Renovate your campervan – our makeover tips# Camping
Are you planning to renovate your campervan?
Fantastic! Here’s are some great tips for you on ways to renovate your motorhome. We’ll show you how to make the most of your camper covering everything from new flooring to restyling your cabinet doors, curtains and upholstery. Goodbye to oak veneer and drab colours, it’s time for a fresh new look!
Most of the materials you’ll need are easily available from DIY stores or textiles shops. We recommend using practical mounting glue rather than a drill on your camper interior to avoid unsightly holes. Adhesives are available in a tube or as double-sided tape and can be removed completely without leaving any marks. We’ll give you lots of simple DIY tips for revamping your campervan.
You can find the most relevant sections for you in our table of contents:
- Beautiful curtains for your campervan
- Spruce up your upholstery
- Give your cabinets a new look
- Create stylish storage containers with preserving jars
- Renovate your campervan: new flooring for your motorhome
- Create a romantic glamping look with fairy lights
- Fairy lights in a jar
- Renovate your campervan: elasticated storage system
- Painting: decorate your walls with geometric shapes
- Make your own vintage style fabric bunting
- Renovate your campervan: add a handcrafted touch
- Spruce up the inside of your campervan: do-it-yourself interview
Beautiful curtains for your campervan
Replacing the curtains is probably the best place to start revamping your campervan. Over the years, curtains accumulate smells that are almost impossible to get rid of. So throw out your old curtains and replace them with beautiful new ones! You can find a huge range of curtains with different designs online or in home furnishing or DIY stores. Whether you’re looking for classic curtains, sliding panels or pleated blinds, you’re sure to find the perfect solution for your motorhome. This campervan is a perfect example of how the right curtains can really brighten up your camper.
Here’s a perfect example of how the right curtains can really brighten up your camper.
Spruce up your upholstery
It can also be difficult to get rid of smells from upholstery. Besides, if they are used frequently, your seat cushions will eventually start to look worn. So why not take the opportunity to spruce up your upholstery? After all, old worn-out seat covers are neither stylish nor inviting.
From sleek anthracite to brightly coloured patterns – your imagination and creativity have no limits. Arabian nights-inspired campervan Tipiyeah has a snazzy, comfortable lounge area with matching cushions, a stylish table and petrol-coloured paintwork. Odi has Moroccan-style seat cushions and lots of colour – new upholstery has given this gem of a camper a new shine.
While this kind of revamp probably involves the most effort, it’s well worth it! Transforming your home on wheels will give it a unique, fresh flair and add a whole new dimension to your next trip.
What you need:
- You’ll need to take exact measurements for the entire seating area (seat, back and sides) so you know how much fabric is required or you can get this information from the manufacturer.
- Your chosen fabric – it’s important to choose a fabric that is sturdy and padded. You might also want to opt for fire-resistant material, although this is not a requirement. We recommend seeking advice from an expert.
- If you are planning to sew your own seat covers, you’ll also need:
- Strong thread
- Sewing machine
- Embroidery needles
- Fabric shears
- Something to unpick seams with
Making your seat covers:
As selecting the right type of fabric and replacing upholstery can be tricky, it’s a good idea to seek advice from a specialist retailer before you start. The first step is to remove the old seat covers. You should either get this done by a professional or search online for step-by-step instructions on the best way to do this. Next you need to take careful measurements of the seats. There are specialist upholsterers who will cut and stitch the fabric to fit the seats in your motorhome perfectly. Of course, if you’re skilled at sewing and pattern making, you can also do this yourself.
Once they’re stitched and ready, you can fit your new covers on your seats and enjoy your camper’s new look!
New front seat covers for your campervan
Whether you have bench seats or individual seats, you probably don’t pay much attention to the front seats of your van. But if you want to add a bit of style here too, new seat covers could be just what you need. They can also be very practical. For example, if you spend a lot of time in the water, waterproof seat covers could come in really handy. Perhaps you need to you put your damp wetsuit in the front or briefly sit in the driver’s seat in a wet bikini or swimming shorts.
You can use masking tape or other easily removable adhesive tape to attach the covers to your seats so they don’t move around. Tape over the whole seat bit by bit then peel off the tape in one piece. You can use these taped forms to prepare your new seat covers and cut your fabric to the right size. For vintage seats in a VW T1 or T2, this is quick and easy to do. It takes a little longer for newer campervans with curved seat backs, such as Mercedes.
