The Home I’m Building

I’m incredibly frustrated. My body is just not letting me get out and work on the caravan, so I can’t give you any photo updates – there’s just been no progress. The fatigue has been rotten, and I’m back and forth to the doctor again, trying to pin down exactly what’s wrong with me. So, rather than a progress update, I’m going to resist the urge to complain about my joints acting up and instead I’m going to share my dreams with you. My caravan dreams specifically.

I guess a good place to start is what the caravan means to me. It’s a mobile home. When it’s finished, it’s a home I can take with me almost anywhere, and that’s a big thing for me. I’m so tired of moving around and barely being settled into a new house, barely finished unpacking (it’s a slow process OK? Don’t judge), when I have to move again. For me, the caravan is my opportunity to have my own home exactly the way I like it, and it will come with me wherever I go. It doesn’t matter if I have to move every few months, because everything will be ready to roll. No moving boxes, no waiting for the utilities, no exhausted sleep on the floor because I haven’t assembled the bed frame yet. To me, the caravan represents stability, a way of being settled that I just can’t get in the revolving door of the rental market (and as a chronically ill, unemployed ’90s kid, what are my chances of ever getting out of the rental market?). No nosy agents dropping in to see how tidy I keep my room, nobody to beg for permission if I want to redecorate. It’s also important to me because it’s a thing I’m building with my own two hands. When I’m finished I’ll have not only a home that can go almost anywhere with me, but a home that I’ll have built myself, an achievement.

I can’t do much about the layout, in a 16ft caravan, seriously, you’ve got what you’ve got. I’ve got some things in mind for the internal decoration, though. I’m going with a neutral cream with accents of green and heather purple. This will give the space a light, fresh, airy feel that won’t be too “loud” for relaxation, nor too depressing. Gently uplifting, that’s the goal. Originally, the living areas were separated by fabric curtains, which I’m going to recreate during the renovation. New bendy curtain tracks and some existing curtains that I bought for my last flat should divide things up nicely if I ever want to break up the space. One curtain will separate off the front section of the caravan, where the first double bed/living room/dining room is. That front section is likely to remain as my living room as there’s plenty of space for crafting. Behind that is the kitchen, which is going to stay pretty much the same unless it needs repairs. To the rear of the kitchen is the double and bunk to bring the berth total up to 5. Most of the time the double will be retracted to a single so as not to obstruct the path to the bathroom, or get in the way of the little gas heater. This area will be closed off from the kitchen and bathroom with another curtain. I might leave the bunk up and use it as a storage shelf, since storage space is at such a premium in a caravan. I’m really keen to have a memory board of things I’ve collected and photos and things. I’m going to do this on the only available bits of wall: the wardrobe door and the bathroom wall next to the bed.

Lighting is going to be via flexible LED strip. I’m really hoping I’ll be able to fit the kind that comes with a remote for changing colours and dimming the lights. As an autistic person, having control over the lighting is something I’m really looking forward to. Bright white when I’m working on something that requires good lighting, or warm orange when I’ve got that chilly winter feeling and I need to simulate that warm cosy fireplace sensation. A slow fade between colours for meditation or relaxation.

I talked about storage before. I’ll keep my heavy craft stuff under the benches at the front, lighter craft tools and things that I need to grab regularly will go in the cupboards above that seating area. Food (mostly tinned) will go in the small cupboards underneath the kitchen. Plastic plates and such above the kitchen. There’s a wardrobe, under which is the standard hidey-space behind the heater. I’m rather hoping I can get a safe in that gap, to keep all the really important documents in. The wardrobe will of course contain clothes, but only for one season. I plan to vacuum pack clothes by season and leave them with friends to reduce how much stuff I need to keep in the caravan. The drinks cabinet will have the bottle holders removed and will become storage for all that near-the-door stuff like keys, wallet, gloves, hat. I might replace the bottle holder with a row of hooks. Under that, there’s another cupboard. I’m going to hide my computers in there, out of sight of the windows. I’ll only be able to use the computer if there’s an electric hookup, but that’s OK; I can make do with a tablet most of the time. I’ll mount the computer screen on a positionable arm on the side of the cupboard, so that I can push it down out of the way when I don’t need it. It should hide nicely between the cupboard and the rear seating/beds. That will also leave the top of the cupboard free for dumping things on, like kitchen stuff when I need the extra counter space.

Under the rear beds, there’s more bench storage. Currently, this holds the ground armour for the awning, but there’s no reason to keep that stowed away. It will be stored in the bathroom during towing, and outside the caravan when sited. Under the beds there will be bedding (not much, just one change), my tiny car vacuum cleaner, food and pans that won’t fit under the kitchen, and all those odds and ends like bin liners and towels and dog food. The bathroom has a surprising amount of storage. There’s a built in Thetford camp toilet, above which there’s a fold-out sink and a medicine cabinet. Anything that doesn’t mind a bit of humidity will be living in there. Stuff that needs to stay dry and nearby, like my medications, will live in a box next to the bed. The top bunk will be folded out and I’ll probably secure some storage baskets to it for things like laundry.

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