the finishing touches

We talked much about the practicality of the van and we wanted to merge this with aesthetics to obtain a simple, modest and homely feel on the inside; to ensure we had an enjoyable place to hang out in when the weather graced us with rain, snow, hail, wind (Paul’s favorite!) or any other weather related atrocity one might come across. To achieve this we created a rustic interior made mostly from wood and fabric.

You can have a read about the storage under the bed HERE and storage in the kitchen area HERE. In the end, we were happy with the amount of storage we built for larger objects and equipment.

We wanted to use every little bit of space available to us in the enormous 6m² we had, and our idea of having an office area at the rear was part of this. A fold-down table top (that was once part of a wardrobe in it’s previous life); sanded and treated with Auro linseed oil. Opposite the fold-down desk we have a storage area that covers the wheel arch and also acts as a bench to sit on. We built this as long and narrow as we could get it, ensuring it could seat two comfortably while contending with a slightly curvaceous wall behind. It’s a pretty dreamy office; sitting there with the laptop or a book, the back door open facing the sea or the mountains – or when it’s storming outside, the door closed and us gazing through foggy windows.

We divided the space above the cab area into three, for two reasons; to enable things to be more organized and for them to be more easily accessible. It turned out that it was rather complicated to build these dividers, as there was no starting point to securely attach anything to. Once we had established secure enough uprights, using sheets of a hard cardboard-like material, we trimmed them to follow the shape of the cab roof. This required a lot of different measurements, accuracy and curved cuts. Once these had been cut out, we slid them in between the uprights and screwed them on.

We really wanted to take a lot of reading material for our journey and we often experiment with pickles and ferments so we were really in the need of more and more storage. We talked quite a bit about different options; such as switching the idea of cupboards to shelves – because that should be an easier option in terms of actual building. But again, where to start? What could we use as a strong starting point to hold the weight of the shelves? And even if they can stand the weight sitting still, will they hold up to the task of 25.000 vibrating kilometers around Europe?

Too much thinking! For one shelf we attached one end to part of the bathroom’s frame and the other end to an L shaped support attached to the partition. This ran a good 2m down the van, so we strengthened it with a pole in the middle, on the kitchen bench.

For the other shelf we decided to be a little more daring and just supported it with three angled pieces of wood, screwed strongly into the ‘uprights’ (which are used to support the interior shell). These had angled cuts to hold a support beam along the length, which we then attached short pieces of lamberia to, to form the shelf.

We had a wacky idea to varnish the lamberia boards different shades. It was only after we’d started that process, that Phillip (Paul’s dad), told us about a product called Auro; a manufacturer of natural oils, paints and finishes, they are great for you and the environment. Although not cheap, they protect for years and do a fantastic job, something we were happy to spend a little extra on. As we hadn’t really found any varnish yet that really blew our minds, we decided to give the Auro products a go. We used their hard oil, linseed oil and a colour shade you can mix with the oils to create different shades.

For anyone that is interested, here’s a little something we discovered; mixing product #126 & #123 together, in a 50/50 mix, works an absolute treat on floors and benches as a protective coating.

Earlier, as we screwed on the lamberia, we left some cavities free between the van’s body and the interior shell that we were building so we could utilize them for storage. We found some scrap fabrics at a local store and set about making shaped fabric to fit these cavities. For days, as the sewing machine whined away and fabric lay on the floor of our room, Zsu tried to get these precisely sewn.

The idea we had was to sew a large bit (measuring the size of the cavity), with four smaller ones (we called these ‘wings’) coming off from all sides. We glued the large one to the insulation and folded the ‘wings’ 90degrees to cover the depth of the cavities. The excess of these wings folded between the lamberia and the upright before we put the screws in. We have 11 of these cavities all up, used for spices, plants, oils, jars of dry ingredients and a magazine holder.

About five years ago now Paul spent some time in Morocco. Like virtually everyone who has travelled there, he found himself in a carpet store and in the middle of a heated price debate. He (reluctantly) purchased the lovely orange and golden blanket, taped it to his backpack and carried it like this on his travels. He’s kept it kicking around ever since, redundant until now. We finally put this to good use (along with some additional fabric) making curtains and cupboard covers through the van.

The roof is laid with two old duvet covers sewn to size and glued on. First we quite liked that it was gently sagging, as being a duvet cover, it was made of two layers. But it wasn’t long before we started to think it was rather frustrating, taking too much away from our head-space, so we pinched random areas (in squares about 10cm apart) and hand-sewed them to the polifoam above so it was held up nicely.

Before we left London, we held a little gathering. It was here we received an awesome hand-made cotton hammock from our good friends Jonathan and Claire. We chose two suitable places on the vans roof where we were able to bolt a D shaped eyelet into the roof’s support, ensuring maximum strength for the hammock which then attaches via carabiners. Great to read a book in, nap in, sleep in and even, if the hammock attaches via a rope, it droops down enough that we can cook from it!

We’d been collecting wine corks for a while by now, but we soon realized we didn’t have nearly enough for what we wanted to do! Kitty – a lovely friend of Zsu’s who works as a sommelier in a famous wine bar in Budapest called Palack (thanks!) – was able to help us out though. We went to see her for dinner one evening and left carrying an entire glass bowl, overflowing with wine corks. We used these around the van to decorate any place that was too hard to cover with wood. Simply cut in half and glued on.

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