Wednesday, June 17, 2015

a peek inside the van project

I shared a while back that we bought a van with the plan to convert it into a camper van for our family adventures.Today I thought it would be fun to share our progress on the project! 

We bought a 2015 Ford Transit, it was a completely empty cargo van with a ceiling tall enough for Andy to comfortably stand.To make it work for our family, we needed to install more seating for Lucy and additional passengers. The first thing we did was take it to a professional van conversion shop to get this done. We used Van Specialties in Portland, Oregon and they did a great job!
Next we made a plan for the interior. We lost a lot of space with the bench seat so we had to be really thoughtful about how we would use the remaining space. Andy and I went back and forth and finally settled on a plan that would work for our family and how we would be using the van.

At this stage in the "van conversion world' you typically need to decide if you want to insulate the walls of your van. Insulation is helpful to keep things cool and warm depending on the conditions you will be traveling in. Since we know that we won't be doing anything hard core or too extreme any time soon, we decided against insulation for the time being. We have plans in the next couple of years to likely add insulation as we tweak and change the interior.

Next, Andy got to work building a bed frame, benches and the beginning of a small cupboard that will hold a sink. As many of you know, Andy was a structural engineer in his "previous life" so the structure and safety of the frame was really important to him. It was also important for things to be somewhat easy to remove if we need to make additions or tweaks in the future. Here is a look at the process

We wanted the bed to be high enough so we would have lots of storage underneath for our travel things, food, surfboards and all that kid stuff we take when we hit the road!

We put doors on top of the bed for access.

The van came with lightweight soundproofing on the walls that we decided to keep for now. They were just screaming for a drawing! Since I can't resist drawing pattern on anything and everything, I added a little creativity to one wall. 

Andy built two benches that are attached to the bed frame. In between the benches, we will be installing a small table top and base that will be removable.

One of the benches is storage for a camping flush toilet. While our plans are to stay at campgrounds with facilities, I really wanted space for a portable "pee pee chair" for long drives and emergencies (too much information sorry).

The design that we came up with was to have a full size bed built into the back that could expand into a queen bed by using the benches and the table top. This way we can all fit comfortably in the space at night.

There was no way we were gonna let the interior go without tons of texture and pattern. We totally wanted our van to have a hippie vibe! I've been collecting textiles and fabric for the walls, ceiling and curtains. While I still have some really cool treatments to do on the remaining walls, I added some tapestries for now. I used magnets to keep everything in place!

Hippie vibe totally achieved!

While we still have a lot of work to do before we are ready for a trip, we've been having so much fun taking day trips in the van. We pack up some food, our art supplies and hit the road. We find a pretty spot to pull over, open up the doors and just relax!


moongirl said...

Wow!!!! What a wonderful place to be in when travelling! So impressive to see how it all came together. That is just super awesome!

studioGypsy said...

lovelovelove!! just beautiful and adventurous.. so excited for you all! xo

Teri said...

Bravo!! Looking forward to hearing of your adventures!

The Tote Trove said...

That is one funky, badass van! I dig your amazing patterns and the last shot showing the gorgeous scenery :)

Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

You are insanely cool! Just sayin'.

sharon stanley said...

this is fun on so many levels, but mostly because you are doing it with your peeps! i love it. lucy will grow up having a blast here!

nicolette said...

c'est super ! que de beaux voyages en perspective !

doro K. said...

you both (three) did a great work! it's that kind of van i've ever dreamt of...
really, really brilliant!

best wishes, doro K.

CreativaCale said...

Fenomenalno! Muž i ja sanjamo o tome ali nemamo dovoljno novaca da kupimo gotov.Ovo je neverovatno iskustvo.Hvala Vam.Proslediću na mom blogu.Ja sam Vaš fan :)

sannimade said...

Just great, Alisa!! :-D I love it!! The last pic of you sitting in the back of the van is simply awesome!! <3

Have great trips and enjoy the family time!
Sanni (c:

Sarah ~ Crafts from the Cwtch said...

My 6 year old is completely smitten with these photos and I may never hear the end of it ;)

I am sure you will make many happy memories in it x

Virginia said...

Absolutely amazing!

An_Geli_Ka said...

love the Hippie style

Evelin Ivone Kegler said...

Tanta inspiración, me encanta. ♥ ♥ ♥

Patricia Schwab said...

