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Couple Annika and Duncan convert a vintage caravan into a luxury home on wheels Vonnie the Viscount


A couple have given a vintage caravan a makeover and transformed it into an epic home on wheels – complete with a modern-style kitchenette, daybed, reading nook and dining area.

School teacher Annika 33, and her geologist husband Duncan 32, from Perth, Western Australia, purchased the old 1978 Viscount Explorer pop-top in June 2020.

The pair decided to take on a creative covid-isolation project by converting the 16-ft caravan into a luxury ‘Vonnie the Viscount‘ so they could one day do the ‘Big Lap’ around Australia with their baby daughter Ziggy in tow.

Instead of gutting the caravan, the parents spent five months updating the space with paint, ‘cosmetic’ touches, DIY tiles and wallpapers, timber flooring, new furniture and lighting, and budget décor items.

A couple have given a vintage caravan a new lease of life after transforming the outdated piece into an epic home on wheels

The couple kept the caravan's original layout

Instead of gutting the caravan, the parents spent five months updating the space with paint, 'cosmetic' touches, DIY tiles and wallpapers, timber flooring, new furniture and lighting, and budget décor items

The pair converted the 16-ft caravan into a luxury ‘Vonnie the Viscount’ after spending just five months renovating the space

School teacher Annika 33, and her geologist husband Duncan 32, from Perth, Western Australia, purchased the old 1978 Viscount Explorer pop-top in June 2020 (pictured together with their one-year-old daughter Ziggy)

School teacher Annika 33, and her geologist husband Duncan 32, from Perth, Western Australia, purchased the old 1978 Viscount Explorer pop-top in June 2020 (pictured together with their one-year-old daughter Ziggy)

The couple had purchased the caravan from a ‘gorgeous’ family who initially used the vehicle for their road trips.

‘They were reluctant to sell, as they adored the van and the memories it had given them – but they were pleased it was going to new owners who would cherish it. They had called the van ‘Vonnie’ and we decided to keep the name as an homage to them,’ Annika told Daily Mail Australia.

‘We loved the style of the older vans, they have far more character than ones you can buy off the shelf today, plus we thought if it’s made it this far, it’s built to last.’ 

Just 11 weeks after Ziggy was born, the new parents started the process of renovating their humble van in June.

‘Covid restrictions gave us a little extra time and we just seemed to work it around life with a newborn,’ she said.

The duo wanted a ‘vintage aesthetic’ to blend in with the modern touches of their caravan transformation.

‘Prior to renovation, the interior was all wood laminate, very dark and a bit dated. We wanted to make the small space feel as big and airy as possible so we went with all white for the walls, furniture and cabinetry,’ she said.

‘The layout of the cabinetry and furniture was perfect, with a double bed at one end, bunks at the other and kitchenette and lounge in the middle – it was exactly what we were looking for and ideal for our growing family.’

The couple could one day do the 'Big Lap' around Australia with their baby daughter in tow (pictured before the renovations)

The couple could one day do the ‘Big Lap’ around Australia with their baby daughter in tow (pictured before the renovations)

The duo wanted a 'vintage aesthetic' to blend in with the modern touches of their caravan transformation

The duo wanted a 'vintage aesthetic' to blend in with the modern touches of their caravan transformation

The duo wanted a ‘vintage aesthetic’ to blend in with the modern touches of their caravan transformation

Out with the blue, in with the new: To match the interior, the couple painted the exterior with a warm sand colour

Out with the blue, in with the new: To match the interior, the couple painted the exterior with a warm sand colour

Keeping the original layout, the couple added new brass doorknobs and they sprayed over the original hinges with gold paint to match.

From there, they used a ‘lightweight, waterproof self-adhesive’ wallpaper as the kitchen’s splashback and installed a Tasmanian oak benchtop, which matched their timber floor.

‘Originally the van had bunk beds at one end, we removed the top bunk from one end of the caravan and made a day bed instead,’ Annika said.

In addition to painting and cosmetic touches, the couple added other modern things to their caravan to ‘make life on the road a bit easier and more enjoyable’. 

