Many people dream of quitting their day job to follow their dreams. And that’s exactly was Reddit user Zach Both did in the fall of 2014, when he decided to ditch the 9-5 slog and embark on a road trip of a lifetime.
The former art director relished the idea of becoming a man on the open road and pursuing his art as he travelled the country. So determined was Both to make this dream a reality, in fact, that two years ago he quit his full-time job and purchased a clapped out 2003 Chevy van on Craigslist.
The young artist was thrilled to get his own set of wheels. There was, however, no denying that this particular set of wheels needed some major TLC. The 10-year-old van had previously been owned by an electrician in Vermont, who had built up over 200,000 miles on the clock.
And on top of that, the vehicle’s bare and dusty interior was hardly the most inspiring mobile studio for a travelling artist. But Both was not about to let the van’s drab appearance and suspect mechanics get in the way of a lifetime ambition.
The eager artist got straight to work on his new wheels, taking care to plot out the living and working space he needed on Photoshop. And with these graphic plans in place, he set about single-handedly pimping out his ride.
First of all, Both chucked away the shabby looking mat on the floor. Next, he stripped the interior away to reveal the van’s bare bones. He then gave everything a much needed clean and a run down with the hoover.
But dirt wasn’t the only problem: the van had succumbed to quite a lot of rust in its old age, which had to be buffed off with an angle grinder. After all traces of decay were removed, however, the Chevy was finally ready for a refreshing lick of white paint.
The freshly painted van was already looking infinitely better, but there was still a lot of work to be done to make it liveable. And so next, Both set about insulating the floor, ceiling and walls using some pretty space-age looking material called Reflectix. He then added hard foam panels and a healthy coating of fibreglass just to make sure his new home would stay extra cosy during his trip.
After that, it was time to get to work on fitting out the interior. Both began by making birch panels for the ceiling and floor.
The budding filmmaker then enlisted the help of his dad to make a roof window which would provide extra light and ventilation. And he also admitted that watching his father tear through the top of his beloved van was one scary experience.
To make his new pad extra swanky, Both also acquired a pile of old plaster lath which he got for free from a church he had contacted on Craigslist. The neglected wood was given a new lease of life with a quick sanding and a brush of wood stain, and it was soon looking as good as ever.
Next, Both attached the lath to the ceiling, lending the van a slightly nautical theme. He could then install a fan onto the roof, and he was even able to conceal the wiring between the birch and the new panels for an uber-professional finish.
Both painstakingly hand-crafted a series of wooden panels to hide unsightly lumps and bumps and cover any gaps, too. He then installed stylish dark wood flooring and, incredibly, he also built and designed an ingenious bed that doubles up as a space-saving sofa, and includes vital storage options as well.
To power his new man-pad, Both decided to install state-of-the-art solar panels on the van’s roof. He could then add his very own custom-made kitchen, which comes complete with a fully operational stove.
Pretty soon, all that was left to do was to add some chic finishing touches to the décor. And so Both stained and clad his cabinets with left over lath, and he even added contemporary LED dimmer-controlled mood lighting.
When it came to soft furnishings, Both’s mom kindly provided him with some lovely homemade curtains and a revamped futon cover. Finally, he added a portable table, cleaning station and an ottoman, which, naturally, also doubles up as a trash can.
The finished van is nothing short of incredible. This innovative space combines modern design with practical functionality, and actually, it wouldn’t look out of place in a top interior design magazine.
After completing the project, Both shared his progress with the online community on Reddit. And within days, the post had been viewed over 230,000 times and received more than 1,000 comments.
Foreseeing the interest people would have in the special DIY project, Both set up an online manual for those who wanted to follow in his footsteps. The free online guide, which is creatively titled “The Vanual,” aims to provide an “insight to those interested in converting a van into a camper and living a mobile lifestyle.”
And after finally taking to the road, Both began documenting his new nomadic lifestyle on Instagram. The creative talent is now living his dream and making his living through a number of creative and commercial film projects, while simultaneously touring the country in his unique studio home.