When you see how Chris and Catherine live today – in their removals van converted into a cozy family home, it’s hard to believe they weren’t always this happy. But they weren’t.
Chris and Catherine weren’t living their dream. They were working long hours to maintain their home in London, and their physical and mental health were suffering. Chris’s job in IT was demanding, and with the cost-of-living crisis driving even the most basic essentials through the roof, it seemed like they were spending more time working than actually living.
While they toyed with many different options to improve their lives, it wasn’t until a 2017 scuba diving holiday in Menorca that they truly found what they were looking for. One of their instructors lived in a converted 7.5-tonne lorry, and it got them thinking about whether this was the right option for them.
By the end of November 2017, they had the keys to a 2012 DAF LF45, an ex-removals van, and Florry the Lorry was on her way to being born.
The Makings of Florry the Lorry
At first glance, Florry the Lorry looks like a regular lorry, but she’s so much more. After purchasing her for £15,000, Chris and Catherine spent between £10,000 and £15,000 transforming her into a comfortable, luxurious, full-time house on wheels.
According to Chris and Catherine, they could never have purchased one for the price they paid to renovate their own, and it was worth all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into it. They have now been living in Florry the Lorry with their chocolate Labrador, Rolo, since 2019 and have enjoyed traveling around Europe.
Chris’s job in IT has undoubtedly helped make this lifestyle change possible. His role as a senior system administrator is remote, so he can make money on the road as long as he has data, a phone, and good reception. However, they also installed an internet booster in the lorry to ensure good reception at all times.
As far as lifestyle changes go, transitioning from a brick-and-mortar house in London to a transformed lorry has allowed Chris and Catherine to start living their best life. All five of their children can now spend time with them during the summer holidays.
They have also enjoyed learning how to use tools and explore the many outdoor attractions they can visit by road. Chris and Catherine couldn’t have asked for a better lifestyle change and believe there’s nothing better than a simple, more environmentally-friendly life filled with quality family time and travel.
Chris and Catherine were tired of the nine-to-five daily grind in London, so they transformed their life by purchasing a DAF LF45, originally set up as a for-hire removals van. After converting it to a motorhome, she was reborn as Florry the Lorry.
Florry the Lorry is an 8m long by 2.45m wide by 3.5m tall lorry with 6.1m by 2.45m by 2.39m of living space. They completed the entire build with 50mm batons as the framework and 50mm Celotex insulation.
When you walk into Florry the Lorry for the first time, it’s hard to believe you’re not in a real house. A wood fire greets you at the door, with a narrow closet to the left and natural wood from floor to ceiling.
Chris and Catherine wanted a big kitchen in their house on wheels, saying it was important for being able to cater to their friends and big family. While space is limited, the kitchen is surprisingly spacious, with an abundance of beautiful natural wood cabinetry to house all their food preparation essentials.
Building a house on wheels can require trial and error, and they made at least one mistake in the kitchen renovation by not including a proper family fridge. They started with a three-way Dometic fridge and eventually upgraded to a new fridge-freezer akin to those you’d find in a standard home with a new 3kw inverter/diverter/charger to power it.
Chris and Catherine wanted to be able to prepare family meals just as they would in a regular-sized home. The addition of a four-burner stove and double oven allows them to do just that. They also made sure that all containers and jars in the kitchen were secured so they remained in one place when they hit the road.
Chris and Catherine were eager to install a one-and-a-half sink, which would give them plenty of space for washing and drying dishes. However, they made the mistake of purchasing a white one. Catherine said it was difficult to clean as it absorbs dirt, coffee, and everything. To prevent a mess and provide more meal preparation space, they place a top over the sink when it’s not in use.
The dining table in Florry the Lorry would have to be one of the main attractions in the kitchen and dining area. It’s the same as those you’d find in a standard home and extends to be smaller or larger, depending on how many people are dining with them. Its position by the window means they can enjoy plenty of natural light and a great view while they eat.
Chris and Catherine move the table depending on what they need it for. It’s easily one of the most versatile pieces of furniture in their house on wheels. Its rustic wood materials also help it blend in with the rest of the lorry’s furniture and materials.
A blanket box and bench in one is a practical piece of furniture sitting next to Chris and Catherine’s bed. They store spare sheets in one end and dirty washing in the other – keeping it out of sight and out of mind. The cushion on top means they can also use it as seating.
Multipurpose Couch Does It All
The couch in the living space is multipurpose and entirely functional. It’s separated into two seating modules, allowing Chris and Catherine to push it together to form a corner couch. This seating unit also comes in handy as a guest bed when guests come to stay.
If there’s one thing you weren’t expecting to be tucked away underneath Chris and Catherine’s couch, it was a bathtub. After finishing their mobile home, they realized that soaking in a hot bath was one of the things they missed about living in a house.
When a local hotel was throwing away old baths as part of their renovations, they decided to take one and see if they could somehow fit it into Florry the Lorry. They had nothing to lose by trying, and the results were spectacular. They managed to incorporate a tub into their house on wheels with upcycled pallet wood. When the couch cushions are in place, you never even know it’s there.
While Rolo the Labrador isn’t too keen on the new fly curtain in the back of Florry, Chris and Catherine are thrilled with how it looks. It came from a Menorcan farmhouse and was gifted to the couple by friends.
According to Catherine, most things in Florry are upcycled and come with a story. They try to avoid buying new things and prefer to buy experiences rather than possessions.
Rolo wasn’t forgotten about in the couple’s lorry transformation. Not only does their bed have built-in storage, including three drawers for clothes, but it also includes a nook for Rolo, complete with a dog bed.
Having Chris and Catherine’s bed in the rear of the lorry makes perfect sense in the summer months. When it’s warm, they can park somewhere nice, open the back doors, and soak up the views while enjoying the fresh air.
The bathroom is located opposite the couch in the living room, and you’ll hardly even notice it’s there. They made the door out of old wine crates, so it looks more like a feature wall or a work of art than a door.
Chris and Catherine knew they had to think about space-saving features, which is why their bathroom has a sliding door. This gives them full use of both rooms.
The bathroom is much more luxurious than you’d expect. It features a sink and a separate shower with separate pipes. The sink connects to the shower. It’s an entirely white space to offer the illusion of space and make it easy to clean.
You never know how you’re going to feel with an off-grid bathroom setup, and there was a bit of trial and error for Chris and Catherine. They started van life with a chemical toilet, but the intense heat in the summer months would create a bad smell. This limited their off-grid time and was also a considerable drain on their water supplies.
They decided to upgrade to a Kildwick compost toilet, which is a mini loo. However, they did decide to adapt it. They switched the seat hinges around so the seat cover would open sideways. This allowed them to push the toilet against the wall and maximize their showering area.