Interior Inspiration

Living in less than 100 square feet could get old, especially if the interior isn’t so fun and inviting that it automatically puts us in a good mood (even if we hadn’t slept well the night before). Ben and I aren’t naive enough to think that after several 24/7’s with each other, we’ll be in a good mood at all times. So, I’ve been working hard at trying to create a happy space that’ll help keep us smiling. It’s fun to feel like I can do whatever I want (within reason slash our budget) – things we might be too scared to do in our own house. Here’s my inspiration —

Knobs for cabinets and pom pom fringe & fabric for curtains. All from Hobby Lobby.

Magnetic spice tins from World Market and poster from Etsy (I plan to DIY my own).

Kitchen towels from West Elm and a colander from Anthropologie.

Pillow from World Market and quilt from Urban Outfitters (one that we already own and will use on the bed).

Depending on what paint color we choose for the inside of the van, our color scheme will be one of the following:

Sea Spray paint color scheme —

Malted Milk paint color scheme —

I love the softness of the Sea Spray and Malted Milk paint colors with the bold, bright accent colors. Cheery and fun enough to energize and lift your spirits, but calm enough to create a peaceful environment in those not so peaceful moments I’m sure we’ll have at times.

Progress on the van is slow in coming. Some weekends we get a lot done and some we get strep throat and barely look at the van. Two weekends ago was one of our more progressive ones – we installed our “kitchen.”

Click here to see what we used for our blueprint and how we scored a free cabinet.

Once Ben and his friend Chris took a closer look at the space in the van, not only would the cabinet need to be cut to fit around the gas tank but they noticed they needed to figure out how to work around the metal lip that stuck out.

After they measured and cut the area for the gas tank, they decided not to mess with the structure of the van and cleverly added a slit in the back of the cabinet for the metal piece to slid into.

This way the cabinet was snug and as close to the side of the van as possible (giving us less ways to lose random items).

Then came time for the sink. We originally wanted a small, stainless steel, RV-like sink, but when we found out they were $100 a pop new (and we had no time to search junk yards), we decided a stainless steel mixing bowl would be perfect. And at $8, it sounded more than perfect.

They drew a circle around the bowl and cut a smaller circle so that the bowl would stay in place.

They also cut a circle in the bottom of the bowl, installed a drain and hooked up a pipe from the drain to the septic tank under the van.

Before we had a bathroom with no hope for privacy in our marriage.

Now we have the start of a kitchenette.

We still have plans to extend the cabinet, add a countertop, replace the knobs and create something that will hold our stove in place but we’re happy with it so far. We’ll be posting a video with more details of the kitchen installation soon.

We’re new AAA members and we’re blown away by all the perks. I got a discount membership coupon in the mail making it only $40 a year for the two of us for a basic membership. That means we get free towing to any AAA care center, free flat tire service, battery service, pop-a-lock and if we run out of gas they’ll bring us a gallon. Whaaaat? As much as we don’t want our minds to think this way, our van could break down on the trip and this will come in handy. But everyone please, think happy thoughts.

Last week we received an oil change coupon from AAA and Ben took “Buddy” (see reference here) in to the AAA Car Care Center. Plush leather seats, fresh coffee and creamer – the good stuff – and a flat screen in the waiting room is enough to make the husband call it the “Ikea of body shops.” I laughed when he told me. We joked about this being a new date night spot for us and we envisioned taking our kids one day, who’d be equally as excited. “Kids, we need an oil change!” “Yay, cable tv!” (We don’t have cable.)

But this wasn’t the only reason it was deemed the “Ikea of body shops.” Not only do you feel you’re a part of a swanky club (slightly exaggerating), but there are several shops connected to it – a AAA travel agency and a AAA insurance center. Now we all know this is part of their strategic plan, but for soon-to-be road-trippers this is super convenient. Somehow, not only did we get a handful of state maps for free, we got several state travel guides for free too. These are AAA’s version of The Lonely Planet and although we’ll admit, The Lonely Planet is better, they’re not free. AAA basically paid for our membership in the value of all the free swag.

