Take one caravan…

Did you know you can pick up an old caravan for very little money, if not free?

Try placing a ‘wanted’ ad on Gumtree or rummaging around in the Freecycle community. Trawl the Friday ad classifieds or ask around. The tattier it is, the cheaper it should be. Just made sure its structural integrity is sound.

Caravan holidays and mini garden guest rooms

What are you going to do with a crappy old caravan? Tart it up cheaply ad have wonderful holidays in it, that’s what! Or create more space at home: our friends have pimped up an old caravan to use as a permanent garden guest room and it’s gorgeous!

The trick is to turn something very basic, chilly and and echoey into a welcoming and warm home from home, great to look at and fun to be in.

Tips for transforming an old wreck into something special 

  • brighten up sad, beige walls with wallpaper or do a DIY paint job. You can even ‘paper’ the walls with fabric for a fab retro look and an extra-cosy feel
  • make fresh cushion pads for the seating areas using funky fabric and extra-thick pads of foam
  • use battery-operated stick-on lights to create more light/interesting light effects without electricity
  • pick up charity shop cutlery and pretty old crockery, all in different patterns, for a gypsy caravan feel
  • make a tablecloth to cover up the nasty Formica table you find in most caravans. Or use modern sticky back plastic, there are some fabulous designs to choose from. Do the same with cupboard doors and drawers. Or paint over it
  • make splendidly lush cushions to scatter around and make your seating more comfy
  • buy fabric or wallpaper trims to decorate the edge of the roof
  • make gorgeous curtains, lined with blackout fabric to keep the light out
  • get a wind-up torch and radio to save money on batteries
  • hang framed pictures using stick-on hooks or sticky fixers

What if the caravan you have your eye on is completely wrecked, just a shell? If you have a bit more cash spare you can DIY it into a fit state or get someone clever to sort out the insulation and structure so it’s rock solid, cosy and safe.

What about the outside?

The outside of your caravan deserves equally close attention. Scrub it ’til it squeaks then take stock. I’m obsessed with eggshell paint and this is yet another time it comes in seriously handy.  Pick up some water-based exterior eggshell and give your caravan a facelift.

Go for classic white or cream, or go mad and create something completely different. Use craft shop templates, do it freehand, get the kids involved or bung an art student a few quid to decorate the outside for you.

Your materials? Acrylic paints sealed with exterior varnish.

  • paint flowers all over it or create a frieze
  • paint it red with black spots like a ladybird ;-)
  • …or stripy like a huge bee
  • if it’s static, grow creepers over it for a gorgeous fairytale look
  • use car decals to add extra funkiness
  • simply paint it a stunning colour with a toning or contrasting trim: rich purple and magenta pink, orange and red, green and blue…
  • find a local grafitti artist to do an amazing street art job for you
  • let your kids decorate it

Bolting on new caravan technology

Our neighbours Gordon and Jan have just bought a new caravan and it comes with all sorts of cool technology. Check out what you can add to your caravan to bring the practical side of it bang up to date. Buy second hand wherever you can or use our discount codes to cut the cost. Robert Dyas is a great source of such things.

Caravan decor themes

You could stick with a clean, minimalist look, adding interest with texture instead of colour like a mini-hotel room. Or go the whole hog and theme your caravan. Here are some ideas for decor themes:

  • shabby chic
  • retro ’70s, ’60s, ’50s or earlier
  • ancient Egyptian
  • Moroccan
  • classic gypsy or fairground
  • jungle
  • French boudoir elegance

Ideas for re-purposing an old caravan

Tow it for fun staycations in Britain. Or create a private playroom for the kids, a workshop or studio, a music practice room, a guest room… even a rose-covered garden shed.