VAN LIFE: Here We Go!

If you’ve been keeping up with Content over the past 5 years, you’ve seen a fare amount of DIY projects. Mostly interior design, house maintenance, construction and renovations.

In the coming year, we plan to take on a full, house renovation, but until then, John has a fun, side project he’s been itching to do - converting a van into a camper!

He’s been toying with the idea for YEARS. Our come-to-Jesus moment was one night, after dinner, last winter. I’d listened to the riveting banter of back-up battery systems, mobile kitchen components and maximizing storage potential, for as long as I could take. I snapped and said, “Just buy a van, already!”

In truth, I love the idea. Just not as deeply as John…

I visited a psychic recently who described John as not just a Jack-Of-All-Trades… But a Master-Of-All-Trades. I take this to mean, when he wants to do something, he really gets into it. Not just to do it, but to own and understand every, single detail. Researching late into the night, watching countless hours of YouTube videos, getting advice from anyone who will listen.

And then, suddenly, just doing it. As if he’s been doing it for 10 years.

The van idea has lots of potential in the scheme of life at Content.

  • For one, John and I are huge fans of camping and nature, in general. Often, when the full house is rented to vacationers, we use the exodus as an opportunity to go camping. During the summer, our camping destinations are typically less than 30 minutes from the house, but we enjoy the simplicity and minimalism of living in a tent.

  • In the off-season, we plan to use the van for our own travel, with our inaugural trip spanning 6-weeks on the wide open road. I’ll share our itinerary in a future post!

  • We also plan to rent the van to other would-be campers through Outdoorsy.com, which is the RV equivalent to Airbnb. Stay tuned for that!

But, before all that can happen, John has a lot of work to do. I usually try to take some sort of royalties, but this van conversion is John’s brainchild, and he deserves all the credit.

Without further ado, here she is. Our 2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT, in all her original, factory glory. Purchased from a used car lot in South Amboy, NJ for $5,000.

At just 15’ in total length, she’s petite but packed with potential.

At just 15’ in total length, she’s petite but packed with potential.

If you’re unfamiliar with the first generation Ford Transit Connect (2002-2013), they’re often owned/operated by tradesman (painters, carpenters, HVAC). They’re sporty enough for city driving, but have tremendous storage capabilities.

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Our used Transit was previously owned by a painter and evidence of that is pretty much all over the interior.

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In terms of a camper conversion, the features that attracted us to the Transit are:

  • petite, overall size

  • great gas mileage

  • high interior head clearance

  • passenger vehicle registration

  • low ground clearance

  • double sliding doors

  • dual back doors

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Here’s a run down of our basic van > camper conversion plan:

  • General vehicle maintenance and service

  • New wiring and secondary battery for electronics while parked

  • Wood base for raised bed and storage underneath

  • Mobile Kitchen

  • Ventilation

  • Interior and exterior area lighting

  • Roof storage

  • Entertainment: Seating area, satellite radio

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We can’t wait to share this new project, step-by-step! Do you think we’ve forgotten any upgrades? Do you think you could live in a camper van?

Share your thoughts below!

DIY: Autumnal Decorating Finds for Under $30

With the autumnal equinox approaching, we’re inching closer and closer to crisp, fall weather. And, on the heals of our recent feature in the “autumn” edition of Cottages & Bungalows Magazine, we’re excited to share the fun & seasonal decor we incorporated into the magazine photoshoot (with sources!)

We’ve come up with 10 Autumnal Decor Finds for Under $30 that will have your home feeling cozy and inviting just in time for the cool weather.

Read More

FEATURE: Cottages and Bungalows Magazine

Mid November 2018, John and I were contacted by Cottages and Bungalows Magazine about a possible photo shoot here at Content.

Forgetting the long lead time of print media, I assumed the shoot would be focused on Christmastime. But after a few emails with our content director, the intent of the shoot was clarified, and “Autumn 2019” was the focus.

Based on our personal calendar and Airbnb reservations, we determined the shoot would need to happen right after Thanksgiving.

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We made the best of the timeline and established a style outline for the shoot that focused on highlighting our existing, vintage furniture accented with seasonal color and texture.

