Tom and Lucy’s Budget-Friendly, Upcycled Volkswagen LT35 Van Conversion
last updated: Dec 15, 2021
If you’re thinking of moving from a standard two up two down dwelling house into a movable home on wheels, you’re probably wondering what to do with all of the belongings you’ve amassed over the years. Instead of throwing them away, why not try upcycling?
About Tom and Lucy
Truth be told, Tom has been dreaming about van life since a very young age. He’s always been attracted to the idea of travelling the world from the comfort of his own home.
One day, he and his partner Lucy decided that now was as good a time as any. So they pledged to say goodbye to their shared apartment and their stable, full time jobs, in favour of a life on the road. Shortly after, they purchased a Volkswaken LT35 minivan.
Over the course of a few months, Tom and Lucy have managed to create a stunning home for themselves without breaking the bank. They’ve recycled and repurposed as much furniture from their old flat as possible, including their double bed!
At the minute, they’re just using the van for weekend trips away. Their pre-COVID plan was to travel around Europe, but sadly this has been put on hold. Next year, they plan to be living and working from the van full time.
- Volkswagen LT35 Minivan– The guy that Tom and Lucy bought their van from had already started converting it into a camper. It was very very basic, but he kindly threw in a few additional appliances such as their Dometic sink and stove.
Kitchen and Appliances
- Dometic 50L Fridge– This is located underneath the bed. They chose to situate the fridge here so they would have more room in the kitchen area. The good thing about this fridge is that you can set the door to be opened either way. It also has a removable freezer compartment, which is perfect for storing ice cubes.
- Dometic Spev Sink with One Burner Hob – This is one of the freebies that the previous owner threw in with the van. It works well, but most of the time Tom and Lucy prefer to use their portable camping stove, which they store in the garage. This gives them the flexibility to cook outside. However, it can be annoying having to go out to the garage every time they want to cook. For this reason, they’re hoping to replace their current set up with a fixed 2 burner hob supported by a LPG system.
- Ikea worktops– The pair found these worktops in Ikea’s bargain corner, which sells lightly damaged items for a fraction of the recommended retail price.
- Teapot– This is wedged in with a stick and nailed to the shelf so that it doesn’t move while they’re on the road.
- Rubber mats– All of their kitchen cupboards are lined with rubber mats, which stops their pots and pans from sliding off the shelves while the van is in motion.
- Fixed double bed– The pair primarily opted for a fixed bed out of laziness. Tom had previously been away in a campervan that didn’t have a fixed bed and he found that making it and putting it away every day was a massive pain in the backside. So they thought that having a fixed bed would avoid this problem. It also gives them a lot of space underneath for storage. The bed frame is actually the same Ikea bed that had in their flat, they simply chopped the ends off and bolted it to the wall. Their mattress was custom made by an online retailer.
- Single bed– Initially, Tom screwed two rectangle pieces of wood to their seat bases. These served as ledges to hold the base of a third, single bed. However, the base of this third bed snapped in half during an incident in the highlands, and the pair haven’t yet had chance to replace it.
- Pressurised pump– Tom and Lucy have two methods of showering while on the road. The first utilises a pressurised pump, which they simply fill with hot water.
- Solar shower– The second showering method involves a remote, solar shower, which they hand from a nearby tree.
- Wooden board– The pair also carry around an extra piece of wood to stand on while they’re showering in the outdoors.
- Slide out table– Tom and Lucy’s table slides out from underneath their fixed double bed. It is made from shelves taken from their old flat. The runners are made from their old bed frame.
- 2 x chairs– These are made from bits of Ikea shelving that Tom and Lucy had in their old flat. The seat cushions are made from 2 bits of foam that they purchased from Dunelm Mill and stitched together. The cushion covers are made from the same fabric as the curtains, which they bought from a factory shop.
Power and Electrical
- 275-watt solar panel– Unfortunately, Lucy ordered the solar panel online and didn’t measure the ceiling space beforehand. This means that it covers the skylight and they can no longer see out of it.
- Solar charge controller
- Split charge relay– This allows the pair to charge their battery while driving.
- 800w power inverter
- 110-amp hour battery – This is fine for what they need right now, but when they start living in the van full-time they will probably upgrade and add another battery.
- Grey water
- Fresh water
Cabinetry and Finishes
- Upcycled cupboard handles– Throughout their van, Tom and Lucy use upcycled metal handles that Lucy originally found in her parents garage. To create an antique yet lavish effect, she sprayed them with gold paint.
- Wooden cladding – They chose this design as they wanted the van to have a cosy cabin feel. They found the wooden cladding surprisingly easy to fit and maintain.
- Roll down curtains
- No overhead cupboards– Unlike a lot of other van conversion, Tom and Lucy opted against overhead cupboards. Why? They wanted their van to have a light, open feeling. They also don’t feel like they need the additional storage.
- Bulkhead storage
- Spare tyre
- Pizza oven
- Fold down table– Fitted to the back of their garage doors, this little table is perfect for when the couple want to sit out back, take in their surroundings and enjoy a nice cup of tea.
- Retro seatbelt signs– These are one of the vans original features. Tom and Lucy decided to keep the signs in tact in order to pay homage to the vans roots.
To see the full tour of Tom and Lucy’s van, check out my YouTube channel:
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