Furnishing a Campervan on a Tight Budget

A yellow van travels through Arches National Park in Utah.

If traveling around from place to place living the vanlife sounds like a dream come true, a DIY campervan conversion may be just what you need to get started. (Image: via Dino Reichmuth via Unsplash)

You may have heard of vanlife or seen people hyping it up on social media and want to take the plunge yourself — living on the road, traveling from place to place out of a nicely furnished van. But what if you don’t have the money to buy a van that’s all decked out and ready to go? Well, how about furnishing a campervan yourself?

You can furnish and style a campervan of your own even on a tight budget and in little time. You do not need a lot of experience or fancy tools either. DIY campervan conversion does not take professional or expert skills and there is no right or wrong way of doing it. The key is to precisely understand what you need when furnishing a campervan and understand the options for implementing it.

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So if you have the drive to convert a van into a livable home with all essential amenities on a tight schedule and budget, read on. 

Getting and furnishing a campervan

Get a van

If you want to build a campervan, you need to first find yourself a van. Decide on your budget, size, and other requirements, and find a van for yourself. Find some inspiration online and try the different websites that deal with cars and vans. Once you find your perfect van, you can move to the next step.

A man leaning against a white van parked in a wheat field.
If you want to build a campervan, you need to first find yourself a van. (Image: via Pexels)

Deep clean

Clean the van thoroughly and remove unnecessary installations and seats. You may need a combination of products for the cleaning process, like powders or sprays to clean any carpet or fabric, something for dealing with dust, and maybe even something to tackle mold. The process might take some time and a lot of effort, but it is an essential step. Add some air fresheners as well. 

Take measurements

Before making any drastic changes or adding furnishings to it, you must take accurate measurements of the van. Don’t leave anything out. Including not only the height, width, and length of the van but also things like the wheel wells and windows will make the next steps simpler. 

Plan and prioritize

Prioritize and list the jobs to be done. This way, you will stay organized and on schedule. Once you have your priorities straight, you can look for furnishing options and consider other details.

Build the foundation

You need to make sure that your van’s base is stable and robust enough to sustain and carry the other installations’ weight with a good-quality board. Start by making a foundation for your installations. You’ll probably want to include a bed frame, kitchen hardtop, and counters.

Add curtains

As much as we love natural light, privacy is also essential; add some curtains to your windows. If you have access to a sewing machine and some fabric, you can stitch your curtains using your choice of color and material.

If you have access to a sewing machine and some fabric, you can stitch your curtains using your choice of color and material when furnishing a campervan.
If you have access to a sewing machine and some fabric, you can stitch your curtains using your choice of color and material when furnishing a campervan. (Image: foshie via Flickr)

Remember the essentials when furnishing a campervan

You will need a battery to charge and operate your electronic devices and the lights in your van. Always carry portable fans, lights, and chargers. Make sure you have sufficient buckets to wash your clothes and a rope to hang them up for drying. Also, keep some basic tools handy in case of a breakdown when furnishing a campervan.

Buy supplies

Make a list of all the essential things you might need to live in the van. Some items like batteries, insect repellent sprays, camping chairs, cutlery, pots and pans, and dishes for eating and drinking from are important. Make sure you list anything else you might need and buy it before starting a journey.

Storage space

Make sure you have enough storage space for your clothes and supplies in your van. You can always invest in foldable storage boxes and behind-the-door organizers and make use of cabinets, storage bags, the area under the bed, etc.

Make it homey

Add some personalized items like paintings, photos, and decorative items when furnishing a campervan to make it homier. Get creative!

With these things in mind, you can easily make a DIY campervan and get a taste of the vanlife for yourself.

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