They Took A Little White Van And Created This Lovely Wood Furnished Home!
They say that home is where the heart is, and that is never more on display than when you look at someone who has created a tiny home out of a small vehicle like a little white van. It is the ultimate sign of “this is who I am and what I am into”.
Showing so much creativity in such a small space is definitely a talent that few people have, and this really neat DIY van project is absolutely proof of that.
You can use any building material under the sun to create something to live and travel the country in. Some people use metal to construct the tiny home on wheels of their dreams, but these two have opted to go a more rustic route by using almost nothing but wood!
Now, you might think that you can snap your fingers and get the finished result overnight. While it might take you a little more than a day to do this, you will definitely enjoy the results like these folks did with theirs!
This is what they started off with. A little white van that had nothing going for it other than it being a blank canvas. Which means all kinds of possibilites!
Some of the greatest works of art started off as a blank canvas and this is no exception. But how did this blank canvas go from this…
…to this? Just looking at the finished product you can see that with enough time and effort, anyone can take something like an empty van and turn it into something that looks like a cabin in the woods.
This conversion didn’t take place overnight and it definitely wasn’t easy! But, in the end, you could say it was well worth it. Let’s see how they got to the finished product!
The journey started off with a sketch on a simple piece of paper. A comfortable place to sleep is important when designing a DIY camper. After all, it is where you are going to be spending a third of your day.
However, they had to take size into account and making sure it fit the design of the rest of the project. Otherwise, it would look like mustard in a ketchup bottle.
As you can see, this van is not exactly the largest in the world. You have probably seen one like this thousands of times throughout your travels in the world. Just a simple little cargo van right?
Not exactly. By the time that Ben and Stacy get done with this thing they are going to have something that looks like a little rustic cabin that they can take anywhere!
One of the first things that they did was cut out a couple of oval-shaped windows into the side of the van.
This allowed them the chance to not only get a good look at the world around them, but to have good ventilation in their little home away from home!
Next thing that they had to do was check if the van had any leaks. Given that the project was going to be mostly wood, it makes perfect sense to see where water might find its way through.
Too many undetected drops of water in a leaky spot and all the hard work that they put into this project would be ruined! The only problem was waiting for it to rain to find out if they had any problem spots.
It might seem like it is going to be stormy weather through the whole project, but they really pull off something great!
There were some minor leaks, but one of the major ones was found near the middle of the ceiling. As you can see, it would be a little hard to get sleep at the end of the day with little drops of water coming down on you.
It wasn’t a tough fix. All they had to do was put some sealant into the tiny cracks and their roof was as right as rain!
Another spot causing problems in the leak department was this open area behind the taillights. As it turns out, there was just a big open hole behind the lights.
Once again, a little bit of sealing off and they were protected from the water on all four sides!
The next thing that they had to do, as part of making sure the ventilation system was working properly, was install a vent in the roof.
Of course, this meant more measuring, more cutting, and even more measuring! But you can guarantee that it’s all be worth it on a warm day when the inside is nice and cool.
After cutting the hole and installing a rubber gasket to keep all that metal from rubbing together, it was time to install the vent cover.
A little bit of help from a power drill made sure everything was locked into place. The last thing you want when you are on a camping trip is to have a giant gaping hole in the middle of the ceiling.
Next they fastened the fan/vent cover in place so if it starts raining again like it did earlier, they can still keep fresh air circulating through the van.
Seeing as how this is going to be a wood-furnished home, it is always a great idea to do as much as you can to practice good ventilation methods!
The next step was to test out the fan. There wasn’t much to the fan itself, just a little on/off switch on the side.
Some fans have remotes that you can use to turn them on and off. This one does, which may not seem like much given how small a space you are going to be in. That being said, when you’re asleep at two in the morning and it’s getting a bit chilly, you’ll thank yourself for getting one with a remote!
Next up is creating some floor space. As you can see here, they went ahead and created the base for the floor using a solid plank of wood that they could later cut into any shape that they needed.
It just seems like not long ago that they were cutting holes for the windows and now they are getting ready to install the floor. Awesome!
But before they installed the flooring they installed a series of small boards to act as a foundation/bracketing for the flooring and rest of the fixtures to sit on.
This is a great idea, because if you thought they had a problem with leaks earlier, imagine how bad it would be if the entire home was built by drilling into the metal van floor!
To provide warmth on colder days they came up with an idea I am mad that I did not think of sooner! They filled the voids in the floor with crushed cork.
