In Tea We Trust

Everything deserves a second chance… even a knackered old caravan.

Sew it begins…

I’ve finished my first year at university! It’s gone so quick and I’ve really enjoyed it but I’m knackered and looking forward to the next 4 months of summer! (it’s a hard life…)

And with uni out of the way I finally have all the time in the world to spend on the caravan. Yay!

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

So the sleeping in the caravan didn’t go as planned… I stuck it for the best part of two hours before I got too cold and went back in the house. That’s when I realised what the caravan needs; curtains!

I want to use this project to develop my craft skills and that means making whatever I can from whatever I can, so I’m making my own curtains!

I bought some fabric from Boyes. You can have a look at it in the photo below; the printed fabric (in the foreground of the pic) was dirt cheap at £6 a meter and the lining fabric (behind the printed fabric in the pic) was only £2 a meter. I bought 3.6 meters of both because that’s all there was left of the printed fabric (I made sure to check that they’ll be getting more in as 3.6 meters is no where near enough for all 5 windows!).
Photo 21-05-2015 21 14 13

Photo 21-05-2015 21 12 56

A close-up of this gorgeous fabric ♥ ♥ ♥

I’ve decided I’m gonna be really simple with these curtains. I’m hoping once I get the hang of fabrics and sewing and stuff (and with the help of Pinterest!) I’ll be able to make some Roman blinds but for now I’m sticking with simply hanging the curtains from curtain clips on a curtain rod. I’ve already bought two curtain tension rods and seeing as I don’t fancy drilling holes in the caravan walls in fear of making a pigs ear of it, I’ve bought some self-adhesive hooks to rest the rods on. Eeeeeasy-peasy.

Anyway, as I was saying, I’m sticking with simple curtains. So far I’ve made one of two curtains for the big bedroom window. Here’s how I did it:

First, I measured the windows and the length and width I’d want the curtains. Then I cut these measurements out accordingly of the fabric, adding 4cm to allow me to make a hem.

Photo 22-05-2015 19 55 44 Photo 22-05-2015 19 56 00 Photo 22-05-2015 19 56 23

Photo 21-05-2015 22 26 16

At this point I attempted to free-hand sew the hem as I didn’t (past tense…) own a sewing machine. However, after only 3 attempts I lost patience with my shoddy work and ordered a cheap sewing machine from Argos. Their cheapest one was in the Value Range at £50… not too bad I suppose.

Photo 22-05-2015 15 06 55 (1)

Mini sewing machine from the Argos Value Range – £50

Photo 22-05-2015 15 06 50

Photo 22-05-2015 15 27 49

Photo 22-05-2015 15 27 33

My first hem! Not to shabby if I may say so myself…

I hemmed like this all the way around the fabric so that I can simply attach the curtain clips to it and then hang the clips on the curtain rods. One curtain down, nine to go! It’s gonna be a long week…

It’s all coming together…

I’ve been a busy bee lately!

Not only am I smashing through these essays that are due in scarily soon, but I’ve also got a lot done on the caravan.

Don’t you love feeling productive!?

I haven’t been keeping on top of my blog (whoops!), so there’s a lot to catch up on…

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

First of all, remember that eye-sore of a wall I was going on about in my last post? If not, here’s a reminder:

Photo 20-03-2015 16 54 06

I left it for a week (in the typically British rain and wind) to see if there were any water leaks I’d missed, and to my surprise there weren’t! So I bought some MDF to cover the ugly bodges with. These were really cheap at just £6.50 a sheet. The sheets were about 4 foot by 2.5 foot so I bought two. I measured the caravan wall up to under the window where the top of the damage was and then simply scored the MDF sheets to size. I was proper dead chuffed when I realised I’d got the sizes dead on and they fitted under the window like a jigsaw! Here’s what it looked like when finished…

3

Not bad eh?

I fixed the sheets to the wall using a mixture of super strong spray adhesive and a cheaper version of No More Nails adhesive. I then applied masking tape around the edges just to make sure the sheets were staying put and that any draughts were kept out.

