DIY couple transform damp caravan into stunning space for £1,000 saving £25,000

It’s not surprising that caravan’s are booming in popularity again.

Staycations are all the rage since the pandemic, and the idea of wheeling your very own holiday home wherever you want is very appealing for many. But buying a shiny new caravan can cost you a fortune.

However, one couple keen to go on caravanning adventures didn’t let the price put them off though.

Alice Rayment, 35, a wedding stationery business owner and mum of two from Somerset, and her husband Dave, bought a damp and dated caravan on Facebook Marketplace for £4,000.

They set about transforming the caravan, which they named Connie, on a strict budget of just £1,000.

Using budget materials, such as DC Fix vinyl, sticky back tiles and carpet offcuts, they got Connie looking gorgeous on a seriously impressive budget. 

‘Having always enjoyed camping with friends, especially at festivals, it was definitely something we wanted to carry on once the kids arrived,’ Alice told money-saving Facebook group DIY On A Budget UK.

‘After a few trips setting up the tent with the kids in tow, though, we realised we needed something sturdier for our adventures. With the cost of living crisis and the pandemic, holidays abroad were less and less viable for us, so buying a caravan felt like a great choice for us.’ 

With a strict £5,000 budget to achieve the caravan of their dreams, they only had £1,000 to play with after buying the vehicle itself.  So, they knew they would have to roll their sleeves up to tackle the dated décor, soggy walls and smelly carpets. 

‘We began by having Connie serviced, as well as inspected for damp and water ingress, as there was no point papering over the cracks, so to speak,’ says Alice.

‘We identified several areas that needed urgent attention, such as water ingress and rot around one of the windows, and tackled them first. Luckily, Dave is very handy being a plumbing engineer, so we were able to do a lot of the work ourselves.’

Once Connie was structurally sound, the savvy couple started the cosmetic work.

‘I removed all of the cupboard doors, sanding them back to the original pine wood and staining them for a rustic look,’ says Alice.

‘I popped out the inserts and replaced them with cane webbing for a more modern look. I painted the cupboard units in a hardwearing wipeable paint from The Little Greene Company. 

‘We created the worktops ourselves, using 18mm chipboard flooring, and covered it in sticky back vinyl from the DC fix range. The herringbone tile effect was achieved using sticky back tiles we found on Amazon, and on the walls, we used regular household wallpaper to give the caravan a modern and up to date feel.’

Alice says the upholstery took a lot of thought. Originally the couple were quoted £1,200 to have the seats recovered professionally, which was out of their budget. 

‘So, after a lot of research, trawling Instagram and YouTube for more budget-friendly DIY options, we discovered you could easily do it yourself for a fraction of the price,’ says Alice.

‘The lounge area and the dinette area were covered with the IKEA TIPHEDE rugs, which come in at only £10 each – a bargain! We used eight in total. 

‘For our flooring, we used offcuts of carpet we had leftover from re-carpeting our house, so it didn’t cost us a penny. Even if you don’t have such things lying around, carpet shops sell offcuts for £20 to £30, so this is a great option if you can’t afford a caravan specialist flooring company.’ 

Alice’s top tip for anyone looking to do something similar is not to be intimidated.

‘With a little research, chipping away bit by bit, and a lot of elbow grease, amazing things can be achieved,’ says Alice. ‘We were total newbies to this before we gave it a go. 

‘I would also say you should reuse and upcycle anything you can get your hands on. Our curtains, for example, were hand me down sheers from my mum. We repurposed them for the caravan and they’re perfect. 

‘Don’t be afraid to go bold in a small space, if it feels right and feels like you then go for it.’

She adds that you should also try to connect with others doing a similar thing. She found a thriving caravan renovation community on both Facebook and Instagram. 

‘Everyone’s so friendly, and always happy to share experiences and lessons learned,’ says Alice.

‘Now Connie is finished, we’re looking forward to a summer of weekends away on the coast, and festivals with the kids (she’s coming to Glastonbury and Farmfest with us).

‘A new caravan can cost up to £30k, or much more depending on the spec, so we saved tens of thousands doing it this way.’

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