It’s that time of year; the sun is shining in the sky in all its glory, the heat is rising and all we want to do is be in the fresh outdoors enjoying the summer splendour. For some, this isn’t only a seasonal thing, Caitlin Green and Tom Lake were touring around Europe in their campervan when the COVID-19 pandemic took its toll and had been travelling for nine months in it.
“When the first lockdown began, we were stuck in Greece”, says Caitlin. “We were there for up to around six weeks and so that’s when our ideas for the new business really started coming together”, she continues.
Caitlin and Tom started their new campervan business ‘Contour Campers’ in December 2020 after returning from their travels. The team is made of just the two of them, with Tom handling the woodwork and Caitlin taking care of the upholstery side of things.
“We bought ourselves a van in January 2020 because we really wanted to go travelling, but we also had a tight budget when making it as we were saving to go, and so we built the campervan ourselves.
Tom previously studied product design and design engineering at University and has also worked for two big manufacturing companies, so he had a lot of the necessary tools and skills to make the furniture”, says Caitlin.
Caitlin herself is from a small rural town in Northern California, she tells us that there wasn’t much to do to pass time when she was growing up, there were “no cinemas or anything like that to do there and so I was always doing crafty things to create my own entertainment. I have done all sorts of projects like knitting, ceramics, sewing and have always loved the outdoors; this business is two of the things I love combined”, Caitlin affirms.
Kit it like Contour Campers
The couple are based in the Yorkshire Dales and have now begun their business creating furniture for other people wanting to make their own campervans. They also have three campervans that are available for rent. The furniture they construct includes campervan box cushions and curtains, the ‘Topo Sofa-bed’, ‘The Ranger’ and ‘The Heifer’ kitchens and their ‘Combi Panel’ all available for purchase to fit into your very own campervan.
Keep it simple!
Caitlin tells us that her “top priority when creating a campervan is storage, it’s one of the most important things. When on the road, you need to be able to store clothes, backpacks, food, potentially bikes, climbing gear and so you need to ensure that you find clever ways of keeping the van space efficient with easy access storage”.
She continues, “people often get carried away with what they think they need, such as hot water, a fixed hob etc, but everything you add makes it more expensive. We don’t have hot water, but instead a solar shower we use, the kettle is also an option for the shower.
One thing that people always think that they need is a fixed top, which is fair enough, we thought we needed that as well. We loved cooking on it, it was great, but if you really want to keep things simple, then having a remote/removable hob with either gas cartridges or just a little gas bottle, really does simplify things quite a lot, it’s also cheaper and you can use it outside so there are pro’s as it’s flexible.
To the people that aren’t sure, I would suggest going without these kinds of things and adding them later if you really feel it’s something you want”.
Caitlin has found the cheapest way to make a campervan is doing the basic parts yourself. She says that “there are plenty of YouTube tutorials to help with insulation, fixing cables for lights and wall cladding, the basic stages are things anyone could do with some research”.
Which upholstery fabrics are best for my campervan furniture?
“Most of the fabric I have used in the campervans have been from Yorkshire Fabric Shop. They have good rub counts, and most fabrics are fire retardant. I recently had a client who had pets and wanted something that was easy to clean and so I chose a navy-blue flat weave chenille which has been really easy to clean”.
“My favourite and most asked about fabric is the ‘Como soft wool effect in green grass chenille’, it has a lovely wool effect it’s a great thick quality fabric that leaves a lovely cosy look in the campervan.
I’m always very careful with the colours I choose when it comes to upholstery fabrics; unless you are a very jazzy person, it’s good to keep them on the plainer side. You’re going to have a lot of things in your campervan and the colours can easily clash”.
The tips to remember!