Couple transform a caravan into a stunning riverside holiday home

Couple transform a caravan into a stunning riverside holiday home for just £3,000 by upcycling the dated fixtures and decorating with bargain buys from B&M – and it only took four weekends to complete

  • Nicola Harris, 52, and husband Mark, 59, who live in Oxford, bought a static caravan for £8,000 in March 2021
  • They were inspired to have a local holiday home after visiting Nicola’s brother in Shillingford on Thames
  • Couple renovated the caravan for £3,000 with budget buys from stores including Home Bargains and B&M

A couple with a passion for DIY have transformed a dated caravan into a stunning riverside holiday home for just £3,000.

Nicola Harris, 52, who lives in Oxford with her husband Mark, 59, was inspired to buy a static caravan in Shillingford on Thames after visiting her brother who lives there year-round. 

Located just 25 minutes from their home, the couple decided to purchase a caravan in March 2021 for £8,000 and make it into their dream holiday home for stays at the riverside village.

Nicola and Mark spent under £3,000 on the whole re-fit, with over half of the cost going towards the flooring, new blinds and a plush sofa. 

Nicola Harris, 52, who lives in Oxford with her husband Mark, 59, has transformed a dated caravan into a modern holiday home. Pictured: The finished living area with on-trend navy accents and new vinyl flooring and blinds instead of the old dated curtains 

Nicola and Mark decided to create their dream holiday home after visiting Nicola’s brother at Shillingford on Thames. Pictured: The living room before the renovation looked dated with pink carpet and a loudly patterned sofa 

The couple bought a caravan for £8,000 in March 2021. Pictured: The bathroom before the renovation had a carpeted floor and faded striped wallpaper (left). Right:  Now, the bathroom is a much fresher space after being painted white and given a monochrome theme and laminate flooring (right)

Nicola said: ‘I wanted a ‘fixer upper’, something I could really put my mark on.

‘It was really dated, in good condition and quite clean but the décor wasn’t me at all.’

The couple begun the transformation by taking out the fitted sofas and side units in the living room, followed by painting all of the interior walls and units in the kitchen, bathroom and living room.

They also removed the curtains and nets from all of the windows and replaced them with made to-measure venetian blinds from Blinds 2go – costing just over £200 for the whole van.

Nicola and Mark also used stick-on metro tiles to give the kitchen and bathroom a more updated look.

For the accessories – including lamps, mirrors and fake plants, they scoured high-street stores like Home Bargains and B&M.

It took just four weekends to complete the renovation.

‘The worst job was removing the old carpet – apparently they carpet caravans, then added the fitted furniture – so wardrobes, sofas, and even the shower cubicle had the pink carpet underneath,’ Nicola said.

‘I was still pulling up carpet at midnight the Sunday evening before the flooring was laid.

Before the renovation, the bedroom was dull and dated with beige walls and an old fashioned headboard (left). The room is now a much brighter space with neutral decor. Nicola and Mark upcycled items that were already there, such as the shelf over the bed, the beside tables and the headboard rather than splashing out a fortune on new items (right)

Before the renovation the kitchen was old fashioned with plain wooden untis and floral wallpaper (left). Now the kitchen has a fresh modern look with the units painted navy and the wallpaper swapped for on trend white subway tiles (right). The couple had Herringbone vinyl installed by local company BB Flooring, which gave the caravan a fresh feel

Nicola and Mark completed the entire renovation within just four weekends. Pictured: The finished bathroom looks modern with framed botanical pictures and fake plants to brighten up the space 

‘I actually could have cried that night!’

Local company BB Flooring, installed the herringbone vinyl for the floor to instantly change the feel of the caravan, then the couple did the rest.

Nicola said: ‘After the flooring was done, I loved seeing each room transformed with just a coat of paint and a few accessories.

‘I love it – every time I walk in I smile, it’s such a lovely place to be.

The second bedroom was equally bland, with neutral walls and a patterned headboard the only splash of colour (left).  Now the bedroom is a much cosier space with a fun gold polka dot mural on the wall behind the bed adding a touch of interest, while fake plants and warm spotlights also create a comforting feel (right)

‘I’m really looking forward to creating wonderful memories down the van with friends and family, especially now we can start socialising again.’

It was especially important for the family to have a local vacation spot after lockdown restrictions began to ease.

Nicola continued: ‘With overseas travel restrictions still in place who knows when we will be able to travel freely again.

Although the kitchen was dated and not to the couple’s taste, the couple were able to use the existing fixtures and fittings to upcycle (left).  The couple transformed the kitchen by painting the bottom units navy and the top units white to create a light and airy feel. They replaced the dated curtains with blinds and added finishing touches such as plants and a chalkboard

Decorative touches: The bathroom is a much more elgant space, complete with hanging grenery, white tiles and neutral accents like a sisal plant holder  

Nicola said they have a holiday to the Dominican booked for July, but are pretty certain that it will be cancelled. The finished living room looks a lot more streamlined with vinyl flooring and the fireplace and wall cabinet painted black

‘We have a two-week holiday booked to the Dominican in July but I’m pretty certain it will be cancelled so we will spend at least one, possibly two, of those weeks here at the van.

‘The caravan will also be nice for my grown-up children to use with their friends for a getaway as we have all had holidays cancelled over the last 12 months.

‘With the van being right on the river, it really does have a holiday vibe to it.

‘Although we can’t guarantee the weather in England, when the sun does shine there is no better place to be and it has made me look more at holidaying in England in the future, rather than feeling I always have to jet off somewhere for a break.’

Finishing touches such as a whistling kettle, hanging herbs and canisters with a monochrome geometric print give the kitchen a much fresher look  

The hallway had a pink carpet and faded stripy wallpaper, which didn’t make for the most appealing entrance (left).  Nicola added a shoe storage unit, a porthole mirror and plants in a macramé hanging holder to brighten up the space (right)

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