If you’ve got a bit of wanderlust and a hearty sense of adventure, today’s “home” tour is for you: a custom van from Ashley Scott of Scout Modern and Nick at SoCal Custom Vans. It’s certainly not your average camper! Who wouldn’t dream of a well-designed space to hit the open road? With high-style, thoughtful details, their client Jessica now has what we’d consider a dream house—it’s got comfortable bedding, chic plumbing fixtures, and a view that’s always changing. All she has to do is find a pretty place to park (ocean, desert, or mountains?!) and adventure awaits! Ashley tells us more. 

Tell us about your client. What were their design goals for their van?

Jessica is a favorite (repeat) client of mine — we’ve worked on various spaces in her home together, but our latest adventure was something a little different! Jessica had been contemplating buying a Ford Transit for a while, but the pandemic was the push she needed. With dreams of spending more time outdoors, camping, and exploring the coast, she set plans in motion to make it happen. And, let’s be real! Could there be a better time to lean into a slower, remote lifestyle, that takes place in the comfort of a travel van that feels like home, than during a pandemic? 

Having worked with Jessica several times before, there was a foundation of trust and with that, came an ease that helped make the design process really fun and relaxed. We worked with SoCal Custom Vans for the build, but the design direction was focused on creating a cozy, modern space that felt different from the norm. I had her full support leaning into the direction of a chic, feminine space —  which is really representative of who she is. With a warm, neutral, clay color palette as a point of reference, Jess entrusted me to put my spin on this project and bring it all together. As much as we love and appreciate a rustic, Pendleton-clad look, this project was meant to be anything but that! 

You worked with SoCal Custom Vans. What was the collaborative process like?

Working with SoCal Custom Vans (and the owner, Nick) was so chill! Our working relationship was easy and comfortable, which made this project really fun to work on. I loved that they were professional but flexible — this allowed us to find a communication rhythm that worked since we were doing most of the design and work process digitally. I have to admit, there was a lot of education for me to absorb! I would often send Nick a bunch of big ideas, and he would quickly (but nicely) give me a reality check as to what was actually achievable, and what wasn’t. This turned out to be a great partnership in that way. My job was to apply traditional design elements into the van space, and Nick was there to help me calibrate all of that with what would be realistic, helpful, and practical for Jessica as she actually uses her van. Working with Nick was a great experience for me. I think we were able to pull off a result we can both be proud of, and most importantly, that the client loves. 

What are some of the details in the van you’re most excited about?

The project kicked off with the gorgeous vinyl floors, by Atra Floor. I wanted something graphic, modern, and that would incorporate our color palette with a fun pop. They definitely accomplish that! 

Another favorite spot in the van would be the kitchen. Right away, copper felt like a really important element to bring into the design and the copper kitchen combo really was a key element that brought the space together. I felt so lucky to find these on Etsy. 

The blinds are another detail that I love! Not only are they practical, but they have this soft, organic vibe that feels sweet and special. Don’t even get me started on those twine strings all tied in a bow when they are rolled up! Obsessed. 

How long did the project take, and what did the client say when they saw the finished van?

Nick at SoCal Custom Vans began the build-out on Dec 1 and the project was completed by April. 

Jess was speechless…but also not, haha! There was a lot of squealing from both of us. She was really excited about the finishing styling touches and to just get out on the road. She told me she still has “pinch me moments” and to me, that’s the best compliment. 

Since its completion, she’s taken the van to the desert several times, to the mountains of Santa Barbara and has driven a 2,000-mile round trip up and down the California coast. I know she has plenty more adventures planned and that’s what it’s really all about – beautiful design indeed, but this has really always been about a lifestyle, and I’m glad to see she’s really living it. 

Any tips or ‘must-haves’ you’d share with folks who want to embark on a similar project?

I think it’s important to remember that materials, power usage, water usage (and pressure), space planning and the overall weight of the van are all important things to keep in mind when doing a van build. For Jessica’s van, some must-haves included a 5-gallon electric water heater, custom Aluminess roof rack, ladder with a walkable solar panel, and a bunch of other functional elements that are quite frankly beyond me. So, honestly, above anything, I’d say that connecting with a skilled professional who really knows the ins and outs of van living would be a great investment. 

On the design side, I’d say great bedding and unique details are where you’d want to focus to make a big impact in a small space.