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Then, I set about wallpapering the wall with paintable textured wallpaper. The wallpaper I used was half a roll my mum had left over from a few years ago. It’s simple stripes and I know they definitely still sell it in Wilkinson’s for about £6 a roll so I’ll be able to get some more.

I’d never wallpapered before in my entire life so (with a little help from the mother) this was my first attempt…

4

I haven’t got round to cutting it around the window yet, and I’m not wallpapering right up to the cupboards as it was too fiddly (and I’m too lazy).

Also, you’ll notice I’ve started painting the wallpaper. I’m aware it’s pretty much the same colour the previous owners have painted the ‘van but it’s a pretty colour and I like it and it’s my caravan and I’ll do what I want with it, alright? The colour, if you’re wondering, is ‘powder blue’ by Dulux. I only used a tester, which is why I didn’t paint very much. The tester pot was a quid. I could probably save myself a fortune and paint the whole thing using tester pots…

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

I’ve also finished painting the woodwork and now the interior is looking a lot brighter, fresher, cleaner… just better, really! You can see the overhead cabinets fully painted in the picture above. Here are some pictures of the other areas I painted…

5 6

Ignoring the unpainted handles (the reason for this being that I’m going to replace them with better-looking ones), I think it looks lovely!

There is one small dilemma, however… after spending about 5 hours painting the kitchen unit I had the idea of ripping the whole unit out, creating more space (seeing as I don’t plan on cooking in the ‘van, anyway), and perhaps putting a small desk there instead… Then, the overhead cabinets above the kitchen unit could be turned into a book shelf and that whole area could be a work space.

I think it’s a brilliant idea. However, I wish I’d thought of it before I spent so long painting the chuffing thing…

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

I can’t remember if I wrote in my last blog post about trying to move the caravan from the driveway where it was to the front garden where I wanted it… anyway, we tried to do that. Tried, and failed. We pushed and pulled and kicked and shoved and the bloody thing wouldn’t move. Why not? Well, we realised why not today, only two weeks later…

The handbrake was on. Idiot.

(Hahahahahahahaha hahaha ha ha ha. Ha.)

With brains in our heads at long last and the handbrake off, we managed to maneuver the ‘van onto the front garden, where it now rests. Here’s a couple of pictures:

7 8

9

With the ‘van in it’s new resting place, it’s not in the way of the drive, the view is a lot prettier and, most importantly of all, I get better Wi-Fi!!!

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

With the ‘van looking and feeling a lot cleaner, cosier and warmer, I’ve decided tonight I’m gonna give it a test run as a bedroom and sleep in it for the first time.

Wish me luck!

919392

There’s a hole in my caravan, dear Liza

I haven’t posted for a while, sorry! I’ve been busy with uni assignments (blergh) and what not. #studentlyf

I’ve made some progress with the caravan, the first part of which was a complete bodge-job but it’s fixed the problem.

That problem: Water damage.

I’ve already posted about this in my last blog post but to refresh your memory, here’s what the water-damaged wall looked like when I tore back the wood panel…

WP_20150221_014

WP_20150221_008

Pretty grim, I know! The whole underneath the was-wood-panel was wet-through to the touch and it smelt fusty and gross. I had no idea what to do about the problem so, in true young-adult fashion, I buried my head in the sand and left it (secretly hoping that if I left it long enough it’d fix itself…).

A few weeks later, after a tonne of Google-ing and Pinteresting about how to fix damp in caravans, I went back to the problem and decided what I was going to do: bodge it.

Again, in true young-adult fashion, of course.

I bought some fiberglass materials and applied this to the holes in the wall which I could see. Even the mixing of the fiberglass materials was a bodge job because I didn’t measure the correct ratio out; instead I just guessed and hoped for the best… and the best happened so who’s a genius? I’m a genius.

Once the fiberglass had set, I sprayed over it with sealing spray (which I’m ashamed to admit smelt good…). Just to make sure I’d gotten all the gaps, I also sprayed around the window and up the sides and everywhere else. To be perfectly honest, I was probably having too much fun drawing with it.

