Farewell Dolly 2 | Plus a final guided tour of our upcycled caravan

It feels a bit sad to be writing this but the time has come for us to say goodbye to Dolly 2! We’ve bought another van and are planning another makeover project, so we’re looking for a new owner for our little upcycled caravan.

She’s taken us on so many adventures — and given us so many amazing memories — over the last four and a half years.

When we bought her she was in a pretty dire state; a bland white box on the outside with a dirty interior.

My overriding memories are of a sea of orange wood and a grubby red carpet.

But with a little bit of TLC, she’s now a vision in yellow.

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

A Guided Tour of our Upcycled Caravan

I painted the exterior and designed some vinyl decals to pretty her up a little bit.

I always love the reaction we get when we’re on the road with her; other motorists smile and wave.

Plus she’s such a brilliant talking point at festivals and campsites.

People are always intrigued to see our little yellow van — it makes a change from all the boring old white ones on the road!

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

Come On In!

I often get messages, from readers, asking about my DIY caravan makeovers — how the wallpaper is fairing; whether it’s peeled off?

Or is the paint chipped?

And — although I’ve touched up the odd knock or dent — the paint is still looking good (almost 5 years on) and so is the wallpaper.

Granted, there are some annoying watermarks; (I’m thinking specifically of the shelf opposite the door, where my shampoo leaked out everywhere) but — given the usage Dolly’s had — all the festivals and camping excursions we’ve been on, the caravan decor is all holding up brilliantly.

So, on with our tour…

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

If you head inside the door and look to the right — this is usually the view (unless the bunkbeds are up).

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

And if you look to the left, this is what you’ll see.

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
The Bunkbeds

The long banquette seat, running along the left of the van, opens up to form the bunkbeds.

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

This is what they look like when they’re opened up (with the boys’ Dinky Duvalays on top of the cushions).

We felt that they were a little bit dangerous for the boys, as there was nothing to keep them from falling out at night.

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

So we constructed a simple frame to go around the edge; it’s worked brilliantly as the twins feel safe and secure and we don’t worry about any middle of the night mishaps.

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

They’ve been sleeping in Dolly 2 since they were 18 months old — and they’re now 6 — and we’ve never had a ‘falling out of bed’ incident, thankfully!

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
The Seating/Dining Area

The seats at the front of the van transform into a cosy double bed.

And when we use this area for dining, she has her original fold-away table that you can put in between them.

I had grand ideas to cover the top with Fablon but never got around to it!

Perhaps this is a good job for her new owner ;)

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

I made basic loose covers for all of the seating, with the left over polkadot fabric I bought for Dolly 1.

I’m not a great seamstress by any means and the sewing is definitely a little bit dodgy in places. That said, the covers are a gazillion times better than the horrible floral cushions beneath, and have held up really well over the last four and a half years.

They’ve been washed numerous times and haven’t shrunk or fallen to pieces!

I daresay, if you wanted a professional job, you could pay for someone to re-upholster your caravan cushions but — for us — these simple loose covers work really well.

The Ensuite Toilet

Behind this innocuous door, just off the kitchen area, is Dolly’s ensuite toilet!

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

Open the door to be greeted by the crazy owl wallpaper by Layla Faye at Wallpaper Direct.

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

We removed the original sink unit and shower that used to sit above the toilet.

I’d toyed with the idea of spraying it but it was so vile I don’t think it would have made it look any more presentable.

Pus, when we’re camping, we always use the site facilities so it felt like a better idea to just get rid of it and just have the loo.

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
The Kitchen

Dolly’s end kitchen is small but functional.

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

I painted all of the units — as shown in this post —  and had originally wallpapered the whole area; as you can see in the picture below.

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

But recently decided to tile the area, as it was more practical.

I used stick on tiles — really simple to apply — Dolly was a bit of a guinea pig (as I plan to use them in our next van) and I’m so delighted with how they tuned out!

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

It definitely makes the kitchen area feel more ‘kitchenny’  — if that makes sense!

I love the mini metro tiles — they make her little kitchen feel really fresh and modern.

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Paint and Gumption

It’s amazing what a difference some paint (and a bit of gumption) can make.

Painting all the doors and cabinets have really given our caravan interior a new lease of life; if you feel a bit apprehensive about painting the woodwork of your own van, just painting  a caravan ceiling is enough to brighten the whole space up.

It never occurred to me, when we renovated Dolly 1, that painting and decorating a caravan was an unusual thing to do.

I assumed that you could treat a caravan like any other room in your house and — at the time — an ‘upcycled caravan’ wasn’t really a thing.

These days, Pinterest is full of caravan makeovers. I have a board absolutely full  of caravan upgrade ideas!

There are so many inspiring articles; everything from touring caravan refurbishment caravan interior colour schemes.

I’ve no idea if my blog posts were the prompt for any of them, but I remember Googling ‘caravan interiors’ and ‘renovating a caravan’ when we first bought Dolly 1 and drawing a complete blank.

10 years on, it seems I’m in good company!

There’s a whole army of caravanners who are creating their own little homes-on-wheels, and diy caravan makeovers are on the up.

These pictures are my favourite areas of Dolly. I love her little integrated fridge and the shelf unit opposite the door especially.

And the huge cupboard/wardrobe looks so fresh and pretty with it’s white painted finish.

When I look back over the pics in this post, you almost can’t believe it’s the same caravan.

