Vanlife makeover: Brisbane vanlifers' stunning eco camper conversion | Before and After Photos – 9Honey Travel

Brisbane-based husband and wife duo, Sam and Julia, started their van rental business in much the same way as other aspiring vanlifers — as a personal project.
After moving to the River City in 2019, the couple — who'd both owned vans before — decided to build a custom van, for an epic road trip across the state.
"We knew we wanted to build a van again to explore Queensland," Julia says.
Sam, a product designer, put his skills to good use, creating a van that considered the practicalities of being on the road, with the comfort and mod-cons of a hotel.
"Once we finished our Toyota Hiace van named Omeo, we put him up on [van rental platform] Camplify in February 2020, just for the times where we were too busy to go away ourselves," Julia adds.
The couple was flooded with bookings. So when travel bans hit again in March of 2020, they began building their second van. Then their third.
"Omeo took us around six months, but now we can build the same van in around two months," Julia says.
"That's with me working on it full-time when I'm not busy managing the rental business, and Sam helping on the weekends or after work as he still has a full-time job as a product designer."
Thus, their rental business was born, and the couple is now knee-deep in their fourth van build — set to be their biggest project to date.
As for their previous builds, the trio of stylish, fully-kitted vans are currently available to rent from $149 per day.
Click through for some astonishing 'before' and 'after' photos from one of their van transformations.
Starting with a Toyota Hiace, Sam and Julia first gutted the van interiors, with the ultimate goal of making the van completely self-sufficient — thus not reliant on powered campgrounds.
The couple turned to solar power, using 320W of solar in conjunction with a lithium battery. Even with no sun and no driving, the van is designed to have power for three days.
Maximising storage was key to achieving their final result, so the duo opted for a hot outdoor shower.
The ceiling was stripped back, to be replaced with light wood panelling and dimmable LED lights (with remote).
Floors and walls would also be getting a warm, woody makeover, to make the van interiors feel more like a hotel studio than a vehicle.
Installing plenty of downlights gave the space a bright and modern touch.
Taking inspiration from hundreds of TouTube van tours and vanlife Instagram pages spanning the world, the design-forward duo decided to create a two-in-one bed and dining table, to maximise on space.
The design included eons of storage space and cabinetry, with nifty side storage options for access inside and out.
The couple was so chuffed with the result, they replicated this exact design for their subsequent next two van builds.
Pale blue backsplash tiles, white cabinetry and white panelled walls offered a stylish contrast to the lightwood celing.
But the devil is in the details — and a chic beachy aesthetic was at the forefront of the couple's final look.
The couple made sure to include a roof fan, wall fan and full insulation, for fresh air and ideal temperatures throughout the year, regardless of the season.
The van also boasts both outdoor and indoor cooking facilities.
They were particularly proud of their side storage options. A cabinet drawer slides all the way out through the door, both to save space and for ventilation while using the two-burner Companion gas stove. A retractable three metre awning ensures you can cook, rain or shine.
There's also a smaller one-burner stove, for cooking inside, if required.
"For us, the trade off usually isn't so much about the storage space but rather kitchen benchtop versus bed space," Julia said, of the bed build.
The bed also cleverly packs away to become an impressively generous dining setting, with wrap-around grey banquettes, and a pop-up tray table.
Additionally, the kitchenette is kitted with all the mod-cons you could want, including a fridge/freezer, sink with electric water pump, waste bin and pantry supplies.
The vanlifers went with a premium quality foam mattress and bedding, and installed six strategically-placed USB outlets around the van, so guests can enjoy a phone scroll while it's charging in bed. There are also reading lights with USB.
For more on Sam and Julia's vans — Omeo, Como and Roma — visit their Camplify page.


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