renovation of our '88 toyota van / 2.15.15-present

This blog post has been a long time coming...it's a lot of information to put together for the renovation of our Toyota Van. I was the one, giving most of the design ideas, and my husband Ian, built out the entire van and upholstery. It has been a lot of time and work for him, giving up weekends to constantly work on the van. It has also been a lot of testing out, and re-doing. Since we were planning on going on this extended road trip, we wanted to make sure the interior was as easy and comfortable as possible- which comes with a lot of trial and error. But in the end, we are super happy with how it turned out, and hope this helps some of you with some ideas to fit out your van, too. 

Ian bought the van a couple years ago, shown below are the photos, of the van before we touched it, completely empty (these couple photos are edited by myself, but were taken by the previous owners). 

After a while of driving the van around, we decided to completley re-do it, including reupholstering the doors and interior, as well as creating a custom bed, cabinets, and bed cushions that we got professionally upholstered. But a lot of the upholstery, Ian did himself.  

I'm an interior designer, so the upholstery fabric was verrrry important to me. I ordered some upholstery fabric from Turkey- and Ian used a thin layer of foam, as well as the fabric, to re-cover all the sides of the doors. He also bought a similar color car vinyl to redo some of the older pieces of the inside. 

For the bed, Ian created a pull out bed, with overlapping large pieces of wood- similar to a day bed. It folds into three, and we stack the pieces during the day, and put the cushions on top. The bed pulls out on heavy duty drawer sliders, and a leaf is placed over the gap that is created- forming a 6'6" bed platform. 

He created drawers underneath the bed, and also left the area underneath the bed completely empty- so we would be able to put in plastic sliding drawers for the rest of our clothes. 

In the back of the van, he created a slide out custom drawer for our food (kind of like our pantry)- and for our stove. Also including drawers for our dishes, and a hinge down cutting board. 

The curtains were hand sewn, by myself mostly. Now before everyone goes and judges my curtains- I am not a seamstress and do not proclaim to be "crafty", really. I more like to design things, and other people do all the hard work :). But in this case, I needed to sew the curtains, and I got the hang of it after the first one was done. 

We bought two different types of fabric, one for the "pretty side", and one for the backing, and to be able to really darken the inside of the van when it's light outside.  

We also added grommets to the top, measuring 3 inches down on each curtain, giving plenty of room for the top to cover the windows in the van. 

It was hard to decide how to be able to work the curtains easily in the van, and we decided to use magnets in order to stick the curtains together, as well as stick to the inside of the van (since the majority of the inside of the van is metal).   

When we mounted the hardware inside the van, for the tops of the curtains, we used an L Bracket, and an Eye Bolt to secure the Paracord- the so called "curtain rod". We originally used metal wiring, but noticed it was rubbing off onto our off-white curtains, so we changed to Paracord last minute- which has actually been working really well. 

I used Fray Check on the outside seams of the curtains, because the fabric we used was fraying like crazy and I'm not skilled enough of a sewer to make a seam that wasn't open like that unfortunately. It has been working very well actually, and the curtains are great! 

For the handles of the drawers, we decided to make those out of leather. We used the same color hardware as the grommets on the top of the curtains so it would all be cohesive.  This DIY website was helpful, to roughly figure out how to make the drawer handles. 

For the bedding inside the van, we use sheets, a large cotton blanket, and a large wool blanket- as well as a moroccan wedding blanket for a throw. This has been enough bedding for us so far on our trip, and we knew it would be heavy enough for the summer at least. When it gets colder, we plan to use our sleeping bags under these blankets, or just the sleeping bags themselves. 

One of the things I like the most about the van, is the ability to plug in my utilities whenever I want. We have an auxiliary battery wired to an inverter to be able to run electronics off a different power source, so as not to drain the car battery. For instructions on how to do this, check out this site he used for specific instruction. 

Overall, there are always things that can be improved, or things you still want to add. But for the most part, we were able to get everything done we wanted before leaving on our trip. 

Being on the trip for almost a month now, everything we have done has been working pretty well, and we are very happy with how everything turned out. If anyone has any more specific questions, feel free to send me a message, or comment on this blog post and I will do my best to get back to you! Happy travels!