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    Vintage Caravan Restoration – From 1961 Bluebird Senator to Scandi Peak District Airbnb

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    Here’s how and why the Alexander family took this long forgotten 1961 Bluebird Senator caravan and converted it to an open plan, calming, nature-inspired Scandi style Peak District Airbnb retreat.

    The story

    In May 2017 we moved into two old farm cottages, joined together on a hill top overlooking stunning views of the Peak District, close to Ashbourne. Me, my husband, two children, two dogs and now two holiday properties which we list on Airbnb, a barn and a caravan. After renovating the barn at the end of 2017 and into 2018, we put it on Airbnb in February, the bookings and five star reviews came in quickly, so we started work on the caravan.

    It was a 1961 Bluebird Senator, which most people said needed ripping down. But we couldn’t help but feel there was potential there, and that recycling was both more responsible and creative.

    The Renovation

    We debated keeping the caravan’s existing interior and going down the vintage restoration route. But on closer inspection with our joiner we decided we needed to rip back to check for damp and that the only real way we could make the interior cladding look good again was to replace it. This meant we had to lose the interior inbuilt furniture completely.

    Remarkably the caravan structure was completely damp and rot free. They don’t build them like they used to! However, some of the furniture was tired and rotten and it would have been very hard to replace.

    Ripping out the old interior was a great opportunity to replace the old insulation with new, we then reclad with plywood and painted. We then had an amazing blank canvas to work from.

    A large tree had to be removed as it was hanging over the caravan, we brought tree surgeons in for advice.


    Getting the flooring right was a top priority. We wanted something robust enough to cope with muddy Peak District walking boots, doggy visitors, who we welcome too, but also stylish, warm and nature inspired and super easy to clean.

    We chose Harvey Maria after using their Church Pine premium wood style vinyl planks in a home office restoration.

    We used a mix of Sussex Oak planks to create a warm looking, but easy to clean space, and coloured and patterned tiles to create kitchen and bathroom zones within the space. We decided to go more open plan than an average caravan, we didn’t want to spoil the incredible views of the Peak District with lots of doors and we wanted to create a fluid and easy glamping experience for our guests.

    The planks are incredibly robust, more so than wood, and are so easy to clean. They are tough and very hard to dent, unlike wood, they also won’t need to be sanded down over time, so perfect for an Airbnb property with lots of guests and changeovers.

    But they look just like wood, incredibly so!

    The kitchen uses Dee Hardwicke squares, Harvey Maria have a lovely range of colours for each design, so we went for Pear Tree Green to match the setting outdoors.

    The bathroom uses Little Bricks in Apple Green within the Sussex Oak frame used throughout the rest of the caravan. We wanted the bathroom to be comfortable and bigger than your average static caravan bathroom. Ripping the entire interior out to reclad and board the walls, which were dry and rot free, but poorly insulated, meant we were also free to redesign the room proportions and create a larger and warmer bathroom space. The bathroom tiles help to add to this feeling of space.

    Let the outside in

    Making the most of nature outside was a big priority and caravan windows have always made the most of views. The caravan was already sited perfectly to admire the sun rising and setting across Dovedale. Our joiner designed the biggest window possible to replace the damaged and rotting three frame window. So many people have commented it looks like a painting.


    Peak District Holiday Rental, unique space, vintage caravan, airbnb, cool places to stay in the uk


    Heating and Plumbing

    We decided to install central heating, to fire up the hot water for the power shower and the radiator. An additional panel heater can give a blast of hot air in the kitchen and bathroom and also blow cool air when the heating is off. It was important to make it toasty. Luckily the caravan was already plumbed, so there is a proper flushing toilet, full sized basin and generous shower cubicle for a caravan.


    Our joiner designed the beds, a double and two couches that convert to beds for children at night. He fitted a small kitchen, made tongue and groove doors and repurposed second hand pine units to make a run of storage.

    We sanded and painted Norwegian Rosemaling designs on an old drop leaf table and reupholstered a bar stool.

