Meet Emily Soon. She is currently based in Vancouver (for the pandemic being) and doing solo van living! Emily built her van during the pandemic and can’t wait for the moment she can set out on the open road to explore, sight-see, and meet new people. To learn more about small space living and how our peel and stick products can elevate a mobile space, we interviewed her! Read on to find out more.
RM: Tell us a little bit about you and what made you want to renovate a van into a full time living space?
ES: I’ve spent the last 7 and a half years living in Australia and when the pandemic hit, I decided that it was best for me to come back to Vancouver where I would be closer to family throughout the pandemic. I originally intended for the van to give me flexibility to travel whenever I wanted to travel without having to plan overnight stays in advance or book AirBnB’s. That is still the plan once I’m allowed to leave Vancouver.
RM: Are you a van in the country/mountainside or by the ocean kind of gal?
ES: Definitely mountainside and among the trees.
RM: How long have you been living in your van?
ES: Since completion back in October, it’s been a little over 4 months.
RM: What has been the hardest thing about decorating your space?
ES: Decorating in the van means that nothing is straight. The walls are curved or concave so when it comes to putting anything on them, it looks crooked but it’s really not. Also, avoiding using screws or more permanent hanging solutions has been hard as well. I don’t want to damage the walls now and have to repair them later.
RM: How did you find RoomMates peel and stick products?
ES: I actually found RoomMates products through Home Depot online. Then when I searched the brand, a whole new world of peel and stick products opened up for me to buy!
RM: Tell us about the peel and stick installation process for decorating your bedroom.
ES: First, I got the wallpaper but it was winter in Vancouver and I didn’t install it for a while. Time kept going by and I kept putting it off. Finally, on the coldest day of winter I decided to install it without getting any of the proper tools ready. I followed the instructions on the packaging, but I made it harder on myself by not having a straight edge, a pencil, or realizing levels won’t work on concave walls to line my panels up. However, I did have a measuring tape to draw lines with!
Pro Tip: When installing peel and stick wallpaper in a mobile living space, hang the top of the wallpaper with a piece of tape to help line the panels up before you remove the backing and stick.
RM: How has installing peel and stick wallpaper elevated your van space?
ES: When I originally designed the van, I wanted a smooth, clean look and white walls helped to achieve that. Once I moved into the van, I found that white walls everywhere made the van look and feel very clinical. When I installed the wallpaper, I immediately felt how much cozier the back half of the van was and the warmth the paper added to the space.
RM: What projects do you still want to complete on your van?
ES: I want to redo the subfloor, add a curtain divider behind the driver’s seat to help insulate the rest of the van, and add more wallpaper to the living room area to get rid of some of the white walls.
RM: What’s one of the biggest lessons you learned about transitioning to van life?
ES: Give yourself time to plan things out. Vanlife problems take two times more money and three times longer to fix.
RM: What has it been like living in the van during the pandemic?
ES: One thing that has hindered van life during the pandemic is the inability to travel to all of the places I wanted to go. The other struggle is gyms, community centers, and campgrounds have been closed. Pre-pandemic, all of these places would be easily accessible and allow me to shower without a problem. With fewer places being open, I have to be strategic about doing laundry and showering.
RM: What are a few of the dream locations you want to travel to in your van?
ES: I would love to go on a cross-Canada trip and spend time in Northern Canada. Traveling to the U.S. to see Arizona, Utah, and Colorado is also one of my dream locations.