Then – as if I hadn’t sealed it enough already – I got some expanding foam. I’ll be honest, this was all just a load of fun; like playing with shaving foam, only the foam gets bigger… and bigger… and bigger…

And, yet again, in true young-adult-fashion, I didn’t follow the instructions and I didn’t wear gloves while using the expanding foam. As a consequence, I ended up with my hands stuck together, running around the house like a headless chicken, having a flid, worrying that my hands would have to be amputated. Eventually, my mum (being a fully fledged adult and what not) came up with a way to fix me and, after half an hour, I was saved and back to work on the caravan.

Here’s how it looked by the time I’d finished (brace yourself, it ain’t pretty)…

Photo 20-03-2015 16 54 06

B-E-A-utiful. If you have any DIY jobs you want doing, giz a ring.

I know how it looks, you don’t have to tell me. But it’s done the job – the holes and leaks are fixed, there’s no water getting in anymore and also the caravan is a lot warmer. And pretty soon I’m going to put a new wood panel over it so you won’t see it anyway.

I know how to bodge like a pro. Don’t worry; I got it.

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

After feeling pretty chuffed with myself and my handy work, I decided to do something a bit more therapeutic and, dare I say, feminine!

(No self-inflicted sexism intended… much.)

I bought some paint and some paint brushes and started painting the old, drab-looking wood work.

Again, to refresh your memories, here’s a few pictures of what the wood work looked like before…

WP_20150221_020

I didn’t realise I had so little wood-work focused pictures from before. I should have taken some more… but I didn’t… so deal with it (please).

So the wood work is as follows: the small wardrobe pictured above (next to the now non-existent bathroom door and walls…), a shelf which goes all around above the double bed area, the wooden supports for the seating/double bed, the kitchen cabinets and some cabinets above the water-damaged wall.

The wood was a boring colour and didn’t do the caravan any justice in terms of making it look fresh and new-ish, so I thought a lick of paint would spruce things up a bit – and I was right (as always… just kidding… sort of).

I went for a light colour because I’m going to do the walls (apart from one feature wall near the seating area) in a light blue and, what with the caravan being such a small space as it is, a light-coloured wood work ought to open the space up a bit.

Photo 20-03-2015 20 03 47

Said paint: Johnstone’s kitchen and bathroom emulsion in ‘silver feather’

I decided to get kitchen and bathroom in the hope that it’ll last longer… I don’t know. We’ll see.

Photo 20-03-2015 18 05 35 (1)

Those of you who follow me on Instagram (zoesimps0n) will have seen this already. My cute, relaxing set up; music playing, dim lamp glowing, heating on… almost like a spa day… almost.

So far I have only painted the cabinets above the water-damaged wall, the small wardrobe, the right-hand-side seat/bed support and the shelf which goes all around above the double bed area. This is because my set up (pictured above) was on the kitchen cabinets and the cushions for the seats were on the other wooden seat/bed support and I didn’t fancy getting paint all over them.

Here’s what it looked like after 3 coats…

Photo 20-03-2015 20 08 15

I put the cushions back on the seat so you could get a feel of what it will look like when finished. I’m going to either reupholster the cushions or make that area into a permanent double bed so as of yet I’m not sure what it’ll look like but… you get the picture.

Photo 20-03-2015 20 02 48

This one will probably need another coat. I’m also going to get new door handles for all the cupboards so that’s why the handles have been painted over too. Ignore the ugly wall.

Unbelievable how much difference that small bit of decorating has done! It’s made it feel a lot fresher and so much bigger on the inside.

I also bought some paint for the walls. So far I’ve only bought tester pots because I wasn’t sure what colour I wanted, however I have settled for a pale blue.

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

As well as bodging and painting, I’ve also been buying little bits and bobs for the caravan for when it’s finished. Here’s what I’ve gotten so far…

IMG_0165

Matching plastic camping mugs, bowls and plates and a matching vase. These can all be found in Wilkinson’s stores for £13 in total.

