Refurbishing a van is done in several phases, and progresses according to your priorities. As members of the Atelier Co-operatif La Patente, we were lucky enough to have a garage to keep the van in so that we could work inside when it was necessary. The first steps of this refurbishing were focused mainly on insulation and working directly inside the van, as you have seen from our earlier blog postings. The farther we went, the closer we got to the step of finishes, where we will focus on furniture. This work will be able to be done outside, and then we will install the pieces.
At this step, we are working on the structure of the furniture. We did try to do a sketch of the vehicle, but with the non-conventional shapes that we dealt with in the plywood floor, it is difficult to make blueprints that can actually be used. We therefore took advantage of the time we had inside to make the bases of the furniture that we could then bring into the workshop to work on.
After reading several blogs on refurbishing vehicles, comparing different refurbishing projects according to the size of the vehicle, but also thinking about the length of the project that we wanted to undertake, it’s a job that you have to talk through as you’re doing it.
In the best of worlds, we would have liked to have a vehicle that allowed us to stand up inside it, but vehicles this size turned out to be big gas guzzlers. They were just plain out of our price range. This is why the choice of the Savana van seemed okay to us. It was a better than average-sized vehicle, and we are aiming at spending as much time outside as possible.
After some discussions with friends, it also seemed important to us to make sure that the entrances to the van were unencumbered, as we would end up having stuff in the way anyway during the trip. It’s better to not clutter it up too much before we even leave, and keep in mind the mess we are going to have in the future.
It’s not a 10-wheeler, so we don’t have an infinite amount of space. We had to choose what would really be necessary: a bed, a place to eat, a toilet, and a kitchen. We will also give ourselves the luxury of having an “office space” for our computers, crafts, and games.
Generally speaking, we will have 4 pieces of furniture:
Our bed will be a bit like a Murphy bed. During the day, it will fold halfway to form a bench, leaving some room to get by in the van at all times. At night, we will completely unfold it to make a bed like our one at home!
We will have a small pantry behind the driver’s seat. The gas stove will be on the side door so, when we open the door, we will be able to cook outside, but we must remember that we always forget ingredients inside. If we place the fridge/pantry at arm’s reach, there will be less to-and-fro.
We will also have a desk/storage unit that will allow us to work on our computers, but also to have a multifunctional inside space when the weather isn’t so good.
There is a lot of space in the Savana between the two seats, especially since we took everything out of it. We could picture a piece of furniture that would come between the two seats while we were driving, which we could move out of the way during our stops. We could also store stuff of all types in it.
To finish, it wasn’t counted, but the indispensable compost toilet that we will make from a pail, and which will make our van different from an apartment, because we won’t be able to put our waste in water.
First of all, we need to build the structures!
Also published on Medium.