5 Cheap Hacks to Create a Dream Van Conversion!

5 Cheap Hacks to Create a Dream Van Conversion!

Building your own van conversion can be as cheap or expensive as you want, after all you are making this van for you – so you create the van of your dreams.

5 Cheap Hacks to Create a Dream Van Conversion!

After we spent 18 months living full-time in our VWT4 (which we hadn’t converted ourselves) we moved into a 30ft narrowboat, which we did some modifications to so it fit our needs. Creating a fixed bed was key for us, and this carried over to the van conversion too. You can watch a tour of both our first van and the boat here:

When it came to designing and creating a new van from scratch we knew we wanted:

  • Standing room

  • Decent sized kitchen (basically more than one hob!)

  • Seating area and a fixed bed

We messed around with a couple of different layouts, opting to forgo a bathroom, and came up with the layout we now live in.

Here are 5 cheap hacks we used within the conversion to create our dream home.

Upcycled Kitchen

We created our country kitchen vibe with the help of a freebie dresser!

We created our country kitchen vibe with the help of a freebie dresser!

There’s absolutely no way we could have built something like this from scratch, so we snapped up this dresser from Theo’s parents who were throwing it out. Perfect for us as we didn’t have to buy any materials to build it which saved us some cash!

Before we chopped it up and painted it

Before we chopped it up and painted it

Painting the unit was the only cost involved in this, as we already had the wood, copper piping and other misc items needed to transform it from it’s original state to our kitchen centrepiece. We went with Rustoleum Bramwell Chalk Paint and protected it with a layer of clear varnish. Once dried we added the copper piping, handles from Amazon, and there you go – our rustic country kitchen piece was finished! 

You can watch the entire process here:

Don’t miss PART 1 of this project: It still looks kind of crazy, so painting it is incredibly exciting! We have chopped the dresser/cabinet up and stuck it back together again so it can fit perfectly in our van build kitchen.

Build Your Own Toilet

DIY separating composting toilet - The Indie Projects

I’ve written an in-depth article about how we saved ourselves hundreds of pounds building our own composting toilet, and it works absolutely fantastically. Keeping the urine and the faeces separate ensures you can easily empty out the wee pot and dispose of the faeces easily. Here’s an excerpt:

“But don’t they smell?!

Composting toilets can smell. However, so do normal toilets, and chemical toilets, and pretty much any toilet. The way to minimise smell in composting toilets boils down to:

  1. Separating the urine from the faeces

  2. Covering faeces in compostable material (there is a wide variety, most use sawdust)

Building your own composting toilet is also incredibly easy. We have been scratching our heads ever since we built it because we can’t believe we didn’t do it sooner!

Below are the steps to building one, along with the materials needed…”

Read more here!

After many years using a chemical cassette toilet we’ve decided to move over to a home made composting toilet, mainly due to the fact that they are incredibly low maintenance and you can empty them pretty much anywhere!

Recycle Caravan Cushions

Once upholstered these cushions looked fantastic1

Once upholstered these cushions looked fantastic1

A common theme in van conversions is to use foam for your seating, however it’s usually quite thin or not wide enough. Brand new foam is also surprisingly pricey, which can add up once you need to upholster the foam too. This is where our favourite hack comes in; buy some cheap second hand caravan cushions! 

You can grab a bargain on ebay

You can grab a bargain on ebay

Designed for optimal seating experience they are the right thickness and depth for a comfortable seat, and you will get a lot more foam for your money this way. You may also be keen on the current upholstery so you don’t even have to worry about the cost of upholstering them!

eBay is where we found our caravan cushions, and there’s always a supply of new listings for you to grab. Even better if you’ve got time you can search for cushions being thrown out – for free.

In love with our comfortable seating area!

In love with our comfortable seating area!

Thrift stores

5 Cheap Hacks to Create a Dream Van Conversion - The Indie Projects

This may seem a no-brainer for some, but you can pick up some absolute gems in second hand/charity/thrift stores. Our spice rack, kitchen ware, kitchen drawer, and couple of other pieces I can’t quite remember were found in these types of shops/online. it’s well worth browsing for items you can use in your build which could be cheaper than building yourself – like our kitchen drawers and spice rack!

DIY Fruit basket

Possibly the simplest hack in the list, I was fed up of fruit taking up valuable kitchen space and needed a permanent solution. I scoured online for fruit baskets but they were either too big, didn’t fit the theme of the van or quite pricey. instead I opted to use a crochet bag with some hooks and voila; for a couple of pounds I had a simple yet effective fruit basket that also doubles up as a shopping bag to go and buy the fruit in!

The DIY Fruit basket fits the decor of the van perfectly

The DIY Fruit basket fits the decor of the van perfectly

You can watch the entire tour of our gorgeous van conversion here, it’s well worth the watch!

Welcome to a much-awaited tour of our van! We bought our LWB Mercedes Sprinter, converted, and moved into it in 2018. The entire build was dreamed up over many years, from originally living in a VWT4 for 18months, then a narrowboat for three years, we knew how we wanted our ideal van and the way to do it was to create it ourselves!

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