Crushed cork was a very economical method of providing insulation because it can be found with relative ease and installed with ease as well. All that had to be done was pour it in and make sure if was packed in there good and tight!
Next was building the support that the walls would rest on. Once again, they had to do a lot of fabricating because there wasn’t a whole lot that they could drill into without compromising the floor and walls of the van.
Plus, when the day comes that they ever have to do repairs on the interior, it will be a lot easier to replace one board than the entire van!
While they did do the majority of the work on this project themselves, one thing that they had a little bit of help with were these wheel well covers.
Not only do they add a touch of style, but they also get rid of one of the more unsightly parts of the vehicle while dampening road noise to boot. Now, when they go to sleep at night all they will see is a home and not some ugly wheel well!
The next thing that they had to build and install were the cabinets and wall fixtures. After all, if you are going to be spending a lot of time in a home on wheels, you’ll want plenty of storage for all your stuff!
I can’t wait to see what they are able to fit into such a tiny space! This is really coming along nicely.
The window dressing and shelving was relatively easy to create, just like when you would make things in shop class at school.
They ended up putting one shelf in the bathroom and two in the living area. That’s probably all they could reasonably fit – we still have to put a bed and a kitchen in there!
The cabinets were placed in between some of the wall bracketing that we showed you earlier. Everything was measured out to fit each space perfectly.
At this point, the van was starting to feel more like a real home-to-be. Just like your favorite jigsaw puzzle, all of the pieces are coming together!
The next thing that they had to do was insulate the walls. Sure, it would have been nice to be able to use crushed cork like they did with the floor, but it just wouldn’t have worked.
Instead, they found a really efficient wall insulation that they were able to cut and fit into the empty spaces behind the walls. Now, they will be warm all the way around!
As you can see, now the whole home is going to be insulated from floor to ceiling! It sure would be nice after a long day out on a nature trail to come back to something like this right?
It’s not even finished yet and is already looking better than most of the places I’ve slept while camping! It’s definitely more work than setting up a tent, though!
Of course, these days you can’t go camping without at least some modern conveniences. Which means you have to have electricity and be able to run wiring through the vehicle.
With the help of an electrician friend, they installed the wiring that they needed to take advantage of the solar panels on top of the van. They also did something really smart and labeled where each wire went so that there wasn’t any confusion.
Plug everything into this Inergy Apex power box and they will be able to run as many electrical devices as the solar panels allow! It even has USB ports!
This is great because given the size of their DIY home, they don’t look like they will be using too many devices at once. That means they should never have to worry about running out of juice!
One problem did arise during construction related to the shape of the interior of the van. Almost everything had to be fabricated to custom fit the odd angles and curves.
On one hand, it does add extra time to the project, but on the other, everything fits perfectly and naturally. You aren’t trying to fit a square peg into a round hole here!
Up next, they had to install the ceiling. This was a lot easier than you would think. Given that there were already fabricated parts that were created earlier, they just had to cut the ceiling to match everything up.
The whole thing is starting to look like the inside of an awesome little rustic cabin!
The next thing that they had to do is install a small sink and cooking area. The cooking area was easy enough, just a flat surface you can place a portable stove on.
That was the easy part. The hard part is usually in the “how do you clean up” part of the equation…
…And here is how they took care of cleaning up. After installing the sink fixtures, they place a container full of clean water on the right side. On the left, you can see their waste water bucket which goes through the sink drain after they are done cleaning up.
So then where exactly does the water go? I bet you’re wondering how they manage to pull this one off…
Their idea for pumping the water through was great as well! See that little black thing they are stepping down on?
That’s a foot pump that they use to build up pressure for water to come out of the faucet to wash dishes at the end of dinner, just like those high-powered squirt guns we all had as kids.
Though they almost certainly made a few mistakes along the way, they definitely had some great ideas, too. One absolutely genius idea they came up with was how to clean their water tanks.
They took and built a small door leading directly to the outside so that they could easily empty and fill up the fresh water tanks when needed. That way, they don’t have to lug those heavy water tanks through the van!
They figured out how to handle the clean water, but how do they handle the dirty water? It was not that different than the same problem they had with getting water in.
What they did was install this little valve at the bottom of their drain bucket. That way, they could hold onto any waste water until it was safe to drain it!
Once it was safe for them to drain the waste water from the sink they would simply find an appropriate spot and the waste water would come out this drain in the bottom of the van. It doesn’t look like much, but its an absolutely necessary part to this tiny van’s plumbing system!
Believe it or not, this is a pretty great idea. I wish I could borrow this thing for the weekend when they are done with it!
