As you know, living in a van full time is a whole different experience than living in a house. Because campervan interiors offer such limited space, it’s hard to create that feeling of a wide open space. We have already lived and traveled in our campervan for 2 years and there have been many days that we just stay inside our van. This is especially true during rainy days and during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
So from our experience we think that making your living space as comfortable as possible is very important to sustain long-term travel.
White makes the room feel bigger
As you see in the picture, the wall is one of the largest areas in our campervan space. And deciding the color of these walls can dictate the entire atmosphere of your van’s interior. Some people go for natural wood colors for their walls, which can be beautiful, but for me I chose to paint my walls a warm white. Here are the reasons why.
Living in a van is not like living in a house. It can be much more claustrophobic than you imagine. I also live with another person in this limited space practically 24/7. Personal space is often in limited supply.
Therefore I wanted to make the interior as comfortable and as spacious feeling as possible.
Whites and lighter colors tend to reflect more light, creates depth, and makes smaller rooms feel bigger. So selecting light colors for large areas, like the walls, was an obvious choice for me.
White makes the room lighter
The inside of a campervan can become very dark and feel restricted when all the doors and windows are closed, especially at night or on rainy days.
The advantage of choosing a commercial vehicle as a campervan, is that you can easily open the back doors and sliding door to let light and fresh air into the van. The white paint reflects the sunlight very well, and this allows the natural light to easily spread throughout your van.
With our back doors open, we almost never have to use our LED lights during the day. At night we can use only a minimum amount of lights, if we want.
White makes the Campervan photogenic!
As I mentioned earlier, white reflects sunlight very well, that means the interior looks lighter.
Our wall becomes a great backdrop when I take photos of our van. While walls (and cabinets) help to make everything else in our van (including ourselves!) to really strongly stand out when in front of the white.
Interior decoration is fun & easy
If you are traveling in Mexico, like us, then you know that it’s really, REALLY hard to avoid shopping for all those beautiful, colorful arts & crafts. Because I made the color scheme of our van interior fairly simple, pretty much every item you decorate you van interior with will suit the space. The color of accented items really pops out well against the surrounding white backdrop.
Pick your white wisely
Ok, so perhaps you have decided to also go with white for your interior wall color. But did you know there are so many different shades of white paint out there? I had no idea at first!
I thought it was just a simple process of purchasing white paint and start working! But instead, I found myself standing in front of the paint swatch wall at Home Depot for almost an hour, shocked and overwhelmed by the large selection of different types of white.
So I brought home several samples of different whites and we then narrowed our selection down to 4 choices. We then purchased those sample paints and painted the whites onto a leftover piece of plywood so we could see the different whites side-by-side.
In the end I picked the color called “Twinkling Lights”. It looks like a cream white on the color swatch, but on our campervan walls, the color looks like a much more normal white.
Selecting The Paint Finish
The shiner the finish, the more stain resistant.
My only worries about having white walls was that dirt might easily stands out on the white background. Normally when painting the interiors of houses, it is better to choose rougher paint finishes in low traffic area. But because there is no such thing as a “low traffic area” in a van, we selected a Semi-Gloss finish for our walls and all our cabinets.
Source: Home Depot
The glossier the finish, the more stain resistant the paint is. Most of the stains that we’ve incurred in our van are usually quite easy to wipe off with a wet cloth.
From Our Van Life Experience So Far
After almost 2 years traveling and living in our van full time, we still love the design of our van interior.
We’re able to spend large amounts of time inside our van when we need to, without feeling confined or uncomfortable. Of course the layout of our van, not having a permanent bed and thus having a proper living room, helps but the color is also very important factor of interior design. And depending on the combination of colors you select, the outcome could affect the entire mood of your van interior, and your campervan life experience!