When the van was finished, Ben was given a detailed packet of how good or bad the fluids/tires/brakes were, along with samples of the actual fluids from our van and picture shades of what color they should look like. How cool is this thing?

But probably my favorite thing that Ben was given was a website. It’s the best resource for mapping out our trip and everything we wished Google Maps could do but can’t:

If you’re planning a big trip, check it out. You don’t have to be a member to fiddle with the travel planner, but only members can save their maps. It also allows you to see local attractions, gas stations, campgrounds, restaurants, events and more.

We keep telling ourselves no we didn’t, but late the other night we were cracking ourselves up listening to “Pretty Boy Swag” and yes we did. I hope we don’t lose street credit. This. Right here. Is my. Swag.

I know Ben and I aren’t newlyweds anymore, but I knew right away that I didn’t want a quote unquote bathroom right next to the bed. Of course there will be that one time on the trip when we’re driving through a long stretch of nothing that I’ll probably say “dang it, why!?” but (unless you’re traveling by yourself and don’t mind the aroma) it’s not ideal—for privacy or for marriage. :) Lucky for us, this thing had never been used so it was an easy process to remove it.

And voila!

We decided having a little kitchenette in its place would be better for us, so this weekend Ben and his most handiest friend Chris, will be working on something inspired by Papa (Ben’s grandfather who took this very same kind of road trip, mentioned here).

Here’s Papa’s handy work —

The thing that we’ll keep from the toilet (and the feature we love the most) is the tank under the van where it was suppose to drain into.

This way, our dirty/grey water is stored outside of the van instead of under the sink like Papa’s (which will allow for more storage).

Papa’s kitchenette is now in the possession of Ben’s aunt and uncle. Although we could’ve easily borrowed this from them, Ben and I expect to use this van for as long as it’ll let us so the thought of installing something only to take it back out again didn’t appeal to us. Plus, it’s kind of fun for us to figure this thing out from the ground up.

Here’s what we plan to work with —

We scored this free cabinet from a school that was being remodeled. The doors are perfect. They sort of clip in and out so they won’t be flying open while we’re driving.

Here’s to Friday and hopes of a productive weekend!

The husband and I are SICK! So sick that we’re going to have to miss my great grandmother’s funeral, which I’m really sad about.

We were so hopeful of a productive weekend to work on the van. Instead, we ate chicken noodle soup, went to the doctor and watched tons of movies that we rented from the library.

Yes, we even watched Lottery Ticket.

Needless to say, we barely did any work on the van. And unless you include Ben’s attempt to tint all the back windows (he only did one), it was a big FAIL for us.

Luckily, a couple weeks back we were productive. See how we improved the floor of the van —

I own Utopia Invitations and work for myself, but I also waitress and have a boss. I turned in my 13-week notice yesterday by telling him about our trip and handing him one of these.

Ben and I thought it would be a good idea to have cards printed to give to people we meet on the trip. Plus, I couldn’t resist showing off the pictures that our friend at Karin Curtis Photography took for us.

So there it is, my 13 week notice. Let’s just hope my generous heads-up doesn’t give me the boot before the 13-week mark (since waitressing has been crucial for saving up enough money for the trip).

So, if you’re in the Columbia area come to Za’s Brick Oven Pizza and ask for me (unless you’re a creepy stalker). The food is amazing! Try the Breadsticks, a Three Cheese Pizza, the Shrimp Scampi or the Cali Salad – my personal favorites.

Enjoy a short, time-lapsed version of the hours we spent cleaning and gutting the van. This allowed us to step back and really envision how we wanted it to function and look (since we knew we wanted the final version to be a lot different.)

As promised from yesterday’s post, here’s a virtual tour of the van. There’s a lot of work to been done to this baby, but we see a lot of potential from the features it already has.