you want to invest, you decide how creative you plan to be. All that we do is give you the inspiration for upgrading your motorhome! And if you'd like to make money with your motorhome after renovating, that can be possible too.
Before you start pimping your campervan, it is useful to create an idea board. There are two ways of doing this. You can either create an online board off of Pinterest, using other pins and ideas already there. This allows others to access your board easily and help you, and always is an eco-friendly and budget-friendly option.
If you prefer to keep it old school, you can grab your scissors and glue and make your own board. This can be way more creative and fulfilling, and allow you to really focus on the ideas before you. Plus, then you can put pictures next to your campervan to imagine it better! Also check out vans you know you like, either on Instagram or in real life. If you have friends with motorhomes, ask to take a look at how they’ve rigged theirs up, you never know what will take your fancy.
It’s also wise to set a little budget before you get too carried away. How much are you planning to spend? What are your priorities when it comes to spending? With this planning comes other things that are vital to set in stone before the upgrading craze takes a hold of you. What do you want to change? Maybe it’s the entire van, and you’re open to ideas, or maybe it’s only the kitchen area, or only storage you have an issue with.
Also give yourself a timeline. When do you want to have which aspect completed. When do you want the full project finished? This can be really helpful to avoid the project dragging out or you losing focus. To cement this even further, make a plan that forces you to be ready in time. Book a campsite you’ll visit in the van. Set it on Goboony for motorhome hire and have your calendar available from then. Time is ticking!
A Paint Job
People always underestimate the effect of simply painting their campervan. They may think they’re unhappy with their van, or that it is looking older. Honestly, just paint it first using these tips.
If you want to paint your camper, it's best not to cheap out on the paint. It is always better to buy high quality paint because of its durability. It simply works better and gives the desired result with less work and because it lasts longer you won't have to touch it up for longer. Ask at a paint store for the best multiprimer, which attaches to almost everything, and is therefore perfect for the typical smooth materials of a campervan.
Adding New Vinyl
You can also give your camper a whole makeover with new vinyl. When you hang your camper, it is important to keep in mind that there are different types of material for resurfacing. For the pimping up of your camper there are three important things to consider: quality, aesthetic and cost. Be sure to plan enough time in for removing your old vinyl.
Vinyl or non-woven wallpaper is firmer and processed from materials that can withstand moisture better than most others. This will make it an ideal surface for you if you are based in the UK where, let's face it, things can be a bit damp in the winter months.
Re-upholstering the Interior
Re-upholstering the interior of your campervan can completely transform it, it will honestly have people believing you’ve bought a new van! The issue is that you never know how a fabric will really look in your vehicle. To help this, make a mix and match of all kinds of fabrics that you can get your hands on. Research nearby fabric stores, visit a marketplace, or go to your closest IKEA! There are a surprising amount of fabric markets around the country, often selling unique and beautiful materials for very reasonable prices. Sourcing your fabrics from these markets is our top suggestion as it will ensure your motorhome is truly unique!
One of the best ways to bring life to your van is to add windows if it doesn’t have them already! It will make rainy days in your van far more bearable, and allow you to still catch some rays. It also opens up the space well, and means you can pick out some cute curtains to go over it!
Consider your floor too. People neglect the floor of their motorhome since they think they’re never looking at it, merely standing on it, but you’d be shocked how much you notice of it. Go for a light wood to open the space, and consider adding a little storage pocked in it! Have a designated area for your dirty shoes and other items, to reduce it spreading across the van. And also consider a little rug, a true homy touch!
A Kitchen Fit for Nigella Lawson
A great way to glamp up your motorhome is to renovate your campervan kitchen. This can be hard, as it’s quite a small space to work with usually. But to look at kitchen as merely practical would be a mistake, for you need to see the pleasure in your cooking area. A great motorhome kitchen is about storage, using the space well and tasteful decoration.
A great way to achieve this is through adding tiles above the kitchen, it gives that sense of it being a “separate room” without taking unnecessary space. It’s also very useful as food stains will be easier to clean off it and it’s safer near a stove. Be sure to colour coordinate with the rest of your van to avoid any clashes. Haven’t decided on the rest or want to keep your options open? You could go for a simple white or light grey tile, or do my favourite and go for a classic white and blue Dutch tile!
You can save space by having a counter that folds out, or if you’ll only travel in warm places, a portable stove to cook outside. I really recommend hiding your water tank under or above the counter. This will boost the aesthetic but have it easy to reach.
Also consider which appliances you actually need, how much do you cook on the road? What do you cook? This will help you to make the best choices for your campervan kitchen. Do you really need an oven, or would a microwave with oven features be a better fit? Perhaps both aren’t necessary, and you just require two stove tops!
Spices should never be hidden away, they’re not a shameful part of your cooking regime, they’re actually your best accessory! Look into constructing a spice rack designed specifically for your van, to showcase your wide selection of spices. This will also encourage you to actually expand your spice collection past salt and pepper, which will result in more creative and delicious meals on the road.