    Peak District Holiday Rental, unique space, vintage caravan, airbnb, cool places to stay in the uk

    Peak District Holiday Rental, unique space, vintage caravan, airbnb, cool places to stay in the uk

    Final Touches

    We shopped local for the finishing touches buying the pieces in a local artist and makers’ gallery in Ashbourne. Much of the nick nacks, crockery and the wooden games were found at Alstonefield car boot sale, a beautiful local village with a lovely community feel.

    Carboot games

    We used old drawers we found in a shed and an old wine crate to make shelves. Ikea provided cheap and cheerful soft furnishings which finish off the Scandi style.


    While at Camp Bestival we made a dream catcher and salvaged what we think is the caravan’s original number plate to form the letters WOW on the wall.

    We also asked my husband’s Mother to paint Norwegian Rosemaling designs on the door and table – inspired by designs sent over by her brother’s wife who lives there – to bring an authentic burst of Scandinavian style.

    Peak District Holiday Rental, unique space, vintage caravan, airbnb, cool places to stay in the uk


    We explored lots of options and themes but eventually found the perfect colours after laying the floor. The Dee Hardwicke Green tiles with a cream background seemed to work so well inside we carried the colours onto the outside too.

    Mayfield Hideaway Caravan is listed on Airbnb and available to book all year round, alongside Mayfield Hideaway Barn which also sleeps 2-4. It is 4 miles from picturesque Dovedale with its famous stepping stones and 10 miles from Alton Towers theme park.


    6 Ways To Create The Perfect Guest Room

    Are you lucky enough to have a spare room, or perhaps your children have grown up and flown the nest leaving a bedroom behind. While this is a sad as a parent, it’s a wonderful thing for home possibilities. The problem is that most people initially use the spare bedroom as a space for storage. Let’s be honest: a storage space is little more than a dumping ground for things that you can’t decide on. So, you need to start thinking of this new bedroom being the guest room that you always dreamed that your home could have. With that in mind, here are some tips to make it a space that you can feel proud of:

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    Choose A Great Mattress. The current bed in there from the previous teen resident is old, lumpy and in dire need of an upgrade. Before you go for your new purchase, check out to make sure that you are making the right choice. It should be sturdy, comfortable and easy to clean when the time comes.

    Choose Great Bedding. You’ve seen the hotels, with their piles of pillows, a thick duvet and a light comforter across the top. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, right? So, copy what you know you love, then add a few funky throw pillows, you know, for the personal touch.

    Give Them Space. Always have a guest room that has space for a suitcase to be stored and opened. You can add coat hangers to the closet and make sure that there is a hook on the back of the door for coats and any robes. Guests love space to spread out so try to give them that.

    Bathroom Goodies. A basket in the guest room full of toiletries is going to be something that people will love you for. Even your friends and family will feel awkward about asking to use your toiletries if they forget any of theirs, so you can save them the embarrassment by providing them with a gorgeous basket of bathroom goodies for their stay.

    Little Touches. The scented candles, the fan of appropriate magazines and the vase of beautifully cut fresh flowers are the little touches that can make a guest room a prime spot to be enjoyed. Hang some beautiful artwork and fluff the rug at the foot of the bed. It’s these little things that make a stay relaxing, so think outside the box.

    Do More. If you really want to make an impression, a bathrobe and slippers wouldn’t go amiss! A freshly laundered old robe will do, you don’t have to buy new.

    Guests may come and go now your kids are grown and they are sure to be visitors themselves, so keeping the space beautiful is going to be key. Get creative and add a touch of brilliance to your home.

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    home and garden

    5 ways plants make us happier

    5 ways plants make us happier

    I’m a little bit obsessed with the science of happiness right now as I am deep in final edits of Create Your Own Happy, the book I have written with Becky Goddard Hill. We found out so much about what makes people happy and all the activities we have outlined for children aged 7-11 are backed up and explained by science or research.

    I spend a lot of time in and around nature, especially since we moved to the country and I do think its made a big difference. A quick burst of weeding, or deadheading roses or some pottering in the greenhouse can be the perfect break from working at home. Browsing through Two Wests or Grandad’s old plant encyclopaedia for ideas can be so relaxing and inspiring.  It struck me though, the other day, after visiting my Dad who is a wonderful gardener, how I have spent so much time outdoors in nature and totally ignored houseplants. Continue reading


    Conservatory – What Will You Do With Yours?