This is how Berne and Mande of Fern the Bus did it:
Give your cabinets a new look
If you’re planning to renovate your campervan and you’re looking for a way to really change the interior, we recommend giving your cabinet doors a makeover. This doesn’t mean you have to splash out on new cabinets – that’s not usually necessary. Instead, you can simply cover the cabinet doors with attractive self-adhesive film.
What you need:
- Rolls of self-adhesive film in the design and colour of your choice
- Tape measure
- Plastic card (to smooth out air bubbles)
Restyling your cabinets:
Clean and dry the cabinet doors thoroughly before you start to ensure the film sticks well. You can do this using a soapy, wet cloth and some kitchen paper. Next, measure the cabinet doors with a tape measure and note down the dimensions. Measure out and mark the size for each door on the back of the self-adhesive film. Make sure you include enough to cover the door edges so the only design will be completely covered. Then carefully cut out the pieces with scissors following the lines you have drawn. Now you can stick the film on your cabinet doors. Do this slowly and take care to avoid air bubbles. You can use a plastic card (e.g. bank or credit card) to smooth out any bubbles, but make sure your always start from the centre. Do this for all your cabinets to give your old furniture a new lease of life.
Create stylish storage containers with preserving jars
If your caravan or motorhome has a bathroom, here’s a great idea for renovating this part of your camper. Small, useful items that a real camper needs often accumulate in the bathroom. If they’re not stored away tidily, small objects like make-up brushes, cotton buds, razors or toothbrushes can easily make your little bathroom look messy. Why not tidy it up with some stylish storage containers made from preserving jars?
Glass jars are not only practical as drinking glasses, they’re also great for all sorts of DIY crafts. This attractive storage solution for bathrooms is easy to make.
What you need
- Wooden board, approx 40 x 15 cm
- Preserving jars
- Large hose clamps (e.g. for the hose on a washing machine)
Make your storage containers:
Optional: Glaze the wooden board in your chosen shade and allow it to dry. Attach the preserving jar to the wooden board using hose clamps. We recommend attaching the board to the wall of your bathroom with glue – this will avoid damaging the relatively thin camper walls by drilling holes. Make sure you clean and dry the wall thoroughly before you apply the glue so it sticks well. Your practical, handmade containers are ready to use!
Renovate your campervan: new flooring for your motorhome
It’s true that a caravan or motorhome can feel pretty crowded. So laying new flooring in such a small space could be a little uncomfortable. But a new floor can really make a difference and even make your camper look bigger! There are several different flooring options to choose from, such as click laminate, vinyl or carpet. It’s best to seek advice in a DIY store or specialist retailer before you start.
If you are short of time or don’t want to replace all the flooring but still want a new look, why not buy a small piece of carpet and lay this on top of the existing flooring?
Create a romantic glamping look with fairy lights
How about giving your campervan a new look with a few simple accessories that are quick and easy to make?
Fairy lights are a clever way to create a relaxing and romantic atmosphere, so why not add some to your campervan? There are a wide variety of fairy lights available. Lights with small bulbs are best suited to motorhomes as they don’t make the space look smaller. If you have an awning that you also use in the evenings, lights with larger bulbs are a good option. They’re perfect for dinner outside your campervan door and will be a real eye-catcher on the campsite!
What you need
- Fairy lights
- Adhesive tape or self-adhesive hooks
Attaching the lights
Pick a couple of nice spots in your camper and hang up the fairy lights. You can stick the ends of the fairy lights to the walls with adhesive tape or attach self-adhesive hooks to hang them from. If you use tape, try to adjust the light so that the tape is out of sight.
Why not try hanging the lights in a different place once in a while to create a new lighting mood? You can choose between battery-powered fairy lights and lights with a plug, depending on whether you have power outlets available.
Fairy lights in a jar
If you don’t have a suitable spot to hang up fairy lights, you can also put them inside a glass jar and place them anywhere in your campervan. The advantage of this is that you can move the lights to a different place whenever you choose.
What you need
- Battery-powered fairy lights with small bulbs
- Large preserving jar
Making your light jar
Simply place the fairy lights in the preserving jar and put the lid on. Now your vintage-style light jar is ready to use. Just open the jar and switch on the lights whenever you need them.
Renovate your campervan: elasticated storage system
Where do you store newspapers, travel guides or shoes in your camper? You could just keep them in a box, but if you have some wall space available, constructing an elasticated storage system is a cool way to create easily accessible storage that looks great.