It looks fantastic. The picture of Lucy with the big straw hat is one of my favorites of the cutie pie. Sounds like some great adventures are in the making.

Mary W said...

It all looks so fun - imagine the possibilities together. You all are determining your life and living it. Nice to see some do it for real. The picture of Lucy where she is looking down and smiling with the big hat on is so adorable. I can picture that portion enlarged and printed really big for a wall.

Natty said...

Wow! This looks AMAZING! I really like your creative ideas ♥

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness that looks good! So much fun and I love your views from the rear window. Mind you it looks so squishy and comfortable in there, I'm not sure I would want to come out. I love your fabrics and the designs on the walls.

Even when I had a man, he wasn't very useful! How fantastic that between you, you are clever enough to fix up this van. I hope you have amazing times out and about, seeing the world.

Nancy said...

You're doing a wonderful job achieving your "dream van/camper". There are a lot of steps in the process, but it's looking great.

astr!d said...

that's just amazing!! i love it all!

Emily Stowe said...

This is so awesome! How do you convert the bed from a double to a queen? Do you have an additional skinny strip of padding to add to the bench/table area that you can store under the bed during the day?

Stephanie said...

You guys have done a great job!

maria f. said...

That looks wonderful. Enjoy!

TesoriTrovati said...

That is fantastic! I love the shot of Miss Lucy in the black and white with the hat and the playful patterns everywhere. But that last shot of you is the money shot. Can't beat that view! Enjoy the day! Erin

Mary Sane said...

How adorable is this?! I love it! I'm wondering if you will bring a tent as well if you want more space outside the van if it's raining? (You know one of them tents that is open on one side so you can put that side towards the car)

britt schmiesing said...

very clever!

Jo Murray said...

that is beyond superb! Bravo.

Corrine at said...

Your family is so creative all of you. What wonderful memories you will be creating here!

Sunny (D. L.) Steinmetz said...

How fun! I'd love to have that!

Brig said...


Paintedpaper said...

As a mom to 2 kiddos that porta potty has saved us many times!!! It is the most important thing I pack when we camp. :)

livethegoldenrule said...

You guys sure have done a great job!! LOVE IT!! I can tell you put a lot of thought into this project, and did your homework. So proud of you. :D)

Elisabetta Brustio said...

Woooooooo! Troppo anni 60!!!
Il progetto del letto che si trasforma con il tavolino e la "sedia pipì" di emergenza è fantastico! Bravo Andy e Brava Alisa per i disegni, i decori e le stoffe. Ma in esterno lo lasciamo tutto bianco....??? Co-lo-re! Co-lo-re!

Woooooooo! So Hippie stile!
The project of the bed that turns in table and the "pee pee chair" emergency is fantastic! Bravo Andy and Brava Alisa for drawings, patterns and fabrics. But we leave it outside all white .... ??? Co-lor! Co-lor!

Anonymous said...

I just loooooooooooooooove it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love from Portugal

Amber said...

Now, I knew when you posted that you'd bought the van, and what you were going to do with it, that it would be the coolest freaking hippie van ever. And you STILL blew me away! Coolest. Van. EVER.

Valerie Brown said...

Love it! I for one am glad you posted about the toilet - that's the kind of detail I always wonder about!

Ketie said...

Dear Alisa,
Can you adopt me?

Sue Marrazzo said...


Teresa Cassidy said...

What an amazing adventure for you and your family, enjoy!!

Anonymous said...

Pure bliss! Enjoy every moment of creating this enchanted space that will inspire the three of you for new discoveries of our world's beauty!

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Sandy said...

I'm sitting here looking at your blog and thinking boy is Lucy one lucky little girl to be growing up with two talented artist for parents. I can't imagine how awesome it's going to be when she's grown up and looking back at these gorgeous photos you take of her and all of your adventures. You both do such a great job with her. I love the van and hope you have lots of fun in it.

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Ellyen Simmons said...

The project of the bed that turns in table and the "pee pee chair" emergency is fantastic! Spartagen XT

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Neil Hlavaty said...

What trim of the Ford Transit did you guys purchase? I'm in love with the simple and effective design that you guys chose to go with, and that you can actually stand up!

Neil Hlavaty said...

Awesome conversion! I have a few questions for your guys. What trim of the Ford Transit did you guys purchase? And, what is the black material that the walls of the van are lined with that allow you to anchor the frame of your bed to it? Thanks for your time!


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