Vault Interiors: Renovation queen transforms a $12k vintage caravan into a tiny home on wheels

With the tiny home movement only rising in popularity across Australia, renovation experts and interior stylists are now moving into caravan flipping – with spectacular results. 

Justine Wilson, a Sydney-based property styling expert, is one of these professional ‘van flippers’ and recently transformed a $12,000 vintage caravan into a chic home on wheels for approximately $13,000. 

‘This project was a vintage van purchased A One Caravan Repairs who can undergo any structural changes or modify the van with all the Mod Cons,’ Justine, the Director of Vault Interiors, told FEMAIL.   

‘As this particular caravan was in great shape, albeit very dated (it’s from the 1980s and 23 foot in length), I had the team give the van a check to see all components were working (air con, gas, plumbing etc) and reseal the roof as there were some minor leaks.’

They then installed a new butchers block counter top in the bathroom and kitchen and removed the old banquet seating which made the van a blank canvas for her to bring to life. 

‘Once the van was delivered to my warehouse, my team managed the cosmetic revamp of the van – you can achieve a great result with a fresh coat of paint and the right styling,’ Justine said. 

To transform her newly blank canvas, Justine and her team started with the outside where they painted the exterior a pale pink and white. 

‘It has a retro feel but pink is also an on-trend colour at the moment so I knew it would be easy to source accessories easily,’ Justine said. 

They then moved inside where they painted the interior a crisp white to make the van feel spacious and bright and removed the original floors as they were a ‘horrible finish’. 

‘We installed an inexpensive floating floor which works well in a van due to high traffic and it’s easy to sweep and mop; you can get a variety of colours at Bunnings,’ Justine said, adding that they kept the original light fittings. 

For the kitchen, Justine chose a retro look mini fridge for a vintage feel and for the lounge she opted for furniture that was compact and dual purpose.  

‘It’s important in a small space like a caravan that things not only look great but are functional,’ she said. 

‘The lounge area has a storage ottoman, patterned rug and some small side tables that can also act as extra seating and the bed is actually a sofa bed so that can also fold up allowing more floor space if required.’

In the bathroom she added a new shower curtain, some nice storage baskets and a portable camping toilet for a ‘refresh’ and to make the small space more functional.

‘I like to remove some of the overhead cupboard doors in vans and have done this in the kitchen and the living room so it gives the shelving a bookshelf feel,’ she said. 

‘I can see my books and mementos and it makes the interior of the van feel less boxed in. My van is stationary most of the time so this works well and gives the van a homely feel too.’

If Justine needs to move the van she simply packs the extra items into a storage ottoman to avoid breakage and when she’s stationary the decorative elements make the space feel more like a tiny home.   

‘Lastly, I also added some light canvas wall art, textured scatter cushions and throws to inject colour and personality into the caravan and add visual interest,’ she said. 

‘We love to revamp vintage vans and have sold a few to clients who have wanderlust or who just want a portable studio space or guest room so it’s perfect for many different lifestyles.’

Justine said the tiny home trend has been rising for the past few years and people still ‘can’t get enough’ of it . 

‘There are also several factors as to home owners gravitate to tiny homes, the first is housing affordability, this is a major factor and often sees adult children extending their stay in their parents home years after what used to be the norm,’ Justine said.

‘With home prices at an all time high and high rent and competition to secure a rental in inner city suburbs, many young adults are preferring to stay in the family home for longer, to either save for a future places of their own or finding that board is cheaper than comparable rents.’

Justine said the advantage is that they are self-contained, really popular and are ‘easily moveable’ and therefore offer the owner flexibility.      

‘It’s a lovely way to live,’ she said.    

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