What you need:
- 2-3 bungee cords with hooks (length as required for the space available) or a longer bungee cord (you can double this up)
- 4 – 6 screws or self-adhesive hooks (strong enough to hold up to 10 kg)
- Tape measure
Constructing your storage system:
Choose a suitable wall of your camper. Stretch out the cord to the right tension and mark where to place the screws or hooks. Attach the screws/ hooks to the wall and then hook in each ends of bungee cord. Your elasticated storage system is ready to use! It’s great for storing magazines, books, shoes or other small items.
Painting: Decorate your walls with geometric shapes
If you planning to renovate your campervan, perhaps you want to add some colour to the interior. Why not make one wall stand out by painting it in different colours? You could add geometric patterns to one or several wall spaces. It’s true that this involves quite a bit of effort, but it’s really pays off! The preparations are the most work, but the actual painting is more fun and will give your camper a special ambience.
What you need:
- Masking tape
- Different coloured emulsion paint
- Plastic sheeting
Painting your camper:
First, decide on a suitable corner or wall space in your motorhome for your creative painting project. Cover the floor and furniture with sufficient plastic sheeting to protect them from any paint drips or spills.
Sketch out your planned geometric pattern on a piece of paper. Then it’s time to start taping. Use the masking tape to create a frame for the areas you want to paint. Make sure you stick the tape in exactly the right positions to avoid any unpleasant surprises when you remove it later. Now for the fun part: paint each section in your chosen colour(s). When you’ve finished, peel off the tape while the paint is still wet. This way you’ll avoid uneven edges. Sit back and appreciate your artwork!
Make your own vintage style fabric bunting
If you’d like to give your campervan a vintage look, why not sew your own bunting? This DIY project is a great way to redecorate your campervan, but it does require quite a bit of patience and effort.
What you need:
- Pieces of cloth (with patterns and colours of your choice)
- Paper template for bunting (you can find one online)
- Fabric marker
- Bias binding tape (this should be the full length required for your bunting, e.g. 40 cm)
- Fabric shears
- Sewing machine
Making your bunting:
Lay the template on the back of a piece of cloth. Draw around the template with the fabric marker and then cut out the flag shape using the fabric shears. Stitch the diagonal edges of two flags together (the pattern should be on the inside). Then turn the flag the right way and iron it. Repeat this until you have enough flags for your bunting. Now you’ve completed the first step. Next take about your bias binding tape. Sandwich each flag between the bias binding tape and pin it to the tape. Make sure you leave enough tape at each end to hang/tie up your bunting later. You can stitch the flags close together or leave equal spaces between them – it’s up to you. Next sew each flag to the tape. Once you have done this, you can sew up the ends of the tape. Now you’re ready to hang up your bunting and enjoy your motorhome’s new vintage flair. You could use it to add a romantic touch to the sleeping area or to brighten up the lounge corner. It’s easy to attach the bunting using small nails or you can simply tie it to something.
Renovate your campervan: add a handcrafted touch
If you’d like to renovate your camper but don’t have a lot of time or money to spare, here are some quick and easy ways to give your motorhome a new lease of life:
- Invest in a few nice plants: Greenery will give your camper a fresh, comfortable look. If you don’t have green fingers or don’t have the time to take care of plants, you could buy artificial ones – there are some that almost look like the real thing.
- Buy some framed pictures or postcards with cool designs or quotes that fit your campervan’s style. You can find some great cards on www.zazzle.co.uk.
- A new shower curtain with a snazzy design will brighten up your bathroom
- A matching soap dispenser and toothbrush holder will add some style
- Matching tableware sets can really make a difference.
- A table runner is a simple way give your dining table a new look.
- Colourful cushions will brighten up your camper.
- Create atmospheric lighting with LED candles and a night light.
- Add some window stickers – they’re cheap, easy and fun.
- A nice curtain and a small rug will give your entrance a welcoming look.
Just a few creative ideas can make a huge difference to your camper interior. Renovating your campervan isn’t just hard work, it can be fun too. Why not ask a friend to help you? Whether you’re sewing, painting or making things, it’s much more fun to do it with friends and you’ll have a helping hand too. You might even come up with new creative ideas to make your camper look even better.
You’ll find more inspiration and great ideas for sprucing up your campervan in our interview with Jennie and Thomas. Why not hire a camper for your next holiday.
Renovate your campervan: An interview with Jennie and Thomas
Are your planning to renovate your camper interior but you’re not sure where to begin? Perhaps you’ve already collected some ideas from Instagram or Pinterest, or maybe you’re still looking for inspiration.
