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Beverley Thrills | Why Caravans Are Cool 🌴

photos by Harriet Smith

In an orchard in the hills overlooking Stratford-upon-Avon lies Beverley Thrills. The first of her type, Bev has been fully transformed from rusty old caravan to a glamorous LA style caraglampervan with all the thrills. With no expense spared, she's got a bed, a large sink, a stove, a dining and seating area and there's even a shower, all within the limits of her 5m by 2.2m body.

Aly Grimes, the designer behind this incredible project, realised this most amazing transformation over a year of the pandemic. After selling her flat, and a successful eBay bid for an old caravan some several hundred miles away, Aly made the journey to collect Bev with a big dream - to transform her new caravan baby from scrap heap to LA chic. And that is when caraglamping was born!

I was fortunate enough to be one of the first guests to stay at Beverley Thrills. During my stay, Aly and I took some time out to talk about her design journey.

Q. Why did you decide to renovate a caravan?

I’ve always loved repairing things and finding ways to breathe new life into discarded places or objects. I recently finished working for a building restoration company called Javelin Block where we did exactly that! After I finished working there I wanted to start on my own renovation projects but didn’t really have the cash to afford bricks and mortar. I’ve also recently set up my own interior design practice called ‘San Stae’ and I was looking for small projects to work on to build up my portfolio.

When Covid hit, circumstances changed for a lot of people and for me, and it meant that I needed to sell my flat. My stepdad joked that I’d soon be living out of a caravan and that for me was the lightbulb moment - renovate a caravan - how hard could it be? After a few proseccos and spurred on by family members, I was the winning bidder and new owner of a clapped out old caravan. I hadn't even gone to see it and found out much to my stepdad’s annoyance that it was located over 4 hours away in Exeter! Despite this, we started work, aiming to have her ready for June 2021-the summer of staycations.

Caravans have always had a mixed reputation. A lot of people think of white plastic boxes on wheels blocking up the roads, but I think there’s a real charm to them. I’m not sure if they were ever viewed as cool but now is certainly their time to shine! It's great to see her transform like this. Bev’s 32. a year older than me, and I’m always fascinated to think of the adventures she’s had and the people she’s sheltered along the way.

Q. What inspired the interior design?

It all began with some research into her past. I found out that the caravan was manufactured in Beverley on the banks of the River Humber in Yorkshire. When we got her she was in a bit of a sorry state and in real need of some TLC so I fantasised about giving her a Beverly Hills makeover. I was hugely inspired by the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, also known as ‘The Pink Palace,' so I started to incorporate its colour palette and design details into my initial moodboards.

From there, the design developed a bit of a Wes Anderson feel and became quite filmic so I started to play on this by adding in some terrazzo. I even managed to source some original aluminium diner table trim as a nod to vintage ice cream parlours.

I wanted to create the feeling that you’re somewhere completely different, or even living in a different time like the shores of LA in the Eighties. Caravans are so cinematic and I wanted to create a place that also looked great when photographed, that was different from what's currently on offer for staycations. We layered the interior with loads of different design details. We covered the old cupboards doors in painted wooden slats, clad the shower walls and worktops in jumbo terrazzo stickers and wrapped the floor in a blue and white checkerboard to create lots of interesting visuals.

Q. You’ve turned what is a ‘tiny home’ into a comfortable, spacious space for guests. How important was this and how did you achieve it?

We were really considerate about the space. Since we intended for Bev to serve a variety of different purposes, it was really important that the space was flexible in its design. For example both bed areas can be assembled into a dining area. The caravan can be used for photography and filming as well as a staycation rental.

We re-designed the entire kitchen worktop to include a very large kitchen sink - which is very hard to come by in caravans but really essential. The old one was the size of a dog bowl!

We ordered a custom awning from Oregon which I like to think of as the cheapest kitchen extension that ever happened as it literally doubles the amount of usable space. It’s the area people use the most, relaxing in the Adirondack chairs with a glass of wine.