Photo 20-03-2015 14 38 00

How cute are these retro coasters!? £1.99 from Store Twenty One.

Also, the lamp in the 5th picture up is new too and will be staying when the caravan makeover is complete. I picked it up at Store Twenty One for £4.99.

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

So that’s what I’ve been up to caravan-wise since my last post.

As always, thanks for reading.

Baring all…

So today I was planning on fibreglassing the parts of the ‘van which are letting in rain and wind. I bought the things I need to do this the other day. I can’t believe how cheap and easy it is to do it! All you need is a fibreglass mat, resin and the hardener to set the resin with. In total, this cost me around £15.

WP_20150221_001

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

So, as I was saying, I was planning on fibreglassing… however, when I went to rip off the water-damaged wall on the inside I realised that job will have to wait…

WP_20150221_008

As you can see from the photo above, the rot behind the wall panel is a lot worse than I originally thought; the polystyrene insulation and the wood framing is completely soaked through and rotten far beyond being salvageable. This isn’t a HUGE deal because I was in two minds whether or not to re-insulate the ‘van anyway. However, it does mean that I’ll have to let it all air-dry out for a few weeks {or months…} before I can do anything further with it.

So, with that being said, I decided to see what else was hiding behind the cardboard wall (yes, cardboard – I’m not sure why caravans are so expensive when they’re made with arts and crafts materials…). The cardboard was that soggy that it was literally tearing like paper – either that or I’m just really strong and muscley {I’d like to believe the latter…}.

WP_20150221_009 WP_20150221_010

Yeah, I know, it’s gross. The polystyrene and cardboard behind the cardboard wall is completely sodden. I’m going to have to strip it all back to the outside wall but I’m scared to at the moment in case the window falls out…

{*nervous laugh/cry/tiny scream*}

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

I was planning on keeping the wooden seats in so that I could just re-upholster the cushions that go on top, however when I was sat on them whilst pulling off the wall, I noticed they weren’t secured to the wall as much as they should have been and they were wobbling. Again, this wasn’t a massive problem because, again, I was in two minds about what to do with them; either I was going to keep them in and re-upholster the cushions as I mentioned before, or I was going to rip them out and buy a proper real sofa instead. So, when I realised they were knackered that decision was made for me. So I set about ripping them out.

WP_20150221_011 WP_20150221_012

Uh-oh! I ran into a problem whilst pulling the seats out. I forgot about the plug socket that was on on of them – luckily I noticed just in time before I properly pulled on the seat and ripped out the wiring. I could have taken the socket off the seat but I’m not a novice at electrical work and I’d probably kill myself so I decided, for now, to leave it and to just cut the piece of wood it’s attached to out.

WP_20150221_014

So this is what it looked like when I’d finished taking the seats out. Pretty, right? No? Hmm… Well, it’s ready to start air-drying out now until I’m motivated and brave enough to face the risk of the window falling out when I strip it all back… can’t wait.

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Now, do you remember in my last blog post I put a load of ideas on and one of them was the wall with the shelves on it? I plan to do that on what was the inside wall of the bathroom. I say was because my next job after stripping the rotten wall out was to rip out the bathroom walls to give myself extra space – there was no toilet in there (thank God!) so I didn’t plan on using that room anyway.

WP_20150221_019 WP_20150221_020 WP_20150221_023

Easy job, I thought. Just smash the walls down, I thought… Alas, no. If only the rotten wall was as tough as the bathroom walls and the bathroom walls as weak as the rotten wall.

This job took at least an hour and a half, my mum’s help, an axe, a saw, a hammer, and a lot of screaming, shouting and swearing in frustration. However, eventually, just as I was starting to think I’d been beaten by a caravan, the walls came out.

WP_20150221_030

{“There’s so much room for activities!”}

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Whilst pulling the walls out, the carpet (which I was going to get rid of anyway) began to come up, revealing the floor underneath. I decided, seeing as it was coming up anyway, to pull up the whole thing. This revealed a fairly large area of damp in the corner under the rotten wall I’d just pulled out hours before…

WP_20150221_032

This made me want to cry and made me wish I’d not pulled the carpet up… however, if I hadn’t have pulled the carpet up I would have never have known the damp was there, and would have put furniture on top of it, risking the whole floor on that side falling through and all my hard work and money going to waste.

