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.
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.
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.
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.