Imagine cruising the historic roads and cities of Europe in your own rolling home. Inside, the cozy interior cradles you in pine paneling. Everything is laid out exactly the way you want it so that this small space doesn’t feel so small, it feels like home.
That’s exactly what Mike Hudson decided to do. He loved the idea so much, he quit his job and spent the next five months building his rolling getaway for a life on the road.
Here is the completed camper van, with a large roof rack.
Mike’s van in its natural habitat, enjoying an evening in the wild.
It was a simple three-part plan. Step 1: Quit the job. Step 2: Build the camper van. Step 3: Travel to a music festival and enjoy some wild camping along the way.
He started with a retired English cargo van, about the size and shape of a Sprinter, and tall enough to give him a full overhead space inside. (This would be a prerequisite for me to live in any camper van!)
The van before conversion.
His conversion was fairly typical, but he came up with some innovative ideas that I thought were worth repeating, so I picked out a few cool features that Mike invented to make his van work for him. Hopefully, they will inspire some of you to improve your own RVs or even build your own van!
The completed camper van interior.
Idea 1: Hemp rope storage rack
Mike’s solid pine paneled walls make a great foundation for hanging things from. Here’s a great option for hanging pots and pans, tools, flashlights, or anything that can hang from a hook.
Rope storage line: practical, inexpensive, and decorative!
- Select an open spot on your wall, with several feet of width, the rope will hang horizontally and needs room beneath for hanging.
- Choose a heavy piece of sisal or hemp rope and cut it to fit the length of the hanging space you want.
- Varnish or tape the ends to keep the strands from separating. If you choose, nylon or poly rope could work but is not as rustic. In this case, burn the ends to melt the fibers together.
- Mark the ends of your rope on the wall and predrill pilot holes for the mounting screws, one at each end.
- Attach the rope, using a screw with a wide, flat head for best results. Your screws need to be at least twice as long as the rope is thick.
- Use hooks (available from most hardware and home centers) to hang your gear.
Idea 2: Sliding wooden shutters
These are really cool and also depend on the wood-paneled walls as a foundation. Light is an issue for many people in tight sleeping quarters, especially if you like to sleep past dawn.
Shutter rails installed.
The shutter installed and closed.
- Cut rails twice the width of your shutters and a little thicker than the shutter material, and attach them to the wall, above and below the window, evenly spaced.
- Tack a wider strip of wood along the front of each runner to create a channel for the shutter.
- Cut shutters and attach handles, then fit them on the runners for an easy open/shut solution.
Idea 3: Super easy van window curtains
The interior of the cargo van has exposed metal frames on the doors. Mike used this to his advantage to mount simple, easy-to-install (and remove) blackout curtains from inexpensive, rugged material.
Curtains installed via magnets.
- Select a heavy, canvas-like material. If you choose a muslin/poly blend, you may not have to hem the edges to keep them from fraying.
- Cut your curtains. Depending on the fabric, you may need a quarter inch hem around the edge to keep them from unraveling.
- Glue strong magnets to your curtain backs with an epoxy adhesive in the corners and along the edges.
- Mount the curtains by attaching the magnets to the door frame!
Mike came up with a lot of great ideas and had some really incredible looking adventures in his van. I highly recommend his website. Happy RVing, I hope this inspires somebody today.