Again, this won’t be a big problem to fix. When I get round to fixing it (which will be in a few weeks when I’m home from Sheffield for long enough to get the job completed) I’ll simply cut out the rotten wood and replace it.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom! This is the only area of rotten floor in the whole ‘van – God doesn’t completely hate me after all!

WP_20150221_033

As you can see from the photo above, the rest of the floor is completely fine and damp-free. It appears as though the only water-damage is all on one side of the ‘van, which makes life a little easier. It also means I can focus on decorating the side which is okay whilst waiting for the damaged side to air-out, avoiding the prospect of the whole project being put on hold for a few weeks.

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Over the next few days/weeks I’ll be keeping an eye out for pretty fabrics, paint and wallpaper to save ready for decorating. I’ll also be attempting to fix the water-damaged side of the ‘van and hoping it’s not a bigger job than expected…

Brainstorming…

I know I literally just posted a blog post but sod it, I’m becoming an addict.

Thought I’d share some ideas I have for my caravan, just to settle the minds of those of you who have little faith in me and this project {I know who you are, there’s no point pretending!}.

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

{These photos were found on Pinterest, however I have cited the websites which they were attached to so as to avoid plagiarism and what not.}

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

I love this idea; the colours are beautiful and I love how light and airy it is. Also, I absolutely LOVE the bunting {love a bit of bunting, me} and the shelf with the cute little ornaments!

I really like the paint job on this one, and also the idea of giving the caravan a name… and the bunting! Oh, the bunting!

I like the idea of covering the seats with pretty blankets if I lose the motivation to reupholster all the cushions. The rug is a nice touch too!

Definitely going to do this cute window plants idea!

…and that’s the flooring sorted…

This is a good idea for the permanent seating area I’m going to make. And, it goes without saying… bunting!

I really like the idea of putting curtains up in front of the bed… and the fairy lights! So elegant. I love it!

Not a huge fan of the decor in this one, however the shape of this part of the caravan reminds me of where the toilet is in mine – right next to the wardrobe. I was going to take the toilet’s walls down anyway so I really like the idea of putting shelves in it’s place.

Gorgeous wall paper! Seen some similar to this on Ebay… not too pricey either!

These curtains are gorgeous! I bet I could make some of my own…

I saw some little picket fencing in a shop the other day {really cheap too!} – such a great way of ‘cutening’ up the outside of the caravan as well as hiding all the unsightly mess underneath!

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

That’s it for now – if I don’t stop now I never will…

Hopefully you’re getting the gist of what I’m planning to do with my little camper by now!

Setting things in motion…

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Good news!

Today I bought a caravan!

So I guess this project is officially happening now. No turning back!

I can’t help but shake my head at the thought that I spent my Valentine’s day with a caravan… cute.

I’m probably more excited about it than I’ve ever been excited about Christmas or birthdays. I feel all giddy and bubbly and my head is bursting with ideas and I don’t think I’m going to be able to sleep tonight because it’s being brought home tomorrow morning and oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.

I’ve been Pinteresting and Youtubing and Googling all sorts of ideas and found out ways of fixing certain things which might cause problems such as bits of damp or leaks. Although, that being said, the caravan I’ve bought was an absolute bargain – only one problem and that’s a tiny bit of damp on one of the walls – nothing that can’t be fixed by ripping the inside wall out and replacing it. Grrr, hurly-burly man-stuff (but I can be a man when I need to be!).

Pinterest is a gem for ideas on different ways of decorating and making the most of caravan space. I’ve pinned so many things on there so I’m sure I’ll be kept busy all Summer! I’m definitely going to invest in a tonne of fairylights and cushions and gorgeous fabrics and ornaments… eeeeek I’m so excited!!

