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Giving new life to a retro caravan

Serial renovators Alice and Caleb Pearson know more than most about doing up houses. Having worked their magic on 11 homes in the past 11 years, the couple, who won The Block NZ in 2013, have pretty much seen it all.

This time though, they’re turning their hands to an altogether different project: the renovation of a retro caravan, and they’ve teamed up with MasterStroke by Resene to make their dream a reality. They’ve always loved the idea of taking off with their children, Alek, eight, Mika, six, Blake, two, and one-year-old Brooke, to explore the country – and what better way to do that than in an artfully revamped holiday home on wheels.

“The idea of travelling around and staying outdoors easily was very appealing,” tells Caleb. “There are so many epic places to holiday in New Zealand, and having a caravan makes that affordable and achievable.”

The couple purchased the tired, old caravan back in 2019 in Nelson, when they were on their “renovation road trip”, doing up a villa in Richmond. They always knew they would renovate the caravan, but it’s taken almost three years to start.

“Life got in the way a bit,” says Alice. “We had two more children, went into property development and then there was also the realities of Covid lockdowns!”

Now though, with the help of Resene, they’re ready to bring the old girl back to life, and while it’s their smallest project yet, they’re determined to turn their caravan into the mobile family bach of their dreams. First though, there’s some work to be done, with rust and water damage adding some extra challenges. A trip to their local Resene ColorShop was the first job on the list, with Resene paint experts guiding the couple every step of the way.

Just add paint! This retro caravan is more than ready for a makeover.
DIY is in their DNA. The couple get stuck into gutting the caravan interior.
Alice and Caleb have their work cut out for them with this reno.

“We have learnt that the value of a caravan is in the original elements, like the cabinets, so the goal is really to keep that vintage look with Resene paint products. But it’s also vital we give it some much-needed TLC as well,” says Caleb, who will be using Resene Rust-Arrest, followed by Resene Smooth Surface Sealer and Resene Vinyl Etch.

“Maintenance is really important with caravans. It’s been neglected over the years, so we know we will need to do some work to get it watertight and rust-free. Fortunately, Resene has everything we need to get her up to scratch.”

And interiors queen Alice can’t wait to get started on bringing the inside of her caravan back to its former glory with a neutral Resene paint palette and a splash of retro patterns. That’ll mean ripping out the dated wallpaper, reupholstering the built-in furniture, replacing curtains and carpet, and getting out the paintbrushes to slap on Resene Quarter Black White on the walls and Resene Mischka, a lilac grey, for the cabinetry.

“The layout of the original is great, I just need to make it look better. We’ve never done anything like this before so we’re going to keep it simple and see how it goes,” says Alice.

With long weekends on their mind, the pressure is on. “I want to go on holiday in this caravan so the deadline is looming!” laughs Alice.

“But caravans aren’t a normal renovation. It needs to be roadworthy, be the right weight, have the ability to withstand the elements, as well as function as a space we will use to sleep, eat and holiday! There is a lot going on in one small space and we are very much learning as we go. We know there will be plenty of challenges, and we are hoping that with Resene products and expert advice from Resene paint pros we can find the right solutions.”

Follow along with Alice and Caleb’s caravan reno here:
Part 2 – A few snags
Part 3 – The big reveal!

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