Adding your personal touch

People often think aesthetic decor lacks any utility or intrinsic value. I tend to disagree. The way you decorate your living space is an outlet of expression for your culture and your personality. Moreover, your environment can affect your mood. The place where you spend your time should be a place that makes you feel good.


White and reflective materials can make a space feel larger but also sterile like a laboratory. Dark colors in general make a space feel smaller. Wood grain provides a “cozy” and rustic atmosphere, but possibly with the side effect of feeling cramped. A compromise that seems to work well is to use light-colored patterns for the main panels and then a light wooden texture for trim. This is all purely subjective.


Interior lighting is a way to express your tastes while also serving a practical need. 12v LED strips and battery-powered Christmas lights are popular options. One caveat is that lights can be troublesome for stealth. A well-lit interior is bound to draw attention at night unless you take measurews to prevent any light from leaking out. This can be quite difficult, as even a thin sliver of light will stand out against the black backdrop of night.

Installing a skylight or sunroof will bring in a lot of natural daylight and can help with ventilation.


Whether fake plastic plants or the real thing, a little greenery can make any space feel more inviting while hiding some of the less attractive features of the vehicle. It’s very hard to grow any kind of plant in a van due to the temperature and light issues, however, and there isn’t enough space to grow a substantial part of your diet. It is something you might try for the challenge or purely for aesthetics.

Fold-away items

Furnishings that fold up and out of sight have two advantages: The first is increasing the available space when the item is not being used. The second is increasing the amount of variety in your little habitat.

With some mechanical prowess, you can build a bed that folds into a couch or that folds up against a wall. Rolling window shades can draw down to cover unsighhtly tools or electronics without adding much weight, and without sacrificing ready access to the tools when needed. Simple beige window shades are not particularly nice to look at, but a bit of paint and artistic inspiration can fix that.


While you’re deciding how to decorate your living space, always remember to consider the weight of materials. One mistake that people make is to use too many heavy materials such as thick hardwoods or steel panels. Every extra pound of material reduces fuel efficiency, and thus, total cost of ownership.

For example, instead of using a thick plank of plywood or particle board for decoration, you could use a styrofoam board covered with thin wood-grain paneling. This will be more delicate but also much less weight. Styrofoam is also good for insulation. Save the heavier wood for surfaces that need to withstand a load.