The Caravan Interviews – Dee Campling.
My name is Dee Campling and I’m from Cheltenham in Gloucestershire. I’ve always loved camping and outdoor living and have long hankered after buying a camper van. We recently bought a VW Transporter, Ted, with plans to convert it into a camper, complete with a pop up roof, kitchen and folding seats for beds. However, the cost of doing this work turned out to be prohibitive – up to £5000 for the roof conversion alone!
So we had to think again and the idea of a caravan came to me. Not any old bland, beige caravan though that you see seas of at caravan parks. It had to have the character, beauty and quirkiness that a camper van would have. These didn’t exist as far as I knew, but a quick look at Pinterest, and Happy Harris’s website confirmed that these type of caravans do exist, as long as you’re prepared to create it yourself. I absolutely love interior design, old vehicles and outdoor living, as I mentioned before, so the idea of finding and doing up a vintage caravan ticked every box for me!
So the search for a caravan began! I quickly decided not to go for classic, iconic caravan, such as a Cheltenham or Carlight, as I’d be obliged to restore it sympathetically. I wanted to be able to got to town on a caravan, without ruining it. My only rule was that it had to be dry and with a solid chassis.
Anyway, we soon found a 1978 A Line Crown that had been parked under a tree on a friends neighbours drive for 30 years. It hadn’t been driven for all that time and had just been used as storage. We hitched it up (the towing lights still worked perfectly) and towed it home. Absolutely everyone thought I was mad!
And I was inclined to agree! The caravan was a shrine to 70s bad taste. Brown, with brown carpet, brown kitchen units, fake beige cork tiled walls, brown upholstery and brown curtains. There was definitely a theme going on. It also reeked and it was full of spiders. So I started off by jet washing the outside and cleaning the whole of the inside with sugar soap. I then painted every wall and cupboard inside the caravan with melamine primer.
Anyway, about 6 coats of paint (seriously!) the inside began to look a bit better.
I then decided to concentrate on the outside while the weather was dry. I started off by sanding the whole caravan and removing all of the old sealant. This took ages. I then painted the brown sections coats of trade exterior undercoat with a foam roller, sanding down between coats. I then applied 2 coats of Johnson’s Trade Exterior gloss, mixed up to match our VW, and achieved this result.
I’m very pleased with the finish, considering that it s not a spray job!
I then turned my attentions back to the inside and had the seat cushions recovered in Clarke and Clarke fabric and brilliantly made by The Sewing Angel.
I then decided to make a feature of the caravan door with Pip Studios wallpaper samples, I am ridiculously pleased with the result and I think it’s my favourite part of the caravan!
Finally, I put a new vinyl floor down. It’s Rhino Artwood in Bleached Wood.
In total, the caravan took about 4 months to do up but on a very much part time basis. My lovely dad helped me too with some of the structural work which included removing the old bathroom and repairing some damage caused by the leaking bathroom window.
What I love about the caravan the most is its ability to be multipurpose. At the moment it’s in my front garden and it’s a real talking point with passers by! My kids love playing in it, I have friends over for a cuppa in it and I use it for a bit of peace and quiet. Next year we’ll use it for family weekends away but it’s most important job will be as a shop front next year at festivals for my shop Huddle
In total, the caravan has cost £700 which I think is a total bargain, considering how much you can do with it. I love it and am enjoying every second of doing it up. Even George Clarke declared it ‘very cool’ when I tweeted him a picture if it recently!
Thank you to Dee for sharing her experiences of her Caravan Makeover, I must add that it is still a work in progress…but she was sweet enough to show us how she is getting on!
So please go and visit her and tell her what a lovely job she is doing over on her blog HERE…and remember to tell her Happy sent Ya 😉
Have a Happy Weekend my lovelies!