A Tour Of My Van Conversion [Renault Master LWB 2008]

I would like to show you around The Donkey, my home on wheels. It took a month of Leah and I working almost full time on it to get it to how it is. It is far from perfect, but this is our first time doing anything like this, we had a limited budget, and we left for Malta before finishing the whole project as we had done enough to hit the road.

THE MAIN ENTRANCE

The side door is a sliding door that is meant to be the main entrance. Unfortunately the door is broken as the van was not loved in its previous life, so the door doesn’t really shut properly. Well, it shuts, but not enough to stop the rain coming in or for the lock to work. You can lock it from the inside and if you give it a really good slam, you can just about stop the rain coming in (although not quite all of it), so for the most part we don’t use this door. On the rare occasion that we do come in this way, we have a mat proclaiming ‘Home Sweet Home’ and a bottle opener for craft beer.

THE SOFA BED STORAGE BOX

To truly understand and appreciate the sofa-bed-storage-box, you need to see the intricacies of how it works. Below are four images of the bed showing its different functions. They are as follows:

  • Top Left: Sofa. Can comfortably accommodate 3-4 people (or more at a squeeze)
  • Top Right: Storage Box. The lid hinges open, meaning that you can store LOADS of stuff inside. It is bigger than I intended and I could probably store everything I need in this space without the wardrobe or cupboards. It is slightly inconvenient to get to on a regular basis though.
  • Bottom Left: Double Bed. The slats interlock, allowing the bed to be folded out into a double bed, utilising a movable front panel. The weight is then distributed between this moveable panel and the two fixed beams that form the lid of the storage box / support for the sofa.
  • Bottom Right: It Works. We had an extra picture to take, so I made Leah sit here.

When the sofa bed is down, with the decorative sofa stuff on (including impractical, but attractive ‘decorative pillows’) it looks like this. There is a reading light above the sofa for reading on the sofa or in bed.

THE WARDROBE AND CHEST OF DRAWERS

This wardrobe is pretty huge and has a rail to hang our clothes. Its overkill, but this was my first time building a van so I had no idea what I needed. If I ever get a fridge, I will probably put it in here. The drawers to the right are pretty convenient, except that they sometimes slide out. I bought magnet fixings, but they aren’t strong enough when we go around sharp corners. However, all our finishes were done with a brushed out paint effect which I really like, surrounded by washed out frames, finished with cast iron hinges and handles. My mum got the super heavy curtains for me to try and prevent heat escaping through the cab and I think they look good too.

THE KITCHEN

Our kitchen features a work surface that is a little over two metres long. We cut holes to put in an old caravan sink and a brand new gas stove. This leaves us enough space to cut grapefruit or gin (or maybe think about preparing food) in-between the two kitchen features. When we set off, we hadn’t got around to plumbing in the water tank or pump, or fitting a gas supply, so right now the kitchen is a large storage space with a limited work space. When I get around to finishing it, I intend to run a shower hose from the water tank for outdoor showers.

RELAXING WITH THE DOORS OPEN

There are a million different configurations for a van conversion, but in the end I decided that have the sofa bed at the back was best for my needs. It means that we can open the back doors and enjoy the view, whether in bed or sofa mode, and allows any cooking smells to escape easily. Having the back doors by the bed also offers the opportunity of using them as a headboard, although there is a slight gap between the bed and back doors. This photo was taken in Malta, quite a drive from the UK, and I have decided to use it as a base for a while.

MORE ON THE DONKEY VAN CONVERSION

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