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DIY Couple Transform Caravan Into Stunning Space For Just £800, Saving £1000s

November 30, 2021, 7:00 AM
  • Bex Ambler, 29, and her boyfriend Tom, were quoted £2,000 to fix their caravan’s damp problem
  • They managed to sort it out themselves for just £250 and overhauled their caravan for £800 in total
  • They used budget supplies such as DC Fix, stick-on tiles and No More Nails glue

If a beautiful caravan has always been your dream but you didn’t want to fork out thousands of pounds on a brand new one, take inspiration from this amazing £800 transformation.

Bex Ambler, 29, who works as a marketing and events manager for a toy distributor in Yorkshire, and her boyfriend Tom, bought a second-hand van this summer with the hope of being able to take their two rescue dogs on holiday.

However, they didn’t realise that their new purchase had a huge damp problem: and after being quoted £2,000 just to fix the damp, they decided to take on the project themselves.

With five weeks of painstaking work and lots of budget supplies such as DC Fix, stick-on tiles and No More Nails glue, the couple managed to completely overhaul the caravan for just £800.

The caravan is now a chic, Scandi-inspired space that’s unrecognisable from its former self.

Bex, who also volunteers for Second Chance Golden Retriever Rescue, told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk: "Myself and my boyfriend Tom renovated our 2002 Bailey Pageant Champagne this autumn in the hopes of being able to take our two rescue dogs Maddy and Ralph on lots of lovely holidays.

"We started looking for a van at the end of the summer and it was so hard to find one we liked within our budget that hadn’t sold within a couple of hours of it going online.

"In the end, we had to up the budget and loaned a bit of extra money from the bank of mum and dad to buy it.

"We thought it was in perfect condition but unfortunately due to us being absolute amateurs, we didn’t take a damp metre which is my number one recommendation.

"Unfortunately we found loads of damp soon as we started painting and taking things down. We bought a multi-tool from B&Q and began the painstaking process of stripping it all back to the shell then replacing the polystyrene, plyboard and batons.

"We repapered over the top then got back to painting using Frenchic paint in the Alfresco range. I recovered the sofas and dining seats myself using throws from The Range and rugs from IKEA and also found a guy on ebay that recovers buttons in your chosen fabric.

"For the worktops, we used DC Fix which is an absolute pain to do but looks great when it’s finished.

“Make sure you have a smoothing tool and a hairdryer to get it tight on the edges, any small bubbles you can get out using a pin afterwards.

"The floor in lino is from ebay in a herringbone design. Another tip is if you are replacing your floor keep the old one! We threw ours out but you can use it as a template which makes it so much easier to get it to the right size.

"The panelling is just pine stripboard cut to size using a saw then attached with no more nails.

“As I said before my biggest tip is to purchase a damp metre when looking for your caravan. You can get them on Amazon for about £15.

"On reflection, we paid too much for ours when we realised the amount of damp it had.

"To fix it, we first bought a multi-tool from B&Q which was £50. Then we started the process of removing all the damp by chopping it away then chipping off any awkward small parts.

“Our polystyrene wasn’t salvageable so that came out too.

"Once it was all out, we used No More Nails to glue new polystyrene to the walls and replaced the plywood.

“Again everything was from B&Q and it cost around £250 in total as opposed to £2,000 to pay someone to do it.

"We then repapered the walls using lining paper and painted on top of that using Frenchic Alfresco paint.

“For paint, we used Frenchic throughout and everything is in Dazzle Me as I wanted to keep it light and fresh. We used about five tubs at £20 each as the wood was so orange it took four or five coats.

"The gold handles were from Amazon and were £25 for 20 handles which did the whole caravan.

“For upholstery, I used three throws from The Range to do the front seats.

“They were £25 each. I cut them to size and just used thin plywood on the back and stapled it on.

"I was worried about it being uncomfy to sleep on but invest in a gel mattress topper and you can’t feel a thing, super comfy.

"The dining seats, I did the same thing again but I put the buttons through before I stapled.

"I found a guy on ebay who recovers buttons.

"I got 24 buttons for £6 and you just send your fabric off to him.

"Thread the buttons using a large upholstery needle then staple the fabric in place.

"The fabric on those is from rugs from IKEA. I used three in total as I cut one wrong!

"The original worktops are wrapped in DC Fix. We used Sonoma Oak and two rolls at £8 each did everything.

"The door is also done in DC Fix white gloss, then we added some decals from Etsy on the top. The total cost was £14 for the door.

"Make sure you use the smoothing tool and a hairdryer to get it tight on the edges. Any small bubbles you can remove with a pin at the end. My top tip is lots of patience and a bottle of wine!

“The cushions are from Primark, Dusk and H&M Home. I think I spent about £60 including throws. The rugs are actually bathmats from Homesense and were £12 each - they are easily washable with the dogs.

“The flooring is vinyl from ebay and was £95. Make sure you keep your old floor so you can cut it to size and trim it once it’s in your caravan. We used some spray adhesive to get it to stick around the edges.

“For the kitchen, the tap is a standard household tap from Amazon and was £60.

“We had to get some special pipes from ebay to make it caravan suitable which were £17.

"The tiles are stick-on from One Below and were £1 a pack.

“We used about 10 packs as it was a super awkward shape. We used extra PVA to make sure that they stay stuck, and the same with the wallpaper on the back wall which is from Dunelm at £10.

“For the panelling, we used thin plywood from B&Q. Measure and cut to size as you go and secure it using No More Nails.

"We spent around £50 on the wood for this area and had removed the bunk bed so it didn’t add any extra weight.

“I found so many amazing transformations on Instagram and was completely inspired by the numerous accounts on there.

"We have our own page now for anyone wanting any extra tips or to know where things are from at champagne_van_reno.

“In total, we spent around £800 on the renovation.”

Bex is absolutely over the moon with the look of her finished caravan and can’t wait to take it on the road after all her hard work.

"The whole process has taken about five weeks as we both work full-time so have done most things in the dark on an evening,” she adds.

"I’m so happy now it’s complete and absolutely love it, so much so I have been working from it on our drive and keep getting some strange looks from the neighbours!

"For anyone thinking about starting on yours or buying an old van I would 100% recommend it.

“We cannot wait to get out on our first trip and are planning a tour of France next year: roll on the wine and cheese!”

Tom Church, co-founder of money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk, comments: “What a stunning caravan Bex and Tom have created - it’s unbelievable what a transformation they have pulled off for just £800.

“The fact they managed to do the damp work themselves for just £250 instead of the quoted £2,000 is already an amazing achievement, but when you consider how drastically they have also altered the caravan’s appearance it’s even more jaw-dropping.

“This just shows you really don’t need to spend a fortune to revamp a space: using affordable tools such as stick-on tiles and DC Fix can work wonders on a budget!”

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