Side note: Though the house is ours, all the photography rights are reserved by the publication. You may notice the low quality of these images, as they have been screen shot in order to share them. To see Content in all its high def glory, be sure to grab a copy of the print or digital version.

Side note: Though the house is ours, all the photography rights are reserved by the publication. You may notice the low quality of these images, as they have been screen shot in order to share them. To see Content in all its high def glory, be sure to grab a copy of the print or digital version.

I initially called my mother to freak out about the amazing opportunity, and within minutes began to freak out that most of my autumnal accents (pumpkins and mums) would be half-dead after Thanksgiving. If you look closely at the cover shot below, you’ll notice our corn stalks are wilting and a few pumpkins have turned to mush, but that’s real life, folks. We’re certainly not perfect, not even on the pages of a magazine… And for that we are very proud!

The shoot came together very naturally, because this is the way we incorporate all seasonal decor. Nothing kitschy, just well thought out additions that mirror the changes happening outside Content’s windows.

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You can read the full feature in the October /November 2019 edition by purchasing a print copy here, digital version here, or by visiting Barnes and Noble which carries Cottage and Bungalows magazine on their shelves year round.

Interested to see Content in other features and publications? Check out our Press page.

RENOVATION REVEAL: "Garden" Half-Bathroom

Getting back into the swing of the work week, after a holiday weekend, is nothing short of a struggle. So, on this post-4th of July bender, we’re easing into projects with the reveal of the Garden Half-Bathroom!

The Garden Half-Bath is located within the new laundry room. The previous layout included a full bath, with stall shower, which was removed to make more workable, laundry and storage space

We kept the half bath setup for house guests and for use during special events. We added a pocket door to gain even more square footage, but kept the half-bath tiny, yet functional.

BEFORE

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Here’s a little recap of the initial mood board we created. In such a small space (approximately 7’x4’) we maintained our initial design approach and did not stray from our plan with last minute changes.

We wanted to do something bold for this little gem of a room, and picked a dramatic, botanical wallpaper print by York called Tropics Fiji.

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Wallpaper: This York tropical wallpaper AT7093 is everything I hoped it would be and more. Bold, vibrant but totally chic and sophisticated. I love how it seems to jump off the wall next to the crisp white wainscoting.

Toilet: Our favorite toilet (if you can have a favorite toilet) is the Kohler Highline in white with an elongated seat.

Sink: With such limited clearance, we chose this wall hung basin sink by Barclay 450. We love the rounded design that eliminates corners that could easily be caught walking by it.

Faucet: Our favorite cross handle faucet by Kingston Brass in the 4 inch center.

Light Fixture: I love mixing finishes and this brass flush mount fixture by Savoy House is the perfect accent.

Mirror: We added a vintage mirror to incorporate a bit of old world charm.

Amber Bottle: If you like the look of this amber bottle hand soap, you can find our Amber Bottle DIY tutorial here.

EVENT DESIGN: "Old Man and the Sea"

THEME:

Today, I’m sharing the makings of this backyard, “Old Man and the Sea” inspired 40th birthday party! This party was inspired by my client’s love of deep sea fishing and came to life with the energy of the sea, without being overtly nautical.

MENU:

We worked with an amazing, gourmet seafood truck, Nettuno. They welcomed guests with shrimp cocktail, tuna skewers and fresh crudite. Then, guests were invited to visit the beautifully restored 1955 Chevy step van for a lobster roll.


DECOR:

The color scheme for this event is bright shades of green, black, rich copper and natural wood; bringing a rustic yet tailored feel to this backyard setting.

The Guest of Honor was acknowledged with a custom, graphic logo by Lorraine Wile of Wile Events. We used this logo framed, on cocktail napkins and on printed vellum lantern inserts.

GET THE LOOK:

You can recreate this “Old Man and the Sea” inspired look using the following sources or by shopping our Amazon Influencer page:

Fire Pit, Faux Tropical Leaves, Paper “Bamboo” Drinking Straws, Large Metal Lantern, Small Metal Lantern, Palm Throw Pillows, 3 Gallon Drink Dispenser, Natural Wood Bar Stools, Linens: Copper, String Lights

Will you be tagging this event design for a future party? Share your comments below!