Budget Breakdown: A Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van Turns Into a Chic Tiny Home For $27K
Richens recently transformed a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van with a 177-inch wheelbase into a chic, 91-square-foot mobile home with a kitchenette, cozy sleeping berth, lots of nooks and crannies for storage, and additional heating and insulation so that the van can weather winter in the mountains during ski season.
Get carefully curated content filled with inspiring homes from around the world, innovative new products, and the best in modern design
The four-month-long renovation of the empty delivery van was designed as an alternative to the Volkswagen T5 camper van, and included bodywork, wiring, plumbing and a pretty new interior that cost $27,064.
"Having spent several years living in vans, I’ve got a bit of experience converting vehicles, but this was the first time that anything to this standard had been attempted," Richens says of the job. "Finishing it to that level of geekery was new territory."
For functionality, the interior takes cues from mobile vehicles like canal boats, train cabins, yachts, and even airplanes. "There are so many tried and tested methods of utilizing small spaces that open up lots of possibilities to camper vans," he says.
While Richens has experience renovating vans, he still experienced some challenges along the way. "Building anything dead square inside a van is really hard. Nothing is ever straight, nothing is ever upright, and nothing is ever parallel, so getting things like big drawers to run true and doors to hang square is a real challenge," he says. "As frustrating as it is, you just have to take time to get things sweet at every step, which is easier said than done."
To maximize storage in the van, heavy-duty drawers were installed under the bed. And he also was able to make use of inaccessible spaces around the wheel arches by creating storage.
"We kept the storage as close to floor level or hidden away to give the impression of light and open space throughout the living areas, and it really works," he says. "There’s loads of storage and the place doesn’t feel cramped at all."