    Some design elements add so much more than just value to your home; the bring space to relax, an area to come to together and eat, space to entertain, something to look at, and a place of calm. One of those places, in particular, is a conservatory. There are a few reasons you should check out something like renaissance conservatories, and start planning all the ways you will use yours.

    This one might go without saying, but they add a lot of space. You can use them to extend living rooms and kitchens, or have them as a stand-alone room.

    Where once upon a time they were used just to be able to grow and take care of tropic plants, now they are multi-purpose. You can turn it into a luxury dining area, or turn it into a yoga and mindfulness space. You can even fix it up to be your home office. A conservatory slims the distance between you and the great outdoors. Sometimes when you work from home, you would rather sit in the garden and breathe in some fresh air – unfortunately, we don’t all have the ease of a laptop and sitting behind a desktop peering out the window is as good as it gets. Turning a conservatory space allows you to be surrounded by green any time.

    It is perfect for pluviophiles.

    If you are a fan of entertaining, a conservatory can make the perfect space. If you spend a little on high-quality furniture, add some plants, mood lighting and make it a calm and welcoming space, it is ideal for long evenings with great company.

    The perfect playroom? When the weather is less than ideal, it can be great for kids to be still surrounded by their garden without being able to go in there. Fit some soft flooring mats; perhaps you might even like the sound reducing floor, pop in a bookshelf, and their favourite toys and let them enjoy the space. Another great thing about making this the playroom, is that you move the toys out of the living room, and bedrooms.

    If you don’t want to give up such a great space to just the kids, then consider using it as a family room. Add in some comfortable seating, a TV, DVD player, board games and make an effort to all spend time doing things together in there at least twice a week.

    Perhaps you have always dreamed of a place in the home just for yourself. Not as an office, not as something to be shared with the family, but a space where you can be you.  Reading, relaxing, indulge in your hobbies, learn new skills or just simply ‘be’ for a little while then there is probably nothing as perfect as kicking back on a soft sofa, putting your feet up after a long day and being able to see the stars while still being inside the home.

    Aside from all of that, if you do decide to sell your home in the future, home buyers love a conservatory and often it can be a selling point by itself.

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    How to Prepare for Bringing Your New Dog Home

    Before you bring your new dog home, whether it’s a puppy or a rescue dog, there are certain steps you need to take to ensure you and your home are fully prepared. Welcoming a new dog into your home comes with a high level of responsibility and if you don’t prepare properly, you’ll find yourself struggling to keep up with the demands that your new dog will have. Having a dog in the home is truly amazing and you want to make sure they feel just as at home as you do! 

    Preparations for Your Dog

    It’s important to make sure you have everything you could possibly need to ensure your dog is happy, healthy and feels at home. Whilst the obvious essential items such as food and water bowls, a comfortable bed, a selection of dog toys and a lead are extremely important, it’s just as important to have the right dog shampoo, towels and grooming products to keep your dog in their best condition. By preparing for your pup’s arrival, you are able to make sure that they’re settled and happy, with everything to hand as and when you may need it! 

    Preparations for Your Home

    Making the right preparations for your home is just as important as putting the dog preparations in place, especially when this is your first time having a pet. From padding out the skirting boards to adding a gate to your garden, it’s important to check every area of your home to ensure it’s ready for your new friend. Start by taking all of your interiors into consideration, as you want to feel comfortable knowing that your dog is safe to wander around the house with no risk. Introducing baby gates to the stairs is a really good first step, as you don’t necessarily want your dog going upstairs without your permission. When it comes to oak furniture pieces, you need to ensure that you have any exposed legs or table corners covered with some padding, as it’s inevitable that those needle-like teeth will take an interest at one point! 

    You then need to focus on ensuring your garden is ready and prepared for a dog. One of the main benefits to having a garden when you have a dog is that they have the freedom to enjoy the fresh air and outdoors, without you having to worry about them running off. It can be difficult to take your dog out multiple times a day and letting them in the garden can be really beneficial for their health and mood too. There are a few obvious precautions you should always take before introducing your dog to the garden, which includes putting up secure fencing to prevent anyone from wandering off, removing all plants or flowers that could be potentially poisonous to dogs and also making sure there are plenty of toys for them to play with, as this can help to prevent them from digging up your lawn or flowerbeds.

