We appreciate all tiny homes, from Sprinters to box trucks. But we have a special place in our hearts for van dwellers living the mobile lifestyle through DIY builds. Check out these talented people, building or living in rigs they’ve built out themselves.
Stephen // @epochrestorations // Website
Stephan is a long-distance runner, formerly sponsored by the likes of Saucony, Nike and Skechers. In 2015, Stephan founded Epoch Restorations, offering “unique restorations & mobile hospitality”. His vintage vehicles can be rented for special events as well as weekend get-a-ways (ever wanted to try out vanlife?).
His personal ride (or at least the most prominently featured one) is a 1966 Clark Cortez named Lolita. Look familiar?
We have a special place in our hearts for Stephan since it was he who inspired us to buy our Clark Cortez. He’s a totally rad dude who discussed the finer points of the Cortez with us at length and we’re excited to be following along with his journey!
“Coming from a family rooted in the automotive industry in Michigan, being able to work on my vehicles has always been a very rewarding experience…Obviously it is impossible to know and understand what makes everything (work) in this world, but with vehicles I have tried to make an effort to know and understand the inner workings… This ideology overflowed when I decided to build out the interior of my first camper. Although the process was quite extensive and at times frustrating, the end result was truly a unique experience to be able to build a little home on wheels. Understanding that many people do not have the time to do a full restoration, a rad aspect of DIY is making even small upgrades and finishing touches that can truly make your van uniquely you.”
Pete, Taylor & Snoop // @alwaystheroad // Website
If you browse Instagram for pictures of Sprinter van conversions, chances are good that you’ve seen this awesome and unique build from Pete, Tay & Snoop.
During college Pete & Taylor took a year off to backpack through Asia and quickly learned that a simple life filled with adventure was what they truly desired.
They created their home out of a former airport shuttle bus and wrote an awesome e-book about the conversion process for those of you considering your own van build.
“DIY was important to us because we didn’t just want an RV that any other person could have too. We knew that this vehicle would be our home and we wanted it to feel that way; we wanted it to be one-of-a-kind. It was such a great way to learn new, useful carpentry skills. It allowed us to use our creativity to build a living space that reflects our personal taste and actually feels like a home. It was a tough process at times, but we enjoyed the journey and love our unique home.”
Their creativity isn’t limited to building tangible things. Pete & Taylor are also musicians and share a love of music. It’s one of the things that brought them together as a couple in the first place. They recently released an album of acoustic tracks worth listening to. You can listen online for free or download their album for a reasonable fee to listen whenever you want.
We’re excited to be following along with the travels of these modern nomads and we’re excited to see what they do next!
Hannah Stix // @travelling.van //
Hannah has been a traveler all of her life and although she’s comfortable living out of a backpack, she felt it was time for a home base.
“I met a phenomenal boy and somewhere between the desert and the Atlantic, two people reading in Morocco put down their books and wondered what it would be like to drive to Indonesia. We both knew the things that cost the most are hotels, hostels and travel itself but what…what if… we could combine all these things, a place to retreat to when needed, a space we can take to the world while welcoming the world in to it at the same time…some kind of… transportable hotel …(goofy grins) some kind of home? A van?”
Hannah used many repurposed items in her build to create a one-of-a-kind home. Old desks, a wardrobe door, and second-hand clothing were all given a second chance and turned into functional items. We’re impressed with Hannah’s resourcefulness which shows us that it’s possible to create a tiny home with a limited budget.
Laurie & Izzy // @camperdreamin //
Laurie and Izzy are an eclectic couple from the UK who love climbing, hiking, and of course the freedom of life on the road. They’ve road tripped across the United States, Australia, and Canada (but all those trips were in rented camper vans). Because they love traveling and adventuring outdoors (and because they frequently rented vehicles) they finally decided it was time to invest in their own van and begin building.
Laurie and Izzy are a hypnotherapist and a tree surgeon who own/run their companies from home, which provides them income and the time needed to work on their van build. They have found a balance: running their businesses during the week and escaping on the weekends. Maybe one day they’ll switch over to full-timing it from their van. For now they’ve found a way to make it all work.
“DIY is important…as it allows us to create everything completely bespoke to our needs and gives us the freedom to create the camper of our dreams. It’s a labour of love and we feel every inch of that love when we’re in it.”
Jacob & Tessa // @thefreetowanderbus // Facebook
Jacob and Tessa are not your typical traveling couple. These two artisans, who live in a converted ‘skoolie’, specialize in making one-of-a-kind items. Their necklaces, macrame, earrings, and hand-stamped cutlery can be found at various stores in Ontario.
“DIY was the biggest focus for us when we decided to convert a school bus into a home. Both my partner and I have been building/making things by hand for several years now. Not only do we take pride in telling people that we did everything ourselves, but we are also able to reuse lots of materials throughout our projects. For example, the barn wood in our bus is from a falling down 120 year old barn. There is a huge element of accomplishment too once something is finished.”
Jacob and Tessa are often on the move for work, traveling to farmers markets and pop-up shop locations as they go. Choosing to convert a school bus offered them additional room for their materials and work space so they can continue creating their goods while on the road.
Jessy // @a.girl.and.her.commander // Blog
Jessy is a conscientious consumer, spreading her knowledge to help others make healthy choices. Her website has a great section titled ‘consumed‘ where she discusses the finer points of earth-friendly household items (think soaps, plastic wrap, etc.).
She’s a brand ambassador for Dr. Bronner’s and other enviro-friendly companies such as Alaffia, Mineral Fusion and Coconut Bliss. Jessy is currently restoring/redesigning a 1978 Dodge Commander with her own two hands.
“DIY is important to me because I strongly believe we are all capable of much more than we think we are. There is so much growth in learning and trusting in yourself! I don’t believe people when they say, “I could never do what you’re doing.” I promise, you can!”
A self-described ‘artist with an ever-changing medium’, Jessy practices yoga, meditates, and never stops learning. She is doing her best to live as authentically as possible and we have a huge respect for her project and approach to life.
A special thanks to all these awesome van dwellers for sharing your inspiring stories! Thanks guys!