Here are a few photos of our van build process...

"La Soñadora"

This is what "La Soñadora"  looked like on day one.


Windows added, old INTERIOR removed.

We took out everything in the vehicle, stripped out the old insulation, cleaned the metal, then prepared for a complete re-do.  We also cut a Gigantic F'ing hole in the side of the van for a window.

More windows, insulation and wiring.

The two rear windows are located as high as we could get them to accommodate for the height of our bed...which was located in such a way as to accommodate for our bicycles, and our desire to not sleep super close to the ceiling.   I was able to reuse most of the wiring from the original van build design.  The insulation panels are also largely salvaged from before, just cleaned off, re-glued, & supported with spray foam insulation.  Underneath most of this insulation is a layer of "Rattle Trap" sound dampening material. 

Roof vent, vapor barrier,solar panels, wood paneling & trim.

We wanted to be able to get out of the van from the bed, so we cut in a larger vent above the bed and installed a Midi Heki by Dometic.  The walls are made from Pacific Knotty Cedar, and aromatic cedar in the area below the windows (where we ended up putting our bicycle garage).  In between the insulation and the wood paneling, we installed a plastic vapor barrier.  Our solar setup includes 300 watts of solar panels, 250 amp-hours worth of storage in two  6V, sealed AGM batteries wired in series.  The trim around the windows was a pain in the ass, but worth the extra time...we can set a Nalgene bottle, our coffee cups, and a book on the little window sill.   We also installed overhead lights and a couple of reading lamps above each window.  


Bed frame, rough plumbing, flooring & more electrical.

We built the bed frame to be high enough to store our bicycles on a sliding drawer under the bed, and to allow for storage on the sides.  We also wanted to have a closet for our clothes in the van, so space was considered for that as well.  The plumbing is fed by a 28 gallon stainless steel tank (modified with a valve to let air in, but not water out).  We use a 12V pump to feed our sink and hot water heater.    We used that weird Home Depot shit for the floors, it is water proof, easy to install, and lays just fine on the insulation and plywood below (from the previous owners).  Throughout this project, we had to regularly relocate where the electrical panel would live, as it was one of the very last things to get a permanent home.  

Cabinets, Benches, countertops, drawers, sink, cushions and mattress!

Once the bed frame was in, we were able to build in all of the cabinets, seats and countertops.  We wanted everything to have at least two functions.  Each seat is also storage of some kind.  The closet has very easily removable walls, to allow access to plumbing and electrical.  The frame our mattress is on is from Ikea, and is hinged in such a way that both the foot and the head of the bed can raise up, and lock into place.  This also allows for more storage and access to the plumbing and electrical systems.  We wanted to locate the heavy batteries and the heavy water tank in front of the rear wheel wells, so we had to get a little creative with the design of our seating and storage.   

The seats on the passenger side house a toilet, our heater, and the water tank.  The seat on the driver's side is mostly storage, but also allows for access to electrical components.  The countertop is an oak slab (also from Ikea), which we sanded down, refinished, and coated.  

Mostly Done Here...


We installed a big shelf above the sink and countertop with lights underneath, and a usb outlet.  We also made curtains, and installed a curtain track to isolate the cab and the sliding door from the rest of the living space.  We used Baja blankets for that job.  We make use of 12v fairy lights (USB) strapped to the ceiling to light the van most of the time.  The refrigerator came with the van, and we were glad to be able to make it fit in our design.    

Our friends Kristen, Ian and Elio got us a fabric frisbee...a highly recommended upgrade for any traveling couple.