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.
Quick View of What You'll Find on This Page
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!
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…
If you head inside the door and look to the right — this is usually the view (unless the bunkbeds are up).
And if you look to the left, this is what you’ll see.
The long banquette seat, running along the left of the van, opens up to form the bunkbeds.
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.
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.
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!
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 ;)
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!
Open the door to be greeted by the crazy owl wallpaper by Layla Faye at Wallpaper Direct.
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.
Dolly’s end kitchen is small but functional.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.