Be sure to fill up your kitchen with all the necessary bits for cooking on the road. You’ll find a complete list, with links to purchase, at Bear Foot Theory. If you’re low on space, take it as an opportunity to get creative. You’ll find plenty of space saving camping items, including sporks, take apart pots and more.
Be sure to check out Foedsie and her gorgeous renovated campervan!
There’s No Place Like My Bed
Some would argue that is what a campervan is really about, where you get to rest your head at night. And you’ve got to make it worth it, a comfortable, cosy bed that invites longer trips and doesn’t restrict you to a quick weekend.
It is vital to test the mattress, especially before heading out for a longer trip. If needed, sleep on it in your home first, before you make the effort of installing it. Same goes for any pillows. For your mattress, consider memory foam for ultimate comfort. Nothing ruins the tranquility of a camping trip like a sore back or bad nights sleep! It’s also useful to have certain sheets and a blanket dedicated to your van, which you can keep packaged together (maybe even in the van) to avoid ever forgetting them!
You can also combine your bed with extra storage for the van, through creating a DIY bed frame with storage beneath it. A bit of plywood will do wonders! And then you can either keep boxes/crates beneath it with your items, create drawers, or keep loose large items. This is a great DIY for converted vans in particular.
Alternatively, you can go for the drop down table bed, or the flip bench bed design. Both of which have their pros and cons.
The Question of Storage
It may seem like I’m mentioning storage too often, but once you’ve seen a messy, crowded van you’ll understand completely. Nothing ruins your zen, nothing looks worse, than an untidy and overfull campervan. And the worst part, it isn’t overfilled, as a campervan is a great option for storage. It’s just about optimizing the space you have.
Here are some of my favourite storage ideas:
- The key is often to have items hanging, as floor and cabinet space is the issue. A prime example is to have your food tucked away in jam jars, which are fixed into the bottom of a cabinet, against the wall.
- On this note, you can also use netting to your advantage, and fix up little netting hammocks around the van. These can be used to hold fruit or other food items, toiletries, or general use items like a torch.
- Put delicate items on hooks, such as mugs, to reduce risk of breakage by rattling around in a cupboard. These hooks can be placed onto a cabinet or the wall.
- One of the biggest mistakes I see is people neglect their doors. There is so much unused potential in that door! You can use hooks to hang items, such as your coat or a travel bag. This is ideal for stuff you’ll need in bed, for easy reach!
- Use spring loaded hinges for extra shelves, or even a stowaway cutting board. Pop up shelving will give you all the room you need whilst ensuring you can cook and write to your pleasure!
- A common issue is items sliding around while you drive, this can be avoided with smaller boxes or bins. Separating your items like this will create less mess and save you time when you’re searching for something.
- Another driving issue is items falling off their shelf. This can be avoided by one of two ways. Using bungee cords to cover the area, stretched out across - to be taken off upon arrival. Or to place magnets on the bottom of your items, so they’re stuck into place.
- Create a portable seat! This allows you to have more seating options inside and outside - perfect for those starry evenings. You can create a wooden seat to surround your bin, or even your toilet!
Accessorizing your Van
If your motorhome feels cramped, a great DIY technique to open the space is to add mirrors! They create the illusion of a larger area, look great and let you keep an eye on your own appearance. I recommend either doing one long thin mirror across, or having a small collage of different sized mirrors.
Hide your cables. Nothing ruins the interior of a van like messy cables. It is easily avoidable by taping them into place or creating covers. This includes your phone charger, create a small flap on the side to house your phone while charging and ensure you’re not covered in cables or constantly losing your phone.
A built in vase! This will encourage you to always fill it with flowers, even just some wild ones you pick on a walk. And by having it built against the wall or a shelf, you lower the risk of it coming undone.
Why not install some solar panels while you’re at it? This will open up your campsite options and even let you go wild camping, sparing you plenty of money and peace in the future. It will also be a relief to be travelling more sustainably.
DIY Van Inspiration
If you want to know more about refurbishing your motorhome, take a look at Campervanlife. This site is full of tips, inspiration, examples of nice refurbishments, Do It Yourselfs and more.
Another place to get help and ideas are facebook forums to do with van refurbishment or conversions. In these groups, motorhome and camper owners share tips, tricks, questions and inspiration pictures for pimping, motorhomes, tents and folding trailers! Some people have even turned rather tame looking campervans into some almost menacing offroad beasts!
There are also people who pick up a cheap campervan and adapt it completely to their wishes. Like nearly all build projects, this often takes a little more time than they initially estimated, but you are sacrificing time to save a great deal of money.
When campervan renovations are done well however, you end up with your very own completely unique van, a paradise on wheels ready for adventure. Read more about this, simply search for #Vanlifto find a variety of people who have pulled this off and have absolutely gorgeous custom vehicles. Many of these vehicle owners have made videos or blogs on their process making them both a great source of evidence that it can be done and a source of inspiration to help get your dream van started.
Don’t forget to thoroughly clean your campervan before pimping and to allow enough time between any scheduled rentals! Have you already done a refurbishment or conversion on your camper yourself? We’d love for you to send us photos and we could even publish a blog about it if you get in touch!