‘We replaced the old gas electric fridge with a 12V upright Waeco fridge. It has a fully off-grid electrical system, all the lights, fridge, water pump and chargers can be run off the battery and solar system we installed ourselves,’ she said.

‘There is a portable hot water system in a cabinet on the drawbar for outdoor showers, and plenty of fresh water in a tank underneath.’

They used a 'lightweight, waterproof self-adhesive' wallpaper as the kitchen's splashback and installed an oak benchtop

They used a ‘lightweight, waterproof self-adhesive’ wallpaper as the kitchen’s splashback and installed an oak benchtop

They created an epic reading nook for their baby girl, filled with a selection of books and a huge cushion to read against

They created an epic reading nook for their baby girl, filled with a selection of books and a huge cushion to read against

The couple kept most of the caravan's old layout, but updated every space with a lick of paint and accessories

The pair said they got most of their styling and renovating ideas from other caravan transformations online

Before and after: The pair said they got most of their styling and renovating ideas from other caravan transformations online

Like any extensive makeover, the couple faced many challenges along the way.

‘The biggest challenge we faced was discovering the plywood ceiling of the pop top had some rotting due to years in the weather. This gave us the opportunity to remove and replace it with rot resistant marine ply, as well as adding some insulation to make hot and cold weather more bearable,’ she said.

The pair said they got most of their styling and renovating ideas from other caravan transformations online.

‘We feel we have always had an eye for good design, carefully honed over the years while styling our own home. Vonnie’s interior also owes a lot to some caravans we already follow on Instagram,’ the young mother said.

When furnishing the van, the couple trawled through op shops to find glassware and crockery that had the ‘double bonus of being cheap and matched the vintage aesthetic’ and used a budget range of modern home décor.

‘We also made cushions out of fabrics we collected on a trip to Morocco. Kettle, toaster, bedding are from Kmart…Storage drawers and tubs in cupboards secured down and perfect fit for items to avoid rolling around and clutter.’

When furnishing the van, the couple trawled through op shops to find glassware and crockery that had the 'double bonus of being cheap and matched the vintage aesthetic' and used a budget range of modern home décor

When furnishing the van, the couple trawled through op shops to find glassware and crockery that had the ‘double bonus of being cheap and matched the vintage aesthetic’ and used a budget range of modern home décor

For those looking to revamp an old motorhome on a budget, Annika said it's best to find a caravan in a 'good condition' with a layout you want rather than having to build everything from scratch

For styling on a budget, Annika said you should always 'keep it clean and simple

For styling on a budget, Annika said you should always ‘keep it clean and simple. Remember it’s a small space that you want to maximise in terms of style and vibes. Don’t overdo it with prints, accessories and unnecessary items’

Top tips for styling a caravan on a budget

  • Keep it clean and simple
  • Remember it’s a small space that you want to maximise in terms of style and vibes
  • Don’t overdo it with prints, accessories and unnecessary items
  • Get inspiration from Pinterest, Instagram
  • Try to avoid filling with all new things
  • Adding less used items from home, collecting from op shops, and sourcing from budget stores will add personal touches, character and won’t break the bank

The pair – who chose not to disclose the amount of money they spent on renovations – finished renovating the interior in November.

‘There is however plenty more to do, we haven’t quite finished painting the outside, and would like to do some upgrades to the axle and suspension to make it more off road capable,’ she said.

‘But we feel fantastic walking into our new home on wheels, it has such a calm and breezy feel to it, and it feels like such an accomplishment knowing we made it that way.’

For styling on a budget, Annika said you should always ‘keep it clean and simple’.

‘Remember it’s a small space that you want to maximise in terms of style and vibes. Don’t overdo it with prints, accessories and unnecessary items,’ she explained.

‘Try to avoid filling with all new things. Adding less used items from home, collecting from op shops, and sourcing from budget stores will add personal touches, character and won’t break the bank.’

For those looking to revamp an old motorhome on a budget, Annika said it’s best to find a caravan in a ‘good condition’ with a layout you want rather than having to build everything from scratch.





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