Woman transforms caravan into chic holiday pad complete with champers fridge

A woman who bagged a caravan in an online impulse buy has revealed how she transformed it into a luxurious little pad on wheels.

Emma Davies, 46, from Gower, was simply scrolling through Facebook Marketplace when she found herself purchasing a "bargain."

She wasn't looking for anything in particular when she came across the little battered caravan, but something told her the deal was too good to miss.

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Emma told WalesOnline: "We were days away from signing for our dream house with a pool when the owner pulled the sale.

"I was absolutely gutted and disappointed for the children, I think I'd decorated every room in the house in my head, so after brooding for a week, I dusted myself down and did something quite impulsive – I bought a £1,400 caravan off Facebook Marketplace."

Even though it seemed like a great idea at the time, the spur of the moment decision didn't leave her family impressed.

She continued: "The husband thought it was a terrible idea! It was a 1997 Bailey Ranger with an interior that would have been all the rage 25 years ago!

"It was very beige and he had visions of it being left to rot on the drive, but ‘if it makes her happy’ he said to friends.

"It had been the previous owner’s pride and joy and he’d taken great care of it and although it was dated, it was bone dry."

While many people may be thinking about buying a bookshelf or a nightstand, Emma decided to randomly snap up a pricey old box of brown decor on wheels.

But she said she was thrilled with her decision, as she's been learning how to upcycle furniture and has made the renovation her biggest ever project.

Radio presenter Emma totally devoted herself to transforming the caravan into a chic little travel bad.

Even though she risked £1,400 on the impulse splurge, she said she's found the journey therapeutic.

She even resprayed the entire interior to get the van looking spick and span.

Emma said: "I took off each cupboard door, lightly sanded and primed them and spray painted them with Frenchic chalk paint in the garden.

"I even resprayed the sinks, fridge interior, bathroom cupboards and shower tray so that everything looked shiny and new, and I bought a big awning with a bedroom annexe for our children to sleep in at night.

"I found it easier to take the doors off and spray them, if you do the same, remember to put a sticky note on the back of each one so that you can remember where they go when it comes to screwing them back on!

"Some of the overhead cupboard brackets were a bit a fiddly, so it's a good idea to take a photo of them before you dismantle them so that you can remember how to put them back together again.

"The biggest spend was the flooring and worktops, I bought a sheet of Formica online for the tops having done a bit of research on caravan makeover forums.

"We had a carpenter friend working on our house at the time, so I asked him if he'd be happy to spend an extra few hours putting some new flooring and worktops in the van."

She said she also looked at ways to keep the cost down.

One of the ways she did this was by cleaning the sofa cushions thoroughly, and having a good hunt around for bargain material to re-cover them.

In total her renovation project cost around the same as a two-week family holiday, but they're now able to travel where ever they fancy.

She said: "With paint too and the initial purchase of the van, it cost little more than three thousand in total, but it's lovely having something that reflects your tastes, it feels so homely in there.

"I wanted it to look like a swanky, white, chill-out beach club on wheels.

"I bought the Moet acrylic flutes online and then I had the idea to paint the fridge black and add some letter stencils, and a crown so it looked like a Moet logo – it's always a talking point on campsites, so many people have asked me ‘where can I buy a fridge like that?’

"They’re always surprised when I tell them I winged it with some black and white paint!

"I also found some great black wire cube shelves in B&M, they were very lightweight and ideal for screwing into the cupboard wall to display some plant pots – it's the little touches that make it special."

It's even had its first outing recently, as they ventured across the channel.

Emma said: "Our holiday flights had been cancelled due to the pandemic and I was determined to do something positive for the kids, the paint was still drying when we towed it for its first outing to France, no practice run for us, go big or go home!

"We’d never owned a caravan before and we didn’t even know if anything worked, we just took the seller at his word, and figured it out as we went along, and, fortunately, it was a great buy.

"My husband took a day’s caravan towing course and a few days later we were on an overnight ferry to St. Malo, pitching up in the Vendee.

"Now we have our little home on wheels, we find getting away much easier."

Emma said her husband will confess that he was quick to judge the snap decision, but she said he's now welcomed the addition as a wonderful family holiday home.

They say it has changed the way the family have been able to spend quality time together.

Emma said: "Although the husband thought it was a crazy idea to buy a 25-year-old caravan and do it up, he’s since admitted that he really likes it, and our children love it.

"It's funny, we’re so busy that we're rarely in the same room together for more than ten minutes at home, but there’s something lovely about snuggling up in the van to watch a movie in the evening or having a chess battle or family game of cards after dark."

The only thing is, Emma has now opened the door for further upcycling projects, and family and friends are hoping she'll be able to work her creative magic to help other projects come to life.

Emma added: "My parents purchased a motorhome in their retirement, so we’ve been able to join them for weekends away too, but now having seen how light and airy I’ve made the caravan, they’d like me to have a crack at doing one for them.

"My next mission is to paint the exterior of ours, and then maybe buy a bigger one, just don’t tell the husband that!"

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