Out with the old – And in with the older

Summer is running high-speed to make up for the rainy spring, useless winter skin is blushing at the very sight of UV and the sun is not setting until 21.00. I finally spend some love on the exterior, sealing cracks and touching up rust. My 150W solar panels are giving me more than I can even use, and just as the Phoenix my 85 Ah Battery it is revived each day. I am considering to buy a “Crock pot” and extending the kitchen in order to save money on gas (that obviously costs more than the sun) and a little fan for warm days. What other gadgets to hook up on a 12V system?

This far, nothing in the interior has been bought new, and my suppressed fetish for second-hand shops has finally bloomed. Some things I find in a container, others in my basement, and people I pass buy are sometimes glad to give me their dusty garage-treasures. All together the renovation has cost me around 600 EUR and I am still experimenting with my travelling budget. One step at the time, the Pearl is tuned into a wonderland. A 6 mobile home, exploring the limits of self-sufficient and mobile living.


The edge between metal and fiberglas is one of the weak links, it became obvious as I ripped out the wallpapers. Brushing, scrubbing, sanding and re-sealing.


My little mobile garden is slowly growing. Who sais you cant grow food in nylonstockings? The cockpit is not that different from a greenhouse, though water is a challange. Finding micro-climates in the most unexpected places: Peppermint is happily drying, dark and warm with a swift breeze from the windows.


No true hippie-van without pennants! These ones made from old biology books.


My grandmother was using up all her lefover wool and made this incredible pelt that will cover up the worn-out passenger seats.


Washing up station: An old enema-container from “Kockum” with a matching cup, the ceramic “Mjöl” box is for ashes and washing up liquid. The sink underneath is emptied manually. Simple, but working just fine.


Storage going up the walls, almost 2m high, the roof and walls are the most efficent way to stack and store. In the back is the “bathroom” shelf with a first aid box. As much as decoration needs to be highly practical in these living conditions, I cannot help to put mybutterfly-wing-plate-thing on the wall. Grotesce and fashinating.


A happy mess, picture from the far back. Back of the seats are more storage, belonging to the kitchen, I am working on a safe way to store plates and cups here in pockets made from towels.


Old broken mirror and some silicon maked a wonderful little bathroom. I have no plans on a toilet, Hunterwasser was right when he said we should really do our buisness in the forest. A little metall bucket will do for late night/unconvinient occations.


Old linen towels sown into pockets for porslein.


I am fully aware that plastic is very useful and usually used in vans. But when it comes to eating, I cannot stand it. So I choose the fragile rode of old porslein, and this far: No breakages!


Alice in wonder-van

In a neat and ordered corner of my imagination, I had a very elegant outcome of the pearl. I thought It could look real professional and minimalistic. I though about all the rules of interior design one can read about in magazines, of keeping light colors, clean surfaces, making the space feel big and “fresh”.

But frankly: To hell with that.

I always dreamt of living in vernissage. And that ugly times one hundred is beautiful, that as many times it is true that “Less is more” but more it still … More. And being in full power of how this small space will look like (and being the one who will have to endure it), I thought I might as well enjoy myself. Make it into a mad universe without rules, one that will be so loud and full of impressions that it will outspeak my mind and swallow be into its colorful and warm inside. That is a place I want to call home.

I had two folders of images that I found on a fleemarket many years ago “for a future project” wich turned out to be this. The back wall is covered with a collection of “Reputable Swedes” from 1908. Obviously the collection consist only of men with double cheeks and funny wigs and as I put them up I felt uncomfortable with their self-satisfied faces staring out in nothing. So it will make an excellent background for a collage, in honor to all the repressed woman who history never heard of. High-five spontaneous feminism!

The other folder was filled with thick cards starring colored photographs of flowers and their names in Swedish and Latin. Probably used in education during the 70´s, I learned a great amount as I soaked and dried them to make use of both sides. I belive Papaver dubium ended up being my favorite, placed just over the bed. All were into a wallpaper with a simple glue- recipie from kindergarden. Potato flour, sugar and water.

Three thick and rustic bed covers measuring 245*145 cm will work as two draperies (for insulation and draft) , blackout curtains and main sofa/bed. I discovered the good side of living in an appartment: Neighbors are full of surprises. Johanna lended me her sewing-machine and great skills. Check out her new web shop here: Johanna Metsalo

Several items were purchased on the secondhand (Pots, storage, pans, cutlery) the basics to live in the van. The abundance of roadsales and fleemarkets along the road will do doubt provide me with anything I could possibly miss. So the second chapter begins: Making pearl into a real wonder-van.


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DIY Wallpaper glue:

  • 8 dl water
  • 1 dl sugar
  • 3 tblsp potato flour

In a pot, dissolve the sugar in half of the water, in another jar dissolve the potato flour in the rest of the water until there is no lumps. Keep the pot simmering on low heat and slowly stir the potato water. Mix well and keep on the stove until transparent, if it turns out to thick: Add  a bit of water. Costs are so minimal it is not even worth mentioning it.

This recipe, made with berries during summer and served with milk is actually a common meal growing up in Sweden. Starch and sugar… Yum?

Please take your shoes off

It is fascinating, how the simple action of taking your shoes off transformes a place from a construction site to a home. Roof is finally done, ledges are covering the worst errors and gaps and there is a striking difference from the initial, dark grey fake-leather, the wood it makes the van feel roomy and bright. Still not sure to paint it white or to make a mixture of linseed-oil and pigment to prevent the pine from going yellow.

The largest window was removed, the bottom part of the frame was rotten and covered with mold, so it was replaced and so was parts of the plywood. I discoverd that neither of the windows was actually sealed (No wonder there was moisture coming in) so I all windows are now blessed fresh wood to make a tighter grip and silicon all around the edges to prevent leaking.

For the floor flat pine boards was purchased, I have bought 8 m²  pine boards costing me about 600 KR. The part close to the door was broken and removed, will later have straw carpet for shoes and easy cleaning. The frame of the bed was made with solid, new wood and covered with plywood. The design of the bed had several dilemmas and designs. As the main “furniture” it will work as a single bed, double bed, office chair and storage. With the support of several genious students from the Wood-academy we finally settled in a solution that was seemed superior in material cost and flexibility.

Kitchen sink is cut out from an old oak table, Installing the gas is still to come and a delicate mission. (I would prefer not blowing up my new home.).DSC_0604 DSC_0605 DSC_0625 DSC_0631 DSC_0632 DSC_0607

Designing a tiny Home

Roughly 6m2 wood (pine) for the roof and floor is purchased together with linseed-oil and glue for the wallpapers. This weekend will be intense carpentry, and I discoverd the local second hand with a universe of recourses. Stainless-steel sink for 35 KR and a gas-stove that I did a final bid at for 335 KR on the online auction-site “Tradera”. Designprocess is getting started and using the principles of permaculture when trying to fullfill my needs on a 3m2 space that is “The pearl”. LED-spotligts are going up in the roof and the hysterical wallpapers with flowers are ready to decorate the walls as a substitute for that fact that I will be missing a real-life garden.