This Couple Has Transformed an Old Van into a Slice of Bohemian Paradise for Their Life on the Road

Fri Sep 03 2021

In today’s day and age, more and more people are redefining the meaning of “home.” No longer does a home need to have four solid walls or even a working bathroom, as adventurous people across the globe are finding their homes in all sorts of unique places and forms. Samatha and Gareth have done just that, and have chosen to renovate an old van into a bohemian paradise for their traveling adventures.

These guys are traveling around Australia on the hunt for a piece of land where they can grow and build a sustainable, nurturing, and eco-friendly life for themselves. But in order to find the perfect forever home, they have turned a rusty old van into a dream house on wheels. It took a lot of work and they watched a lot of YouTube tutorials to get to where they are today, but it was totally worth it. Just wait until you see inside.

When Samantha and Gareth First Met, They Knew They Wanted to Go On Adventures Together

Samantha and Gareth have been together for over five years – but they’re actually from opposite sides of the world. While Samantha (or Sam) hails from Australia, Gareth was born and raised in England. They met while Gareth was traveling Down Under, and they were instantly drawn to each others’ adventurous spirit. In fact, the couple has traveled everywhere from New Zealand to Thailand together.

They’re now engaged and traveling around Australia in their converted van they call Flóki. According to their Instagram page, Our Wild Bones, “Flóki is our ticket around Australia while we discover where feels like home for us both. We want a life full of creative spaces, community and like-minded people, music and art, dirty feet and hands. We want to learn more about how we can work with the earth and have less fights against it.”

In 2020 They Bought Their Van Flóki, but It Was an Empty Shell That Needed a Lot of Work

To create their bohemian home on wheels, Sam and Gareth first needed a van – and they just so happened to stumble across a 1989 SWB Toyota Coaster for sale in early 2020. They knew it was the perfect space for them to make their new, sustainable life, but they also knew that it would be a lot of work.

To begin with, the van was just an empty shell that needed some serious TLC. But they were prepared for the undertaking as “We’ve been watching a billion YouTube videos and reading a trillion blogs for the past three years.” Their first job was to put down a secondary floor that would serve as the base for their home, as well as running new wires before putting in walls to supply their van with electricity.

They Aim to Live as Sustainably as Possible, Which Is Why They Used Second-Hand Insulation

Of course, most vans are used for traveling purposes only. This is why anyone converting a van into a home needs to take extra measures to make it habitable – especially when it comes to staying warm. And while Sam and Gareth noted that they would have “loved to have put foam boards or something in the roof” their aim for this build was to build a sustainable life for themselves. So, they didn’t.

In fact, they noted that the fiberglass insulation they stuck to the roof of their van was leftover from the previous build. And to “avoid unnecessary waste” they chose to re-use it and deal with the itchiness afterward! All they wanted was to stay warm during the cold winter nights as they traveled around the country, so they didn’t mind what they had to use to achieve that.

Before Too Long, Sam and Gareth Started Mapping Out the Framework Inside Their Tiny Home

When the general practicalities of the van were completed and the roof was insulation was covered in wooden cladding, the couple had some big decisions to make. Although they didn’t have a lot of space to work with, they wanted to create a distinction between the living and sleeping area of their van. So, they started mapping out the interior framework.

Amazingly, Gareth and Sam mastered everything themselves. As both handy and creative individuals, they were able to take inspiration from YouTube videos whilst also learning on the job, and they could see that their vision was coming to life. And they could visualize how they would turn this empty and plain space into one filled with color, pattern, and boho vibes.

The Couple Also Made Changes to the Outside Door in Order to Turn It from a Van into a Home

But it wasn’t just the inside of the van that needed to be de-van-ified. Just as they were sectioning off the inside to make it more hospitable, they also wanted to make a change to the outside of their van to make it seem more like a home. They enlisted the help of Sam’s uncle and his workshop to turn their bi-fold door into one that opened outward. But this wasn’t just because they wanted to.

Sam noted that “We had to do it for regulations, we only have one door in the bus in the back. Otherwise we would have loved to have kept the bifold.” But this new practical addition made a lot of sense, and while the van was in the workshop they also gave Flóki a lick of paint to freshen the whole thing up. And it certainly made a difference.