I’ll probably make a separate post with a load of ideas all over it for what I want to do to my lovely little caravan but until then have a look at what I have to work with…

Outside

Seating/double bed

The front seating area which I’ll convert into a permanent double bed. Also, the cushions will be reupholstered so they’re lovely and pretty of course!

Window ledge

Kitchen area/seating

Kitchen area

Back area of caravan

Thinking of converting this seating/tabled area into a permanent sofa area. The area on the left of this picture is the toilet but there’s no loo in there so I’m planning on ripping all that out and creating extra space for maybe a unit with a TV on it.

Problem area: damp wall

…Every rose has it’s thorn… but we’ll sort that in no time.

Problem area: damp wall

So yeah! Project caravan is a go!

Stay tuned, x

New beginnings… and a new (only, not new) caravan.

I’m Zoe; a 19-year-old criminology and psychology undergraduate studying in my first year at university. They say that university will be some of the best years of your life; meeting new people, experiencing new things, broadening your horizons and all that. I’ve tried out some new things so far and met some great people, and I’ve decided that now is as good a time as ever to do something crazy… like spend my scholarship on a caravan.

Yes, you read that correctly. A caravan.

I know it’s weird. Most students who receive a tonne of money from the government, free to spend as they wish with no catch, spend it on an adrenaline-filled, totally ‘hipster’ gap-year, posing with lions and tigers and bears {oh my!}. Others would perhaps buy a car, or a house, or a holiday. And yet I’m spending mine on a caravan.

I’ve decided to do this for a few reasons. The first reason, and the most practical and logical, is to allow myself to save up enough money to rent or buy a really decent place to live when I leave university {or perhaps a few years after I leave university. Who knows – I might grow a little too attached}. When I leave university there’s a high chance I might not end up in a brilliantly-paid job immediately {yeah, yeah. Gloat away, anti-university ranters}. This would mean I would be paying a lot of my mediocre salary from my full-time job into renting a below-average flat while also paying bills and slowly letting go of the dream of ever having enough money to buy a decent place to live. However, if I live in a cute little caravan in my mum’s back garden {pikey lyf}, I can pay next-to-nothing rent and bills and save whatever is left to buy a proper place to live {if, like I say, I haven’t by then grown too attached to my humble wheeled-abode}. I can also keep my dear old {sorry, ma} mum company. Aww.

The second reason I’ve decided to do this is because I have always loved the idea of having my own little project to concentrate on and to completely delve myself into. Okay, I will admit, buying a knackered old caravan and renovating it at the age of 19 and on a low budget is a bit more than a “little project”. But still, you have to admire my ambition, right?

The third reason… or maybe this is still part of the second reason… is that today I went along with my mum to a second-hand furniture shop where she volunteers and I got stuck in and helped out around the workshops. First I was sanding down a set of table and chairs to give them a really pretty ‘fire’ effect where the knots in the wood show through when you eventually varnish it. Next, I was painting an old cabinet. Lastly, and most interesting of all, I learnt how to re-upholster a 1930’s bar stool – the leather was so old it seemed to practically melt off of the disintegrating foam when I dug my fingernail into it. I was taught how to remove the really {really, really} old staples from the bottom of the chair, along with the leather and the foam, and then how to fit new foam and new fabric to the wooden stool. Surprisingly, it’s not as easy as Kirsty Allsop makes it look on Kirsty’s Hand-made Britain… however, I eventually got the hang of it.

Anyway, enough of my rambling about my volunteering. My point is, I’ve learnt how easy, fun and rewarding it can be to take something old and unloved and make it look lovely and shiny and new (or even old) again with a little TLC. Hence, I want to restore a caravan.

I will be blogging about my caravan-restoration journey every step of the way, as well as blogging about other areas of my life which I think may be of interest to whichever lovely darlings decide to take a fancy to this blog of mine.

This project may end up a complete waste of money. However, it could equally end up a complete success. Who knows!? It’ll be fun either way, and if it does turn out to be a success, I can admire {and even better, LIVE IN} something that I have created. What more incentive do I need?

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