Camper Van Before and After Remodel

Camper Van Front Seat Before and After Y’all. I am so excited and relieved to share this post. It’s been a long time in the making. Two years long. Which is longer than we’ve ever stretched out a project. At the beginning of freakin’ 2015 George and I purchased a beat up, 1995 Chevy G30 van. (You can see all the before pictures here.) Our tiny cars were not cutting it for all the traveling, camping and haulin’ junk that we do.

We found and purchased our van on Craigslist for $850 buck-a-roos. We’ve been very budget-conscious getting her roadworthy and we tried to only spent money on necessary things.

We had the transmission rebuilt for $900, a new rear end for $1,000 and a new windshield installed for about $200– all by professionals. George saved us a lot of money by fixing things like the water pump, alternator and distributor by himself. Since he did all the labor, the parts only cost around $200. This is more than we paid for the van, I know, but it’s a one ton van and can really haul. A new one ton Chevy van starts at $30,000. And with our new additions, we felt comfortable selling George’s old car and making it his daily driver.

In terms of aesthetics, we did buy untreated fence boards to paint and put up on the walls and added this rooftop van vent* to keep it nice and cool when camping on summer nights. We also used a lot of leftover wood and paint from other projects. I think our cosmetic costs were only a few hundred bucks!

We ultimately decided to keep the van’s outside a little crusty. We definitely considered a new paint job and fixing the dent in the bumper. We might still do that someday, but for now, we’re thinking the more inconspicuous this van is the better– especially since we want to use it for stealth camping!

This process went a lot slower than any project we’ve ever done before. We really took our time and worked on it when we had the chance. One weekend we pulled up the carpet, then we put in the floor, then we put in the bed and the storage unit. We only put up the (classy!) velvet paintings last weekend.

Overall, I’m really proud of how much patience I had with this project. I am not usually a patient person, but we really took our time and created something that fits our needs. I’m also super proud of how well it turned out.

Next week I’ll have some more glamour shots and talk more about the design inspiration.

Let me know what you think of our #nirVANa in the comments!

*Affiliate link.

21 thoughts on “Camper Van Before and After Remodel

  1. Lindsay

    LOVE IT! I told my boyfriend I want to do this someday. How wonderful to have a mobile, inconspicuous camper that is customized to your needs. And the inside is just beautiful! You guys did an amazing job.

  2. Ray

    It looks incredibly beautiful, it’s unbelievably cute and looks so cozy and you are going to have the best caping trips in this thing, plus it counts as a guest room rigt?!?
    Congratulatuins and compliments

  3. Ray

    Can’t wait for more pictures and explanations!!
    what did you put down to cover the floors, what is that thing over the bed, how can George fit in that bed, how can you use it to transport furniture if it’s so well furnished and decorated, where will you first take it to, what is in the cupboards, is that a light fixture, I whant to know it alllll!!! 😀

    1. melanie Post author

      Haha, such excitement! I might not be able to answer all those questions in the post, so I’ll answer some of them now.
      – The floors are plywood, painted with oil based paint.
      – There’s a fan over the bed, maybe you are referencing that?
      – George sleeps at an angle with his feet on the box. We put the bed that way so we have more room to transport stuff.
      – We rarely transport furniture, but we’ve transported building materials, we simply put down an old blanket or a tarp.
      – We’ll be taking it to Texas in a month and Nashville after that!
      – The cupboards have stuff for camping– dishes, firestarter, blankets, water, etc.
      – And the bucket is a light fixture!

  4. Pingback: Our Custom, Modern Boogie Van – a small life

  5. Pingback: Link Love: 80 – a small life

  6. Dayna

    This is totally inspiring me! I’m working on my ’95 Vandura right now. Over the cab on the ceiling do you just tack up b/w pics of your travels? It’s such a sweet way to capture moments and have them displayed. I wish I could pick your brain on everything! I love it 😍

    1. melanie Post author

      That would be cute! But we actually used pictures from an old, custom vanner book that we modpodged to the ceiling. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Zan Packard

    Melanie, you’ve got a set up that I am wanting to do as well – could you tell me the length of your cargo area from rear door to back of front seat? It seems like a lot of floor space, which I want as well (I’m still looking for my van – wish me luck!!)


Leave a Reply