We’ve been over what they did to take care of washing their hands and cleaning the dishes. It’s clear their plumbing knowledge isn’t entirely amateur.
…But what if they have to tend to *ahem* other business? Sometimes nature calls, you know!
Their solution was a simple dry toilet. The toilet itself is not that unlike portable toilets that we have all used at one time in our lives.
There’s nothing fancy to it, just a hole with a bucket under it that you can use if you have to go! Then you have to deal with finding a dumping spot for the bucket, but that’s a story for another day.
Then we come to what might be the most important piece to the puzzle, the bed. After all, you spend a third of your life in one!
Which is why even thought there is not a lot of floor space in this van, they went all out and created something anyone would be comfortable sleeping in! Not to mention it’s the largest piece of furniture in this van, and is clearly the place’s focal point.
Using nothing more than boards and a very simple mattress, they created a bed that is not only comfortable, but actually reclines when you need it to! That way, if you wanted to sit up and read a book, you could do so without having to prop yourself up on you elbows!
The reclining back also doubles as a lid for some extra storage in the back. With such tight quarters, a little storage like this goes a long way!
The way they get the bed to recline is genius in its simplicity. They threaded a rope through a copper pipe that they fastened to the back of the bed. Then they tied the other end around a boat cleat and from all accounts, it seems to be supporting the weight of two full grown adults pretty well!
This camper is coming along quite nicely, isn’t it? I think they are almost ready to show us what it looks like completed!
Adding even more comforts of home, they created a neat little table from a small board and a pipe on a swivel. Not only does this not take up a lot of room, but it can easily be packed away when it is time to get on the road again!
It might not be the most luxurious dining room, but with a van like this, the owners will be travelling a lot and eating in the great outdoors. Campsites usually come with picnic tables, anyway.
To add a few more touches of home, they custom made this tiny set of curtains to make it feel less like a little white van. It’s the little things that really make a house a home.
If you didn’t know this was a little white van on the outside, you would never know! The curtains are great and are another one of many wonderful personal touches!
Now they are putting a few finishing touches and getting ready to pack the van with everything they need to take a trip across country. It’s a long journey and they’ll need a fair amount of stuff. I hope it all fits!
It’s truly amazing what they have done with such a small space. It may not be a three bedroom house, but it’s all about what you need right? It’s more room than I had when I was in college!
Now they are starting to pack the cabinets. As you can see, they have a pretty good collection of spices that they can use for whenever they are cooking dinner at night.
And you always need a change of clothes! It’s amazing how much space they have for everything that they need on their voyage.
Their way of keeping the cabinets open when they are looking through them for something they need is pretty amazing in its simplicity. Little rigid wires lock into place so that laundry is a cinch.
When you are trying to go as minimal as possible, you don’t need some fancy set up. All you need is a little metal rod to hold things up!
Even now, with the camper packed and ready to go there is always an opportunity to put a quick fix on something with the shelving. Here you see them adding a little bit of wood treatment to make these cabinets last as long as possible!
Looks like the couple is almost ready to go! There is just one important thing that they needed to do before heading out on the road…
…grocery shopping! Of course, if you are going to be camping you need to make sure you have a good stock of dry food and non perishables at your disposal at a moment’s notice.
From the way this camper shaped up, it’s not hard to imagine them miles from the nearest grocery store so it’s good that they have a place to store all their grub for when the stomach starts growling! They didn’t build that kitchen for nothing, after all.
One of the last things that they added was this little rack to hold spices and cooking boards. After all, you don’t want your olive oil to go flying across the room when you are going 65 mph down the highway!
This is just a few pieces of wood used as a restraint along one of the van’s walls. It’s a simple fix, but it’ll save a lot of trouble down the road.
And perhaps most importantly, they installed a smoke detector. Yes, we know it is a tiny DIY home. Yes, we know they would probably know if there was a fire pretty much immediately.
That being said, you can never be too careful when it comes to fire prevention! Don’t forget about a gas detector too!
Here is the camper set up and ready to go for when they are sitting around, lounging around in their home away from home. They even draw a floating whale on the back door to give it some artistic flair.
If you let your imagination run wild, you might think that this is a fifty foot long trailer and not a small white van! It’s amazing what they’ve done to the place!
There you have it! From a simple shell of a little white cargo van, to wonderful little DIY home that anyone would be happy to take out on a trip across the country!
It’s amazing what a little elbow grease and ingenuity can pull off. If you’re thinking of trying something like this, I’d say give it a go!