“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Unknown
If you could choose a path that could help you live a more fulfilling life and step out of your comfort zone, what would it be? Anything? Anything?? How about now? Well, if you can’t think of anything, maybe try to figure out something after you’re done reading this. I want to share with you what I decided to do when it came to opening my eyes to what the world had to offer and taking life by the horns. I bought a van, and decided to become a van dweller to travel and make my life a constant adventure. If you haven’t read my previous post, please do so.
Click Here—-> I Bought a Van
This post is all about sharing the beginning of the Van Life adventure for me and how I made a 90’s van into a 60 sq. foot cozy home on wheels. When my SO and I first bought Bertha, she was horrid and smelt like 27 years of not being cleaned enough. After tons of research of what to do and what not to do, we decided to gut her to her naked self. Let me tell you, this was not an easy task. Take a look at what she looked like before she was touched.
As you can see, she needed work. The first thing we did? Rip out the existing bed. Originally, this bed was supposed to work as a couch/bed, but was forever in bed mode since the van’s electric system was non-functioning. Getting it out consisted of cranking the bolts while simultaneously holding the nuts underneath the van. Some of the bolts were rusty and stubborn and so we had to grease them and split the nut apart. It took a lot of strength, patience, and expletives. Once the bed was completely out, then it was time to rip out the old stained carpet.
Once the carpet was out, it was my absolute goal to rip out the existing ceiling because there were a few inches up there of space that could be utilized. There were two cabinets on each end of the van, one was for storage and the other end was for the AC/Heater unit that did not work properly. I ripped out the unit and the cabinet at the end of the van and began to get rid of that ceiling. You know how I did it? With a handsaw, yes a handsaw. If I was to use an electric saw, I would have risked cutting the fiberglass hightop. With lots of strength and energy, the handsaw got the job done.
During the entire gut process, it was very interesting to see how things progressed. In the pictures above, you can tell the difference and start to imagine what the van will end up looking like. With the ceiling out and a bit taller, I was able to start preparing it for wood and framing out a new front cabinet.
The framing process was a tricky one since the top is fiberglass, so we had to attach a new ceiling to the wood that was embedded in the fiberglass top. If you look closer to the pictures, you will be able to see them built into the fiberglass. Everyone does their ceiling different, but since I had no experience and no idea was I was doing, I improvised. This process took two 8 hour days, and I did them when I was sick. You could definitely say that I was motivated. The ceiling was done first by attaching three-panel pieces to the wood ribs in the fiberglass. To add extra insulation to the top, we put thin reflectix on top of the panels as we attached them. Afterwards, I refaced and restructured the front loft cabinet. I structured the rest of the sides with thin pieces of wood, and I would use those to attach the individually cut to size panel pieces. I measured everything twice, and I used a jigsaw to cut each piece. For the ceiling, we used 1/4 inch paneling, the nice kind. The end result was far from perfect, but I was alright with that. I had done something that I never thought that I would do. The walls we decided that we would keep original since they were in good condition.
Next, we would work on the flooring. After researching the many options for flooring, we decided that we would go with vinyl. In the forums and Youtube videos we watched; real hardwood floors were too heavy and stick-and-peel was just not for us. We made a trip to a local Habitat for Humanity and we found ourselves a lovely cabinet and vinyl flooring. How much for the flooring?
I was pretty bad and did not take pictures of the finished flooring. However, I will include more pictures of what it looks like with furniture in. During this whole process, I wish I would have taken more pictures and actually had quality time to document the journey. Due to the short timeline, I did not have the energy to write about it or take photos. However, I will be sharing as much as I am able. This post is just a surface post about the renovation and the steps that were done to complete the van. In future posts, I plan on discussing specifics about where I got materials and the supplies I used. Once the flooring was put in, then it was time for furniture, which I will be discussing in the next renovation post. Stayed tuned next week.
What did you think? Let me know below in the comments.