Vandalf The Grey

Meet the whip!

My tiny house. A 1971 custom converted Dodge van that I lovingly refer to as Vandalf The Grey.


Shoshone, ID, October 2014 during the moon-rise with the sunset reflecting on it.

A Bit About Tiny Living:

Not only did I want to make travel an easy thing to do in my life, I also wanted to lower my monthly cost of living and not have a bunch of stuff. Stuff that turned out owning me instead of me owning it.

I had been slowly downsizing for years since selling my house but every time I made a purge, it wasn’t ever quite enough. In fact, I still kinda feel that way. I have two large plastic totes and a couple other things in storage, otherwise, everything I own is on Vandalf. It’s manageable and I’m certainly not tripping over things but, I still could stand to get rid of even more.

There is something very powerful about having very few possessions. While I was on bike tour, I lived out of four panniers for six weeks and I couldn’t have been happier. You quickly realize that stuff is just stuff and what really matters in life is not the size or quantity of anything you have but the quality of the interactions you have with other human beings. And you don’t need a single thing to increase the value of your connections with people or with yourself.

The truth is, the fewer things I have, the more genuine my communication with others is because I don’t have all the trappings to do just that, keep me trapped and distracted from what really matters: love.

Back to Vandalf:

I wish I could take credit for that name Vandalf the Grey, but I cannot. When I asked my friends what I should call the van after I bought it, one of them suggested that name and every time I thought about it, it made me laugh. So it stuck!

I made some alterations to it to personalize it but not too much.

Since I have always loved architecture and interiors, here is a whole mess of photos of Vandalf’s innards for you to enjoy.

Right after I bought it. The accordion fits so it was a done deal!


Shag for days. I have a dog and a cat so clearly this nasty carpet will not do. Especially since it’s not blood-red or seventies solid gold.


I ripped out the carpet in the main area and replaced it with laminate flooring. I lucked out and found my favorite wood tone, in the exact right amount for less than $10 at the Re-Store in Bellingham, WA.


White has it’s place but I prefer a warm and cozy color for my living spaces.


I found a lovely cream color for a few bucks at the Re-Store. But before I painted the cream, I painted all of the cabinet fronts with several coats of magnetic paint then painted over it.

The mirror just to the right of my bed is the door to the refrigerator. To the right of that is the closet door and to the right of that (with the full length mirror) is the bathroom door.


I someday hope to change the sleeping quarters to something multi functional. This is the space I have to work with.


For now, I have my giant, cozy bed all up in here. Zero (the cat) approves.

My blanket matches the curtains that cover the windows surrounding the bed and also the curtain in the cab (and a billion other things I’ve made with the fabric). I made them all out of king-size flat sheets with an amazing pattern that I found at a Deals Only in Bellingham, WA. Flat sheets are a great way to get a large quantity of fabric for dirt cheap. If you’re lucky, you can find a luxurious material and thread count like I did!

I also have sheer curtains covering the windows surrounding the bed. Sheer curtains are excellent for letting light in but keeping visibility into the van during the day, quite limited. Thats nice when I need to change my clothes , take a nap or just hang out somewhere well populated.


Under the closet there are shelves that you access (for the time being) through the bathroom. Making the perfect place for my cat to poo without stinking up the entire van or my clothes.

I figured since it’s my home, I can make the access hole to the litter box, shaped however I want.


I attached an old purse and a basket to the closet door to store clothes in. The basket full, not over flowing (as seen) is supposed to be my sock maximum but as you can see, I have a little trouble staying within that boundary.

I also tied up a ribbon with some miscellaneous loops and chain to hold my earrings. Simple, free and functional.


I swear all this shag was here when I bought it. It’s ugly as hell but does provide much needed insulation.


I’m pretty comfortable peeing outside so I decided that I don’t really need the bathroom. I think I will probably rip the whole thing out at some point and make a small seating area with a table. For now, I built shelves in the bathroom with the toilet still accessible for emergencies.

photo (1)

And of course, no home would be complete without a guardian mother. Mary was a gift promised to me by dear friends once I purchased my home on wheels. She looms over passers by, protecting Vandalf’s inhabitants.


And yes, she does light up!


In case you wanted to know how Vandalf drives, it’s a beast! Solid, strong and reliable. However it’s also old and big and the steering isn’t super tight so getting hit with a side wind while going 65 miles per hour is something to be taken dead seriously.

Why did I risk my life to take this driving selfie? Not sure, but you can tell by the look on my face that driving Vandalf is serious business. Also, I had been on the road for twelve hours.

There you have it!! The complete tour of Vandalf the Grey, my tiny house on wheels.


This was taken by my brother, September 2014, when I was parked at my dad’s house outside of Bellingham, WA.

Enjoy a few more photos I’ve taken of Vandalf.


Just moving in. Laurel, WA May 2014


Line-dried is the best way to dry. August 2014


Shoshone, ID October 2014


Vandalf in suburbia! Farmington, UT October 2014

One response to “Vandalf The Grey

  1. Pingback: Homesick: Adventures in Being Frozen | the corvid drifter·

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