Perhaps it’s the spring weather, but hitting the open road and exploring suddenly seems like a more appealing idea than ever. These 8 van conversions, many of which were crafted by DIYers with little experience yet lots of creativity, persistence, and wanderlust, will motivate you to give the mobile life a try.
Images via This Moving House
When Jack Richens and his girlfriend converted a Mercedes Benz Sprinter in 2012, they used boat bunk designs and stacked beds to transform the camper into a weekender on wheels. Complete with storage under stairs and beneath the floor, the space features 4 captains chairs , several of which turn so that his crew can gather around for a meal. A group meal? In a camper? But of course: the camper includes a sink, two-stove burner, and (more recently) a mini fridge. Little details such as a tiled backsplash and a cheerful curtain with birds to separate the sleeping spaces makes the camper stylish and cozy instead of cramped.
Images via The Vanual
Zach Both left a desk job and became a traveling filmmaker; along the way he converted a cargo van that now serves as a dream living space that doubles as a mobile office. A man on the move, Both uses his freedom to travel far and wide and bring everything he needs…except perhaps a shower and toilet. The interior incorporates crisp white bedding, wood-paneled ceiling and cabinet space and even a mini cooking space that becomes concealed by a desktop. The top of the van is outfitted with solar panels. To inspire and inform others, Both created “The Vanual”, a DIY guide that covers everything you’d need to convert a camper van.
Images via Van Dog Traveler
Another young gent who quit his job for the open road, Mike Hudson converted a van in 2014 and has been on the go ever since; he spent the winter in Sardinia and has traveled throughout Europe and to Morocco. Although previously a novice at camper conversions, Hudson handcrafted the van of his dreams, complete with a water pump, water heater, graywater tank, toilet and shower, solar panels, a burner, and a fridge/freezer. There’s even a fold-down workspace and a few happy plants to make it feel like home.
Images via Norbert Juhász
Freelance photographer and writer are ideal professions for those with a penchant for wanderlust, and Norbert Juhász and Dora created their home on wheels with the plan to drive from Budapest to Morocco (they are currently in Spain). Breathing life and style into a 16-year-old van, the couple’s space now includes custom-built wood furniture (with green borders), a seat that converts into a bed for two, and a 12-volt electrical system that can be powered via the engine’s generator or roof-mounted solar panels. Small details like a mini bookshelf and a spice rack bring the creature comforts of home into their road-ready version.
Images via Pam the Van
Marina Piro may have been a novice at DIY van conversions, but this hands-on, ambitious traveler ultimately created a homey, comfy dwelling for herself and her rescue pup Odie. Piro restored the van entirely by herself (although we’re sure Odie was there for moral support), laying floor, building a kitchenette and a bed, and finding clever spaces for kitchen utensils and storage. Her website also includes useful tips and posts on traveling with pets as well as camper van maintenance.
Images by Jo Wickham Photography for Studio 106
A change of scenery will work wonders for your mindset, and the architects at Studio 106 downsized their office and made it mobile to take advantage of the New Zealand weather and scenery. By collaborating with partners including a company that makes foldable cardboard work stations and another that owns semi-converted caravans to rent for events and parties, the Studio 106 crew temporarily set up shop at picturesque stops including beside the harbor. Outdoor tables expanded their possible work space and allowed them to take advantage of the fresh air. After their caravan stint, the architects found that the smaller space had unexpected benefits such as reduction of waste and an atmosphere that promoted idea-sharing more easily.
Dipa Vasudeva Das took DIY van conversion to a whole different level with his woodworking skills. What started out as a typical van is now a treasure trove of secret compartments, handcrafted storage, and clever multilevel living solutions that makes the space welcoming for Vasudeva Das, his dog, and guests. The van (dubbed the “Earthship”) functions as a living, working, sleeping, entertaining, meditating space. A skylight and wood-burning fireplace (along with a chimney) allow Vasudeva Das to make the most of every weather situation; he also crafted a fold-down outdoor deck that also serves as bike storage.
Still a little nervous about your own DIY camper conversion capabilities? Get a step ahead when (or maybe if) the Volkswagen Westfalia gets revived as a battery-electric vehicle. The much beloved camper hasn’t been made since 2003, but in 2015, news hit that a new camper using a small electric motor to power the front wheels was in the concept phase. More recently, VW unveiled an electric-powered microbus named the I.D. Buzz that has the potential to be fully autonomous, but we’re still crossing our fingers for a version that captures the hippie soul and simplicity of the Westfalia.
Lead image via Zach Both