COVID-19 changed many people’s lives, and nomadic Swedish couple Indie and Joel are no different. Indie, a chef, waitress, and kitesurfing instructor, and Joel, a bartender and mixologist, always dreamed of living a more minimalistic and sustainable lifestyle.
However, it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic kicked into overdrive that they decided to take the leap. Indie and Joel were in Australia when they realized many countries were shutting their borders. They jumped on a plane and rushed home to Sweden, arriving with no job, no home, and no plan.
With all their work opportunities now out the window, they decided to take out a loan, buy a van, and start a van conversion. While they had no building experience, Indie and Joel emphasize that it’s not all that important.
They purchased a 2008 Mercedes Sprinter with a long wheelbase and a new engine for $11,000, and their journey began in earnest. While they needed to replace the engine again a year later, they had the support of their Instagram community to remind them that it would all be worth it.
With a few hiccups along the way, Indie and Joel transformed their regular Mercedes van into a charming cabin on wheels. It took eight months, $14,000, hours of YouTube videos, and plenty of social media user support, but they finally did it, and Vodka the van was born.
Vodka is kitted out with 300-watt solar panels, a 100-amp lithium battery, a mains hookup, fresh and grey water tanks, a shower and toilet, and much more.
Swedish couple Indie and Joel purchased a 2008 Mercedes Sprinter with a long wheelbase and new engine for $11,000, which kickstarted their dream to live in a cabin on wheels.
The entrance to Indie and Joel’s cabin on wheels is warm, welcoming, and charming. Beautiful rustic wood flooring leads you into the kitchen, the heart of the home.
Joel and Indie installed a shoe organizer on one side to keep the van’s interior clean, tidy, and organized. As they enter, they can take their shoes off and store them out of the way. There is also a shelf for their prized plants, and both of these elements boast the same rustic wood that can be found throughout the van conversion.
Kitchen storage is certainly not lacking in Joel and Indie’s van, with hooks, shelves, and containers aplenty for everything they need to live a convenient life on the road.
Indie and Joel spent a lot of time thinking about the layout and interior design, and they even spent countless hours on Pinterest trying to find a style they liked. In the end, they settled on a combination of cabin-in-the-woods and Scandinavian, with bright colors blending the two styles together.
Their van boasts warm dark walnut flooring, countertops, and ceiling paired with stark white farmhouse-style kitchen cabinetry. They also added a few whimsical features, such as a rustic and mysterious door. The door leads into the cockpit area of the van.
The kitchen was one of the primary considerations in their design, and Indie and Joel went ‘all out’ to make it special. It boasts a generous 56 x 46cm black sink set within the walnut countertops and is paired with a gold tap, filtered water tap, and gold cabinet handles to tie the look together.
The kitchen also has all the appliances and features you’d find in a traditional home, such as a four-hob stove, oven and grill, floor-to-ceiling pantry, and a 90L fridge/freezer unit.
They also made a beautiful backsplash out of custom-made tiles. The only thing missing in the kitchen is hot water. Indie and Joel struggled with the kitchen sink plumbing installation and haven’t yet been able to afford a hot water heater
Driving with kitchen goods can be challenging, but Indie and Joel found a solution. They used copper pipes to create a form of secure storage for their jarred goods.
Converted houses on wheels can be a constant work in progress, and Vodka the van is no different. Indie and Joel changed their minds many times while planning a layout and ended up with a unique one they hadn’t seen in any other van.
Initially, they wanted a fixed bed, then opted for a convertible one after realizing they preferred to host dinner parties more than having a nicely-made bed. Now, they simply transform their dining area into a bedroom once night falls.
The dining area is intimate and classy, with its swivel table featuring homemade pipes and a glass cabinet door featuring plexiglass.
The U-shaped couch offers plenty of space for Joel, Indie, and any guests. It’s also well-positioned to soak up the views from the rear door. The neutral colors pair well with the vibrant cushions, warm walnut ceiling, and white walls.
Within minutes, Joel and Indie can convert their sofa and dining setup into a luxurious bed for two.
Joel and Indie thought of everything for functionality, but they also got creative. The bed head has been designed to look like a mountain and holds the pillows in place when they open the rear door to watch the sunset.