Couple transform old caravan into riverside home for less than £3,000

Nicola and Mark bought an old caravan for £8,000 (Picture: Jam Press)

We’re always impressed by a major DIY project – and this one ticks all the boxes.

Nicola Harris, 52, and her husband Mark, 59, decided to buy an old caravan in March 2021 after visiting Nicola’s brother, who lives in Shillingford on Thames, and falling in love with the location.

They were able to find a caravan for just £8,000 – but it was a bit run-down.

Not deterred, the couple set about renovating the carvan to turn it into their perfect home on wheels.

They spent under £3,000 on the whole re-fit, with the bulk of the cost going towards flooring, new blinds, and a plush sofa.

After a bit of hard graft, the end result is brilliant – and Nicola and Mark couldn’t be happier.

The living room of the caravan before the transformation

Here’s what the caravan looked like before its makeover (Picture: Jam Press)

caravan's bedroom before renovation

It was all a bit drab and run-down (Picture: Jam Press)

caravan kitchen before its transformation

It needed some work (Picture: Jam Press)

caravan kitchen before renovation

But the couple were more than ready for the challenge (Picture: Jam Press)

‘I wanted a ‘fixer upper’, something I could really put my mark on,’ Nicola said.

‘It was really dated, in good condition and quite clean but the décor wasn’t me at all.’

To transform the caravan into a stylish home, the couple took out the fitted sofas and side units in the living room – and then painted all of the interior walls and units in the kitchen, bathroom and living room.

They also removed the curtains and nets from all the windows and replaced them with made to-measure venetian blinds from Blinds 2go, costing just over £200 for the whole van.

caravan kitchen after makeover

The couple spent £3,000 and just four weekends transforming the home on wheels (Picture: Jam Press)

the kitchen after its renovation

It’s a dramatic transformation (Picture: Jam Press)

They used stick-on tiles to five the kitchen and bathroom a refresh, and bought accessories including lamps, mirrors, and fake plants from Home Bargains and B&M.

The entire project took just four weekends

‘The worst job was removing the old carpet – apparently they carpet caravans, then added the fitted furniture – so wardrobes, sofas, and even the shower cubicle had the pink carpet underneath,’ said Nicola.

living room in renovated caravan

Nicola said pulling up the old carpet was the hardest part of the job (Picture: Jam Press)

renovated living room in caravan

The pay-off is worth the faff (Picture: Jam Press)

‘I was still pulling up carpet at midnight the Sunday evening before the flooring was laid.

‘I actually could have cried that night!’

A local company, BB Flooring, installed the herringbone vinyl for the floor, which instantly changed the feel of the caravan, but the couple did the rest.

The couple love their new riverside holiday home (Picture: Jam Press)

carvan bedroom after renovation

There are two bedrooms to choose from (Picture: Jam Press)

Nicola added: ‘After the flooring was done, I loved seeing each room transformed with just a coat of paint and a few accessories.

‘I love it – every time I walk in I smile, it’s such a lovely place to be.

‘I’m really looking forward to creating wonderful memories down the van with friends and family, especially now we can start socialising again.’

Now, the couple are looking forward to taking their caravan out on the road – once travel restrictions ease, of course.

caravan finished bathroom

The bathroom is especially lovely (Picture: Jam Press)

Nicola and Mark hope to take the caravan on the road soon (Picture: Jam Press)

caravan bathroom after renovation

‘There is no better place to be’ (Picture: Jam Press)

Nicola said: ‘With overseas travel restrictions still in place who knows when we will be able to travel freely again.

‘We have a two-week holiday booked to the Dominican in July but I’m pretty certain it will be cancelled so we will spend at least one, possibly two, of those weeks here at the van.

‘The caravan will also be nice for my grown-up children to use with their friends for a getaway as we have all had holidays cancelled over the last 12 months.

‘With the van being right on the river, it really does have a holiday vibe to it.

‘Although we can’t guarantee the weather in England, when the sun does shine there is no better place to be and it has made me look more at holidaying in England in the future, rather than feeling I always have to jet off somewhere for a break.’

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