COVID brought it on.

I left California and headed east so I could do more shows and live events.  I paid a fat chunk of money to be part of an 8 city tour of fashion weeks. Once I’d connected with people across the country, I hoped to invest in a tiny house, expanding the “traveling to a city near you” concept, hosting dinner parties in each area, doing trunk shows, rescue events… anything dog related, while filming the entire experience. Everything was going as planned. Until COVID. I live with two high risk people, so my life is more constrained than most. And this virus is going to be with us for a while. So what next?

The Promaster 1500 136 WB!

I test drove it on Tuesday––AMAZING! As big as it is––and standing beside it, it’s big––it felt like I’d been driving it forever.  That’s coming from a person who’s been driving a Fiat 500.  Monday I place my order, with expected delivery around December. Until then, it’s all about planning.

I’ve spent hours watching van conversion videos.  There’s an entire VanLife universe, and it’s an amazing world to live in. To wake up with the back of the van facing an ocean view, to fling open the back doors, drink in the salt-filled air while sipping a cup of coffee… talk about a spiritual cleansing. My goals initially revolved around dogs and my work, but I do plan to also get a taste of this version of freedom.

Let’s dive in.

With such limited space, you need to think through your must-haves while considering every inch.  For me, I needed a full bathroom, a place where I can cook, a comfortable sleeping space, space for a guest to sleep, storage space, and most of all, a spacious, homey feel. I needed all that to fit in a 10’x6’x6′ space, making sure to stay under the weight limit, while not exceeding the water and electrical usage limitations. There’s a ton of math in this process!

My Layout

It will change because that’s how design works, especially when working with such a small and curvy space. (everything gets measured from a center line, not from the walls, because the wall measurements change with every foot)

Here are some of the details.


The bed

It sits at the back of the van on a raised platform. The size:  a little shy of a twin, but big enough. Shutters hide the van’s back doors, but still let the light in.  You can open them completely when the back doors are open. The pillow and duvet fabrics, their texture and colors, are TBD. I kept the walls white for the feeling of space, with a dark wood ceiling and floor. A platform on sliders with dropdown legs pulls out for a guest bed.  I placed it below my bed to give the guest a feeling of privacy. The drawers are on locking drawer slides so they don’t fly open while driving. It looks like a lot of storage space but a 26 gallon water takes takes up a bunch of it.

The Lagun Table

They call it the ultimate RV space saver. It swivels 360 degrees from two different locations, so you can place your table exactly where you need it, inside or outside the van, then lift the arm out of the socket and store it away when you don’t need it.

As for chairs… (I’m hoping this works) I’m making these. You can find them on the layout as hanging mirrors. The mirror is acrylic, because a glass one would break under the road rattle. If these don’t work as wall decorations, I’ll store them in one of the few storage hiding places and just put a framed mirror there.  A mirror is essential vor the illusion of space. And it’s good to know you’re nit walking out with some strange fashion flop.

Lighting is another issue. 400 watts of solar panels will fuel two 100Amp Hours of lithium batteries, but that’s not a lot, compared to how we tend to use electricity. And you have to account for cloudy days.  So all lights need to be LED. Most light in the van will come from ceiling cans.  But I wanted one lamp to give the place a homey feel, and it had to be small. That’s one way to give the illusion of space:shrink everything down to smaller proportions, tricking the mind in the process.

After hours of googling, I found this one and I love it!

The Kitchen

It’s small, but after living in a 300 sq ft apartment for nine years, I’m good at cooking in a small space. When more counter space is needed, I have the Lagun table.

I love the tile backsplash.  It needs to be set in Silicone. I’m still working out what that product will be. Lots of people have set tile in their vans so I’ll learn from their mistakes, as people will one day learn from mine as I make them. The smaller the tile, the less chance of it cracking.  These are 4″ x 4″.

I’m going for bohemian elegance, using a black, white dark brown color scheme that can be dressed up with different textiles for different vibes.

Van conversions need a special RV fridge, and it costs a lot! The cheap dorm style fridge uses too much electricity, and it tends to fall apart from the rattling of the road. I’d love to go with the cheapie, but with the electrical wiring behind the walls, it’s a one shot deal. There are so many decisions I’m forced to make like that. What will I wish I had done but now can’t do?

The Wet-bath

It’s small:  32″ x 24″, but it works. The shower head has a pause button, to save water when you’re off the grid. The toilet is a stylish porta potty that I will have to empty (uug).  I don’t expect to ever be more than a month on the road, so I didn’t go for the whole RV toilet system.  I didn’t want a tank attached to the van that I had to empty or that would sit in the driveway unemptied for months.

I went with a shower curtain instead of a door. It gives me more space (along with the illusion of space because of it’s softness), plus it’s a fun decorative item to switch out if I feel like I want a fresh visual palette. I like this one with the gathered skirt, so I’ll probably make that.

Now that I’ve got the layout set, and I’ve learned enough about the insulation, the water and the electrical systems that I could walk through the construction in my mind and price out what’s needed, it’s time to fully commit. I can do this.  I can afford it. I want it.  Time to order the van and start buying the materials. I noticed that lost of what I need is sold out, probably because van life has exploded with the COVID virus.


I’ve always made courageous decisions, and I don’t want that to stop as age and COVID creep in.  I do find this venture terrifying. Will I be in over my head? Will I like exploring the world by myself? Will anyone want to explore with me? Will I be safe?  It would be so easy to just give up, so easy to find reasons for withholding myself from all the things I would have dove into in my twenties.  Not gonna happen. I’m doing it.

I hope you will follow along as I face my own fears and construction failings.  If you’re converting your own van, feel free to ask questions. As a designer who has worked with both fashion and interiors, I’ve got the layout part down. The electrical and water systems… not so much––YET.  🙂