Sam and Gareth Knew They Didn’t Need a Lot of Space, but They Were Happy with How It Was Being Transformed

One of the main reasons why Sam and Gareth chose van life was because they knew they didn’t need a lot of things. They are creative, free-thinking, and wholesome people who want to be connected to the earth and the world around them. They don’t need material things or a big house. But they did know that they wanted to make the most of Flóki.

And seeing the inside mapped out filled their hearts with joy – especially as they had built everything themselves from scratch. When they posted the photo on the left, Sam wrote “PROGRESS SHOT! It’s crazy what you can do with a little space. It’s even more crazy how little space you need to live. This photo isn’t even the most up to date but it’s nuts looking at how far we’ve come in this project.”

More than Anything, They Wanted to Make Sure That They Had Enough Storage to Keep Their Belongings Safe

One of the main issues of traveling around in your own home is that you can’t keep loose items out when the van is moving. Unless you want them all to end up on the floor. Because of this, anyone who is undertaking a van renovation needs to think about storage options. And when it comes to storage, the more the merrier.

Sam and Gareth realized this for themselves, which is why they wanted to make sure that their beloved van had enough storage to secure their belongings. In this photo, you can see Gareth working on the overhead storage areas in their bedroom. Or in Sam’s hilarious words, “We’re putting in more things to hit our heads on while maneuvering around the bus.”

Sam and Gareth Also Wanted to Put Their Creative Juices to Good Use to Make a Bespoke Couch

When it came to their van renovation, Sam and Gareth knew that they didn’t just want a normal van with everyday furnishings. They wanted their home to be unique and in keeping with their colorful personalities. So, they decided to put their creative juices to good use and make some bespoke pieces that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. And they did just that with their couch.

While they made an ordinary couch – complete with storage – out of wood, they decided to add their own touches to it by carving out the crescent moon details at the top. This helped to keep them stimulated during the harder parts of their transformation, with Sam stating that “these little details and moments we get to be creative, they push us forward!”

Sam Also Made Her Very Own Stained Glass Window to Add Some Color to Their Bedroom Area

But the couple didn’t just stop when it came to their couch. They also wanted to add a feature to their bedroom area, as they’re all about adding those extra touches that make a space feel really unique. In the end, they decided that a faux stained glass window would do the trick – so Sam got to work on the butterfly creation.

While they stayed up late to get the whole thing finished, the end result is stunning – and one that they’re super proud of. What’s even more amazing is that this was a completely new creation for them! Sam wrote, “I’ve never worked with glass paints before so I found it pretty challenging. An absolute roller coaster of emotions and thoughts about it. As with every creation. And like every creation, I just dove straight it without any practice or prep.”

With All of the Building Work Done, the Couple Could Soon Focus Their Attention on Painting the Inside

By the time June 2020 came around, the main construction inside of Flóki was completed. They had separated the living area from the sleeping area, they had build storage areas, and they had finished their incredible bespoke couch. So, with that done, they could focus on painting the interior of their van – and they had a very unique vision for it.

Like people who feel close to nature, the earth, and the magical realm, Sam and Gareth wanted to include earthy tones within their van. They chose a dark stain for the wood, and they even chose a burnt orange color for their couch upholstery. And as they continued to decorate, they confessed that “Our little magical den is feeling more and more like home.”

Sam and Gareth Upholstered Everything Themselves, and Began to See Their Vision Coming to Life

With the major construction work finished, work on the rest of the van happened so quickly the couple could barely keep up with the daily changes. Everything was painted and in its place, and all the van needed now were the finishing touches that truly make a house (or van) a home. In their case, it was all about the upholstery.

Sam wanted to upholster everything herself, so she made everything from the couch cover to the cushions and the curtains separating the driver’s cab from the living spaces. And while Flóki was far from done, with this amount completed they were able to take him on “his first long drive up to the Southern Highlands this week and he did amazingly!”

The Finished Interior Living Space Looks Like a Bohemian Dream

Eventually, Sam and Gareth finished almost everything they wanted to do with their home – and the end result is spectacular. It looks unlike anything we’ve ever seen, and their interior living space is something that most people couldn’t even dream of creating themselves. What’s more, Sam and Gareth built and designed this whole thing on their own.

From the dark wooden cabinets to the upholstered cushions and the DIY sunbeams on the roof, this whole room almost looks too good to be true. Sam added this detail because “From the moment we got the bus I knew I wanted a huge golden sun on the roof. It satisfies my Leo-ness for sure.”