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

Goodbye Dolly 2

So, it’s time to bid farewell to our lovely Dolly 2.

This caravan makeover was absolutely a labour of love; but it was absolutely worth it. We’ve spent so many brilliant times away in this little tin box on wheels.

I hope that her new owners enjoy her, just as much as we have.

And she carries on giving joy for many more years to come.

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

Finally — if this mammoth post wasn’t enough (!) — I’ve made a little film giving a mini guided tour of Dolly 2, so you can see her up-close and personal.

I’d love you to give it a little thumbs-up — and subscribe to my YouTube channel if you get a chance.

Caro Davies editor of The Listed Home
 | Website

Caro Davies is a former art-director turned writer and content-creator, and editor behind UK lifestyle blog The Listed Home. She writes about home-related topics, from interiors and DIY to food and craft. The Listed Home has been featured in various publications, including Ideal Home, Grazia, and Homes & Antiques magazines.

Home | The Listed Home Blog | Farewell Dolly 2 | Plus a final guided tour of our upcycled caravan

32 thoughts on “Farewell Dolly 2 | Plus a final guided tour of our upcycled caravan”

      • What a great job you’ve done – looks brilliant.

        I have just bought the same model caravan as dolly 2.

        I do have a few questions about –

        how the bunk bed frame worked and where it was stowed?

        Electrical system both 12v and 240v. Did you rewire etc?

        Could you recommend a place for spares like window seals etc.

        Again a brilliant job in transforming it! Mine at the moment is a million miles away from looking anything like the final caravan so any help or advice you could share would be greatly appreciated.

        Thanks in advance
        Craig

        Reply
        • Hello Craig! Thanks so much for your lovely message :) Re the bunkbed frame, we left it on when we were camping — almost as if it was a fixed bunk. On the occasions that we wtook it off, we’d store it in the loo (or in the back of the car!!).

          NO — we didn’t rewire. We had a service and all the electrics were deemed to be fit for purpose. Thankfully!!

          And re spares — Venture Caravans — has got an amazing selection of stuff!

          Reply
  1. Hi lovely job yove done. I’m doing our caravan was wondering what to do about curtains blinds ? As I have no idea where to begin. It has got roller blinds at the mo that are incased with that chunky plastic stuff !! And all the silver lining stuff is falling off.

    Reply
    • Hi Michele, Thanks so much! We bought secondhand window blind cassettes from a caravan salvage company. It might be worth checking to see if you have one near to you. But the big front window in Dolly 2 had no blind at all, so I made one (and backed it with blackout material). It worked really well :) I’ll create a post showing what I did. Good luck with your van makeover! :)

      Reply
  2. Hi, we have just bought our first van and your style is so similar to mind with the 1950s feel etc. Where did you get the letters to spell Dolly and the flower for the outside of the caravan please?

    Reply
  3. Hi, I have just bought a 1998 Bailey Hunter 470 and wanting to wallpaper inside. Can I ask what paste you usedused please? Also going to paint ceiling and part of walls white. Do I use primer and emulsion? Thanks
    Evelyn x

    Reply
  4. I love the idea of revamping a caravan and you’ve pulled it off with such style; Dolly looks so fresh and welcoming.
    I wanted to know about the bunk beds. Did the bunk bed bench come with the caravan or is it something you made? Will you be doing/have you got a post about them?
    Much love x

    Reply
    • Hi Kirstie! The bunk bed came with the van — but it was a metal pull out contraption — with no sides!! Very alarming when the boys were little. We made the wooden frame to go around it so they’d be safer at night. The bunk beds in Dolly 3 are fixed, so safer still. I don’t have any plans to post about them I’m afraid XX

      Reply
  5. WOW Caro, what an amazing job So beautiful I’m thinking of partially tiling (like your tik tac tiles) our toilet Your kitchen area looked like a nice, straight space
    Our walls are odd shapes
    We’re the tiles easy to cut and stick on?
    I look forward to seeing your next caravan make over, good luck ?

    Reply
    • Hi Marie, thanks ever so much for your lovely message! Yes — they were relatively easy… although I messed up a few and had to cut and stick them individually, rather than on the sheet. I’ve bought some more stick on tiles for Dolly 3!! So I certainly haven’t been put off!! Good luck with tiling your bathroom! :)

      Reply
  6. Beautiful transformation. I have resently purchased a 1981 Alpine Sprite, love her previous owner named her Wendy, so we are keeping the name. We have a lot of work to do but am enjoying the challenge.

    Reply
  7. Hello, love what you’ve done. Very inspiring. How did you deal with replacing electrical components and fixings? I have the same caravan however some of the lights and oven don’t work anymore and not sure how to replace ?

    Reply
    • Hi Nia, thanks so much! We took both of our vans to have a service at a local caravan centre, as soon as we’d bought them home. This was really useful —particularly as the heater in the second van had a gas leak!!! They decommissioned it, but also fixed fuses and replaced switches where they didn’t work. It’s really worthwhile doing a Google search in your area for a company that offers caravan servicing. Sone caravan brokers will also offer this. Good luck!

      Reply
  8. I love your caravan and all the hard work you’ve done! Can you please tell me how long and wide she is?

    Reply
    • Hello Raye! Thanks so much – that’s really kind. Dolly 2 was an ABI Award Tristar – approximate dimensions –
      The internal length of the caravan – 15 feet
      The external length – 20 feet
      The width – 7 feet

      Reply

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