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Case Study: Couple's Inspiring Van Conversion

Liv & Lewis, the couple behind @2bags1van on TikTok and @2bags1van on Instagram, quadrupled the value of a Mercedes Sprinter, from £11K to £45K, by transforming it into a chic mobile home with a toilet, shower and projector included. We spoke to the couple, both 28, to find out a bit more about the costs, DIY and some hacks they carried out to save money.

What Was the Project?

In 2019, the couple made the decision to leave their home and quit their jobs in London to travel around the world. However, the pandemic struck which brought their travel plans to a halt. February 2021 saw the couple spending £11K on a van and renovating the blank canvas into their very own mobile home. They spent a total of 7 months on the project and £13K on the interiors of the van, which included all the furnishing, electric and plumbing.

The couple spent £25K in total on the van conversion and said they wanted to ensure that everything was of the highest quality and efficiency to create the perfect homely space for plenty of travel plans.

Check out the campervan transformation below!

This van conversion is up there with some of the best we’ve seen, and has a chic, modern design with a homely, spacious feel. Liv claims,  “When we close the door it doesn’t feel like a van at all, more like a very small fancy AirBnB!” 

How Long Did it Take?

The renovation took around 7 months to complete and Liv went into more detail about the huge job they had on their hands:

We bought our van on 9th February 2021 and from then until mid-June we spent nearly every weekend working on the van. In the middle of June, Lewis left his job and started working on the van full time with his Grandad, up until we left on 28th September.” 

Van Conversion Before and After

What About the Costs?

Asking about the most expensive items in the van, Liv & Lew stated that “The item/s we spent the most money on was definitely our solar panels and electrical system, and we have the max amount of power for a van of our size so this cost us around £2.2K."

Other costs included the plumbing and electrics, which they saved money on by roping in Lewis’s Grandad to help! “We did the entire build, plumbing and electrics ourselves with the expertise and help from Lewis’s Grandad John who is in his 70’s and a retired joiner. As we worked on it full time for 3 months we saved huge costs in comparison to getting someone else to do the work for us.”

They managed to save money throughout the project by teaching themselves DIY, for example when making the seats and cushions. They cut some wood to size, found some cheap foam and fabric, then used a staple gun to attach the cushions to the wood. The projector was a bonus as it was a freebie they won in a competition, saving them an extra £350, and ended up being perfect for their small campervan!

Another example of how they saved money was with the headboard. Liv was inspired by a £250/metre fabric but made her own for just £8.

“We knew we wanted something stand out to define the back of our bed and Liv saw one on Instagram she loved but the fabric was £250. So she painted the same design onto some cheap fabric and made the headboard herself, which turned out great! Again we made the headboard by cutting foam to size (with an electric carving knife), sticking it to the shaped wood & using a staple gun to attach.”

How Did They Save Money?

Instead of getting a custom made mattress cut to the perfect size of the bed, they bought a bog standard size from Argos and cut with an electric carving knife to fit the bed perfectly. The worktops were £50 from IKEA, the pull-out table was £9 from IKEA and they built their kitchen and hanging cabinets themselves so they saved on even more costs.

Lewis states “lots of campervan converters think that these things need to be bespoke made or cut from wood and really you can buy off the shelf and cut it to the size you need, it just takes a little thinking outside of the box.”

They admitted that they’ve never had a better night’s sleep!

Van Conversion Bed

What Was the Biggest Learning Curve?

We asked Liv & Lew what their biggest challenge was in converting this van into a mobile home and it's not what you'd expect!

“Everything in a van conversion feels like a learning curve to be honest and nothing ever goes to plan the first time. However the trickiest thing throughout the entire build was definitely building in a van that's curved! There are no straight lines, the walls are curved, and the ceiling and floor are different widths - it's a real mind boggler!”

How Much Value Has the Conversion Added?

The couple say the renovation has quadrupled the value of the Mercedes Sprinter, from £11K to £45K which would leave them with a hefty profit if they were to sell the van. ​However, they have no plans to sell as they will be living in the van whilst they travel around the world.

Van Renovation

What Interior Style Did They Go For?

Once they got around the tricky shape of the van, it was time to freshen up the furnishings. The finished look is glorious boho style with a contemporary edge, including sleek finishes and gold detailing. On discussion of how they decided the design and layout of the van, Lewis stated:

“Liv loves gold so every detail down to sockets and visible screws have a gold finish! We wanted it to feel warm and cosy so our main pops of colour are pinks and oranges, however we kept in lots of white to make the small space feel larger. We also added elements of exposed wood and rattan to add to the warmth of the space and create more character.”

Get the Look

  • Tiles - Topps Tiles UK (£40/metre)
  • Worktops - IKEA (£50)
  • Fridge - Inlander Low Voltage (£450)
  • Sink - Olif Design  (£375)
  • Cushions H&M & Dunelm (approx £12 each)
  • Bed Sheets - Piglet in Bed (£392)
  • Outside chairs - Zara Home (£89.99)
  • Outside table - SKLUM (£39.95)
  • Wall light - IKEA (£13)
  • Faux plants - Sainsbury’s (£8-£12 each)
  • Gold cutlery - Wilko (£20)

To top everything off, we provided this money saving couple with a sleek gold tap, (product details are below), which looks beautiful against the other gold details and worktops. Here it is in action!

Van Conversion Kitchen

Liv was delighted with the outcome of the tap,

Our gold tap is one of the main features of our van, it's the first thing you see as you open our doors and the curved contemporary shape is a real show stopper. It’s the perfect finish to our large L shaped kitchen and we bet no one else has seen a tap this fancy in a van before!”

Here are some of our best brass and gold taps if you, too, feel drawn to that sparkling finish.

What Was Their Favourite Part of the Renovation? 

For Liv, her favourite part was designing the van and its interior, and admitted at the start of the project she had plenty of van conversion interior ideas and created a Google presentation of how she wanted it to turn out. Whereas Lewis's favourite part was a little more DIY focused as he enjoyed building the kitchen from scratch and spending quality time with his Grandad.

You have to applaud the couple for their money saving hacks and savvy storage that helped them to create one of the most glamorous vans out there. It’s amazing what you can do yourself with a few tools, cheap materials and a keen eye for DIY. The hashtag #campervanconversion has over 330K posts on Instagram, and it seems many like-minded individuals are also creating their own homely vans to go travelling in!

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