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Camper van converted with Ikea products for just $1,000

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An Ikea hack on wheels

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A white cargo van that’s been converted into a camper has its side door open with a woman laying on a bed, looking out the door. The van sits in a forest. Photos courtesy of The Sweet Savory Life

How do you convert a van on a budget? One couple turned to Swedish retailer giant Ikea.

There’s no doubt that #VanLife has led to a surge in new camper vans, from luxury custom conversions to vans from industry veterans like Winnebago. But one unavoidable critique looms large over current discussions of van life: cost. Love campers and trailers? Come join our community group.

The van life movement may have started as a way to downsize and travel more, but many of today’s camper vans are far from cheap. Popular vans like the Winnebago Revel and the Airstream Interstate are well over $100,000, and even budget-minded new vans—like the award-winning ModVans—will cost over $75,000. Want to go custom? Some luxury models are priced over $200,000.

As documented on her blog The Sweet Savory Life, Grace Aquino and her husband Marlon bought a low-roof 2017 Ram Promaster cargo van and originally thought they would hire professionals to do the conversion. After calling a few companies and realizing how expensive it is, they decided to do it themselves.

An ottoman with white Ikea desk and peg board sits inside a white camper van.
A bed in a white camper van features blue and white linens and a side door open.

But unlike some DIY van lifers, Aquino didn’t feel qualified to do a complex build out. She and her husband had assembled a few Ikea cabinets in the past, so they turned to the retailer for their van needs.

The result is Flippie, a converted van that uses approximately 80 percent of its materials from Ikea. After insulating the walls of the van and installing exercise mats for flooring, the couple covered their walls with Ikea peg boards and installed Ikea’s Lixhult overhead cabinets. Then came the larger furniture, including a sleeper sofa that features an adjustable back so you can use it as a bed or as a sofa.

A white peg board has cooking supplies hanging on it, tied down inside a camper van. Photo courtesy of The Sweet Savory Life

Unlike most vans that put the bed in the rear, Aquino opted for a rear kitchen and placed the bed towards the front. One side of the van features the Ikea Sunnersta mini-kitchen, which includes a stainless steel sink, shelf, and adjustable feet. Cooking supplies are attached to the peg board, and the Ikea Raskog cart fits underneath for more storage.

A desk was a must-have for the couple, and Ikea once again had the solution with the all-white, two-drawer Besta Burs desk. Throw in a bit of shoe storage, a Nemo Helio portable shower, and a power station, and the Aquinos were in business.

The rear view of a passenger cargo van that’s been transformed into a camper. The back doors are open and you can see a desk on the right and a kitchen on the left.
A white bed with overhead cabinets and storage sits inside a camper van.

In total, building the Ikea camper van cost about $1,000 in materials and everything can be taken out and reorganized as needed. It’s an affordable option for a DIY van, and the couple has enjoyed living in it full-time since earlier this spring.

Curious about the specific Ikea products used in this van build? We’ve highlighted a few, below.

Raskog Utility Cart

When space is cramped, go up. We love this reasonably priced and stylish utility cart from Ikea, available in black, white, or a dark blue.

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Ikea / $30 Buy

Balkarp Sleeper Sofa

This compact sofa includes an adjustable back so that you can sit, recline, or lie down.

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Ikea / $199 Buy

Skadis Pegboard

This versatile, affordable white peg board can work in any room to help keep things organized and on hand.

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Ikea / $9.99 Buy

Sunnersta Mini-Kitchen

This functional mini-kitchen is easy to assemble or disassemble, and features a stainless steel sink, a reversible shelf, and adjustable feet.

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Ikea / $149 Buy