Many people would look past a decrepit white cargo van, but Zach Both saw great possibility in one. Over the course of a year, the young filmmaker transformed an old Chevy model into a mobile studio that allows him to live and work around the United States. This impressive feat was completed with a DIY attitude and little experience on Both’s part—prior to its redesign, he did not have a carpentry background.
Both had the help of his father to complete this massive project. After purchasing the cargo van off Craigslist, they started by vacuuming and cleaning all the surfaces, which involved rust removal from the floor and walls. The inside was then painted and insulated, with a custom wood interior cut and installed after that. Both and his father primarily worked with the van’s given interior, but they did cut a hole in the roof to add an extra source of natural light and improve airflow.
The completely renovated interior is now sleek and contemporary. Both was inspired by modern architecture and added reclaimed wood lath as a decorative element for the ceiling, walls, and kitchen cabinets that were built into the space. The small home boasts a futon bed, sink, fridge, and stove. Both also has modern conveniences available to him, including a mobile Wi-Fi network and home theater system. All electricity is powered through a solar generator.
After completing the van, Both launched a website to help others do the same. Called The Vanual, it features a detailed step-by-step guide that shows you how to convert a cargo vehicle into a mobile home. In addition, it’s also a lifestyle guide that offers tips and tricks for being on the road and how to work as a digital nomad.
“With this van,” Both says, “I now have complete freedom to write a script surrounded by mountains, direct a shoot in a remote desert town and then collaborate with an editor or composer in Los Angeles—all within the same month. That would be impossible any other way.”