    Your Dogs Health & Safety

    From the moment your dog enters your home, it’s your responsibility to provide them with the care and love they require for a happy, healthy life. You need to ensure you have the necessary equipment for them, including a dog collar and lead. It is now a legal requirement for your dog’s tag to have your name and address attached, so it’s essential you have one of these ready for their arrival! You should also ensure you’ve chosen the vet that you wish to register your dog too, as well as finding a groomer for them to receive their frequent nail clipping and coat cut. 

    Once your home is ready and prepared for your pup to arrive, you can look forward to making many memories with them and having a wonderful life together! 

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    home and garden

    Create The Perfect Chillout Room For Your Teens

    Create The Perfect Chillout Room For Your Teens

    In just a few years our little angels can turn to stroppy teenagers. Although we love them just the same, there are some parenting challenges to overcome during these years. Any parent of teens will tell you that life isn’t always easy, however there are things we can do to make their lives (and ours!) that bit more pleasant. One idea is to create a teenage chillout area in the home, a place where they can relax, do homework, spend time with friends and generally enjoy the angsty years. If they only have a small bedroom then having space to do all of this is tricky, but you do have options. Continue reading


    Hidden Costs To Consider Before Buying A House And Moving

    There are few things in life more exciting than buying a first home, our first place together was an Edwardian flat in Streatham. Unfortunately, there are also fewer things more stressful and expensive than house buying, as I know all too well from the last year of selling our second house, a Victorian semi in Nottingham we moved into when L was a baby. And buying our third, a country cottage overlooking the Peak District. I wouldn’t change a thing though, I’m so glad we moved. Continue reading


    7 Actions For a Luxurious, Modern Home

    7 Actions For a Luxurious, Modern Home

    When it comes to decorating your home, are you stuck in the past, (like me) or looking to the future, with all the luxury and comfort that modern homes provide? I’ve surprised myself recently, our new home, a country cottage, is older than anything I have lived in before, but it’s extension feels very modern and for the first time I’ve been more drawn to some more modern pieces of furniture. 

    Here are some ways to gently dip your toe into modernism, you never know where it might take you! Continue reading

    Airbnb Hosting, Home

    3 Areas To Invest In Before Your First AirBnB Let

    3 Areas To Invest In Before Your First AirBnB Let

    When you let part of or all of a property on AirBnB, you’re in for an interesting time. Letting parts of our property on AirBnB has been financially rewarding and allowed us to meet some wonderful new people. Sharing our little corner of the Peak District has brought a lot of joy and making people’s holidays is a gift I love.

    It can also be challenging and exhausting. Things break and go wrong, there were so many decisions to make as we restored the barn and the caravan. Nevertheless, AirBnB hosts opening their homes or guest cottages to visitors is incredibly common nowadays, and there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the AirBnB experience. Continue reading


    Minimalist Interior Design Tips

    There is no denying that the minimalist trend is still at the height of fashion at the moment. If you are looking for ways to bring this look to your home, you may be feeling at a bit of a loss regarding where to start. I have no problem admitting this isn’t my natural look at all and I am appalling when it comes to minimalism. However, as I get older, and as a mum, I do totally appreciate what it brings to my ability to think clearly. Continue reading


    Perfect Garden Spots

    creating the perfect spot in the garden

    Do you have a favourite spot in the garden?

    I have a few…

    The best thing we bought for our new home is a hanging seat. It’s actually a garden seat, but over Winter we’ve placed it in the extension, where it brings the outside in, allowing us to look out through the floor to ceiling glass windows over the fields and hills.   Continue reading


    5 Subtle Ways To Add A Touch Of Luxury To Your Home

    When you look around your house, how do you feel? Does the colour make you feel bored? Cold? Detached? Every (wo)man’s home should feel like her/his castle, but if the castle is bland when it comes to décor and colouring, it’ll feel more like a dank and empty dungeon. Definitely not the look you’d be going for, right?

    If it feels like castles are stuck inside the pages of your favourite fairy tale or are reserved for the latest celebrity reality TV program, have a look at today’s ideas.  Luxury is not just reserved for the rich and famous or princes and princesses.

    Continue reading