Some of my favourite summer memories involve our camping holidays as a child. I loved the tradition of packing up each year and heading to the beach but as I got older I hated the idea of pitching a tent and that’s where the urge to buy a caravan came from.
I have wanted a caravan for years! The idea of being able to afford our own beach bach just isn’t realistic at the moment but a caravan and a bit of hard work was. The hardest part was finding a caravan we wanted to renovate. I scrolled Trade Me for months, a whole year actually, before coming across Poppy in her glory. Poppy is a Liteweight Silvermist 14.6ft (4.5m). She wasn’t much on the inside but she was roadworthy, weather tight and had potential. We did use her for a week away as she was and then Project Poppy got under way.
We wanted to start with a clean slate so the first thing we did is completely gut the inside down to the frame. We did save a few things such as the original brass trimming and a couple of the wall panels. Once down to a bare frame Jase made any repairs needed to the chassis which lucky for us was only some minor welding. Then he laid a new plywood (18mm) floor.
We are all about comfort around here so we pink batted Poppy before starting on her new wall panels. We replaced the wall panels with plywood (9mm) and Jase sealed them with epoxy resin to keep them moisture proof. Poppy started to look a bit like a patchwork quilt because a couple of the panels were thicker for added strength. The new ceiling is MDF (5mm) board, also resin sealed to keep it moisture proof. We were very conscious of the weight we were putting back in to the caravan for obvious reasons.
I had a floorplan in mind right from the start which isn’t dissimilar to what we started with because after using it for that week we realised it worked so why not stick with it, but imporve it. We tweeked the dimensions a bit and then built the new framework for the bench seats, kitchen, storage and the girls bunks to our new measurements. We have such a small space we didnt want to waste any so we extended the bench over the fridge which also meant increasing the height, overall I hands down prefer the new layout. I wanted the curves of the bunks to mirror the curves in the overhead lockers and we added a ladder to help access the top bunk. Jase then fibreglassed the floor joins and any where the cabinetry or walls met the floor. He filled all the wall joins with epoxy filler and sanded to ensure a seamless finish. We also saved the original overhead lockers so he repaired all the knocks and bumps on those too.
The next step was probably he most work. Prime then sand, sand and sand some more! Jase sprayed Poppy’s interior with an Altex epoxy paint and primer. You don’t have to use a paint like this but Jase is a boat builder by trade and used his knowledge there to chose the paint. He wanted a shiny finish, easy maintenance and long term durability. It’s definitely shiny and super easy to clean so I’m not complaining! Once painted we had Flooring Xtra come in to install our flooring. After meeting with the consultant at our local Flooring Xtra I chose LIVYN Balance Click LVT in Drift Oak Beige.
Paint and floors make a heck of a difference because Poppy was starting to look like a caravan again! We finished the ceiling by reinstalling the original brass trimming and then started on the kitchen. Poppy’s kitchen includes a laminated oak worktop that Jase resin sealed and new sink, both from Bunnings. The gold tap is a Meir Bronze Tiger tap from The Kitchen Hub and the splashback is adhesive vinyl tiles from Vinyl Home.
The last ‘big’ job was making and paint the kitchen, storage and locker fronts then putting them all in. Putting slats on the top bunk was pretty important too. Once those jobs got done I got to do some fun stuff like decorate and vinyl cover the fridge to match (Poppy came with a fridge so we just spruced it up to match). All the decorative elements have been sitting in our spare lounge for weeks now so I was dying to get them in there.
I didn’t want to compromise on bed sizes so the girls bunks are both proper singles and the bench seats convert into our full sized queen bed. I bought a queen size mattress and then cut it down to the bench sizes and Just Sew made the new upholstery covers to fit. I bought curtain fabric and made the curtains and put them up with curtain wire. I couldn’t find cushions I wanted so also made those. The kitchen handles are water resistant leather from Lewis and Lou. The overhead lockers are brass lever handles. We will eventually add a table but so far we have achieved all this in two months and now have her maiden voyage booked!
I promised a cost/price break down so I’ve also included suppliers where I can below. After discussion with Jase I wont disclose what we bought Poppy for in case we want to sell her in the future. What I can’t put a price on is the time and work we have put in, especially Jase, it has definitely been a project of love and I can’t wait to spend our summers in her.
Timber, plywood and materials – $800 approx.
Paint and primer (interior) – $650
Pink batts – $40
Sink – $149.99 (from Bunnings)
Benchtop – $125.78 ( from Bunnings)
Flooring (installed) – $865 (from Flooring Xtra)
Upholstery Covers – $344.50 (from Just Sew)
Vinyl Tiles (splashback) – $158.00 (from Vinyl Home)
Tapware – $599.00 from The Kitchen Hub)
Leather Handles – $41.85 (from Lewis & Lou)
Queen foam mattress/bench squabs – $160 (from The Warehouse)
Single Mattresses x2 – $158 (from The Warehouse)
Hinges/window stays/hinges – $100 approx
Wall lights – $72 (from Mitre 10)
Electrical components for rewire – $500 approx (labour free thanks to an electrician brother in law)
Vinyl for Fridge – $47 (from Vinyl Home)
Curtains and curtain wires – $75 approx. (fabric from Spotlight)
APPROX COST: $4386.12
Wall hanging – Wool & Thread
Our duvet, girls spotty sheets, mirror, green throw blanket – The Warehouse
Girls throw blankets – Izzy & Jean
Poppy name plaque – Love From Seventeen
Cushions – Made by me