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Our First Caravan Makeover | Introducing Dolly 1

Have you ever wondered how to modernize a caravan? Our first caravan makeover was a bit of a gamble.

We’d bought a little touring caravan; plain, boring (and a bit beige). And I’d decided to upcycle her.

As you do.

But it was well before the days of Pinterest and Instagram. There was no reference.

So it was a risk. But one that really paid off!

How Do You Modernise a Caravan?

Dolly — our cool caravan — after her caravan makeover!! I painted the exterior of Dolly in fresh white and powder blue — and made a vinyl decal with her name on it!! She looked so much better than when she was boring old beige. She regularly got mistaken for a vintage caravan!

When we first bought Dolly 1, she most definitely wasn’t cool! My first thought was: how do you modernise a caravan?

As there weren’t any touring caravan makeover ideas on the internet when I did our first van, I was pretty much winging it.

I settled my own questions by trying things out!

Questions like ‘can I paint the inside of my caravan’ and ‘how do I cover my caravan seats’ were soon answered, simply by trying things out.

The sun coming through the window of Dolly the caravan. We used laminate on the floor and I covered the cushions with polkadot fabric. She looked so much fresher after her caravan makeover!! More info on both of my caravan makeovers on the blog!
Looking towards the doorway of Dolly the caravan! I painted the cupboard area in fresh white and wallpapered the walls as part of my caravan makeover. More info on both of my caravan makeovers on the blog!

Resplendent in Cath Kidston; it had been noted — on many occasions — that our little caravan looked like CK had thrown up in her but I don’t want to dwell on that ;)

She was comfy and cosy and a million miles away from the boring old beige caravans that you usually see crawling along the roads.

Although she didn’t start off like that. Oh no.

Caravan Makeover Before & After

When we first bought her she was your typical offering.

Beige. Brown wood. Nasty upholstery.

A pretty ugly standard touring caravan.  

It’s not often I’ll put ugly pictures on my blog but — in this instance — I thought it was important to illustrate just what we were dealing with when we first clapped eyes on her.

I think before and after caravan renovations are much more interesting than just the ‘afters’.

pictures of our first caravan makeover — the before pictures!
Our cool caravan? Not so cool to begin with! This little box on wheels was desperate for a caravan makeover!

Ack. The above pictures hurt my eyes to be honest! She was a vision in brown.

Why do caravans always look like that?!

Needless to say, a few cans of paint and some chintzy wallpaper rectified all that.

Although I searched on the internet for caravan makeover photos, it was before the days of Pinterest. Trying to find out how to update a caravan interior was pretty tricky.

Nevertheless, with some moderate DIY knowledge — and a lot of good intent — I set to and turned Dolly into what we see here today.

The living space in Dolly after her caravan makeover! I painted the ceiling and cupboards, and wallpapered the walls with Cath Kidston wallpaper. More info on both of my caravan makeovers on the blog!
Close up of the drawer unit and shelf in Dolly the caravan; after it had been painted as part of my first caravan makeover. I kept the original green velvet curtains but covered the seats with blue polkadot fabric. More info on both of my caravan makeovers on the blog!
Dolly the caravan's kitchen area; after it had been painted as part of my first caravan makeover. I painted the units white and wallpapered the wall's with Cath Kidston wallpaper. More info on both of my caravan makeovers on the blog!
The interior of Dolly the caravan, after she had been painted as part of my first caravan makeover. I covered the seats in polkadot fabric and made shabby chic bunting. More info on both of my caravan makeovers on the blog!

Dolly — our funny little box on wheels — became such a cool caravan and such an integral part of our family life that I was gutted when we sold her.

A vision of shabby chic — probably more shabby than chic — and the catalyst for so many amazing adventures.

She offered the most comfortable bed and shelter from torrential rain (I’m thinking Glastonbury last year when the deluge was so bad it bent and snapped the metal poles of our awning).

Whilst other festival revellers struggled with damp clothes and steaming socks, we were safe in the knowledge that our spare clothes were bone dry and we had a comfy warm bed to snuggle up in, when the music — and mud — became a little too much.

Tourer Caravan Makeover Part Two

When we bought her, my boy and I were a little unit; just the two of us. We never — in our wildest dreams — expected that there would be two more little bodies joining us on our travels!

Needless to say, we’ve managed for the last couple of years but as the twins are now growing boys — and will soon be out of their travel pods — we needed more space than Dolly’s two berth capacity could offer.

So we’ve waved her off with her new family and bought a new van. Time for tourer caravan makeover number two!

Another vision in brown. And actually — if at all possible — much (much) worse than Dolly was when we first bought her.

I’m SO looking forward to sharing the new caravan makeover on the blog.

Fingers crossed, over the course of the next year, she’ll be turned from ugly duckling to beautiful swan.

A new home-on-wheels in the making — and many, many more adventures to come :)

Little drinks cabinet in Dolly the caravan, after it had been painted as part of my first caravan makeover. More info on both of my caravan makeovers on the blog!
Editors note — More DIY Caravan Makeovers:

It’s been a few year’s since I wrote this original post and, since then, we’ve updated another caravan — Dolly 2 — you can see the second caravan makeover blog here.

I’ve also created a totally separate caravan makeover post, on how to update a caravan interior.

You can go and read the first part here, which outlines how I wallpapered and painted the interior of both vans.

48 thoughts on “Our First Caravan Makeover | Introducing Dolly 1”

  1. Oh my goodness me I think I’m in caravan heaven!!My partner last night said I think buying a little caravan sounds great(I’d already sent him a link for one selling locally) the usual drab interior is to be expected,then by magic I came across your amazing blog such an inspiration,I’m so excited and have even named her (Clementine) xx

    • Hi Beki! Aaaah I’m SO excited for you!!!!! To be honest, as long as the van you buy is sound — structurally good with no damp — the interior can be REALLY ugly and it doesn’t matter :)

      You can literally treat a caravan interior as you would with any room in a house; only you can have a little more fun with it and perhaps choose a style you wouldn’t want to live with all the time.

      I wouldn’t have minded spending the night in Dolly 1 when we first bought her — she was drab and dated but tidy and clean — but Dolly 2 was REVOLTING when we first bought her. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to spend a night in there!! We love her now though — it’s amazing what a difference a can of white paint and a new floor can make!!

      Good luck!

    • Hi Joanne, I bought some fabric and covered the cushions really simply — almost like wrapping a parcel! It’s not the most precessional job in the world but they look a million times better!! :) I have a half written post, showing how I did it! I’ll get around to finishing/publishing it one of the days!

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