I think we seem to have achieved the comfort factor you need in a small space, as guests have noted how surprisingly spacious the caravan is inside. It’s a bit of a Tardis!

Q. What were the challenges you faced with a caravan project?

The biggest challenge was working with the scale of the space. It’s essentially four rooms merged into one and they’re all visible at the same time so the design process was really tricky. I developed an overall colour palette and the theme for the whole space to ensure it all blended really well.

I guess I’m quite proud of myself for learning how to use all the power tools. It was a huge ambition for me to be able to just pick up a band saw and know what to do with it, and I have my stepdad to thank for that.

Q. What did you learn from this project? Are there things you might have done differently?

I learned so many things! Number one - that renovating a caravan is not as simple as you might think. It’s really hard! They’re completely different animals to houses. Firstly, and most obviously because they are vehicles. You have to understand how they work, the towing with regards to weights and the electrics...And it was even harder because Bev is a vintage caravan so it was difficult to find original replacement parts. You either have to spend hours browsing the internet, scouring breaker yards or make your own version of things.

A key piece of advice is to inspect a caravan before you buy it! Better yet, take someone to the viewing who knows about caravans as they’ll pick up on things you haven’t even thought of or know about yet. You’ll save so much time and money if you know what you’re dealing with. We had to replace rotten front panels, de-laminate the floor and source a new window…

I’d love to do another one and when I do, I’ll also make sure to only do it when I’m able to keep it on a driveway outside the house whilst it’s being renovated. I wasn’t able to do this with Bev as I lived in a flat with no parking so I had to leave her at my boyfriends' parents place which added on a lot of extra travel time.

Q. For novices who might be interested in embarking on a caravan renovation, what would be your advice?

Take a good long think about embarking on it before you do. Buying a caravan is one thing but doing a complete renovation is another. It takes hours and hours of work.

On top of that, make sure that you budget! It can be so easy to overspend on things so when you budget make sure that a large chunk of that is for contingency spending. When you are new to it, there are so many unknown costs. Sometimes you have to pay for unsexy things like a new brake light or a broken shower tray.

Q. What services does Beverley provide?

She is designed for a staycation rental and a photo shoot location, but since we launched her just two months ago we’ve had loads of requests for other uses and we’ve even been asked to tow her to a wedding! We’re also really open to collaborating with local brands, individuals and businesses in the Warwickshire area.

Q. The area that Beverley occupies is quite special. Can you tell us why?

She’s located in an orchard on the edge of Stratford upon Avon right by the Monarchs Way trail which follows the escape route taken by King Charles II back in 1651, following his defeat in the Battle of Worcester. The orchard is also home to a micro campsite with only 5 other pitches which makes it very private, and the pitches are huge! There is lots of wildlife and the view from the gliding school next door really adds something.

The other great thing about the location is the proximity to The Farm, an amazing farm shop and café with real life farm animals as well as the Welcombe Hills Vineyard nearby.

Q. It’s been a journey I’m sure! What were the best bits and what’s in store for Beverley in the future?

The best part has been the truly unexpected amount of love and support we’ve received for the project especially from people we didn’t know before. We have made so many connections with like-minded guests! When you start a new business it’s always a bit nerve wracking and you’re not sure if you’re a genius or completely mad.

This is our first year in action and we’ve only just reached the end of our second month so at the moment we’re feeling our way but we have some grand plans in mind!

Q. Finally, will Beverley remain a single gal or will you be adding more Beverlys to the fleet?

Well it's early days into the project but we love the idea of getting her some more girlfriends to hang out with so we can accommodate larger groups of guests and broaden Bev’s horizons. But for now, we’ll let Bev have the airtime she deserves!

If you would like to stay up to date with Aly and Bev, you can follow their journey @beverleythrills and her design studio @san_stae

Beverley Thrills welcomes up to 3 guests for short stays all year round. Bev is also available commercial work hire such as photography shoots and events.

Enquire about a commercial booking

enquire about a staycation booking


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