Jennie and Thomas, the owners of J’s Family Camper, have decorated their campervan interior with a lot of attention to detail without investing a lot of time or money. Read our interview to find out more.
Tell us about yourselves and how you discovered your love of camping.
We’re Thomas (43, financial adviser) and Jennie (35, midwife) and we have four kids aged between 2 and 15. As a child, Thomas spent his holidays at campsites. We used to take holidays in faraway places, but these weren’t as appealing once we had two small kids. We were looking for an alternative to holiday apartments. That’s how we discovered caravans. We wanted to have our own place but still be flexible, so a caravan was the perfect solution. And our kids love it too!
Why did you opt for a caravan rather than a motorhome?
It’s much easier to find a place to park when we to go out in our car to do shopping or other activities. And it means we can explore the area with much more flexibility.
What type of caravan do your have and what’s it called?
Our caravan is called J’s Family Camper. It’s an old Knaus Südwind Maxi, 530 TK and was first registered in 1996. We bought it second hand. We chose this model because it has a separate children’s bedroom with a sliding door to close it off from the rest of the caravan. This means you can close the door for some quiet time during the day, or the kids can sleep at night while we’re still up. Our caravan has berths for 6 people, so it’s big enough for all of us.
What didn’t you like about your caravan before you renovated it?
In general, it wasn’t too bad before. The cabinets were OK, but there was just too much wood veneer. And of course, the upholstery was awful.
Where did you start with your renovation?
We started off with new furniture covers, and then we had the idea of painting the table white. It was a spontaneous decision, and on the spur of the moment, we just painted everything white.
What inspired you?
We saw some beautifully renovated caravans on Pinterest and caravanity.nl. That’s where we got our inspiration.
Renovating your caravan must have involved a lot of planning. Did you get any professional advice?
Well, we didn’t need help planning. The ideas came to us one by one – it was all very spontaneous. We didn’t really plan it in advance. We only sought advice on one issue. When we realised that the light grey flooring didn’t fit to the white interior, we decided to get new flooring. We have a friend who is a professional carpenter and he helped us lay the new flooring.
What did you change in your caravan?
We put in new curtains and stitched new covers for all the upholstery. Then we painted the whole interior white and we wallpapered two walls. We put in new flooring – we used self-adhesive vinyl planks. We also installed a new lamp over the seating area and added some decorations, new pictures and bunting.
Where did you buy the fabrics for the curtains, upholstery and other materials?
We bought the materials (flooring and paint) in a DIY store and at Ikea (fabric for the curtains and seat covers). We ordered the wallpaper online.
Is there anything important to pay attention to when painting the campervan walls and cabinets?
Unfortunately, our furniture was all imitation wood, not real wood, so it couldn’t be sanded. So we had to use a primer first and then regular white gloss paint. We bought a paint sprayer to get an even finish so we used that to add a final coat of paint. It was also really useful for spraying the table legs.
How long did it take you to renovate your caravan?
Not very long! It was about three weeks.
Do you have any special tips for sewing seat covers?
We sewed the seat covers like cushion covers. So they’re easy to remove and wash, which is really useful when you’re travelling with children.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
No. The white walls make the caravan look twice as big as before. Everything has a bright, friendly feel and we are all very happy with it.
How do people at campsites react to your converted caravan?
No differently than in the past – on the outside, it looks just the same as always. But that should change soon as we’re planning to paint the exterior too. For now, J’s Family Camper will have to wait until the weather improves!
Do you have any DIY tips for how to renovate a caravan on a small budget?
It didn’t cost us much to renovate our caravan because we did everything ourselves. I think anyone with a few DIY skills can do that!
How has the feedback from your renters been?
It’s all been very positive so far! I think that especially young families like ours want to feel at home, even when they’re on holiday. And the old-fashioned design of regular caravans doesn’t really appeal to them. We also looked at new caravans, but we thought all the interiors were awful. So we preferred to renovate everything ourselves according to our tastes. We didn’t have to invest a lot of time or money. And we now have a caravan that’s just how we like it!
Thanks for the enjoyable and informative interview! We can see how much love and attention you’ve put into renovating your caravan. The result is cosy and inviting.
Do you also have a refurbished camper that is far too good to be stuck in a driveway and not used regularly? Why not rent out your campervan with PaulCamper and let other people to enjoy your motorhome?