Sometimes one van conversion is not enough. When you’ve spent years dreaming, countless hours watching YouTube videos and scrolling Instagram, it’s natural for your brain to be brimming with ideas. So what’s the answer… a van conversion business?
About Kara and Cole
For US-residents Kara and Cole, their van life journey began while on their honeymoon. As a celebration of their marriage, they built a van together and began traveling around the US. They thoroughly enjoyed the process and started to think about how they could reshape their lives around van life. They noticed that other people seemed really interested in their van. So they put two and two together and decided to launch their own business designing and building custom vans for others. They called the business Happy People Vans. With Cole’s 8+ years of construction experience and Kara’s keen eye for design, it was destined to be a hit.
Kara and Cole’s top tip for anyone who is thinking of building their own van is to keep it simple. The true beauty of van life is that it allows you to enjoy the great outdoors. Yes, it’s important to have a living space that meets your physical and emotional needs. But don’t worry about making your van bigger, bolder, and better than anyone else’s.
- 2019 159 Extended ProMaster Van– At the time of purchase, it had 17360 miles on the clock.
Kitchen and Appliances
- Dometic two-burner stove– This sleek appliance runs off propane, which is conveniently stored in the cupboard immediately under the stove.
- Stainless steel sink– For convenience purposes, Kara and Cole opted for a super deep sink. They wanted to be able to jet off easily if they’re in a rush without having to worry about things sliding and smashing. So the sink serves as a handy storage location.
- Rotating tap– Their tap rotates 360 degrees, which means it can be used as both a normal sink tap and a military outdoor shower depending on which way it’s facing.
- Dometic front opening fridge– Dometic are well-known within the van life community as manufacturers of high-quality, compact, and silent fridges. Kara and Cole’s fridge also has a small freezer compartment, big enough to fit two pints of ice cream.
- Sofa bed– Kara and Cole’s living space also doubles as their sleeping space. They chose this design as it allows for flexibility. During the day they can easily fit 5 people on the sofas, but during the night they have a really comfy bed. To build the bed, the table leg is removed and the tabletop is used as the bed base. The other required components are stored in a long drawer that’s discretely located on the floor. The cushions themselves are made from 6-inch memory foam, which means the bed is extremely comfortable.
- Thetford 135 PortaPotti– At a price of $70-80, their portable toilet is situated inside a cupboard on a pull-out wooden block. It can handle up to 350 pounds of weight, which means they’re able to sit comfortably without having to worry about breaking it.
Power and Electrical
- 2000-watt Renergie Inverter– this provides power for AC appliances
- 300 amp hours of AGM VMAX batteries
- Renogy Premium Solar Modules
- Solar charge controller- This is a Bluetooth-enabled device that connects to Kara and Cole’s smartphones, telling them how much solar power they’re currently creating compared to how much power they’re using.
- Fuse box– In case of emergencies, this allows all the electrics to be quickly shut off.
Heating and Cooling
- Havelock Wool Batt Insulation– Cole lined the entire van in Havelock Wool, a thick insulation designed specifically for vanlifers. It helps to minimise draughts and retain heat.
- Furnace– To equip them for cooler climates, Kara and Cole decided to include a furnace in their van. This is quickly and easily controlled by a thermostat located on the side of the main storage cupboard.
- Two large windows- Kara insisted that the pair fit windows onto their van to help it feel more spacious and open.
Cabinetry and Finishes
- Lifeproof waterproof bamboo flooring
- 6 gallons of freshwater
- 6 gallons of greywater
- Under-seat storage
- Privacy curtain– This cordless shade pulls down over the front cabin area to prevent outsiders from peering into the van.
- Table– The wooden tabletop is attached to a legume table mount, which means it swivels and rotates to any position that they want. They use the table for dining, playing games, working, studying etc.
- Storage cavity– Each seat lifts up to reveal a storage cavity, which can also be accessed from the back of the van. One of the cavities slides all the way through the van, making it ideal for long sporting equipment such as skis and snowboards.
To see the full tour of Kara and Cole’s van, check out my YouTube channel: