As anyone who owns one will know, a caravan is much more than just a mode of transport. It’s a home from home; a wondrous invention that lets you take your home comforts on holiday with you so you need never be without your favourite pillow or your kids’ games console. If you bought your caravan new, you will no doubt have spent a fair amount of time, effort and money researching and tweaking specifications to get it exactly how you want it. In fact, even if it wasn’t new, it was new to you and still involved a significant financial investment.
With all that effort gone into making sure the technical bits are perfect, it’s only right that you should put an equal amount of effort into making your caravan properly homely. It’s yours and should reflect your personality, just as your home does. Whether it’s a certain throw, some bright colours or customised upholstery, adding a personal touch to your caravan will help it feel like home. It’s not a soulless rental, it belongs to you and your family. Some may even say it’s almost part of the family.
Create a truly perfect, bespoke environment for catching up on some much need relaxation and time away from the drudgery of daily life by transforming your pride and joy into a cosy sanctuary.
Here are some of our ideas on how to make small changes that make a huge difference.
Unless your caravan is brand new, you’re bound to have accumulated equipment you don’t really need anymore. Start off by removing all of this from your caravan (and not packing it again next time!). This should leave you with some extra space to work with and even a little extra space can make all the difference to your comfort.
Take this opportunity to scrub the caravan, eradicating those blu-tak and sellotape marks and freshening up sealants and grout. You may be surprised at the effect of a thorough cleaning, even if you maintain your caravan to generally high standards.
As with your house, the easiest way to put your stamp on a caravan is to add some accessories you really love. You don’t need to spend a fortune on redecorating your caravan, it can easily be done in stages by adding some nice cushions, new curtains or blinds, some photos or pictures… you get the idea!
If the upholstery in your caravan is looking a little tired but you don’t want to replace it just yet, why not invest in a few throws? These can be found very cheaply on the high street or sourced from high-end designers – whichever you prefer. Throws have another purpose too – not only will they add a little life and vibrancy to a tired or generic interior, they’ll also prove invaluable for cuddling up in when it gets cold.
If you have carpets these are relatively easy to replace even if they are fitted. If you like the idea of fitted carpets you obviously have the option of have them professionally replaced, or you could do it yourself by carefully cutting around the edges making sure you avoid obstacles such as the fridge or cabinet doors and taking care not to damage the floor underneath. The old carpet can then be used as a template for the new one.
Many modern caravans have laminate style flooring and this is seen as a more practical solution as it can be easily cleaned, which is vital if you share your space with children or dogs. There is of course nothing to stop you putting down colourful rugs on laminate floors to make them warmer and more cosy, not to mention brighter. Again, you can do this sort of refurbishment yourself, and one tip we would recommend is sealing the flooring where it meets the caravan furniture as this stops dirt and liquids potentially coming between the two and possibly lifting the floor you have just laid.
If you use your caravan all year round and like the idea of having flexible flooring, you could opt to have both laminate and carpets. By having removable carpets, you could have the laminate flooring for the warmer weather and put the carpet down on top for when the temperature drops. This kind of carpet will be more expensive as it would be better to have the edges of the carpet bound or whipped by a professional so that they do not fray. On the other hand, the carpet will last longer as it is not being used quite so frequently.
If the mattress in your caravan is not quite as firm as it once was it can be easily replaced. The choice of mattresses is extensive and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be as comfortable as you are at home. The available mattress ranges even include memory foam and can be made to the exact size and shape that you require - essential if you have a cut away fixed bed.
While you’re at it, why not also upgrade your pillows, duvet and bed linen. You could even have summer and winter duvets for the different seasons (or that slightly cooler / wetter summer...).
The seating area of the caravan is possibly one of the most important to get right. If it is not as comfortable as it should be, or has faded or worn through then it is probably time to consider changing it.
Unsurprisingly there are companies who specialise in this area, a couple of which supply the caravan manufacturers with the upholstery for new vans. Although they might not be the cheapest option, they do have extensive experience with caravans, and will have a wide range of fabrics to choose from. You will need to choose a fabric that not only looks good and compliments the rest of the caravan furniture but is also hard wearing, especially if the seats convert into the bed every night. If you have pets and children using your caravan then you may want to consider a design that can handle the odd accidental mark or stain.
Curtains or Blinds?
If you are going for a more modern, contemporary feel, think about replacing the curtains with blinds. Again, there is a huge range to choose from and they can be colour co-ordinated easily with the rest of the caravan. Many shops sell blinds that can be cut to size and the possibilities are endless - roller blinds, venetians - vertical and horizontal, wooden, fabric, metal...
You could opt for both curtains and blinds! Why not fit blackout blinds to prevent you being disturbed during your morning slumber (or keep the children in bed a touch longer) with traditional style curtains to compliment the caravan decor.
New curtains are a great way to freshen up the look of a caravan and can be made very easily at home. You could take apart one of the old curtains to use it as a template for the new ones. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on material, markets and car boot sales are good places to look.
The Kitchen and Bathroom
Perhaps your sink is a bit stained, or the work surface has a few chips, or the shower base is cracked. These jobs can be done by yourself if you are confident with DIY, and you could find replacements at a caravan salvage yard that fit straight in. Alternatively, many replacements can be purchased on the Internet, although I would recommend that you get a professional to fit anything that involves water: remember that caravans and water leaks do not mix and can lead to even bigger problems in the future.
You could also look into replacing the cabinet doors and drawers with something a bit more modern and to your taste, but this is likely to be very expensive to do as the width of caravan cabinets and doors differ to those in a house. If this is not an option, it may be that a rub down with some sandpaper and then varnishing or waxing the woodwork will improve the appearance.
Unfortunately over the years the weather and small accidents may have taken their toll on the exterior of the caravan. No matter how careful you are the outside is not going to look like it has just rolled out of the factory. Fortunately there are a couple of options available here as well.
It may be possible to remove some small dents, but always consult a professional before attempting this yourself as you may inadvertently cause more damage if you don’t know what you are doing. Touch up paint will be available from your local dealership and can be useful for disguising small scrapes. As mentioned above, Magicman can repair damage to external panels.
Rather than paying for an expensive re-spray, it might be that the caravan could do with a professional wash and polish to remove black streaks and return it to its showroom shine, even if it is a few years old. With their knowledge and products, professionals are virtually guaranteed to improve the look of your caravan and perhaps protect it from the weather for a number of years.
Another alternative if you fancy a completely different look is to go for a caravan wrap. These are quite new to the caravan market, but are essentially vinyl adhesive covers that are applied to the outside of your van. Being flexible they are moulded to the shape of your caravan easily. Instead of having a white or cream coloured exterior you could have something multi-coloured or one created to match the colour of your car - the possibilities are endless. Should you change your mind in the future, or decide to sell the van, it is possible to have the wraps removed.
Mirrors are always the ultimate in maximising perceived space. No matter how small your living quarters may actually be, placing a few extra mirrors on doors, panels and cupboards can add extensively to the spaciousness of your caravan. Just make sure not to overdo it and find yourself living in a fairground attraction.
Finally, no interior design makeover would be complete without a few personal touches. For the ultimate home-from-home feel, transfer a few key items from your home to your caravan and back again each trip. Perhaps a clock or some important photographs; these can be all you need to feel fully comfortable and relaxed, rather than needing to take a couple of days slipping back into the caravanning lifestyle.
Before you get too carried away with replacing everything, remember that everything you put in the caravan weighs something, possibly more than the item that it is replacing. It would be worth taking your caravan to the nearest public weighbridge to check the new weight of your caravan to ensure that you are still within the legal towing limits of your car.
Whilst some of these ideas are likely to cost a reasonable amount of money, redesigning the interior of your caravan will be significantly cheaper than purchasing a new one and it will save you a lot of leg work in looking for a van with a similar layout or one with the fixtures that you like.
Have you done something to your caravan that we haven't thought of? Leave us a comment below and let us know.
You’ll want to use your caravan for escaping home on many levels, but keeping homely touches can really improve your holiday. Just as you’d keep good care of your home itself, make sure to always take out caravan insurance to keep yourself covered.