They Even Have a Little Reading Nook for When They Want to Chill Out after a Day of Working

In the midst of their van transformation, Sam and Gareth found new jobs working on farms. While this allows them to maintain their life on the road while also exploring their love of nature, this did mean that work on Flóki had to take a back seat. But when they finish work they get to enjoy their stunning reading nook and chill out.

Alongside this, Sam has also been taking this free time to add some finishing touches to their home. On this particular occasion she “found a highly pigmented gold paint at our local art shop and have started adding some freehand florals to the archway.” But while the van looks beautiful, what about the practicality of it? Well, they have that covered, too.

Flóki Is Kitted Out with a Small Kitchen That Offers Everything They Need to Cook Their Own Meals

Many people think that you have to lose your creature comforts when you live in a van, but that just isn’t true. Sam and Gareth made sure that their van came complete with its very own kitchen to ensure that they can cook their own meals while living and working on the road. And the end result is just as beautiful as the rest of the van.

They have a sink and running water, they have space to chop their vegetables, and they even have a spice rack on the wall. Plus, when it comes to actually cooking their food, they have multiple avenues covered. Not only do they have a little gas stove, but they also have a little pizza oven for their pizza nights!

It’s the Creative Finishing Touches That Have Really Made Their Van into a Beautiful and Unique Home

But it’s not just the practical side of van life that Sam and Gareth wanted to perfect. They also wanted to fill their home with all kinds of unique and creative finishing touches that reflected their personalities – and they have done just that. While they have tried to stay frugal with most of their sustainable and handmade materials and additions, they have splashed the cash on certain items.

In fact, they noted that “We got pretty fancy with our bedroom lights and lashed out and bought these boat lights.” And the lights, paired with the painted stars on the ceiling, give their bedroom a celestial feel to it. They have pulled these creative touches out of the bedroom as well, and Sam has painted almost every plain surface in Flóki with handpainted designs.

As the Couple Live In the Bus, They’re Also Figuring Out What Works for Them and What Needs to Change

By April 2020, most of the work on Flóki was completed – and they had almost finished their bohemian home of dreams. But during this time they also set up shop in Victoria “soaking up friends, going to festivals and just enjoying the beautiful change in seasons.” Throughout this period they only partially lived in the van, as they were offered the opportunity to live in a brick-and-mortar house.

But this short period of time away from their van allowed them to take stock of what they needed from their home on wheels. They were able to realize what worked for them and what needed to change, and they’re now working on “mini improvements, to really smooth the living situation out. Things like hat hooks and a place to put our toothbrushes!”

They Know That Life on the Road Is for Them, as Sam and Gareth Have Already Explored So Much In Flóki

Although Sam and Gareth are constantly learning about van life, they know that they wouldn’t change it for the world. They have already experienced so much thanks to their new life on the road, and they have been able to really get in touch with nature as they travel around Australia.

Sam and Gareth wrote on Instagram that during their Flóki adventures they have already camped under the stars, attended festivals, learned to fish, hiked mountains, dipped in private swimming holes, played music, finished paintings, and so much more. And they can’t wait for even more adventures as time goes on.

In the Future, Sam and Gareth Hope to Add a Roof Deck to Their Home on Wheels

Although Sam and Gareth have created a beautiful home for themselves, they’re constantly striving to make improvements to make their lifestyle as sustainable, practical, and nurturing as possible. That’s why, at some point in the future, they’d like to expand their van upwards to include a roof deck.

They wrote on Instagram, “Dreaming of that roof deck! We can’t wait to be fishing off the roof, taking the telescope up to explore the sky, watching every sunset and sunrise with that morning coffee and glass of red in the evening.” They don’t know yet when they will be able to complete this project, but it’s certainly one that will improve their lives and bring them even closer to the natural world.

When You See the Before and After Pictures Together, You Can See How Far Sam and Gareth Have Come

Considering Sam and Gareth only started their van transformation in 2020, they have come a long way already – and these before and after pictures show just that. Just over a year ago the van was completely empty and was just a shell of a home. Today, it’s colorful, bright, and completely suits the people who live there.

What’s even more impressive is the fact that Sam and Gareth built this whole van – and furnished it – by themselves. Sure, anyone can buy a van and add their own additions, but no other van will be quite like Flóki. It’s completely unique and one-of-a-kind and the couple should be incredibly proud of what they have achieved.